Sunday, December 30, 2007

If You're Going To San Diego...

If you live in or are planning a visit to San Diego, I have the perfect site for you! While planning your trip, make sure you stop by Its a scrumptious collection of San Diego dining establishments that will help tremendously with your dining plans.

When you get to Cafe San Diego, you'll find several options by which to narrow your search. You can search by neighborhood, type of food, atmosphere or special features such as a good place for a business lunch or find a place that offers catering service. I was amazed at the number of restaurants San Diego has!

One click on the restaurant of your choice will give you a map, address, phone/fax info and details about what that particular restaurant offers as far as type of food, what kind of atmosphere and features such as whether a kids menu is available, if there is a bar, patio or sports bar at the establishment.

San Diego restaurants would also benefit from joining the Cafe San Diego community to get word out about your business. They'll even help you with a link to your site, site hosting and/or offering online coupons on your site and theirs!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Banana (Nut) Bread

One of the easiest things to bake has got to be Banana Bread. You can make it with or without nuts. I like mine with nuts, but Mike and the kids prefer it without. Sometimes if I have nuts I want to use up, I will grind them up really finely in my food processor. No one is ever the wiser.

Banana Nut Bread
1/2 cup shortening or margarine
1 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2-3 Ripe Bananas, mashed
2C Flour
1 tsp Soda
Dash of Salt
1/4 C Walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 2 loaf pans.

Mix shortening or margarine, sugar, eggs and bananas. Sift together flour and soda. Add flour, soda, salt and nuts to banana mixture. Do not over mix. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower oven to 300 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and wrap with plastic wrap to store.

~Using margarine rather than shortening gives this a great flavor.
~You can also use banana baby food in place of the bananas. One 4 oz. jar for each banana.
~These freeze well wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored in a zip-top bag.
~Kids love to help mash the bananas and sift the flour! Make sure you let them taste test!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Graham Strusel Cake

This is a delectable coffee-cake-like dish. It is wonderful to make ahead for Christmas (or any) morning breakfast and it is always a huge hit at any carry-in or potluck as a dessert. I got the recipe from my sister Stacy.

1 yellow cake mix ( you can use white, but yellow is best)
1C water
1/3C oil
2 eggs

1pkg. graham crackers crushed (there are usually 3 pkg.s in a box)
1 stick of butter (melted)
1C. brown sugar
1T. cinnamon

1-1/2 C powdered sugar
2-3T milk or water
Mix cake ingredients together and pour in a 9x13 pan. Mix topping ingredients and pour on top of cake mixture. Swirl the topping into the cake with a knife. Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes. Drizzle with glaze right before serving.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cooking With Wine

Wine is a wonderful addition with nearly every meal. There are all kinds of wine enthusiasts who will tell you which wine tastes great with which dish as far as drinking goes, but what about cooking with wine? Which wine should you choose to add flavor to which dish?

A good rule of thumb is never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink. Cooking wines are generally salty and may have ingredients that could hinder the flavor of your dish. If you like a Merlot, make that one of your cooking wine choices. We like this idea anyway because you don't have to have one wine for cooking and one or twenty *wink* for drinking. Choosing a good quality- not necessarily expensive, either- wine is your best jumping-off point.

So which wine should you use for which dish? I typically use a color method. If I am making anything with a red sauce, I choose a red wine. Additionally, if I am cooking with a red meat, I also use a red wine. Any cream sauces or white sauces would call for a white wine and chicken, fish, or pork generally call for white wine. I also use sherry with chicken and shell fish at times.

So Easy Sugar Cookies

I got this recipe about 12 years ago from a friend. It is in the Betty Crocker Bake-off Cookies Brownies and Bars book. I love making these for a quick something sweet to have around and they are an easy addition to any cookie tray.

3/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Margarine or butter, softened
1/3 Cup Oil
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 to 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
1 Egg
1 & 1/2 Cups Flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon White or Colored Sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients; beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Spread evenly in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch sheet pan; sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar. Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into 48 cookies. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Tips- You can substitute vanilla extract for the almond if you prefer and they come out just as delicious!

