November 30, 2006

Making Homemade Pumpkin Puree

I very seldom purchase canned pumpkin. If I do though I only purchase plain pumpkin, not the pie filling kind because it usually has a ton of added spices.

I grew up in a family where we grew our own pumpkins in the garden. My dad always bought heirloom seed and planted a French variety pumpkin that made the BEST pumpkin pie.

We would grow our pumpkins, puree them and measure out a specific measurement of puree then place in freezer bags and freeze the puree until we were ready to use it. That way all we would have to do is go the freezer, de-thaw the pre-measured pumpkin and add it to our recipe.

Personally, I do not like ANY canned pumpkin. Maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment eating my own processed pumpkin, I don’t’ know. But I know there is a major taste difference in canned vs. processed. It’s a fairly simple process to actually process your own pumpkin puree also. I think many folks think it’s a very complicated and time consuming process – not so!

First, pick out a small sugar pumpkin. Not the large Jack –o’-laterns you see in many farmer’s fields. Those types of pumpkins have a very fibrous flesh and are not as sweet tasting as the smaller varieties. The smaller variety only weighs about 4-8 lbs, has a good stem intact and needs to have no soft spots of blemishes. Here’s a list of good varieties for making your own pumpkin puree.

You can find these smaller cooking pumpkins at farmer’s markets, specialty stores and sometimes even grocery stores. But, the best way would be to grow them on your own. That way you know where your produce came from and what chemicals have been placed on the pumpkins.

To make your puree:
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds (but save them, they make excellent garnishes for dishes and are great toasted) and stringy fibers, and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Add about 2 cups of water. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pumpkin is soft to the touch. Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You may have to add a little bit of water in the food processor or blender to get the mixture to puree smoothly. Cool before using or storing in freezer bags.

I like to pre-measure all my puree in freezer bags. This way it’s very easy to go to the deep freeze and pick out 1 cup 2 cups, ect of measured pumpkin puree.

See how easy it is to make your own processed pumpkin. Try it, I guarantee excellent results in taste, texture and aroma in your next pumpkin dish.

November 29, 2006

Bring on the Winter Storm

Happy Holidays!

It’s a pleasant 60 degrees in Mid-Mo today, but a nasty storm system is to come in late this afternoon, dropping our temperatures by 33 degrees.

They are calling for 3-6 inches of snow here, but I doubt that will be the case. Why do I doubt it? Because every time they actually call for snow and sleet it never happens. It’s when weathercasters say we will get a light dusting…that’s when I worry.

Either way, I would love to see a beautiful snow on the ground and stick to the pine trees. I love the snow for its beauty and grace when it sticks to tree limbs, house roofs and covers lakes and ponds. However, every time it snows I remember all those years on the farm having to feed hay to the cattle off the back of the pick-up and busting up the ponds around the farm so that cattle could have a drink.

Things have changed on my parent’s farm now: every gate swings, they feed hay in the big ole John Deere tractor with a heated cab, cattle don’t have to rely on us to bust up the iced over ponds because of the new heated water tanks that dad put in all over the farm, there are many barns to give calving mothers shelter and there is a brand spanking new pipe corral that looks like something from a sale barn.

Yes, things have changed on the Bar 5 Ranch. Isn’t it funny how everything on the farm improves when the children leave the farm? On my family’s farm it’s just my parents and two part time farm hands. My husband and I still own cattle, but they are housed on my parent’s farm and we are still active on the farm, but unfortunately at this point in our lives we have to live away from my parents and the one place that I will always call home – our family farm.

Give thanks to the life you live today. For we are all blessed in many ways, sometimes we just have to have open eyes to see that.

This is a great holiday recipe that I plan on making for my gift trays for my friends and co-workers this holiday season. (I do omit the coconut). If you are looking for a great baking website Joy Of is your one stop site. I’ve tried many recipe off this site and they all have turned out wonderful!

Namaino Bars
From Joy of

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa (I use Dutch-processed)
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (65 grams) coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 - 3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar

4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

Butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.

BOTTOM LAYER: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

FILLING: In your electric mixer cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

TOP LAYER: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.

TO SERVE: To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

Yield: Makes about 25 squares

November 28, 2006

How Sweet it is

I posted last week about my mother-in-laws turkey and how wonderfully delicious it was. Well, this Thanksgiving she didn’t cook her famous turkey, instead she made a traditional Spanish meal.

Josefa and I had talked a couple of months ago about traditional Spanish holiday meals and she mentioned to me a very simple recipe that she hadn’t cooked in quite awhile. You bake beef, pork and chicken together in a pan. As she talked about how delicious this meal was I mentioned that we should do that for the holidays.

When my husband and I arrived in Mt. Vernon at their home on the 22nd, I was surprised, for she was preparing this very meal. This recipe is so easy almost fool-proof.

McConnell Holiday Meal
By Josefa McConnell
The size of your gathering well determine the size of meats your purchase.

1 beef roast or brisket
1 large chicken or small turkey
1 whole ham

Place in a large roasting pan, with the poultry in the middle.

Add 2 cups of chicken stock and sprinkle all meat with garlic powder. Be sure to cover entire meat heavily with the garlic powder. Cover tightly with alumni foil and bake at a very low temperature, 200 degrees.

Josefa puts the meat in the oven around 11 pm or Midnight and takes it out about 7 pm. She then lets it sits completely covered all morning, to let the juices really set in.

This meal is outrageously delicious! The next morning the smell in the house was almost too much to bear. The meat was so tender it fell apart and the taste was out of this world. She adds no salt because the meats take the flavors of the other meats as they cook. The ham provides the salt flavoring for everything.

I went to my parent’s house bragging about the meal Josefa had cooked and we may try it for my family’s Christmas.

(On a side note: I submitted a couple of my own recipes to Paula Deen a week ago. Yesterday in the mail was a hand written envelope and letter thanking me for my recipes. And, informing me that Michael, who is Paula’s husband, was ready to be the official taste tester. Now, I’m sure it wasn’t Paula herself that wrote the letter to me, but it was handwritten, and to me that still means a lot. Also, the timing in which I received a response back impressed me. Thanks Paula!)

November 27, 2006

Here's to Another Great Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Holidays are all about family, to me that is. When I think back to my favorite holiday memories I can remember playing with my cousins on grandma and grandpa’s farm, swinging from the barn swing on Thanksgiving, my cousins and I decorating our grandparent’s trees with Christmas lights and opening those cherished presents.

