Cookbook Reviews

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Smokey Citrus Bloody Mary

Here is a little secret about me...I am cheap. I prefer to make dishes/drinks at home versus going to a restaurant, particularly if we will be having drinks with the meal.
On that note, Pat and I love a good Bloody Mary drink on a lazy Sunday morning  I will partner them with a nice little brunch. Problem is that I can't stand commercial Bloody Mary mix, so I went on a search for a homemade one. I found this recipe on Allrecipes and we loved it. I made it the day before just to give the flavors a time to meld. The nice thing about this mix is that even though it made a ton of mix, we were able to put it in serving size packages and freeze it.
I decided to partner this with a citrus vodka. It had a sweet yet smoky taste to it. We also tried a plain vodka version, and it was awesome too. What I liked about this recipe is that I seemed it could be easily adaptable for a Bloody Maria which has a tequila base. We even tried it straight with no alcohol and it was pretty dang tasty.

Garnish these as desired. I like the "meal in itself" component of these drinks and will go crazy with my garnishments. I have used green onions, celery stalks, green olives, large shrimp, chunks of cheese, chunks of summer sausage, etc. I am reminded of that photo where the Bloody Mary is garnished with a baby cheeseburger, a chicken sandwich and a buffalo wing.

So, here we go!:
1 (46 fluid ounce) can HIGH QUALITY tomato juice
1/3 cup steak sauce
3 tablespoons hickory smoke-flavored
barbeque sauce
1 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
Lemon wedges
1)  Stir tomato juice, steak sauce, barbeque sauce, celery seed, garlic salt, cayenne paper and black pepper in a large pitcher. 
2) Serve in glasses over ice. Add 1.5 ounces vodka and top with 4 oz of mix.  
3) Garnish each serving as desired above.

Stephanie O'Dea's Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

Sorry for the messy bowl. It didn't want to clean up for me!


This recipe is a classic example of why I love Stephanie O'Dea's cookbooks so much that she is my "go to crock pot girl". I have every cookbook that she has written and make meals at least once a week from them. I have only found a very small handful of recipes from each book that I have said yuck to. When I do my meal planning, all of her books are front and center on my desk.

One comment that I will make in regards to these cookbooks that is a common complaint, not only from myself, but friends who are regular users of Stephanie O'Dea cookbooks, is that the actual cooking times are less than what Stephanie recommends in her cookbooks. Most of the time, this isn't an issue, but just be aware of that ahead of time. With this soup, because it is a soup, this wasn't an issue.

This soup was awesome and simple. I simply threw everything, but the pasta, in the slow cooker in the morning. After I came home in the evening, I added the macaroni to cook while I made the salad to go with it. It was PERFECT! It was incredibly rich and loaded with veggies. It made plenty enough that not only did we have enough for dinner, but lunches after.

I partnered this with a Caesar salad and Bread Machine Focaccia Bread. So yummy!

I made a couple of additions due to my love of tomatoes. I included a couple of cans of tomato sauce and an extra can of diced tomatoes.  Plus, I felt that the broth was a bit too weak for MY likings and I thought this really made it pop. I will do my additions in red and feel free to choose whichever method preferred.

One other change that I made is that I used canned beans versus the dry beans that Stephanie called for. Using the dry beans required extra steps that I will cop to being too lazy to do. The canned worked fine and I will be using those in the recipe below.  I used black beans because that is what I had in the house and I liked how small they were

On a last note: Wanna make it vegetarian? Stephanie says that vegetable can be switched out for the beef broth.

So, here we go!:


8 cups beef or veggie broth
1 (14.5 oz can) diced tomatoes (2 cans)
1 can pinto, black, lima or kidney beans
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small onion diced (or 1 T. dried minced onion)
1 T. Italian seasoning (2 T.)
1 t. Kosher salt
1 t. coarse ground black pepper
1 or 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (10 oz) package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup dried pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
Parmesan cheese to pass at the table


1) In 6 qt crock pot, place first 8 to 11 ingredients. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.

2) Turn crock pot to HIGH, add pasta. Cook an additional 30 minutes or when pasta is fully cooked.

3) Ladle into serving bowls and pass the Parmesan.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mojo Marinade

I love Chef Aaron McCargo and have his book SIMPLY DONE, WELL DONE. I have pulled numerous great recipes from this book. This is one of my top favorites and I make this stuff at least twice per month during the summer months. It is fresh, flavorful and preservative free unlike the commercially prepared one found in grocery stores. Each batch makes 3 cups. I have used it chicken, pork and beef and it is just super yummy. I want to try it with fish, as well but simply haven't had the opportunity yet.

One of the ingredients is jerk seasoning that he has included the recipe. I don't use a whole lot of jerk seasoning so I simply purchase McCormick's jerk seasoning. The bottle is small and lasts me forever. Another note, the original recipe calls for 1.5 TABLESPOONS of salt. I don't like to use that much salt in my cooking, so I have cut that in half. Don't mind the salt, use the full amount. 

Finally, the directions call for the ingredients to be placed in a blender and processed until smooth. I don't do that. I mix it up in a very large bowl. I like the chunks of onion in my marinade.

According to Chef McCargo, each batch will last one month if refrigerated in a glass container with a tight lid. Mine never lasts that long.

So here we go!:

1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup FRESH SQUEEZED orange juice
1/2 cup FRESH SQUEEZED lemon juice
6 cloves chopped or 3 t. jarred garlic
2 T. Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 t. Kosher salt
1 T. Honey
1 T. Jerk Seasoning
1 T. coarse ground pepper
1 t. dried oregano


1) Place all ingredients in a blender and process. Pour into glass container and refrigerate unused portions for no more than one month.

The Spiked Siesta Frappe

I love coffee drinks. Because of this love, Pat and I purchased a bottle of Patron's coffee tequila because it is coffee AND tequila(!), but by itself, it is pretty disgusting. Needless to say, it was time to start concocting so that it didn't go to waste and what a better way than in a frozen coffee drink. I will say that this is one of the top 5 drinks that I have concocted. There is a cinnamon coffee taste partnered with a creaminess of the half/half and Rumchata to it that just rocks.

Because of the tequila base, I decided to go with more of a Mexican flare and added Kahlua and RumChata to it to expand the flavors. Now, this drink has a whole lot of alcohol in it, so I stretched out one recipe to 4 drinks. Top it with canned whipped cream and drizzle with a tablespoon of Kahlua for extra pizazz.