These are a great cookie fro kids to make since all you do is mix, pour and bake. There is no messing with "dropping dough by the spoonful" or cutting with cookie cutters. I use red or green colored sugar for Christmas, but they look dazzling in other colors for birthdays or other holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2007


A favorite dish of mine is Stroganoff. I got this recipe out of a Betty Crocker Cookbook long ago, but I've modified it for what I usually have on hand.

3 T Butter or Margarine

3 Lbs. Meat (stew meat, roast, flank steak, venison or whatever you like), Cubed

1 small Onion, chopped

8 0z. Canned Mushrooms, drained

15 oz. Beef Broth (I make mine with soup base and water)

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 C Ketchup

4 oz Warm Water or Beef Broth

2 T Flour

8 oz. Sour Cream

5-6 qts. Water

2 T oil

16 oz. package Wide Egg Noodles

Melt butter in skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add cubed meat and brown on all sides. Add onion, mushrooms beef broth, garlic powder and ketchup; cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Whisk flour and water (or broth) and pour into meat mixture, stirring as you add. Continue to stir while the mixture thickens. Cover and turn heat to low stirring occasionally. Bring water and oil to a boil and cook egg noodles for 10 minutes; drain. Add sour cream to meat mixture, mix well and heat through. Serve meat mixture on top of noodles.

TIPS: You can replace the noodles with rice if you prefer.

SIDES: Serve with mashed potatoes and corn or peas. I add bread and butter to complete the meal.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Edible Christmas Ornaments

These little Chocolate Pretzel Ornaments are so super easy to make and so super adorable (not to mention yummy) to receive. I got the idea from The Pampered Chef and decided to make some to adorn a cookie tray for a party tonight. What a great little project for the kids to work on as well!!
To make the ornaments, simply melt about 3 squares of semi-sweet baker's chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals; stirring between each heating. I melted mine in a teacup so the chocolate would be deep enough to dip in rather than spreading out over a larger dish.
Dip the rounded bottom of 4 or 5 mini-pretzels into chocolate and arrange them in a circle with chocolate parts touching on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat the process with 4 to 5 additional pretzels, laying them over the joined parts of the bottom layer. Sprinkle the chocolate with sugar crystals or candy sprinkles and refrigerate until set (about 30 minutes).
Additionally, you can loop a ribbon through the center and use these as ornaments or package add-ons. These would also be cute in cellophane bags as part of a cookie, food or baking gift basket.

Friday, December 7, 2007

San Francisco Cookies!

This week, I'll be making the first of my Christmas Cookies. I make a large tray for a friend's party every year. After dinner, we all sit around and scarf down the cookies while talking about how much we don't need the calories.

I make my cookies from scratch, but I use the traditional all-purpose flour, dairy and other ingredients. Nothing like the All Natural Cookies made by the San Francisco Cookie Company. They use heart-healthy oats, whole grains and organic dairy. That would make one heck of a fabulous Gourmet Cookie!!! They even offer corporate gift boxes!!! What a yummy treat for your employees!

Check them out and see how they compare to yours. You can even consider it research which cancels out any and all calories. Right? Right?

Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :o)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pumpkin Bars

We made Pumpkin Bars for the kids at school last week and They were excellent! I tried this recipe that my Sister-in-law found online. I'm sorry for not linking to the site, but I'm not sure waht site she got it from. They turned out really well and are a great alternative to Pumpkin Pie.

Pumpkin Bars

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 14 oz. can (1 ¼ cups) sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground allspice
1/3 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the crumb mixture.

Press remaining crumb mixture onto bottom and halfway up sides of ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

In another large bowl, stir together pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, salt, and allspice. Pour into crust-lined baking dish.

Stir pecans into reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle pecan mixture over pumpkin mixture.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Chill in refrigerator for up to 2 hours. Store covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Eating Right To Maximize Workouts

A really good link popped up on Yahoo! today. I thought I'd share it with you. Its a blog post that gives suggestions for which snacks before and after workouts will help to maximize your efforts and help energize you through your exercises. Click here to read it.

Let me know if you enjoy links like this one!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Where To Eat In Hot Springs, Arkansas.