As I have matured and grown my holidays are spent reminiscing about old stories with my brothers, chatting about the grandkids with my sister-in-laws, listening to mom and dad talk about their own stories about each one of us kids and watching whatever sport my be on the television.

Dave, Kara, Syd, Hunter Luke Baldwin

This is my older brother David and his beautiful family. He has three highly rambunctious children (Sydnee, Hunter and Luke) and a very special wife, Kara, who is a dear friend to me. I had the opportunity to begin teaching Sydnee how to crochet this Thanksgiving. I sure hope she sticks with it.

Mike, Audrey and Logan Baldwin

My other brother Mike has one smart and totally adorable little boy, Logan, and another one that is due next summer. His wife Audrey I’ve known since I was in the seventh grade. Audrey and I spent this weekend bringing up old stories about Mike in his younger and wilder days.

Yes, it’s true. The holidays are about time spent with family and the great food that comes along with each meal. As I have grown it’s the holidays that have become some of my favorite memories with my family.

It was during the holidays that I first really learned to cook a few of my family’s cherished recipes. My mother would watch over my shoulder each time a measured or added an ingredient into a pie mixture or a casserole. But, as I have grown I’ve noticed that she now sits back and watches, and now I can teach her some new recipes.

McConnell Family 06

For example, one family favorite during Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Baldwin family is to serve my Grandmother’s Famous Sweet Potatoes. Well, this year I wanted to try a new sweet potato dish.

I made Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Bake for my husband’s family Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Although, I did think the recipe was a little too sweet. (I decreased the amount of sugar in the Sweet Potato Bake to ½ cup of white sugar instead of the 1 cup it called for.)

My mother was getting ready to start boiling the potatoes and I told her that we should try something different than Grandma’s recipe. I don’t think she was too fond of the idea to start with, but after telling her how much easier and fun it would be she agreed.

As she watched me make the dish she said, “Looks to easy to be good.” That’s my mother….a country cook through and through. I told her not to worry.

Mom and Dad

When my family all sat down and began eating, the comments about the casserole started to fly. First, my father asked where his sweet potatoes were and I told him, “Right here, but this year we made a casserole instead.” He didn’t have a very happy look on his face. (My dad looks forward to Grandma’s Sweet Potatoes every year….so needless to say he was a little disappointed.)

But as everyone around the table began eating the bake they all had wonderful comments, even every single one of my family’s four grandkids. My mother even said she thinks she’ll start making this recipe more often.

Sometimes it’s good to try new holiday recipes, even though you may be highly attached to those old holiday classics. Be creative this holiday and try something new in your family. You might just be pleasantly surprised and discover a new family favorite.

Here’s a Schoeneberg family favorite that Beth shared with me a couple of months ago. I finally got around to trying it out and it’s a true winner in my book.

Beth Schoeneberg

24 Graham crackers crushed (about 2 cups)
1/3 C sugar
½ C butter
2 eggs beaten
¾ C Sugar
8oz Cream Cheese
2 C pumpkin
3 Egg yolks
½ C sugar
½ C Milk
½ tsp salt
1 T Cinnamon
1 Pkg. Envelope plain gelatin
¼ C Water – cold
3 Egg Whites
¼ C sugar
½ Pint Whipping Cream (or Cool Whip)

Mix graham crackers, 1/3 C sugar and ½ C butter. Press into 9"x13" pan. Mix the 2 eggs, ¾ C sugar and creamed cheese – pour over graham cracker crust. Bake at 350o for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add gelatin dissolved in cold water – set aside.

In a saucepan on the stove top, cook pumpkin, egg yolks, ½ C sugar, milk, salt and cinnamon until mixture thickens. Add gelatin mixture and allow to cool. Beat egg whites and ¼ C sugar and fold into pumpkin mixture. Pour over cooled baked crust. Top with Whipped cream.

November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving is Finally Here

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I can hardly wait. We always spend Thanksgiving Day with my in-laws in Mt. Vernon. My mother-in-law Josefa cooks a mean turkey and stuffing and a wonderful Chocolate Silk Pie.

I remember my first Thanksgiving with the McConnell family. The whole house smelled as good as my mother’s own house. Josefa makes everything from scratch, which I believe is the only true way to cook a Thanksgiving dinner.

Her turkey is what I recall the most though. She puts it in the oven the night before, stuffing and all, and bakes it all night at a very low temperature. I always wake up in the morning wanting to eat turkey for breakfast!

Her turkey is so moist, tender and succulent….Oh, I can hardly wait until tomorrow.

For the McConnell Thanksgiving I’ve made a couple of items to bring along for dinner. I made a batch of the Molasses Spice Cookies (Which if you haven’t tried this recipe yet, you really should. These cookies are the perfect snack while waiting to indulge in turkey and stuffing.), a Texas Pecan Pie (Josefa usually makes her Chocolate Silk Pie and a Cherry Pie for Charlie’s dad, Raymond), a bottle of Champaign (for a fun night) and a Sweet Potato Bake (A recipe a recently I tried from my most recent Paula Deen magazine.) I’ve included this recipe in today’s post. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

Sweet potatoes are a true southern delicacy. What would a southern Thanksgiving be without sweet potatoes?

Sending you Happy Thanksgiving wishes and your best dishes!

Sweet Potato Bake
By Paula Deen

3 cups cooked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ cup heavy cream or half and half

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 T. melted butter

Mix all ingredients for bake except the cream. Beat at medium speed. Then add cream and mix well. Pour into a 2 quart greased dish.

For the topping mix all ingredients together with a fork and sprinkle over the top of casserole.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

November 21, 2006

The Party was a HIT

Mom and Dad

This weekend was a joyous occasion for my entire family.

On Saturday, we celebrated my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary with a surprise party in Ava, Mo at the Lion’s Club. More than 90 people showed up to join in the fun. I heard from so many people what an accomplishment 40 years of marriage is in today’s life and how proud and happy they were for my family.

This is so true. Being a happy married couple for 40 years isn’t as easy task. Here are some words I had for my parent’s at the party.

Party Shot

First of all, congratulations, mom and dad.

Forty years of doing anything is a long time, and forty years of a happy married life is really quite remarkable.