So, here we go:


1/2 cup STRONG brewed coffee
1/2 cup half and half
3 ounces Patron coffee tequila
3 ounces RumChata
2 ounces Kahlua
3 ounces Creme de Cacao
3-4 cups ice


1) Place all ingredients in a blender and processed until smooth.

2) Pour into a well chilled 8 ounce glass. I place glasses in freezer about 2 hours before making the drinks.

3) Top with whipped cream. Very slowly drizzle one tablespoon of Kahlua over the whipped cream as to not break it down, but give it the color. Place a straw in the glass and serve.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Citronella Cooler

I keep talking about my new love. Nope, not a new man, but a new site! I absolutely love The Tipsy Bartender that can be found on Instigram and Youtube. He has some of the most creative and fun drink recipes on it that allow me to add to my drink recipe catalog and takes some of the pressure off me for concocting drinks for Bette Lee Croby's Midweek Mixers. I also get to try them out before recommending them highly or giving them a thumbs down.

This one was a HUGE hit in my house. I partnered it with steak tacos and EVERYTHING was gone by the end of the night. It almost acted as a palate cleanser. It is a blend of citrus flavors that are softened with the cranberry juice. It is perfect for warm Summer days and just went down like a smooth lemonade.

Just a note: He poured the cranberry juice on top of the drink and let it settle. I poured everything into a shake and blended it that way. I loathe, simply loathe unmixed drinks!

So, here we go!:

1.5 oz Citrus Vodka
2.5 oz Lemonade (the "premade" stuff. Not the powdery garbage!)
.5 oz FRESH SQUEEZED lime juice
1 oz cranberry juice
Lemon slices
Lime slices
Fresh strawberry


1) Place hurricane glasses in freezer to chill.

2) In a metal shaker filled with ice, pour first four ingredients. Shake for no more than 30 seconds.

3) Pour everything into chilled hurricane glasses and garnish with lemon, lime and strawberry.


The Frozen Flying Monkey

Look at that well chilled glass!

I love fun drinks. When this one came across from Sue Dyer in my weekly Yahoo recipes batch of emails, I knew I was all over it and printed it off immediately for my "to make now" pile. This one wasn't only fun, it was pretty dang tasty too.

It is a frozen drink with no ice cream in it, but it does have that consistency of the ice cream. The fresh banana and banana liquor really helped to boost the flavor in it, so be sure to use both. Also, try to use an older banana. It will have more flavor to it than a brighter yellow one. I could taste the difference.

While the recipe called for a cherry to garnish, there was no way that I was going to do that. I went banana slices that were on top of whipped cream for this one.

Also, I added 2 ounces of white chocolate liqueur. I thought it gave it a real taste boost that was almost the flavor of a chocolate covered banana, which are one of my favorite treats.

Want a fun appearance for your guests, swirl chocolate syrup in a WELL CHILLED glass and place it back in the freezer while you make the drink. It is absolutely beautiful and will impress the guests.

This will make 2 drinks.

So, here we go:


2 oz. Banana Liqueur
2 oz. Kahlua
2 oz. Baileys Irish Cream

2 oz white chocolate liqueur (such as Godiva)
4 oz. Half & Half
1 Banana
2 cups of ice

Canned whipped cream
Cherries to garnish


1) If desired, prepare glasses as instructed above.

2) Place first 7 ingredients into blender. Blend until well combined and ice is broken down. It should almost have the consistency of an ice cream shake...ALMOST!

3) Pour into prepared glasses. Garnish with the whipped cream and sliced banana.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Belize Rum Punch


Pat loves a drink similar to these at one of our favorite restaurants. The drink is called the Problem Solver. The name should say it all. It is loaded down with several types of liquors and juices.When I sampled these for inclusion into The Pub and Grub, he became giddy as a school girl. He now gets excited whenever he has seen that I have made them.

It is a blend of two kinds of rum mixed with other Caribbean flavors to tickle the taste buds. Be sure to use CREAM OF COCONUT. No coconut milk. No coconut water. The cream of coconut helps to cut down on the bitterness of the drink. Plus, it gives it that really cool froth on top.

Note: Don't go nuts with the grenadine. A dash is just that...a dash.

So, here we go:


2 ounces LIGHT rum
1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce sour mix
1 ounce cream of coconut
2 dashes grenadine
2 ounces pineapple juice


1) Place a hurricane glass in the freezer. Allow it to get nice and chilled.

2) Fill a shaker with ice and add all ingredients. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into prepared hurricane glass.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dew Drop

So, we have another Naomi Blackburn original. I was on a search for drinks for The Pub and Grub and Bette Lee Crosby's Midweek Mixers. I was watching a Tipsy Bartender video and he had a drink called the Mountain Dew Me that made me take a second look. Now, it seemed tasty and when I made it, it was ok, but was definitely missing stuff. Not to mention, there was no way that I could send Bette a drink called the Mountain Dew Me.

So, I got to concocting. This is definitely different. It is a blend of coconut, melon and pineapple. The Mountain Dew topper, definitely something I would never consider in tropical drinks, definitely adds a touch.

A huge shout out of thanks to my bud, Andrea Tiberi for the name. I wanted something creative. I can create the drinks, but stink at naming them. Dew Drop fits this drink perfectly.

On that note, here we go!:


2 oz Malibu Rum
1 oz CREAM of coconut (not coconut milk or water)
1 oz triple sec
1 oz midori
1 oz pineapple juice
2 oz Mountain Dew (I only drink diet Dew and it was fine)


1) In a shaker filled with ice, place first 5 ingredients. Shake vigorously to incorporate the cream of coconut.

2) Pour into a well chilled hurricane glass filled with ice. Top with the Mountain Dew.

3) Stir gently to incorporate the Dew, but not to break up the bubbles.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quick Pork Soulvaki

Adapted from

I love this recipe! I love the simplicity in it. I love the taste of it. I love the versatility of this dish.  I really love the authenticity of the taste to the real deal. On that note, this is not authentic soulvaki, but a really close off shoot that is perfect for nights I don't feel like in winter!

The main key to this dish is the timing. Every aspect to it requires some kind of sitting/marinading time. I frequently start this in the morning and wrap it up in the evening. The meat requires marinading and I have found the longer it marinades, the better I like the turnout. The Tzatziki sauce requires two steps of extended prep. First, I have found that allowing the cucumber to sit with salt on it removes the better chunk of the water from the cucumber. This leads to a less watery sauce that is just better all around. One last note on the salt. I have used both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt. I find both work well. I just use the Greek yogurt if I am in the mood for a thicker sauce.