If you happen to be headed to Arkansas anytime in the future or if you live in Arkansas, you might want to visit this site that gives an objective look at Hot Springs, Arkansas Best Restaurants. There are several reasonably-priced restaurants listed and each one is rated by locals. None of the reviews/ratings are sponsored or paid for and you can click on the restaurant's name to find out where it is located and to read a more in-depth description!

While you're surfing the site, click on the link in the sidebar of the site for a list of FREE things to do in Hot Springs! You will find suggestions for museums, hiking and even where to fill your water jugs up for FREE!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Veggies At Your Beck & Call

Here's a little tip I learned from a friend:

When you buy celery to use as an ingredient in soups, stews, chicken salad, etc., Chop up the whole bunch of celery and freeze it! It will be ready for you to grab at a moment's notice! You'll only have to get out the knife or chopper and clean up your mess once.

This also works well for carrots (although they tend to brown) bell peppers, hot peppers and onions.

For best results, chop your veggies, place on a sheet pan or tray that is lined with wax paper, parchment or plastic wrap (whatever you have handy) and freeze for an hour or two. Remove veggies to a gallon freezer bag (you may want to double the bag for peppers or onions) and there you have it!

I don't know about you, but I think it sure beats buying celery to make one dish and letting the rest rot in my crisper! I'm stocking my freezer up for the recipes I'll be sharing with you in the next couple of weeks! Make sure you stay tuned!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cocktail Sauce

This pic is from our fishing trip in Canada this summer. We fried fish a couple of times and they were AWESOME!

Some people like a good tartar sauce with fish, but I prefer cocktail sauce. My recipe follows:

Cocktail Sauce

1 Bottle Chili Sauce (found near the condiments)

2 T Horseradish

1 to 2 tsp Lemon Juice

Generous pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients well. Refrigerate until served. Refrigerate leftovers. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Make It from Scratch #30

*Updated* I apologize for some of the links not working this morning. They're fixed now*

There are so many delicious and creative entries this week that I thought I'd get right to it with no beating around the bush!

Ya feelin' crafty???

Y-2K Hippie tells us all about Milk Paint!

Bridget gives us Kids Craft: Making Handmade Soap posted at .."And Miles To Go Before We Sleep...".

Joanie presents Painted faces, a tutorial posted at Nini Makes.

Lara Berch schools us in Collages posted at Lara Berch Tutorial.

You decide, Fused Pendant- Finished or Not? posted at the Michon Jewelry Blog.

Cindy gives us a pattern for an ultra-cute Ribbon Sling Bag at MyRecycledBags.

Delilah shares My Pink T-Shirt posted at her new blog junky love in freehand.

Need a quick clothespin holder? Quilter Mom tells us how she came up with hers in Make it from scratch! posted at The Patchwork of Life.

Ya feelin' hungry???

Joanna made M&M cookie bars posted at Sunflowers in my Kitchen.

GP teaches all about The Chicken or the Egg ? and gives great scrambling tips posted at Fish Creek House - INNside Innkeeping.

Something I have yet to try, The Nourisher presents How to Make Sauerkraut posted at The Nourisher - Editor's Blog.

:: Suzanne :: presents a yummy, easy and colorful fritatta posted at :: adventures in daily living ::.

Heather presents a healthy option to boxed croutons with Cheap and easy: Crispy, crunchy croutons posted at Home Ec 101.

Laura Williams presents Laura Williams' Musings: Slow-Cooked Sloppy Joes posted at Laura Williams' Musings.

Deputyheadmistress presents For the Juicers Among Us posted at The Common Room.

Terry presents An All-American Classic - Mac -n- Cheese posted at Mom On Wheels.

Stephanie presents Canning & Freezing Pumpkin posted at Stop the Ride!.

Loni presents Hashbrown Potato Pancakes posted at Joy in the Morning.

Delilah tells us how I made PUMPKIN stuff from scratch!!! posted at The Miller Way....

Melissa presents Reducipe - Chicken Tortilla Soup posted at A Penny Closer.

I share how I made my own experience making Flat Bread.