You know, even though things have changed in so many ways since your wedding day, more than 5 million people still get married in this country every year.

And I believe one reason they still choose to do that is because they've seen people like you two demonstrate how well it can work.

Table Decor

My brothers and I have gone through so many different stages, changing ideas and goals while searching for what we wanted out of life. Like when dad found out Mike and David were drag racing the fifty-five car. And needless to say their keys to the car were taken away quite quickly and I had partners on the school bus, my brothers.

Mom and dad you both were always ready to help us at all times when we asked. Just like all the times I would come home from college my freshmen year with 10 loads of laundry and somehow by the time I got ready to leave on Sunday to drive back to college all my clothes were clean and folded…thank you mom.

The Party Cake

It must have seemed like at times your kids would never follow one straight path. I have some many stories that I could say here, but will refrain because finally all three of us are finally on the path to success, because you both supported our decisions, even when you knew they weren’t always the right decisions at the time.

Now that we are all three grown and we know what we are doing and what paths we want our lives to follow, we can only show you our extreme appreciation for your support by being true to all the morels and values that you tried to teach us, through the years.

Thank you for standing by and letting us make our own mistakes, even if we had to make them a couple of times before finally learning our lessons. You both were there when we needed a hand to help us back up.

You were always there to help us when times were rough. Like cattle workings on the Bar 5 Ranch that ended with some yelling because someone let the wrong cow out the know how it goes…we are supposed to read each other minds, right dad?

Mom and Dad Saying Thanks

You were always there to laugh or cry with us when we needed your understanding. Oh, by the way dad I still swear it was David that busted a hole in Grandma’s green globe lamp, not me. He started it, I swear!

But most important you were always there to love us and we want to assure you that we will always be here to love you both. You have watched all three of us grow up, graduate, marry, buy our first homes, start our own jobs, raise children or dogs in my case, and through everything you have been wonderful parents and friends to Dave, Mike and me.

Forty years of marriage isn’t an easy task. But you both make it look effortless…

It takes compassion, understanding, compromising even when you think you are right, making up after a disagreement, listening to each other, keeping that spark alive, working together to raise your children, knowing when to let go when your children are grown-up, but mainly making a marriage last for forty years takes love. You both have shown your family and friends what true love is and we thank you for that.

Grant Haden Toast

At the party our family friend, Grant Haden, also gave a toast to my beautiful parents and my grandmother Golden Hart. I want to thank him for his kind and thoughtful words about my family.

We also rented a big screen tv to show a Baldwin family video that showed photos starting from my parent’s births, all the way to present day. The video included photos of my parent’s growing up, their wedding photos, the births of each one of their children and all of us growing up and marrying, grandkids and a video clip from each one of our families.

I remember looking at my parent’s halfway through the video and they were hugging one another and they both had the happiest looks on their faces! Watching them was true enjoyment.

My Parents

I’ve never seen my parent’s look so happy before. Smiles, tears and laughter all night. I’m so proud to call myself a Baldwin and I’m even prouder of the family that I have been fortunate to be apart of for 25 years. I hope that one day that I will be able to say that I have been married for 40 years to my best friend and husband, Charlie. Watching my parents is an inspiration to my husband and me and I hope that today you all will give thanks to your parents for all they have done for you and yours.

I'll have a group shot of the entire family later on....I'm waiting on it from one of my brothers.

November 17, 2006

Home Cooking is Blog of the Week

To my surprise this morning, I had an email from Adwina of informing me that my blog (Home Cooking is What I Like) had been chosen for Blog of the Week! WOW!

My blog post, 40 Years of Marriage, is the post that Adwina enjoyed so much! I encourage everyone to take a look at her own blog, It’s a wonderful site for parents and families.

Thanks Adwina! I appreciate your thoughtfulness and thanks for your very nice comment about my parents.

I finished up my baking for my parent’s anniversary party late last night. I made two loaves of Chocolate Zucchini Bread, to go along with the Cheesy Potato Casserole, dips and Melting Moment Cookies from Thankfully, everything is packed up and ready to make the drive down to southern Missouri after work today.

My Explorer is so loaded down I don’t know how me, my husband and our two kids (really our dogs: Rudy and Lizzy) will fit? But we’ll make room.

I am so excited for tomorrow night, I can hardly wait to see the expression on my parent’s faces when they realize that the party they thought was for their friends is really their own 40th Anniversary Party! Priceless…..

I’ll be sure to share photos from the party next week, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ve got a recipe from my gal pal Kasie today for Tasty Tomato Bread. Yummy is all I have to say for this scrumptious recipe.

Tasty Tomato Bread
by Kasie Zimmerman

1 loaf of fancy French bread
Favorite cheese thinly grated
Cooked chicken breast
1 can of Del Monte diced tomatoes with basil and garlic
Olive oil
Fresh garlic

Cook chicken breast to taste. Cut into bit size pieces. Slice bread.

In a skillet on medium heat warm olive oil, and garlic. Place bread into oil. Spoon chicken onto bread. Cover with cheese.

Keep heat medium to low, so cheese will melt and the bread will get golden brown but not burnt.

Warm tomatoes in a separate bowl.

You can place the tomatoes on top of bread or serve on side.

French Bread, I like to use an “everything bread” it has onions, poppy seeds, and other yummy things cooked on top. I have used both Pepper Jack cheese, and Colby Monterey Jack. Both are good and give it entirely different flavors. For Garlic I keep a jar of garlic in my fridge. I just spoon a bit into the oil.

Del Monte tomatoes seem to have the most consistent taste. They are not overpowering but still yummy. What is also great is I made this using left over chicken. I had a breast in my fridge already cooked. Chopped her up and used her. So this is ideal for planning ahead.

November 16, 2006

Cooking up a Storm

Last night was an experience. I began cooking and preparing the food to take to my parent’s 40th anniversary party last night and found that I may have placed too much on my plate.

I started the cheesy potato casserole (which I have changed the ingredients for, the recipe is below). I found myself making a casserole to serve 90 people and having some issues.

First, I have never made a dish to serve 90 people so I had no idea what I was doing. I had casserole strung all over the kitchen, seasonings, hash browns, bowls, spoons and I was almost ready to cry!