I have said that I love this meal due to its versatility. I have used this meal as a heavier meal with a side of couscous and Greek style veggies or as a sandwich done gyros style with a side of chips or fries. Both have worked well. It is whatever floats your boat. 

So, here we go!:



1.5 lb Pork Tenderloin, chopped into medium sized chunks
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3 T. FRESH lemon juice
2 T. FRESH oregano, chopped
1 t. jarred garlic
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper

Tzatziki Sauce:

1 cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 t. jarred garlic
1 t. FRESH lemon juice
2 T mint leaves, chopped
salt/pepper to taste

4 Pita Bread, warmed
sliced onions (optional)
sliced tomatoes (optional)


1) In a strainer that has been place over a bowl, add cucumber. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for no less than 30 minutes. This step removes the excess water from the cucumber that can often water down your Tzatziki sauce.

2) While cucumber is sitting, combine all ingredients for meat and let sit for no less than 30 minutes. I have often done this in the morning and finish up the cooking in the evening.

3) In a cast iron skillet sprayed with cooking spray, add 3 T. additional olive oil. Heat until very hot and add meat mixture including marinade. Fry until cooked through. Mine is usually done in 10 minutes. Place in warmed oven while finishing Tzatziki sauce.

4) For Tzatziki sauce, drain off cucumber water and add cucumber to bowl. Add rest of ingredients and stir until combined. Add in a bit extra salt and pepper to taste.

5) Serve over warmed pita bread with tomatoes and additional onion slices, if desired.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Spiked Firecracker

Adapted from: The Tipsy Bartender

I have a secret to tell my followers. I am ADDICTED to The Tipsy Bartender. The dumbing down of the girls in the videos drive me crazy, but, at this point, I look past it. I have found some really rocking drinks on their site.

My Facebook friend, author Jackie Channel, had posted one of their drink recipes to her Facebook page, which had me clicking on it. When I came across a recipe for THE CINCO DE MAYO MEXICAN FLAG, I knew I had to try it. Although I regularly develop drinks and play with liqueurs, I am normally intimidated by frozen drinks. Amazingly, I felt calm going into this one. I couldn't believe I had been intimidated. It ended up being so simple that now I just whip out the frozen/slushy type drinks.

The secret to this drink is to place the glasses in the freezer while preparing the layers. It will give them the separated look that makes it such fun. Also, remember, about my advice regarding the simple syrup. There is no reason to go out and purchase a $3 bottle of sugar water. Simple syrup is nothing more than equal parts of sugar and water simmered until the sugar melts. Then, let it cool. Because it lasts a while, I will normally do 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar at a time. Just remember to refrigerate it.

For July 4th, I wanted to base my drink off the Cinco de Mayo drink because it really is fantastic! The red and white levels are the same, but I needed to concoct the blue level. I went with a lemon flavoring for it.

Each of the layers is enough for 3 Hurricane sized glasses. Have fun with this drink!

So, here we go!:


Red Layer:
1 oz white rum
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz grenadine
1 cup FROZEN strawberries thawed with their juices
2 cups ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Divide equally between the 3 glasses.

White Layer:

1 oz White Rum
1/2 Oz Coconut Rum
10 chunks pineapple
1/2 oz Cream of Coconut (Not coconut milk!)
1.5 oz pineapple juice
2 cups ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour on top of red layer. Divide equally between the 3 glasses.

Blue Layer:

1.5 oz White Rum
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1.5 oz frozen lemonade concentrate
2 cups ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour on top of blue layer. Divide equally between the 3 glasses.

Mint Meltaway Tini

Adapted: Yahoo groups and

I have another Sue Dyer-Weekend Recipes find.

My weakness is mint and chocolate combined. I can NEVER say no to it, so when this hit my box, I couldn't hit print fast enough! It is a blend of chocolate with a very gentle twist of mint. I must admit that I screwed up and added a tad of mint extract to it, but I won't make that mistake in offering the recipe.

This recipe does take a bit more prep, so give yourself time and plan ahead. I was very lucky in that I simply went outside and grabbed mint out of my mint garden. If that is not an option, know that it will take about a package of mint to make two of these tinis.

As I am a huge fan of rimmers, I did a chocolate rimmer with this drink in addition to the chocolate splashes through out the glass. I won't do that again. Forget the fact that my husband and I had chocolate mustaches, but it was too much chocolate that deterred from the drink.

So here we go!:


1/2 cup of half-half (no substitutions)
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 oz chocolate vodka
2 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
Melted semi-sweet chocolate


1) In a small saucepan, bring the cream and mint to a low simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove mint leaves and place cream in refrigerator to cool.

2) Melt chocolate and swirl into glasses. Place glasses in freezer.

3) In a shaker filled with ice, combine half and half mixture, vodka and Baileys. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into prepared tini glass. Swirl some more chocolate on top and serve immediately.

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Adapted: Taste of Home

I have to admit that I do not like jarred pasta sauce. I find the majority of it mediocre and overpriced, so I enjoy trying to find a cook sauce recipe that freezes well.

I will admit that although I have made this recipe five times, I have not duplicated it as a marinara to freeze it. I will be though. I just haven't had the time. I have also decided that as my tomatoes ripen in my garden, I want to try it with fresh diced tomatoes versus canned diced tomatoes.

This sauce was perfect to me. The original recipe called for either ground beef or Italian sausage. I had frozen meatballs that I wanted to get used up so I chose to use those. They worked perfectly! They stood up well to the 8 hours in the crock pot.

I partnered these with my bread maker bread sticks (which will be featured on a later P&G) and a Naomi Blackburn "everything but the kitchen sink" salad and it really made a delectable meal that required little work from me after a hard day. Just the way I like it! 

 So, here we go!:


1 pound ground beef, mild ground Italian sausage or prepared meatballs  
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (optional)
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Hot cooked pasta (penne or spaghetti)


1) In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat
is no longer pink. Drain.
2) Transfer to a 4-qt. slow cooker. 
3) Add the next 13 ingredients (or 10 if omitting optional ingredients).
4) Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until heated through. 
5) Discard bay leaf. 
6) Serve with pasta. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Shandy

Adapted: Yahoo Weekend Recipes

I really enjoy Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. It is a blend of beer and lemonade. However, I will cop to the fact that I don't like the heaviness on the beer flavoring versus the focus on lemonade. Yes, I know Leinie's is a beer brewer.