Feeling hungry AND crafty???

HowToMe bakes it all in How to make a Custom Birthday Cake posted at HowToMe.

With the 4th installment in her mouthwatering and visually appealing series, Tiffany presents Bento #4 Cucumber Rolls, Shrimp, and Edaname posted at Bento Lunch Box.

Melanie Rimmer presents a unique creation, Bean Sprouts: Alun's Tea Wine posted at Bean Sprouts.

Megan Crow combines recipes and crafts at Budget: Wedding Gift posted at That's Swell.

I don't know about you, but my creative juices are flowing and my tummy is rumbling! Thanks so much for visiting today!

If you haven't already, get started on your entry for next week. Joanna at Sunflowers in my Kitchen is going to be our gracious hostess! You can even submit something you've already posted! Submit your entries at the carnival submission page.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Just a quick reminder that I will be hosting the Make It From Scratch Carnival here tomorrow! Be sure to come back and check out all of the awesome entries!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Flat Bread

I wanted to try making my own flat bread. A simple search online turned up dozens of recipes and I decided to try this one. If you don't want to go clicking back and forth, here it is as it appears on the site:

This is a great, easy flat bread recipe that makes a delicious side dish to any meal. These can be used for making pita sandwiches, pizza or pretty much anything.

3 cups flour
1 cup ice water
3 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of baking soda

Combine all ingredients and form into a dough. Cut into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Roll out to a thin 8 inch circle. Prick the surface of the dough with a fork and cook on an oiled hot griddle. Turn with a spatula. Watch these flat bread disks closely because they cook fast. Serve warm.

I've had the recipe laying around for a couple of weeks intending to make them when I got the time. I had my griddle out this morning to make pancakes with my homemade baking mix and I figured it would be a great time to try the flat bread out.

Here is the dough:
It literally only took a couple of minutes to assemble the simple ingredients and make the dough.

The recipe suggests dividing the dough into 4 to 5 equal pieces, but I divided mine into about 6 to make slightly smaller portions.

I set my griddle to about 375 degrees and placed the doughs on one at a time. They cooked up fairly quickly- about 1 minute each.
I enjoyed the taste and got great reviews from Mike and Matthew as well. We just ate it plain to start with, but there are so many possibilities for serving this wonderfully easy bread. My first plan is to make flat bread pizzas with them. What would you use them for?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hot Sauce/Hot Rice/Spanish Rice

Walk into any Barberton Chicken restaurant and you'll see Hot Sauce on the menu. Its not traditional hot sauce as in a condiment. Its a side dish that goes great with fried foods or Mexican dishes. Many of you will recognize it as Spanish Rice or Hot Rice.

We can our salsa just for this dish. It is very simple and is wonderful served with fried chicken or fish!

Hot Sauce
1 Pint Salsa
2 Cups prepared rice (we use Minute Rice)

Combine salsa and rice in a 1 qt. sauce pan. Heat through.

Simple yet delicious. This is also a great way to use leftover rice. Simply mix in the desired amount of salsa and you've got a great snack. I enjoy it cold with tortilla chips as well! YUM!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Scalding Tomatoes

My salsa recipe calls for peeled tomatoes. To peel a tomato easily, you can scald them. It's a very easy process.

Fill a pot one-half to two-thirds full of water; bring to a rolling boil. Wash tomatoes and score an "x" in the bottom of each with a paring knife. Drop scored tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes and place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. The skins will slide off easily!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


This is the salsa we can every year. You could certainly make it and eat it fresh, though. One recipe would make a nice, big bowl for a party or cookout.