Why? Because I couldn’t get the casserole mixed together like I wanted. I was working with about 6 pounds of hash browns and was about to have a nervous breakdown, but then my husband came in the kitchen and help me divide up the casserole mixture into four large bowls. It made for a much easier time mixing up the casserole ingredients. My husband is so terrific, I’m so very lucky to have him.

I’m kind of a worry-wart, actually I’m a perfectionist when it comes to cooking. I wanted everything to be beautiful and taste simply perfect for the party. I think that is why I’ve been a little stressed about getting all the food just right.

I also made about 100 of the Melting Moment cookies which I mentioned is yesterday’s post. My kitchen was a total disaster area after finishing everything up. But, everything is almost ready, except for the Chocolate Zucchini Bread that I will be making tonight.

Today I have included my revised copy of the recipe for the Cheesy potato casserole. I used my grandmother’s original recipe, but I’ve made quite a few changes to it.

Also, I was recently asked to submit a photo and a few of my recipes to Ozark Farm & Neighbor newspaper. The paper puts together a cookbook and places photos of local farm cooks. I submitted a few of my favorites, including a recipe from Simply Recipes that I recently made for Molasses Spice Cookies. I’ve made a couple of changes to the original recipe.

Creamy Potato Casserole (revised)
by Grandma and Lane

1 (2 pound) package frozen hash brown potatoes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can creamy onion soup
2 T Italian seasonings
1 T. garlic powder1/4 cup butter, melted
2 8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Corn flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).Combine all ingredients, except corn flakes and butter. Be sure to combine well. Pour into a 9x13 inch dish. Sprinkle corn flakes over the top of casserole and sprinkle the melted butter.
Bake 30 to 45 minutes. Serve warm

Molasses Cookies

Molasses Spice Cookies
Simply Recipes, with changes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus
1/3 cup white sugar for rolling cookies
1 large egg1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphered molasses, plus a little more

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk.

Cream butter for 2 minutes, then add sugars and beat another 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla extract and molasses. Beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Please cookies dough in refrigerator for 1 hour. (This will allow the dough to become hard and makes it much easier to roll into perfect balls.

When dough is ready, roll into golf ball sized balls and roll in a bowl of sugar to coat the entire ball. Place on a baking stone or cookie sheet, about 1 ½ inches apart. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the top of the cookie. (This makes the cookie have a very pretty “cracked or crinkled effect.”)

Bake for about 12 minutes and then let cool for 4 minutes before placing on a rack to cool. It’s very important that you do not overcook these cookies.

November 15, 2006

40 Years of Marriage

Boy is it a cold and rainy day in Mid-Mo. I woke up late last night to rain and it was still raining when I left for work today.

It’s that time of the year I guess. Rain, sleet, snow, high winds and lots of holiday traveling through it all.

Speaking of traveling, my husband and I are taking a ride down to southern Missouri Friday. This Saturday my sister-in-laws, Audrey and Kara, me and my husband and my brothers will be hosting a “surprise” 40th Anniversary party for my parents.

I can mention this on my blog because my parent’s do not have the internet (they aren’t very computer savvy, nor do they care if they ever are). So, I can mention this surprise to all of you.

About 4 months ago I began making plans with my siblings on hosting a party to celebrate our parent’s marriage of 40 years, which I think is a HUGE accomplishment. Can you imagine: 40 years! I can’t. They experiences they must have had together, raising and teaching 3 children, watching those children grow up, become their own person and then those children having their own children. WOW! That’s all I have to say. I just hope that I will have a marriage as strong and loving as my folks.

Back to the party. I made the initiations, which read:

On November 27, 1966 a very special
couple said, “I Do.”
Now forty years later their hearts are
full of happy past memories
and bright future hopes.
Our family warmly invites you to join us
for a night celebrating 40 years of
marriage between our parents

Janith Lou
David L Baldwin Jr.

We will be hosting a
“surprise” anniversary party on
November 18, 2006
at 6:00 P.M. at the
Lions Club Community Building
in Ava, Missouri.

The invites were printed on vellum paper and on the back of the invites, I tied a wedding photo of my folks. Needless, to say the invites were as “classy” as both of my parents.

Wedding Photo

To get my parent’s to come to their “surprise” party I also made a “fake” invitation, which invited my folks and their children to attend two of their friend’s 50th wedding anniversary. Same date and place, just arriving 30 minutes later than the original party for them.

Everything is a go for the party this weekend. We are decorating the entire place in fall décor with pumpkins, Indiana corn (from my garden), straw bails, gourds, leaves, wonderful smelling candles and tons of fall color with ribbons, flowers, tablecloths, candle holders and everything else you could imagine.

Their anniversary cake is being made by one of my sister-in-law’s mother. The cake will be adorned with fall colored leaves and a classic white color.

The menu includes: Croissant sandwiches (which we had catered in), chili (my brother Dave is making this), lettuce and pasta salads (my sister in laws are bringing these), Mexican Layered Dip (my cousin Lana is providing), Deviled Eggs (my Aunt Norma is making), Fruit Tray and Dip (from my Aunt Pat), punch, soda, Missouri wines, Champaign, whiskey, beer……I need to stop.

For my part of the food, I am making Melting Moment cookies, Chocolate Zucchini Breads, a Cheesy Potato Casserole, a few cream cheese dips for cookies and fruit and Pomegranate Punch.
We are expecting 96 people as of today. Besides hosting the party, my siblings and I also had Dogwood Video put together an anniversary video for my parents. I organized more than 200 photos, beginning with my parent’s growing up years, their wedding, honeymoon, the births of all three children and so on. Also on the video are video clips from each of our own families. We rented a big screen tv to play the video for them at the party.

It will be a very joyous occasion and I’ll be sure to post photos from the party next week. So, be looking for them.

I’ve got three very simple recipes from more of my co-workers today. A simple Oven Steak Supper is perfect for this time of the year, since grilling season is kinda over. Julie brought in these wonderful oatmeal bars the other for me to nibble on and Georgia has a great recipe for more holiday cooking.