Again, Yahoo Weekend Recipes offered this recipe and I knew I had to give it a try. Now, they had recommended a cayenne/kosher salt rimmer but that just wasn't happening.

Also, the original recipe called for 1 cup of lemonade for 24 oz of beer. I wanted to boost that some so I increased it to 1.5 cups of lemonade for 24 ounces of beer. Like the focus to be on the beer? Simply use the 1 cup and it will be fine. Also, no powdered lemonade on this. Only the real or minimally, refrigerated stuff, will do for this.

Be sure to serve it with a lemon wedge, especially for those who want an extra boost of lemon.

So, here we go!:


4 bottles beer (your choice), well chilled
2-3 cups lemonade, well chilled (dependent upon preferred beer/lemonade ratio)
Lemon wedges


1) Simply pour beer and lemonade into a pitcher. Pour into very well chilled beer mugs and serve with a lemon wedge.

Yes, it really is that simple!

Bourbon Punch with Grapefruit and Mint

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Here is another Sue D. gift to me that originally started from the Yahoo Weekend Recipe group.

I have something to admit. I didn't like this original recipe. I found that it was too bitter, bourbon(y) and if left as is, would put hair on my female chest! I know that I had to do some changes in it because to me, it did have potential. If you like strong stuff, keep the original recipe. I will be showing my changes in red.

Be sure to use pink grapefruit juice. It is sweeter than regular (yellow) grapefruit juice so that does happen some. Also, the original recipe called for club soda, which was just downright disgusting in this recipe. It added to its bitterness. Even my husband, who doesn't like sweet recipes, disliked the club soda, so we switched it out for 7-up.

One of the things that I did love about this recipe was that I was able to use a whole lot of mint from my yard. Don't have home grown mint, be prepared to need about 3 packages of mint for this one recipe. This recipe made so much that I have two (1) quart bags of this frozen in my freezer downstairs.

This drink doesn't require a high quality bourbon. In fact, my liquor guy discouraged it. I used a bottle of $8 bottle of bourbon (Benchmark) that covered two recipes, this one and my Citrus Bourbon Punch.

So, here we go!:


1/2 cup water
1/2 cup BROWN sugar
15 FRESH mint sprigs (set aside half)
4 cups PINK grapefruit juice
2.5 cups Bourbon
12 dashes Angostura bitters
1 cup club soda (7 up)


1) Make simple syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. STIR FREQUENTLY...simple syrup burns easily. Place 8 sprigs of mint in the pan and swirl. This will wilt the mint and release the oils. Allow to sit/cool for about 20 minutes and remove the mint.

2) Combine grapefruit juice, bourbon and bitters in a pitcher. Add the simple syrup and stir well. Pour into ice filled glass and top with 7 Up or club soda.

Crunchy Italian Mix

Adapted: Weekend Recipes(Yahoo)

To celebrate National Library Week, I like to show appreciation for my library's staff by providing a lunch. I try to focus in on what each of them have told me that they enjoy and plan my menu around that. One of the employees loves Chex Mix/snack cracker type recipes, so I always try to find recipes that will show her that I am thinking of her in my preparations.When Sue D. sent me this recipe, I immediately printed it off. I knew I was going to make it for Sue M.

It turned out even better than I thought it was going to. The flavors are subtle, yet perfect. What I love about this one in particular is that it isn't overly salty. Normally, I can't stand that in the traditional Chex Mix recipe.

Because of its easiness, I make this recipe one to two times per week and it hasn't gotten old yet. Although the recipe calls for Crispix cereal, I use Corn Chex and I can't tell the difference. At this point, I keep the supplies for it stocked in my house so that I can just whip it up if I need to.

So, here we go!:


1 stick butter, cubed
3 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. Italian seasoning
1/2 t. garlic powder
5 cups Crispix or Corn Chex
2 cups Cheerios
2.5 cups mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
1 can (10 oz) mixed nuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)


1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2) In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine butter, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Microwave until melted. Remove from microwave and stir well.

3) In a large bowl, combine cereals, pretzels, mixed nuts and Parmesan cheese. Mix well with your hands. Pour melted butter over this mixture and stir until very well coated.

3) Place in a 15x10 pan and bake for 45 minutes. STIR EVERY 15 MINUTES!

4) Allow to cool and place in a container.

Yield: 10 cups

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Best Ever Strawberry Daiquiri

I always get nervous when I hear "the best ever..." because normally the recipe is horrible. That is until I tried this daiquiri recipe. On top of being incredibly easy, this was one tasty drink. I simply loved how refreshing it was. Although my bud Sue D. sent me this recipe from the Yahoo recipe group, it was originally developed by the The Slow Roasted Italian (

A note on the simple syrup, although they sell bottles of simple syrup for $3 a bottle, simple syrup is incredibly easy to make. Simply combine equal amounts of granulated sugar with water and place on a low boil while stirring constantly. Allow it to cool.

One other recommendation I can give is be sure to use fresh strawberries although the recipe calls for either. There is something so juicy in the flavor of a fresh strawberry that carries over in this recipe. This is definitely a recipe that I will try to adjust with other fruits.

Although, the recipe calls for Roses lime juice, I am only a fan of fresh squeezed lime juice. Again, it tastes fresher and is cheaper than the alternative given by the developer of the recipe. I believe one ounce is about 1 to 1.5 limes.

So, here we go!:

In a blender, place:

3 oz WHITE rum
1 ounce Malibu coconut rum
2 oz triple sec
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 oz Roses or fresh lime juice
2 oz simple syrup
2 cups ice

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour into a well chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and lime slice.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Oven Baked Denver Omelet

Adapted: Allrecipes

Here is a Naomi Blackburn fun fact...I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE breakfast for dinner. We do it in our house about twice a month. Usually, it is some type of eggs partnered with a breakfast meat and pancakes or waffles. I can do some serious chowin' on that stuff.

The typical fried or scrambled eggs get pretty dang boring, so when I saw this recipe on Allrecipes AND I had everything needed, I was on it. I was not disappointed. We went through a pan in one night. It tasted just like a Denver omelet without the hassle of it. Best yet....easy peasy!

So, here we go!: 


2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped cooked ham
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 10-inch round baking dish.
2)  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onion and bell pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in ham and continue cooking until heated through, 5 minutes more.
3) Beat eggs and milk in a large bowl. Stir in Cheddar cheese and ham mixture; season with salt and black pepper. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
4) Bake in preheated oven until eggs are browned and puffy, about 25 minutes.

