Chicken and Rice Casserole

A Paula Deen recipe;  Sally Johnson brought me a version of this when Sam was born and I think I ate it for three days straight! :)

2 (14 1/2-ounce) can green beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 medium onion, diced and sauteed
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 (4-ounce) can pimentos, drained (I usually leave these out)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (6-ounce) box long-grain and wild rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Cheese Ball

Delicious served with crackers or veggies!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/8 c. butter, softened
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion salt
1/4 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)

Blend cream cheese and butter together.  Add cheese and seasonings.  Form into a ball or log and roll in nuts. 

Note:  To shape it without making a huge mess, refrigerate for 15 minutes or so, then place on a piece of plastic wrap, using that to form your cheese ball.

Black Bean Soup

This is soooooooo tasty and sooooooooo simple!

2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 (16 oz.) cans of black beans
1/2 lb. ham, cubed
1 tsp. cumin
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
Cooked rice, red onion, and sour cream for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot, adding onion and cooking for 10 minutes.  Add beans, ham, cumin, and tomatoes.  Cook for another 20-30 minutes, allowing flavors to combine (I usually let it simmer for up to an hour).  Serve over hot rice and garnish with onion and sour cream.

Grandma Ople's Apple Pie

Ok, no one answered fast enough for me, so I found this recipe. It was really good. I will share.

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
8 tart apples - peeled,cored,sliced, and tossed in 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.


Before living in NY I did not know what good applesauce really was. My mom opened up a jar that she bought from a store and dumped it over our pork chops. Occasionally she would put a little Mott's package in our lunches.
My mother in law taught me how simple and wonderful homemade applesauce really is.
Right now I have hot applesauce on my stove. My house smells heavenly and the taste is even better.

I cut up about 9 to 10 apples. (If you want a side dish for dinner, than just do 4 or 5!)
I used two varieties of apples. Cortland and McIntosh. One is a little more tart and one is a sweeter variety. Use what you have. Try a "U-Pick" farm!
Peel (if you want to, my mother in law didn't always do that!) and core the apples. It will go faster if you do cut them in to smaller pieces, but as long as they are cored, throw them in whole!
Place in a pot on the stove with just a little bit of water to start the steam. I used 1/2 cup of water for 10 apples.
Add cinnamon to taste. Add half brown sugar, half white sugar until you have obtained the desired sweetness. Go easy, let the flavor of the apples come through.
Let them simmer on the stove until the apples turn themselves in to a sauce. Stir it occasionally.
This is great as a side dish, heaped on top of hot waffles, or just a snack.
MMMmmmm. Ya gotta love fall!

Salmon Cakes

Here is the surprise of the century- my family LOVED these. Another hit from Melissa D'Arabian. My kids won't usually eat stuff like this, but it looked easy enough and not expensive, so I decided to try it out. Even Jeff, who's personal mantra is "Fish are friends, not food", said they were "SO GOOD!". Shocking.
I used the smaller cans of Wild Salmon, because they were labeled boneless and skinless. I really didn't want to have to pick through the other stuff and pull bones out. Eeeww. I just stuck my potato in the microwave for 8 minutes with a cup of water in there. Faster. I topped off the cakes with some lemon juice.
I served these with orzo and a veggie. A meal for under $10.

2 strips bacon, cooked until crispy, crumbled, bacon fat reserved
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lemon, zested
1 (14-ounce) can wild salmon, checked for large bones
1 baked or boiled russet potato, peeled, and fluffed with a fork
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Cool the onions for a bit.

Mix the bacon, onion, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the salmon and potato, mixing gently after each addition. Form the mixture into 12 small patties. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper, to taste. Coat the patties in the bread crumb topping. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cook the salmon cakes in batches until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil, as necessary. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.

Yummy Orzo!

This is another Melissa D'arabian dish! I am so in love with her show. My family ate it up very quickly.

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
3/4 cup orzo
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
In a medium saucepan, add the stock, water, pepper flakes, and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo, lower the heat, and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in lemon zest and thyme leaves. Season with salt, to taste, and transfer to a serving bowl.

Best Banana Bread

I love banana bread. I found this recipe about 6 years ago. I can eat a whole loaf of this stuff all on my own. If I make it early enough in the day my husband doesn't even know it ever existed. ;)

3/4 cup butter
2 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup crushed nuts (optional)
5 very ripe bananas
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add vanilla, sour cream, lemon, juice, oil, cinnamon, nuts, and bananas. Add dry ingredients.

Pour batter in to 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

This is a sinful banana bread!

Enchilada Sauce

I wanted to make Amy’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup but I didn’t have any enchilada sauce so I made my own using this recipe I found as a basis and altering it just a little to make it work for me. The way it is written below seemed to be the perfect amount for the soup. Very easy—maybe not as easy as opening a can, but much more flavorful than the canned kind in my opinion. It smelled wonderful as I was cooking it as well.  It is pretty mild but you could spice it up by adding some cayenne pepper, jalapeƱos or hot sauce according to your personal preference.

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2  tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth, divided

Mix spices and olive oil in saucepan over medium heat until fragrant and starting to brown. Slowly add tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth. Cook and stir. Put the flour and the remaining half cup chicken broth into a sealable container (tupperware, etc.) and shake vigorously to combine. Slowly stir flour-broth mixture into the rest of the sauce and stir until sauce comes to a boil. (This method helps me to avoid lumps.) Boil and stir one minute.  Use as a red sauce over enchiladas, chicken, beef, etc.