Wedding Photo

Oven Steak Supper
by Susan Phillips

1 ½ lbs. round steak
1 envelop dry soup mix
6 carrots (quartered)
2 stalks celery (halved)
4 medium potatoes (halved)
2 T. butter
½ tsp. salt

Place meat in center of 3-ft. length of foil. Sprinkle meat with soup mix; cover with vegetables; dot with butter and sprinkle with salt. Fold foil and secure to hold juices. Place on baking sheet; bake for 1 ½ hours at 375 degrees.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
By Julie Harker

Oatmeal Mixture:
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 and 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 and 1/2 c. whole oats
1/4 c. water (optional)

Chocolate mixture:

1 pkg. dark chocolate chips
1 c. sweetened condensed milk
2 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 c. chopped pecans

Oatmeal Mixture: Mix brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flours, baking soda, salt and oats. Stir in water if too dry. Reserve 1/3 of mixture for topping. Press the rest into the bottom of a 13 x9 pan.

Chocolate Mixture: Melt in pan over low heat the chocolate chips, condensed milk, and butter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt and nuts.
Spread over oat base. Top with clumps of reserved oatmeal mixture.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350, 'til top is browned. Don't overbake. Let cool then cut into bars.

Pecan Pie Bars
by Georgia Munsterman

4 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 cup of butter (softened)
1 ½ cups flour

Mix top 3 ingredients until blended. Spread on cookie covering bottom.

1 egg slightly beaten
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Spread on top of dough
Bake 25-30 minutes
Drizzle w/ chocolate almond bark.

November 14, 2006

Back Home on the Farm

As I have said in previous posts, I am a farm girl that was raised on a registered Charolais beef cattle operation, therefore in my family we ate a lot of beef.

In fact, beef was present at almost every meal in my family. My father believed if you were a beef operator, then you eat what you produce.

Whenever we eat out with my parents, my father almost always orders a steak. He thinks that by ordering and eating what he produces, raises and sells, then he is continuing to market his own product.

I also share the belief in supporting the ag sector you work and live for, but I also think it’s important to support the rest of the livestock ag industry as well….sheep, poultry, pork, ect.

Therefore, I make it custom in my home to purchase beef, pork and poultry, with the occasional lamb purchases. Yes, I prefer beef, but that is because of my rural roots and that will never change.

Now, my father on the other hand, very seldom have I seen him order rack of lamb or chicken in a restaurant. No, I take that back. I have never seen him order chicken in a restaurant. Although, he will occasionally purchase pork loins from one of my college friends though.

Will his preference for beef ever change? No, and that’s fine. But I know that I will encourage my children to venture out of the beef eating circle and find what their own preferences are. Not that my parent’s didn’t encourage my brothers and I to try new things. It’s just easier sometimes, to reap what you sow when you’re a farm family.

Here are a few pork recipes from two of my co-workers that I’ve enjoyed. They are both very easy for any family to prepare during a work week.

Yummy Pie

Pork Chops
by Susan Phillips

6 pork chops (thick)
6 large onion slices
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 c. chili sauce
1 ½ T. lemon juice
¾ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Arrange chops in pan or cookie sheet lined with foil. Top each chop with onion slice. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chops. Cover with foil and bake 350 degrees for 1 -1 ½ hours.

Yummy Pie

Ham & Potato Frittata
by Julie Harker

Eight eggs, beaten
1 10 oz. can of Cream of Potato condensed soup
1/2 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. thyme, ground
Black Pepper, ground, to taste
1 C. ham, chopped

Mix eggs and milk. Stir in soup and garlic powder, ground thyme and pepper. Stir in ham and cheese. Pour into 9 x 13 buttered casserole dish. Bake 25 min. at 350 degrees. Serves plenty of people!

November 13, 2006

Pineapple Upside-Down Biscuits

Happy Monday everyone!

I’m so excited to share a great recipe with you from Ms. Paula.

My mother spent all weekend with me, as this was our yearly holiday shopping outing. Every year, during opening gun season my mother retreats to my house to get away from all the men folk who come to my parent’s house for deer season. My brothers, father, husband and all their friends travel to my parent’s farm for opening weekend every year. It’s a big event for us rural folks in Missouri.

We started this tradition a couple of years ago. We spend all weekend Christmas shopping, making new holiday recipes and mainly bonding. My mother is my very best friend and I admire and love her so very much. She is an amazing woman, and I enjoy each and every moment I get to spend with her.

We were all over the place trying to finish up our Christmas shopping this weekend, taking advantage of the Veteran’s Day sales. The best part is we both achieved getting all of our shopping completed.

Over the weekend, my mother was reading one of my Paula Deen magazines and she came across Ms. Paula’s recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Biscuits. She decided she wanted to make these and see how they turned out. So, we headed to one of the local markets on our way back to the house after finishing our shopping on Sunday, and picked up some of the ingredients.

There are only 6 ingredients to this recipe!

We prepared and baked the biscuits and then we were ready to try out our experiment. They were wonderful!

I really enjoy the sweetness of the pineapple mixture of the flaky biscuits. It makes the creation not as sweet as it would be if it was made like the traditional upside-down cake.

These biscuits would be perfect alongside any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but I think they make a great addition to a holiday breakfast or brunch. If you purchase the large biscuits, you may have to cut the biscuits a little smaller, depending on the size of muffin pan you have, to make them fit.

Yummy Pie

Pineapple Upside-Down Biscuits
From Paula Deen
makes 10 biscuits

1 (10-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
10 maraschino cherries
1 (12-ounce) package refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (10 count)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 10 cups of a muffin tin.In medium bowl, combine pineapple, sugar, and butter, and mix well. Divide pineapple mixture among the muffin cups. Place a cherry in the center of each muffin cup. Place one biscuit in each cup on top of pineapple mixture.

Pour about 1 teaspoon pineapple juice over each biscuit.Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Cool for 2 minutes. Invert the pan onto a plate to release the biscuits. Serve warm.

November 10, 2006

What will they come up with next?

Yummy Pie

This morning a co-worker of mine passed along a link to Season Shot. He said, “You won’t believe this.”

I opened the link to find a man had developed ammunition for birds that was seasoned. This is from the website:

Season Shot is made of tightly packed seasoning bound by a fully biodegradable food product. The seasoning is actually injected into the bird on impact, seasoning the meat from the inside out. When the bird is cooked the seasoning pellets melt into the meat spreading the flavor to the entire bird. Forget worrying about shot breaking your teeth and start wondering about which flavor shot to use!

I was amazed and very intrigued with this type of invention. I began to think about all the cooks everywhere. Would they think this is a way to bring dinner to the table quicker? Could this actually be safe and taste good? How much would something like this cost? Doesn’t this take the fun away from cooking?