The Snow Cream Martini with White Chocolate Rimmer

Adapted: The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook

When I reviewed this cookbook and came across this recipe, I was immediately drawn to it. It was the first tini that I had ever seen that was made with sweetened condensed milk and that used a blender versus a shaker. So, I was game. I will try anything once. (OK maybe not anything!)

While the tini was good, it wasn't great. At least that was my opinion. My husband, on the other hand, loved it. I couldn't get past the icy taste to the tini. I like my cream based tinis creamy and this just didn't have that. One of the other things that did me in was that it separates, like ice milk, when it sits.

I will be making my own version of this tini that will be much more creamy and not depend on ice being added to it.

So here we go!:


1.5 cups vanilla vodka
1/2 cup WHITE chocolate liquor (dark chocolate can't be substituted here)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 cups small ice cubes


White chocolate rimmer
whipping cream



Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Very gently, swirl the rim of the martini glass in the melted chocolate. If desired, splash chocolate on the insides of glasses. Place in freezer to allow to firm while the rest of the drink is prepared.


1) Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth.

2) Top with whipped cream and additional white chocolate, if desired.

Spiked Strawberry Lemonade Slushy

Summertime is rapidly approaching! What does that mean?? Kickin' back on the back porch and Summer parties, of course. To celebrate this long awaited warm weather, I concocted a Naomi Blackburn original to bring out the kids in all of us. OK, to be honest, I just had a Slurpee last month.

This drink is not a truly frozen drink. It should have a slushy appearance. I used thawed frozen strawberries versus fresh strawberries. The reason for this is that I wanted the juice off the frozen berries that would not have been present with the fresh berries. Also, I kept the alcohol in the actual drink relatively low. Have a drinker who likes their drink strong? Increase the float of citrus vodka from 1/2 ounce to a full ounce.

I wrote this recipe to make one drink. Need more? Simply double, triple or quadruple! Just remember to serve it before it goes to liquid.

So, here we go!:


1.5 cups frozen strawberries thawed
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz citrus vodka
1/2 lemon, juiced
1.5 cups ice cubes
Add'l citrus vodka
Lemon slices, for garnish


1) Place first 5 ingredients in blender and blend until it has a slushy consistency. Pour into glass.

2) Top with 1/2 to 1 ounce of citrus vodka and garnish.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Editor Tini or A Taste of Hawaii

I have a bud whom I adore...absolutely adore. She also happens to be my editor. One of my weird quirks is that I love to develop drinks based off the personalities of my favorite people. When Lucy and I were talking one day, she jokingly asked me to develop a drink for her and I jumped at it. Now, I had always considered her to be a craft beer drinker, so this one was going to be a toughy for me...until she told me that she liked pineapple. My mind immediately went into overload in the combinations I could do. Not only did it give me an opportunity to celebrate my absolute adoration of Lucy, but my love of Hawaii, as well.

The key to this drink is FRESH pineapple. None of that canned garbage will do for this drink. This one is a bit more involved and involves use of a blender to make a tini base. Muddling will not do for this drink.

So, here we go!:



3 cups fresh pineapple chopped
6 oz can pineapple juice (If you can get fresh juice better yet!)


1) Combine in a blender and puree until smooth



3 oz pineapple puree
2 oz white rum
3 oz Malibu PINEAPPLE rum
Fresh pineapple spears


1) In a very well chilled shaker filled with ice, combine first 3 ingredients. Shake for 30 seconds

2) Pour into a well chilled tini glass and garnish with pineapple spears.

The Horchata Tini

This is a Naomi Blackburn original and why??? Because I love horchata and feel that it needs to be celebrated as one of the best non-alcoholic drinks known to mankind. I have made homemade horchata. I buy horchata. I have even purchased a hot drink based on horchata.

Enter Rumchata. Rumchata is an alcohol that is based off the horchata drink and mixed with rum. I swear this stuff is the nectar of the gods because it is soooo good!

I would normally drink RumChata on the rocks, but then I saw that Jose Cuervo came out with a Cinge Tequila. I looked at my husband and it immediately went into my shopping cart. I was going to play and play I did! So, welcome to the world, THE HORCHATA TINI. It proves that the best things in life are the simplest ones.

So, here we go!:


2 oz Jose Cuervo Cinge Tequila
4 oz RumChata
1 t. cinnamon sugar
Canned whipping cream
Add'l cinnamon sugar


1) In a shaker filled with ice, place the first 3 ingredients.

2) Pour into a prepared tini glass (well chilled)

3) Top with whipping cream and allow it to spread out a bit.

4) Sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Citrus Bourbon Punch

Adapted: Sweet Magnolias Margarita Nights

I love having punches for brunches and early lunches. They are so much better than doing mixed drinks  and there is just something fun about them. Not being a huge whiskey fan, I was a bit apprehensive when first came across this recipe. My opportunity came when I was looking for different drinks for Bette Lee Crosby's Midweek Mixers. Bette is a host of many a brunch so I saw this fitting in beautifully to her Southern luncheons. I had originally found this recipe in The Sweet Magnolia's Cookbook by Sherryl Woods.

The original recipe made a gallon of this punch. A bit too much for this cook so I cut it in half. For ease, I am going to do the full recipe. If desired, the punch can be made and frozen. Also, the original recipe call for it to be a freeze. Not into slushies, I served it "on the rocks." Ms.Woods also suggested taming it down with lemon-lime soda if the strength of the drink didn't rock your socks off. I found it unnecessary. Want to be respectful for your guests...simply serve it on the side.

So, here we go!:


8 cups water, divided
4 tea bags
1 cup light brown sugar
1 (12 oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 (12 oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 (6 oz) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 cups bourbon (cheap is fine here)


1) Bring 2 cups water to a boil and add tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes and remove bags.

2) Place remaining ingredients in a very large (gallon sized pitcher) or punch bowl. Stir until blended.

3) Add tea and place in refrig until well chilled.

4) Serve with plenty of ice and mint to garnish.

5) If a slushy is desired, cover and freeze containers for several hours. Stir every hour until fork until slushied!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Helen's Lethal Margaritas

OK...I will cop to it. This isn't the best picture. This is one margarita that didn't want to photograph. It was really irritating to me.  I needed to get it done, so I took the best of them and ran with it. Sorry for it being a tad blurry!