5 Lbs. (or 9Cups) Roma tomatoes, peeled and cubed

2 Cups Chopped Medium Hot Yellow Peppers

3 Cups Chopped Onion

3.5 tsp. Salt

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

In large pot, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until salsa is at desired thickness (you may add tomato paste if needed). Place jar lids in hot water, fill hot jars with salsa to within 1/2 inch of rim. Wipe rim of jar with damp cloth, place lid on top and screw on the metal band. Tighten fingertip tight and place filled, lidded jars in boiling water bath (make sure water covers top of jars). Process for 15 minutes; remove to counter top to cool making sure jars are touching each other. Lids will 'pop' when they are sealed. Store cooled jars of salsa in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.
~ If desired, you can thicken with a small amount of cornstarch dissolved in water.
~We added 1 minced cayenne pepper per recipe this year to give it a little more heat. YUMMY!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Due to rising gas/fuel prices, lack of decent raises (remember in the 50's when the annual average income was commensurate with the cost of living?) automation, outsourcing and company cut-backs, Americans are having to tighten their belts. Just about the only bill you have any control over is your grocery bill.

Some of the most common ways to save money on your grocery bill are growing your own food to preserve, using coupons or rebates and eating out less. Sometimes, however, those are not enough to loosen the squeeze. Below are some sites that, even if you aren't feeling the pinch, you might want to check out for some new ideas. If your budget doesn't fall into the tight category, take the money you'll save and apply it towards a savings account, Christmas shopping, a trip or special treat for someone you love or for yourself. is a great site that includes many recipes, back to school ideas, printable coupons and articles. It's a great resource you'll want to bookmark!

Hillbilly Housewife has a ton of recipes for convenience foods such as biscuit mix and granola bars.

Better Budgeting has a frugal recipe list you won't want to miss!

One of my very favorites is The Aldi Queen, Amy. She has a wide variety of recipes for tight budgets and lots of advice to help you along the way.

Do you have a favorite budgeting tip or website?

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Favorite Breakfast Sandwich

I love to start the day with an egg. It gives me that protein to keep going through lunch time.

I 'invented' this sandwich after seeing a similar one made in a movie. It has become my favorite breakfast!

2 Slices of Bread, toasted

Non-stick Cooking Spray

1 Egg

Salt & Pepper

2 Slices Deli Ham

1 Slice American Cheese

1-2 Slices Tomato

Heat a small skillet or omelet pan over medium heat. Place both slices of ham in the pan to warm them. Remove ham and place on one of the slices of toast. Spray the pan lightly with cooking spray and fry the egg (I like mine 'dippy' AKA sunny-side up); salt and pepper to taste. Remove the egg from the pan and place on top of the ham slices; top with American cheese, tomato and the other slice of toast. Enjoy!


~Substitute a sausage patty for the ham.

~Add lettuce if desired.

Cucumber Side Salad

This is my Hubby's favorite way to eat cucumbers:

Cucumber Side Salad
1 Large Cucumber
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Peel cucumber and slice into thin rounds. Layer in a bowl and salt & pepper each layer lightly. Let sit while you prepare your meal. Just before serving, add as much vinegar as you like (Hubby likes the vinegar to almost cover the cucumbers) maybe 2 to 3 Tablespoons.

That's it! A very simple and very healthy side salad!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Need a Fitness Pal?

Trying to eat healthier? Trying to lose weight or cut calories out of your daily intake?

Whether you are on a diet or not, sometimes you need an idea of how many calories a particular food has or how many calories you burned doing a particular activity. You may just want to lose a few pounds and need some support from someone going through the same thing.

No matter the reason, you will want to check out the FREE calorie counter at Membership is 100% free and there are so many features that can be used alone or in combination with any type of diet.

Let's say that you've started walking every day. Login to MyFitnessPal, click on the exercise tab and enter walking and the minutes and you'll get an instant reading of calories burned.

Maybe you want to cut a few calories out of your daily intake. MyFitnessPal has a food database that will tell you how many calories a particular food has as well as give you nutritional information just like you'd read on a package label. You can create a daily journal of foods you eat and see where your calories are coming from making it easier to see where to cut calories out of your daily intake.

There are many more features like the food and exercise diaries to keep track of long-term goals and the forums where you can chat with other members. Don't forget to sign up for their email newsletter as well.

MyFitnessPal is a 100% free site that will surely be a benefit to anyone interested in overall health.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Working Out A Few Links

I thought I'd provide you with a few recipe links that I think sound really good.

Michelle at Scribbit gives us Seared Scallops with Tarragon Cream . Just reading the title makes my mouth water!