Cooking isn’t supposed to be easy and what I’ve found is if the meal is too easy you miss out on that home cooked taste. Now, saying that, I will admit that there are some meals that are easier than others and still have that home cooked taste. But when it comes to cooking poultry I believe that time and care must be spent to achieve great taste. I’m not saying that I won’t try this new seasoned ammunition when it comes out on the market, but I do have my doubts about the taste of the meat with such an easy cooking procedure.

Unfortunately, Season Shot will not be available in time for Thanksgiving, according to the website. Too bad. That would have been an excellent time to release this product and use some really inventive marketing schemes.

I have to say, though, I highly doubt that this seasoned shot will EVER taste as good as grandma’s Thanksgiving roast turkey. I’m a believer that it takes patience and time to create that perfect balance of seasonings that make that special Thanksgiving feast so perfect. I don’t think that one shot of seasonings from a shot gun can do the same thing as two loving and caring cooking hands can do.

Speaking of birds, I’ve got a recipe for a roasted turkey to share today that is as close to my grandmother’s recipe that I can find. My Grandmother Pat passed away quite awhile ago. Her roasted turkey at Thanksgiving is just one of her recipes that I wish I could recreate. I’ve tried and this recipe from Fine Cooking is the closet one that I’ve came across. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Until next time, keep your hands floured and your ovens hot!

Simple Butter Rubbed Roast Turkey
From Fine Cooking, with some changes to the original recipe

1 turkey (about 14 lb.), preferably fresh, completely thawed if frozen
3 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
9 cloves garlic
2 Golden Delicious apples (unpeeled), cored and quartered
6 sprigs fresh thyme
6 leaves fresh sage
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups apple cider
2 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth; more if needed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Rinse the turkey well and pat it dry with paper towels. Season the chest cavity with some of the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Put four of the onion quarters, the garlic, the apples, four of the thyme sprigs, and four of the sage leaves in the chest cavity. Secure the legs under the flap of tail skin or tie them together. Bend the wingtips back behind the turkey, securing any loose neck skin underneath the wingtips.

Brush the turkey with the butter. Season the turkey with the rest of the salt and more pepper. Put the turkey, breast side down, on the roasting rack. Scatter the remaining onion quarters and herbs in the roasting pan. Add the neck, tail, gizzard, and heart to the pan, along with 1-1/2 cups of the apple cider and 1 cup of the broth (you’ll use the remaining cider for basting and the remaining chicken broth for the gravy). Roast for 30 minutes. Baste the turkey with the pan juices, and roast another 30 minutes.

Remove the turkey from the oven, turn the turkey breast side up. (The turkey won’t be very hot at this point.) Baste with the pan juices, return the turkey to the oven with the breast facing the opposite direction from the way it was (you will have flipped and rotated it). Roast for another 1 hour, basting occasionally.

After the turkey has roasted for 2 hours total, begin basting with the remaining apple cider every 30 minutes, rotating the position of the pan to brown the bird evenly. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. (When the internal temperature of a thigh is 155° to 160°F, the turkey is about 30 minutes away from being done; a 14-pound unstuffed turkey takes about 3 hours.) When the turkey is done, tilt it over the roasting pan to let the juices in the main cavity run into the pan. Transfer the turkey to a carving board or serving platter and tent it loosely with foil. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

November 9, 2006

Silver Dollar City Here We Come

Can you believe we are only 45 days away from Christmas? Even better we are only 14 days from Thanksgiving!

I am so excited for my mom’s home cooking and visiting with family around the table with a wonderful glass of wine.

My husband and I are planning a trip down south to Branson in December for our yearly tradition to Silver Dollar City, or known to us native southern Missourians as "Steal Your Dollar City!"

Yes, it’s expensive to get into the park, almost $50 per adult, but we do it every year. I love to go through the park, see all the beautiful twinkling lights, hear the Christmas music played by some of the local artists, watch the Saloon Show and eat a deep fried Oreo and drink some hot wassail.

To me it’s all worth the money. All the shops are open (and there are some very unique shops at SDC), plus if you are looking for that certain special gift for someone, I’m sure you’ll find it there. Also, may of the non-water rides are still open to have some play time around the park.

The food is the best part of SDC. As I mentioned above they serve freshly made hot cocoa, wassail, deep fried Oreos, Twinkies, and everything else you could possibly fry. You wouldn’t think a deep fried Oreo would be very good would you, WRONG! It’s wonderful! You’ll just have to trust me on this one and try it.

If you have never been to SDC, I would take a family trip there either in the winter for the Christmas Time Celebration, in the fall (there are a ton a fall festivals that go on) or in the springtime. I wouldn’t however go in the summertime during any holiday. It’s during this time that the park is so packed, it’s just really not worth going. Unless you like to be herded around an amusement park like cattle.

Here are two recipes from some more of my co-workers and they are both wonderful desserts! The best part is that they are very easy to make.

Chocolate Chip Cookie – Cheesecake
by Clarice Brown

1 batch chocolate chip cookie dough,
Or 2 rolls of chocolate chip cookie dough
2 8-oz cream cheese (softened)
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Mix cheese, sugar, vanilla & eggs until creamy.
Set Aside.

Press ¾ of cookie dough till flat in a 12 inch cake pan (spring loaded works well). Pour cream cheese over the top, then crumble the rest of the cookie dough on the top.

Bake uncovered 40 minutes or till just turning brown.Cook in pan one hour, then refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Fruit Cobbler
by Pam Smith

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of flour
1 ½ tsp of Baking Powder

¾ cup of Milk

Melt 1 stick of butter in bottom of baking pan. Pour batter into pan over the butter. Add 1 ¾ cup of fruit – Peaches / Cherries / Blackberries / Blueberries, etc. Pour 1 cup of sugar over this. Bake 30 minutes at 350.

*Old family recipe

November 8, 2006

The Results are In

The Learfield Chili Cook-Off results are in.

Our company Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Clyde Lear made the annoucement this afternoon right before lunch. Congrats!

1st place went to Katie Bellers for her White Chicken Chili.

White Chicken Chili
By Katie Bellers
1st Place Winner in Chili Cook-Off

3-4 cups cooked and chopped chicken
3 cans Great Northern Beans
1 can Navy Beans
1 can Pinto Beans
1 can chopped green chilies
1 small onion, chopped
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop onion and sauté in olive oil until onions are soft and transparent. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and simmer for 1 hour on low. Top with sour cream and Monterey Jack cheese.