Now, I will cop to something else. I am a sucker for books with recipes in them. Normally, I can't stand the story, but I have found some really rock it with recipes. Many have made it to The P&G!

When I saw that Sherryl Woods co-authored a cookbook,The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook, based off her series, I knew I had to review it. Another thing that I must cop to is that I have never read a Sherryl Wood's book, but if her books are as great as the numerous recipes I have made out of this great book, including drink recipes, I might just have to wander in there. One of those recipes was Helen's Lethal Margaritas.

It was time to start to prepare for Cinco de Mayo for The P&G and Bette Lee Crosby's Midweek Mixers and I remembered this drink. I am not a fan of the frozen margarita, but I had given Bette and my readers numerous other margarita recipes, so I figured it was time for me to buck up and get to a frozen one. I liked this recipe because it used no margarita mix, but was still incredibly simple to make. Plus, it had me at agave nectar!

One thing I did notice in serving it is that these were thick. They were really a slush. As a result, where we would normally drink two margaritas with our meal, one of these was sufficient (and all we could really get through).

As to be expected, I changed the recipe just a very tiny bit. I noticed as published, it had a very strong tequila flavor to it. I am not a fan of that, so I increased the limeade and ice to support it. No biggie. If you like strong flavors go with the parenthesis amount!

Want either a strawberry or mango margarita? Simply switch out a 12 oz bag of the frozen fruit for 2 cups of ice! Yummers!

So, here we go!:


10 oz frozen limeade, thawed (6 oz)
3/4 cup BLANCO tequila (the cheap stuff is fine)
1/4 cup triple sec
2 T. agave nectar
5 cups ice (4 cups)


1) Place all ingredients in a blender and let it go!

2) Pour into salt rimmed margarita glasses and garnish with lime wedge!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bread Machine Focaccia Bread


My family LOVES this recipe. I love it not only for its taste, but for the simplicity of this homemade bread. It starts off in your bread maker with just a couple of ingredients and finishes baking in your oven. I would compare this to ANY commercially prepared Focaccia bread.

The recipe calls for fresh rosemary, but I use dried in the winter because we don't use enough fresh rosemary before it goes bad. When my rosemary is up in my herb garden, I switch over to the fresh. I will be honest, there really isn't a huge difference.

So, here we go!:



1 cup luke warm water
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
2 t. jarred chopped garlic
1 T. Fresh rosemary or 1/2 T. dried rosemary
3 cups bread flour
1.5 t. jarred yeast


2 T. olive oil
1/2 T. coarse salt, such as kosher or sea
1/2 T. dried rosemary
Parmesan cheese


1) Very important! Place the BREAD ingredients in the bread maker pan in the order given.

2) Place on dough cycle and let cycle.

3) Remove from pan when complete and knead with small amount of bread flour until smooth. I will then roll out and place in a 9x13 pan.

4) Spread the olive oil over the dough and top with the other TOPPING ingredients.

5) Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes prior to serving.

Italian Tomato Cheese Tortellini Soup

I love this simple, meatless crock pot recipe. It has a whole 5 ingredients and cooks for the day, so throw it in the crock pot on low. I can't even remember when or where I found this recipe, but I have it memorized at this point. Shockingly, the little cheese tortellinis are perfect even after cooking all day. It is frequently on my menu for Meatless Mondays. I partner it with my Focaccia bread machine bread. 

While it is officially called THE BEST CROCK POT MEAL EVER, that just didn't work for me. It didn't describe anything to me. I changed it to Italian Tomato Cheese Tortellini soup, which I feel is a perfect description.

So, here we go!:


4 cups vegetable broth
4 handfuls baby spinach
2 cans diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, undrained
8 oz block cream cheese
9 oz bag cheese tortellini


1) Place all ingredients in a 4 qt crock pot and turn to low.

2) Cook for 6 hours. I have had it cook for 8 hours with no problems.

3) Garnish with Parmesan cheese and Italian bread. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Pioneer Woman's Mini Meatball Sandwiches

I am just coming into the recipes of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, and subscribe to her newsletter. This was one that popped up that I thought would be perfect for a light dinner. It was. I partnered it with chips and corn on the cob. This made plenty of sandwiches, enough for dinner and lunches the next day. As a bonus, they were just so simple to make. The biggest pain in the rear-end was rolling the meatballs! I made the dish up earlier in the day and then just warmed it up when I got home.

The sandwiches are small enough so they were not overwhelming like the bigger sandwiches are to me. Plus, the bread was much softer than the heavy duty french bread rolls that these sandwiches are normally served on. To boot, they are perfect for wee little hands. 

If using for lunches, just take out the number of meatballs per sandwich and place in a container with two wedges of cheese for each sandwich. Heat up the meatballs in that container and then place on each roll. 

So, here we go!:

1 pound Ground Chuck Or Ground Beef
½ cups Panko Or Other Bread Crumbs ( I used Italian bread crumbs for extra flavor)
1 clove Garlic, Minced (I used 1/2 t. of jarred garlic)
½ teaspoons Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
½ cups Milk
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 jar (large) Marinara Sauce
12 whole Dinner Rolls (or Slider Rolls)
4 slices Provolone Cheese, Cut Into Four Wedges Each


1) Mix meat with bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Roll into tablespoon sized balls.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Add meatballs between the onions and brown for one minute. This might need to be done in batches.

3) Pour in jar of marinara. SHAKE pan gently to mix. DO NOT STIR!

4) Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

5) Cut each dinner roll in half. Place a wedge of Provolone on the top and bottom of each roll. Spoon a meatball with the sauce onto the bottom bun.

Lemon Roasted Chicken (Crock Pot)

I have to say that I am a huge fan of crock pot guru, Stephanie O'Dea. I own each of her cookbooks and had the pleasure to review the latest one, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers.This is a recipe from that book.

Lemon chicken is one of my favorite dishes and we thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. It was a nice blend of lemon, onion, seasonings and garlic. It produced a wonderful gravy that I ended up thickening with cornstarch. Now, Stephanie calls for skinning the chicken parts, but this is optional. Most times, I do leave the skin intact, but did skin it for this recipe.

Instead of using a head of garlic, I added 5 teaspoons of jarred garlic to the herb mixture. Other than that, I stayed pretty true to the original recipe.

So, here we go:


2 onions cut into wedges
1 head garlic, peeled (about 10 cloves) I used 5 t. garlic
1 4 lb roaster chicken, cleaned (I used 4 lbs of chicken thighs)
2 lemons, juiced
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter, melted
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried parsley


1) In a 6 qt crock pot, place garlic cloves (omit if using jarred garlic) and onions in bottom. Place chicken on top.