Stephanie made some awesome ideas for using those cucumbers that are bursting from our gardens with Cucumbers Frozen? Cucumbers Fried? Really?

Finally provides us with an easy recipe, Pork Chop Casserole. Mmmm...!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Dog Days Giveaway Winners!

The winner of Camp Recipes For Kids is Suzy O.!

The winner of Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals is Lori of Lori's Stitch in Time!

Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who stopped by and/or commented and a special thanks to Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer for holding the whole shebang!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Dog Days Giveaway!

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer is holding a Dog Days of Summer Great Bloggy Giveaway! Make sure you sign up for all of the great giveaways that are listed there! You may also want to check out my giveaway at my main blog, It's All For The Best.

Leave a comment on this post before Friday July 27th, 2007 at 6 PM EST. Winners will be announced in a new post here after that time, so make sure you check back to find out if you've won!

What you can win:

Prize #1
Camp Recipes For Kids by Richard O'Russa. it is a 64 page recipe book with LOTS of ideas!

Prize #2

Rachel Ray Express Lane Meals

In Express Lane Meals, Rachael provides her personal go-to list of must-have items—so you can do a big shop every week then simply zip through the Express Lane to make any of these 30-minute meals.

Leave a comment and cross your fingers! Good Luck!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chicken Wraps

I used to watch cooking shows all the time. Rarely would I actually copy the recipes I saw. I would, however, use them as inspiration for new dishes. It's been a long time, but I turned on the Food Network a few days ago and went right to the kitchen to prepare a new-to-us dish.

Chicken Wraps
2-3 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken
1 Small Onion, sliced
1 Pint Salsa
1 8oz. pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 C. Milk
Flour Tortilla Shells

Season Chicken with Salt and Pepper. Cook chicken in a lightly oiled skillet until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan to cool. Cook onions in skillet over medium to low heat until the onions are transparent and soft. While onions cook, pull the chicken into shreds with fingers or with two forks. When onions are cooked through, add the chicken and salsa. Warm cream cheese in microwave for a few seconds until it is melted; add milk and whisk lightly with a fork; add to the chicken mixture and heat through. Warm tortillas in microwave. Fill tortillas with chicken mixture and serve.


~ I didn't have any salsa, so I used canned diced tomatoes, threw in some chili powder and cooked a sliced medium-hot Hungarian pepper with the onions.

~Use your favorite type of tortillas if you don't like flour.

~You can also add shredded lettuce or shredded cheese if you like.

~You can use whatever type of chicken you have on hand and prepare it any way you prefer. I think these would be fabulous with grilled chicken!

My husband is not a big chicken eater (he doesn't even like to eat it more than once a week) and he rarely eats leftovers, but he asked me to put these in his lunch each day until they were gone! I can't believe that! I will surely be making chicken wraps again! I want to make them again and freeze them. We'll have a snack that can be warmed up in a jiffy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Savory Vegetable Dip

This dip is very easy to make and stores well. I serve it mainly with veggies, but it is alos great to serve with cheese and crackers or to spread on a sandwich. I got this recipe from my Mother-in-Law a long time ago and it is a true family favorite.

1 8oz. package, softened

1 pint jar Hellman's mayo (other brands don't work)

1 medium onion, chopped

4tsp. beef bullion

Dash Worcestershire Sauce

Process all in a blender until well mixed. Chill 3 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cucumber Tomato Salad

This is a great summer side salad I used to throw together when I worked in a deli years ago. It makes a great side for summer dishes. There is really no particular recipe for this, so you may have to adjust the ingredients to your liking.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

1 Tomato, sliced
1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
3 Slices of onion separated into rings
3/4 Cup Italian salad dressing

Mix all together and serve. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

~ This salad is even better when made a few hours or a day ahead of time and refrigerated. The flavors will really come together and make an even better taste.
~ You may also want to add some black olives and/or garnish with some bean sprouts for serving.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Garlic Cheeseball

This recipe was taken from a magazine years ago. I'm sorry I can't remember which one, but I'll bet it was Family Circle or Woman's Day.