2nd place went to me for my White Lightening Chili (recipe is listed in previous post.)

3rd place went to Alicia Edwards for her Momma's Hearty Chili.

Momma’s Hearty Chili
By Alicia Edwards
3rd Place Winner of Chili Cook-Off

2 lbs of ground beef
1 yellow onion diced
1 can of stewed tomatoes
1 10oz can of tomato sauce
1 jar of RAGU chunky veggies spaghetti sauce
2 cans of Mexican style chili bean
1can of hot chili beans
2 cans of kidney beans
2 can of pork and beans
3 packs if chili seasoning (hot or mild)
1/3 cup of Alicia’s seasoning blend
1/3 cup of chili powder
1/2 cup of sugar (if desired)

In a large sauce pan begin to brown the ground beef with the diced onions. While the meat is browning open all your canned item and 1 pack of chili seasoning and put them in a large cooking pot, turn them on medium heat and let them start to heat up. When the meat is browned drain off excess grease, and return to stove top on medium heat add the spaghetti sauce, the remainder of the chili seasoning, Alicia’s season blend, and the Chili powder. Mix it well and let it start to bubble, once it starts to bubble mix it with the ingredients in the pot, add sugar and let simmer for about 15 minutes , with occasional string so it doesn’t stick. The longer you let it cook the better it taste.

Try something new!
Something I found to be really tasty, it to put a peanut butter sandwich in the bottom of your bowl and cover it with chili, so that every bite has a bit of peanut butter sandwich in it…very yummy!

Company Chili Cook-Off Today

Today the 2nd Annual Learfield Chili Cook-Off is being held. I believe we will have 11 pots of chili entered in the contest. I just love our company food competitions. We have a great group of people that work at Learfield and they are always willing to pitch in extras. The ones that aren’t bringing in a crock of chili are pitching in peanut butter, Fritos, bags of all types of shredded cheese, saltine crackers, soda, pie, the list goes on and on.

I made a pot of chili, but it’s the non-traditional type. Instead of the traditional tomato based chili, I made my own white chili. Why? Simple: I wanted to be different. Sometimes in these type of contests judges like “different.” I just hope that is true in this case.

People are funny about chili, you never know what they will like. For instance, I love sweet tomato based chili, but others think that the word sweet and chili should not be in the same sentence. My husband loves hot and spicy and I do mean hot chili. I can’t handle really hot food. I think that if I have to suffer while I eat my food then there is a problem.

Either way, we all have our own preferences when it comes to chili. Here is the recipe to my own McConnell White Lightening Chili. Let me know what you think of it.

White Chili

McConnell White Lighting Chili
by Lane

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut up or chicken tenders
2 cans great northern beans, rinsed
1 whole white onion, diced
2 cups frozen white corn
2 yellow bell pepper, diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3-6 habanera peppers, depending on how “hot” you want it
½ cup white wine
* 4-6 cups of chicken broth
2 small cans of green chilies, chopped
4 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. Italian seasonings
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 -1/2 tbsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 lime, squeezed for juice
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Parsley to garnish with

In a large skillet heat oil and sauté chicken, garlic and onion. Cook for about 12 minutes or until chicken is done.

In a large pot (I use a Dutch oven) add chicken broth, cumin, coriander, pepper and salt, lime juice, green chilies, chili flakes, Italian seasonings, peppers ( if want a milder tasting chili use less peppers about 3 because 6 makes it very HOT) and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, cover with lid, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the chicken, garlic and onion mixture, plus the corn, beans, yellow bell pepper green chilies and white wine. Check you seasonings at this point and see if they suit your taste buds.

Cover and let simmer for approximately 30-35 minutes.

When finished, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Garnish with the shredded cheese and parsley; serve with crusty garlic bread or tortilla chips.

*Depending on how thick you like your chili add or reduce the amount of liquid.

*Please serve this to the judges with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkled cheese and a few sprinkles of parsley.

November 7, 2006

My Christmas Wish List

Christmas is just around the corner and we are all busy getting our shopping started or some might be already finishing up…that’s me I only have a couple of gifts left to purchase. I start early because I dislike that long lines of cranky Christmas shoppers in the mall. It always dampens the holiday spirit for me. You know what I’m talking about the long lines of screaming kids and parents, getting hit and pushed by the lady that has at least seven bags in her hands as she tried to beat you to the check-out and the entire stress of the entire shopping experience that last from Thanksgiving until about the second or third week of January.

My husband and I started shopping for Christmas gifts around September and we are always done before Dec 1. It’s made shopping much easier and you can take part in the sales.

You are probably wondering the point to my post. Well, here it is. My husband asked me, as he does each year, to write out a Christmas list. This year I went above and beyond because I even included links to the photos and description of each gift that was on my wish list. Here are some of my Christmas wishes…

1.) Leather Jacket (Size Women’s Medium)
2.) 5 or 8 cup food processor
3.) Paula Deen Cookbook (Savannah County Cookbook)
4.) House shoes from Bass Pro (Size 91/2)
5.) Dutch Oven either Cast Iron or Le Creuset brand
6.) Estee Lauder perfume (Beyond Paradise)
7.) Games (Can get at Wal-mart) : DVD type: Win Lose or Draw, Family Feud or Trivia Pursuit 80’s Edition
8.) Carrie Underwood CD
9.) Box grater
10.) Cuisipro Herb Mill
11.) Kitchen Aid Can Opener
12.) Apple Corer Slicer
13.) Taylor Connoisseur Digital Instant Read Thermometer
14.) Emile Henry Couleurs Soufflé Dish
15.) Kitchen Aid Roaster Pan, not the stainless steel kind
16.) Calphalon 11 inch grill pan
17.) Marshall Fields Cookbook
18.) Dooney and Burke Wallet
19.) Tall Wooden Jewelry Box from JcPenney’s

What’s are some of the things on your Christmas list this year? As you can tell from my list I want some things for my kitchen. I don’t know why but when I get a new gadget or kitchen item I am so happy.

Today I have a great dish to take to those upcoming holiday parties you may have on your schedule. This is an easy recipe that Clarice provided for the Learfield Cookbook.