2) In a small bowl, add the remaining ingredients. If using jarred garlic, add to the sauce.  Pour over the chicken.

3) Cook for 7 hours on low or high for 5 hours. 

4) Remove chicken and onions from the crock pot and place in warm oven.

5) If desired, place 1 T. of cornstarch in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the drippings. Stir until a smooth paste. Turn crock pot to high and add paste. Stir until well blended. Allow to thicken. This process should take about 20-30 minutes. Return chicken and onion to crock pot and cover with sauce.

6) Serve with white rice and veggies. Spoon sauce over rice.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saucy Skirt Steak with Orange-spice Sweet Potatoes


My favorite Lean Cuisine is Ranchero Braised Beef. I can eat that stuff like it is going out of style.

I borrowed my friend's Rachael Ray cookbook, Love + Cook, and saw this recipe in it. I knew it had to be like my Ranchero Braised Beef. Guess what...IT WAS! I was in heaven. I ran out immediately and grabbed everything that was needed. This recipe did not disappoint. In fact, as I am typing this, I am getting a hankering for it!

Now, I will admit that it took a bit more time with a whole lot more steps than throwing it in a microwave, but it was so worth it. Skirt steak is partnered with an ancho pepper sauce and topped off with a side of sweet potatoes. YUM!

So, here we go!


3 lbs skirt steak
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 T. butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped sliced
2 dried ANCHO chili peppers, seeded and stemmed
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Olive Oil, divided
black pepper
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
Orange, zested and juiced
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. cinnamon
couple of dashes of hot sauce


1) Place sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water which has been salted. Cover and allow to boil for approximately 20 minutes or until tender. Take meat out of refrigerator and set aside. Allow chill to dissipate.

2) In a second pan, melt butter add onions. Cook until soft and carmelized about 20 minutes.

3) In a 3rd pan, place ancho peppers and 1 cup chicken broth. Add water to cover peppers. Bring to a boil and add tomato paste. Reduce and simmer to about half.

4) Place anchos and onions in a food processor or blender. Add Worcestershire sauce. Process until smooth. With the blender/processor on, add a steady stream of olive oil. Add salt/pepper to taste and set aside.

5) Season the meat with salt/pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Grill for 6 minutes each side. Place in a warm oven to keep hot.

6) Heat olive oil in a 4th pan and cook bacon just until it begins to crisp.

7) Drain sweet potatoes. Add the orange zest, juice and bacon. Mash to desired consistency adding up to 1/2 cup of the broth. Season with the seasonings and hot sauce.

8) Remove steak from oven and thinly slice. Place steak on plates and top with the ancho pepper sauce. Add a side of the potatoes. I also partnered with thin cut green beans.

Pork and Chicken Chow Mein

Another winner from Kay Robertson's new cookbook. I liked this one because, after a very long day,  I whipped it together in less than thirty minutes along with the rice, pot stickers and egg rolls. With the exception of 4 boneless pork chops that are chopped (I did this before I left for the day to save time) and fried prior to adding the remaining ingredients, it is all canned goods.

Normally, I don't allow commercially prepared, particularly canned, food on my menu, but this dish makes an appearance once per month.

Simply put, simplicity at its best!

So, here we go!:


1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 boneless pork chops, chopped (go as small as you can)
1 bi-pack chicken chow mein dinner (48 oz)
1 can chop suey vegetables, drained
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. teriyaki sauce

**Serve with white rice and chow mein noodles**


1) Heat oil in a very large skillet that has a lid until shimmery.

2) Add  pork pieces and fry until browned.

3) Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 15 minutes.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken with Dripping Good New Potatoes

Source: Beating the Lunchbox Blues by JM Hirsch

Oh my goodness, this dish was not only simple, but it was DELICIOUS! I honestly thought that it was restaurant quality, but, minimally, it would qualify as  a simple dish for entertaining! I found this recipe in a lunch cookbook, but this cookbook has had the BEST dinner recipes. We chowed down on this dinner!

It is a combination of fresh rosemary and garlic in an olive oil sauce that is baked in a high temp oven. What is even better about this recipe is that the potatoes, the side dish, bake right along with it.

The chicken in this recipe is a whole chicken that has been quartered using poultry shears or a butcher knife. I thought that bone in chicken breasts might also be used for this dish. Make sure to use 6 pounds, but follow the same instructions for the "dipping". 

So, here we go!:

2 lbs new potatoes, quartered
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs FRESH rosemary
1 T. Kosher salt
1 T. ground black pepper
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 6 lb whole chicken, quartered


1) Heat oven to 475 degrees and spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Arrange potatoes on sheet and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine oil, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary.

3) Roll the chicken quarters in the oil mixture liberally and really rub it in. Try to get it under the skin as much as possible.

4) Set the chicken on top of the potatoes. Pour remaining oil mixture over potatoes.

5) Roast for 1 hour or until meat in the thickest part registers at 165 degrees.

6) Serve with veggies and cranberry sauce for a perfect meal!

Easy Creole Chicken and Okra

I have a friend named Sue Dyer. Sue LOVES cooking just as much as I do. She subscribes to Yahoo Weekend Recipes and makes sure I get each of the recipes sent to her each week. When I saw the new theme was Mardi Gras recipes, I was all over those bad boys.

I love Cajun cooking almost as much as I love Mexican cooking. Most of the recipes I have for it, though, are weekend involved recipes, so I am very limited in when I can prepare it. When I saw this one, I knew I was right on track for an easy weeknight meal.

As to be expected with me, I did change it some, but not enough not to give credit to Nessie, who sent it out to Yahoo Weekend Recipes.

So, here we go!


6 bone in chicken thighs (remove skin, if desired.)
1/2 t. Cajun seasoning
1/3 cup flour
1 T. Olive oil
2 can diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes, undrained (I used stewed)
1 16 oz frozen cut okra
Cooked rice


1) In a Ziploc bag, combine flour and Cajun seasoning. Shake each piece of chicken.

2) While shaking chicken, heat 1 T. olive oil in a large pan.

3) Fry each piece of meat for 5 minutes each side. Don't move it to allow it to get a nice crust. Do in batches as necessary.

4) When browned, return all chicken to pan and add tomatoes and okra.

5) Simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 180 degrees.