Garlic Cheeseball

2 pkg. Cream Cheese (8 oz. each)

1 jar Kraft Pimento Spread (usually near the Velveeta in the store)

1/4 tsp. minced garlic or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder


Mix all together and form into a ball. Store in refrigerator. Let sit out about 30 minutes before serving.

Don't forget the crackers to spread it on (I've done it).

Option- you can also roll the cheeseball in crushed walnuts if you prefer.Simple as that and you have a great appetizer!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Easy Boston Cream Pie

This is the easiest way to make a "homemade" Boston Cream Pie. I always make this at Christmas time. A bonus to this is that you will have enough cake and pudding to make 2 pies out of one cake mix and box of pudding. Please note that you will need to make another glaze recipe for the other cake. I do not recommend doubling the glaze recipe. It is better to make the glaze for the first pie, glaze the pie and repeat it for the second one.

Boston Creme Pie

1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 Small box Instant Vanilla Pudding
Prepare pudding as directed for pie filling. Chill thoroughly.
Prepare cake as suggested on box for 2 round layers; cool completely. Set one layer aside.

*With a long bread knife, cut the remaining layer horizontally to make 2 flat halves together (like a hamburger bun).
Make a well in the center of the bottom half by pressing the cake with your fingers to within 1/2 inch of the sides all the way around. Fill the well with half of the prepared pudding; replace the top.

Glaze (for one pie):
3 Tablespoons Butter
3 oz. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (OR 9T cocoa mixed with 3T oil or melted shortening)
1 C. Powdered Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Melt butter & chocolate together in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Mix well (mixture will be stiff). Stir in water 1 tsp. at a time until smooth and spreadable.Spoon glaze over the top of each cake. You can let it drip down the sides or smooth it over them if you wish. Smooth the tops also. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until glaze sets and serve or cover and store in refrigerator.

To make 2 pies, repeat directions from the *.

TIPS: Do not attempt to make the glaze ahead of time. Work with the glaze quickly to avoid it getting grainy-looking.
This is a great dish to make ahead a day or so because the pudding sets up better as it refrigerates.
Make your cakes ahead and freeze them to make for quicker prep!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer is For Steak!

Many women don't like to grill, but it is really easy and keeps the kitchen cleaner!

I grill year-round, but most of us probably do the majority of our grilling in the summer. My favorite meal is steak, so I thought I'd post about a few of the basics involved in grilling a good steak.

1. Season your steaks and let them sit out at room temperature for an hour before cooking. My favorite way to season a steak is with a little garlic powder, onion powder and parsley.

2. Prepare all of your side dishes first. This will allow you to stay at the grill while the steaks are cooking to avoid burning or over-cooking.

3. Light the grill at least 15 minutes before cooking and turn it on high. I prefer to light mine 20 to 30 minutes ahead of time. Get that grill good and hot.

4. Do not oil your meat before cooking.

5. When you place your meat on the grill, set the temperature according to how you like your steak cooked. If you like a well-done steak, turn the heat down a little so as not to burn the outside while you're trying to get the inside cooked thoroughly.

6. Your steak is ready to turn when it releases itself from the grill (see #4). The natural fats in the meat will allow the meat to stop sticking to the grill. This could take anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes depending on your grill and the temperature you have it set at.

7. Do not press down on the steak as this will squeeze out the juices resulting in a dry steak.

8. The less you turn your steak, the juicier it will be. I prefer to only cook my steaks once on each side. You may prefer to cook yours twice on each side if you are going for square grill marks on both sides. Also, avoid pressing down on your steaks. That will only squeeze the juices right out of it resulting in dry meat.

9. To get good grill marks: make sure grill is very hot; place steaks on the grill; turn onto an unused part of the grill to make sure you are placing the raw side onto a hot place; turn again onto an unused part of the grill and let cook about 1 minute; turn a final time onto an unused part of the grill and cook an additional minute.

10. For a little added flavor and juiciness, put a pat of butter or margarine on the steak just before you take it off the grill. Be careful and don't walk away as the grease can catch fire.

11. Finally, let your steak rest for a couple of minutes before serving. The steak will finish cooking on the platter within about the next 3 minutes. The flavors and juices will be at their peak after a little rest.