Yummy Pie

BBQ Meatballs
by Clarice Brown

1 can (13 oz) evaporated milk
3 lbs. hamburger
2 cups quick oatmeal
2 eggs
1 cup chopped onion
½ t. garlic salt
2 t. salt
2 t. chili powder
½ t. pepper

Mix and shape into balls and place in large flat pan, only one layer to each pan.

2 cups catsup
1 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 T. liquid smoke
½ t. garlic salt
½ cup chopped onion

Dissolve and pour over meatballs and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

November 3, 2006

Cheesecake De Luxe

Of all the desserts pie and cheesecake are my two favorites. Well, there’s also Molasses cookies, anything chocolate, carrot cake, cobbler…..ok well cheesecake is still on of my favorites. Truth is I love sweets! I love homemade baked goods and made from scratch desserts. Who doesn’t?
One of my co-workers, Julie, passed along a recipe to me a couple of weeks ago for a cheesecake her husband makes. Yes ladies, I said her HUSBAND! Oh how I wish Charlie would whip me up some cookies ever once in awhile. Anyways, Julie said this is her absolute favorite cheesecake.

I haven’t yet made this recipe yet, and you know I don’t post anything on my blog unless I’ve made it with my own two hands, but Julie (the sweetheart that she is) brought me in a piece the other day. She and I devoured a piece each within a minute flat. It was truly the best cheesecake my lips have ever touched!

Yummy Pie

by Julie Harker
8 servings

6 (8 oz) cream cheese
l/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 3/4 cups plus
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
one quarter cup cream
(see following recipe)

1 quart strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon butter

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon rind. Combine 13/4 cups of the sugar, the flour and salt. Gradually blend into cheese mixture. Beat in eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, and the cream. Beat well. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200°F. Bake for 1 1/2 hours longer, or until set. Turn off heat. Allow cake to remain in the oven with door ajar for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack. Chill.

To prepare the glaze, wash and hull the strawberries. Crush enough berries to make one half cup. Boil the crushed berries, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the water and cornstarch 2 minutes, stirring. Add the butter. Strain and cool. Arrange the whole berries over the top of the cheesecake and pour the glaze over the berries. Chill.

2/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 pound butter
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
l/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400°F.Combine flour, sugar and lemon rind. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Mix. Pat one third of the dough over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with sides removed. Bake for about 6 minutes, or until golden. Cool. Butter the sides of the pan and attach to the bottom. Pat remaining dough around sides to a height of 2 inches.

November 2, 2006

It's Drink Time

It's time to bring out those drink recipes!

I've become a huge fan of collecting drink recipes recently I had to pass along these to you. This winter punch from Beth is wonderful for any large winter party you may be throwing or warm things up with this hot drink from Susan. I love making this at home because of how wonderful the house smells with all the fragrance throughout the air. And for those party hardy people....some adult beverages to indulge in.


Coffee Chocolate Punch
by Beth Schoeneberg

½ C Instant coffee
2 C Hot water
1 C Sugar
1 Gallon milk
½ Gallon chocolate ice cream
½ Gallon vanilla ice cream

In saucepan combine coffee, water and sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool and pour into punch bowl; stir in mil. Add ice creams; stir until smooth. Serves 50

by Susan Phillips

6 c. apple cider
24 oz. pineapple juice
1/3 c. lemon juice
½ c. honey
6 cinnamon sticks
Oranges (cut into slices)

Simmer all ingredients on stove. Put an orange slice and cinnamon stick in each cup.

2 Mai Tai Recipes
from Sara's Kitchen

1 ounce light rum
1 ounce gold rum
1/2 ounce orange curacao

1/2 ounce Orgeat (Almond Syrup)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce dark rum (optional)
Shake all but the dark rum with ice. Strain into old fashioned glass. Top with the dark rum. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

1 ounce aged Jamaican rum
1 ounce Martinique rum
1/2 ounce Curaçao
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce orgeat syrup
1/4 ounce rock candy syrup
Shake well and serve in a double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with spent lime shell and mint sprig.

Hot Chocolate with Mint
from Sara's Kitchen
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
4 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. Dutch process cocoa powder
4 cups milk
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped, plus 1/2 oz., shaved
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
In a bowl, beat the cream and 1 Tbs. of the sugar until soft peaks form. Cover the whipped cream and refrigerate until ready to serve. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the remaining 3 Tbs. sugar and the cocoa. Gradually whisk in the milk. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract. Divide the hot chocolate among warmed mugs. Top each with a dollop of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with the shaved chocolate and serve immediately.
Irish Coffee
Serves 4

8 tsp. sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup whiskey
2 cups hot brewed coffee, or as needed
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly beaten to form soft peaks
Place 2 tsp. sugar in each of 4 mugs. Add 2 Tbs. whiskey to each mug, then fill with coffee. Hold a spoon, rounded side up, over each mug and slowly pour the cream over the spoon, floating it on top of the coffee.

November 1, 2006

Tis the Season

Happy November 1st!

I can’t believe it’s already that time of the year. I was just thinking this morning how fast this year has flown by. We are now in the season of turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing, presents, mistletoe and family gatherings.

This is truly a wonderful time of the year.

To celebrate I’ve included some recipes that I just came across in my recent Paula Deen magazine and I’m planning on making both for my parent’s upcoming surprise 40th Anniversary Party. I’ve been planning this party with my brothers and their wives for the past four months and we are only three weeks away from the big night. We are expecting over 60 guests, so we will have a lot of cooking to do.

I thought these would be great recipes to pass on with the upcoming holidays because I know everyone is planning what they will be serving at dinners and parties.

Yummy Pie

Cheesy Shrimp Dip
By Paula Deen
Makes 10 to 12 servings

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 pound medium fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sliced green onion
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Assorted Crackers

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in shrimp and green onion; cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until shrimp are firm and pink. Stir in sour cream, cheeses, and mayonnaise. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with assorted crackers.

Pomegranate Punch
By Paula Deen
Makes about 7 quarts

2 (32-ounce) bottles pomegranate juice
1 quart orange juice
2 (2-liter) bottles lemon-lime carbonated beverage
Fresh orange slices (optional)

In a large container, combine pomegranate juice and orange juice. Stir in carbonated beverage just before serving. Garnish with fresh orange slices, if desired.