6) Serve over rice with cornbread.

Willie's Favorite Roast with Vegetables

When I am wrong, I will admit it. When I am judgmental, which I try really hard not to do, I will cop to it. When I first came across Kay Robertson's new cookbook, I rolled my eyes. First, I considered it another cheesy tchotchke to make those sucking off the teets of the Duck Dynasty phenomena even richer. Second, there was just something that had the feel of Snookie's moronic book. However, I needed a quick cookbook to review, so I figured I would pan it and move on.

 As I got into the cookbook I went "WAIT...HOLD ON! There are recipes in here that my family would enjoy." Some recipes were pretty standard recipes that have been part of my rotation for a while so I wouldn't necessarily call them "authentic". Now, I did skip over the "game" recipes...we will just leave it at game recipes. Let's just say that I feed my squirrels..I don't eat them! In fact, this cookbook was so good that I ended up purchasing it and use it regularly. Just wait until I do the Swiss Steak post! My mouth is still watering! So, I was wrong.

This is one of those recipes. I put this roast in the oven and went about my work for the afternoon. When my husband came home, dinner was done. One thing that I did not like is that the roast was well done. I would like to work that out, but the gravy and veggies on this roast were FANTASTIC. While Kay says that they make a gravy from the drippings, I found this wasn't necessary. The gravy that came off this roast was perfect!

Note: Chop your veggies big. For the potatoes, mushrooms and baby carrots, I left them whole. This roast cooks slow cooks so you don't want your veggies all broken down. Keeping them large will prevent that.

Note 2: I went a bit heavier on the Cajun seasoning because I love me some Cajun seasoning. I will put my measurement up there. Kay did not put a measurement on her recipe.

So, here we go!


Cooking Oil
Salt and black pepper
4 lbs Boneless Roast (chuck, sirloin tip, rib eye or rump)
BABY new potatoes, I did one pound
1 T.  and 1 t. Cajun Seasoning, divided (optional, but I HIGHLY recommend)
1 lb baby carrots
1 medium onion, chopped large
3 celery stalks (my addition)
1 8oz container WHOLE mushrooms


1) Heat oven to 300 degrees.

2) Put 1/2 inch oil in the bottom of a dutch oven and heat oil to shimmering. If you plan on draining, use 1 inch of oil. I will explain later while I only used a 1/2 inch.

3) Meanwhile, salt and pepper your roast. Place about 1/3 cup of flour in a large bowl and season with 1 t. of Cajun seasoning. Rub this all over the roast. Be sure to coat it really well!

4) Brown the roast on all sides and remove from the pan. Now, Kay say to drain the oil from the pan, but I left it. I wanted the drippings and flour to remain to have the self made gravy.

5) To pan, add all the veggies. Top with the remaining flour and stir very well to blend. Add roast back in.

6) Season with remaining 1 T of Cajun seasoning.

7) Place in oven and bake for 3 hours. 

8) I served with rolls and applesauce.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Crockpot Cheesy Brat Stew

Have you ever had one of those dishes that you were shocked as heck at how well it turned out? I had that with this Cheesy Brat Stew. I was unprepared for how much my husband and I enjoyed it, enough to the the point where I had no intentions of photographing it for the blog. I simply had a package of brats had to get used up and this was the only dish that I had all the ingredients in the morning and could throw into the crock pot. I found this on

It is browned bratwurst that is then combined with a variety of other ingredients, such as potatoes, green beans and, of course, cheese for a rich, rib sticking dish. Best of all, throw it in the crock pot before leaving for work and dinner is done when you get home. I partnered with a salad and Grands biscuits.

So, here we go!:


6 Bratwurst, cut into 1/2 slices and browned
4 medium potatoes, chopping into 1 inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) canned green beans
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 (10 3/4 oz ) can cream of mushroom soup
2/3 cup water


1) Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Potatoes should be fork tender.

2) How easy is that?!?!

Asian Chicken and Vegetables in Foil Packets

I had the chance to grab the new cookbook Weeknight Wonders by Ellie Kreiger. I have been making more and more Asian flared meals, so I loved it when I came across these very interesting packets. I have to admit that they didn't disappoint.

I partnered them with my Fried Rice and pot stickers. It was a perfect meal.

The thin cut chicken breasts were put atop a pepper/carrot veggie blend that then has a sweetened soy sauce blend poured over it. They baked in their own individual packets (so easy clean up). If desired, once baked top with toasted sesame seeds for a nutty addition.

So, here we go!:

4 large green onions, sliced in 1/2" slices
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
5 baby carrots, chopped into 1/2 slices
4 thin cut chicken breasts
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 t. Sriracha sauce
4 t. toasted sesame seeds


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 large slices of tinfoil enough to handle each sized packet. I made mine about 10 inch slices so no dripping of juices.

2) Divide the pepper/carrots into each packet evenly. Top with the chicken.

3) In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil and Sriracha sauce. Drizzle evenly over chicken and veggies. Top with the green onion.

4) Seal up package and place on large cookie sheet.

5) Bake in package for 20 minutes. The recipe states 12 minutes, but I wasn't happy with that amount of cook time.

5) Remove to plate and top with sesame seeds.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rich Chocolate Brownies

These are my most favorite, favorite brownie. I make a pan of these and, no lie, they are gone the next day. Now, each recipe only bakes up an 8"x 8" pan, but still, they are just a dang tasty brownie.

They are so rich with a deep chocolate cake and coffee infused frosting that a little goes a long way. No boxed brownie taste here!

I had originally found this recipe in a Taste of Home Annual Recipes book, but have made them so often that I have the recipe memorized.

Like walnuts or pecans in your brownie? Simply add 1/2 cup to the batter mixture prior to adding them to the pan.

Once you try these, you will never go back to a boxed brownie!

So, here we go!:


1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter or margarine melted (1 stick)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt


3 T. butter or margarine, melted
3 T. baking cocoa
2 T. warm water
1 t. instant coffee granules
1.5 cups confectioners' sugar


For the brownie:

1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs vanilla and butter. Set aside

2) In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

3) Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir JUST UNTIL BLENDED!

4) Line an 8"x8" pan with either foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Pour batter in

5) Place in a 350 oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. 25 minutes will produce a richer, fudgier brownie. 30 minutes a cake like brownie.

6) Remove from oven when baked to desired level and allow to cool.


For the frosting

1) In a large bowl, combine butter, cocoa, water and coffee. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar.

2) Frost as desired.