I’m thinking it wouldn’t be too hard to make a large batch of this and bottle it. I read that it doesn’t freeze well though.

Chicken Catch-A-Tory Ravioli Stew

A Rachael Ray favorite from a few years ago -- seriously delicious.

3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. rosemary or Herbs de Provence
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (15 oz.) can stewed tomatoes with peppers, onions, and celery
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and chopped
1 c. tomato sauce
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
6 c. chicken broth
3/4 - 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. fresh ravioli, any flavor (I use frozen -- either cheese or Italian sausage)

Add olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms to soup pot/Dutch oven, and saute over low heat, seasoning with rosemary, salt and pepper while cooking. Add tomatoes, red peppers, tomato sauce, spinach and chicken broth to pot. Bring to a boil. Add chicken. When soup returns to a boil and chicken has cooked through (about 10 minutes), add ravioli, cooking until done. Serve with Romano (or parmesan, if you haven't come to the realization that Romano is better :) cheese sprinkled/shredded over the top and crusty bread.

Anne’s Pumpkin Squares

This recipe comes from my sister, Anne (thus the name). They’re a great fall treat for Family Home Evening or pretty much anytime. I plan to make them this week. If I pretend it’s autumn here maybe I can fool myself into believing it despite the still-summer-hot weather. Look for a picture—coming soon.

1 package yellow cake mix (set aside 1 cup)
1 egg
½ cup butter, melted
Grease bottom of a 9x13 pan. Combine cake mix, egg and butter and press into pan. This will be the crust.

1 small can pumpkin (15 ounce)
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
Blend well. Pour over crust layer.


1 cup cake mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
Blend together until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool. Top with whipped cream.

Twisted Mac and Cheese

Here’s a twist on a recipe that you may want to avoid. FYI, bacon grease is not a suitable substitute for margarine or butter.

1 box macaroni and cheese dinner

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup bacon grease

Prepare macaroni according to package directions substituting bacon grease for the margarine called for. Don’t bother eating. Dump directly into the garbage.

Yes, it is as yucky as it sounds, but I had to post it so that hopefully everyone can have a good laugh. My sister and I were talking on the phone a few days ago and the memory of David making this for me when I was pregnant came back to me. I guess I had blocked it out up to that point. I think the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, didn’t Dave make me something with bacon grease when I was pregnant?

My sister: Yes! He did. What was that? I think it was macaroni and cheese but you were out of butter so he used bacon grease.

Me: Oh. Yeah. I remember now. It was awful. I had morning sickness and just the smell was nauseating. I think I took one bite and was like “sorry, but I cannot eat this.”

My sister: Poor David. He just likes to experiment a little too much when he’s cooking.

At this point in the conversations we were both laughing so hard we could hardly talk.

I need to clarify a couple of points here. First, I love bacon. I think it is beyond delicious, but bacon grease belongs in collard greens or a wilted spinach salad—not macaroni and cheese. Second, David is a great baker—his desserts are usually fantastic. A lot of times the things he cooks are good too but occasionally he doesn’t do so well. If you need more examples I will be happy to share the stories about the curdled egg casserole and his recipe for baked rabbit at some point in the future.

Creamy Potato Soup

3 c. peeled and cubed potatoes
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped carrots
2 c. chicken broth or stock (if using stock, decrease salt by 1/4 tsp.)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch ground black pepper
3 tsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar or American cheese
1 c. chopped ham or cooked/drained ground beef

Add first 8 ingredients to a medium-sized stock pot and simmer until vegetables are tender.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and milk;  add to pot and heat until thickened.  Stir in cheese and ham/beef until heated through and cheese is melted.

Note:  I usually double this recipe.

Pumpkin Bread

Apples, pumpkins, blue skies, changing leaves -- I LOVE autumn!  I tend to cook/bake seasonally, so when September 1st rolled around, I had to pull out this recipe.  I no longer have the original recipe that says what size pans/how many to use, but from what I remember I usually end up making 3 or 4 mini loaves and a dozen muffins.

3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbl. cinnamon
4 eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 c. oil
3/4 c. water
Chocolate chips (optional)

Stir flour, baking soda, salt , cinnamon and sugar together. Add oil, eggs, water and pumpkin. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 5-10 minutes and then remove and place on cooling rack.  This tastes even better the next day for breakfast. Or lunch.  Or dinner.  Or snacktime...:)

Connie Smith’s Peanut Butter Pie

peanut butter pie Here’s a fun twist on your typical boring (albeit yummy) cream pie. In high school, my best friend’s mom and my mom started a catering business called “Simple Beginnings & Elegant Endings”. They specialized in appetizers and desserts. While I am not sure whether this was on their menu or not, I do know that it was a favorite with Connie’s own boys and has been a hit with everyone in my family as well. Enjoy it with a cold glass of milk.

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
9-inch baked pastry shell
whipped topping

In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar until crumbly; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, granulated sugar and salt. Stir in the egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to boil; boil for 1 minute them remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the cream filling and set aside to cool. Spread 2/3 cup of the peanut butter crumbs in the baked and cooled pie shell covering the bottom and sides of the shell. Pour the cream filling over the crumbs and chill thoroughly. Spread on the whipped topping and sprinkle with the remaining peanut butter crumbs. Refrigerate until serving. Yields one pie.

Nate with pb pieI doubled the recipe to make two pies. The leftovers kept well in the fridge for a couple of days.