Complete your meal with fries or baked potato, onion rings and a salad.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

PB&J Roll-Ups

I was looking for a quick, healthy snack to take along on our boat last weekend. Whatever it was needed to meet some criteria first: must contain protein, must be appealing to eat, must pack and travel well, must be quick to make. I also didn't want to make sandwiches because I wasn't sure if the weather would cooperate with us and we were going to a local place and would only be taking a small cooler for drinks and a couple of snacks.

Had I painted myself in a corner? I thought so until I thought of a recipe I had seen in a magazine years ago. I can't remember the magazine, but the concept isn't a new one. Basically, it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a tortilla rather than bread. PERFECT!

To make these little gems, spread 2 to 3 Tablespoons peanut butter on one side of the tortilla. Spread jelly on half of the tortilla on top of the peanut butter. Roll from the jelly side toward the peanut butter only side. The peanut butter will act as a glue to hold the tortilla closed. Roll up in a sheet of wax paper until there are about 2 inches of paper remaining, fold in the ends of the wax paper and roll up the rest of the way. Refrigerate until serving.

We ended up staying home due to the winds that day, but the boys ate their roll-ups for an afternoon snack. Matthew even wanted one for lunch the next day! The size of these was perfect for a small cooler- they hardly take up any room. Plus, they won't get soggy like a sandwich.

For a variation, cut the chilled roll-up into 1/2 inch slices and serve as pinwheels!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pasta Salad

This recipe is rather healthy and you can cut down on the pasta or use whole wheat pasta to cut out some of the carbs. It's great for summer and easy to double for picnics!

All of the ingredients are optional, so if there is something you don't like, leave it out or substitute with something you do.

1 Box Twist Macaroni
3 or 4 Green Onions
1 Large Green Pepper
1 Bunch Fresh Broccoli
1 to 2 Tomatoes
1 Bottle Kraft Free Zesty Italian Dressing
1 Dash Garlic Salt

Cook, drain and cool macaroni. Dice green onions, green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes. Toss pasta and vegetables together; add dressing and garlic salt. Toss all together and refrigerate.

~This tastes best when it's refrigerated overnight before serving, but you can serve it right away, too.
~The Kraft Free Zesty Italian is my favorite to use every time I make this since it has a much lower oil content than regular Italian Dressing. The garlic salt helps to boost the flavor a little bit.
~Also good with cubed cheeses, pepperoni and black olives for a variation.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Beef Short Ribs- Hawaiian Style

Cut from the rib portion, the short rib is a much meatier and much cheaper cut than pork babyback ribs. Hawaiian Ribs will have 3 cross-cut rib bones along the edge of each piece. Typically cut English style, this Hawaiian cut provides more meat per cut and makes for easier cooking, cutting and eating. You may have to ask the butcher for them to be cut this way.

5 Lbs. Beef Chuck Short Ribs (cut Hawaiian Style)
Seasoning (see * below)
B-B-Q Sauce

Let your meat sit out for about 30 minutes before seasoning. It will allow the juices to start moving in the meat and let the fats soften up slightly.

Rub the ribs with your choice of * barbecue seasoning, chili powder, salt and pepper or use my recipe for B-B-Q rub. Let seasoned meat sit out for another hour or cover well and refrigerate overnight.

Warm up your grill on high for at least 15 minutes. Cook ribs over a medium high flame watching them constantly. These ribs need can be cooked low and slow, but I recommend searing them like steak. I prepare mine to be meduim rare when done.

Add your favorite sauce at the end of grilling as the seasoning will flavor the meat well enough.

Great served with Fried Potatoes (homefries), flavored rice, cole slaw, peas, pasta salad or tossed salad.

Friday, May 11, 2007

B-B-Q Rub

I posted my B-B-Q Sauce Recipe a few days ago, but I only put the sauce on the meat at the end of grilling. I actually prefer very little or no sauce on my B-B-Q.

While preparing my meat to grill, I season it with a B-B-Q rub that I came up with myself. This recipe will cover about 4 lbs. of beef, chicken or pork.

1.5 T Beef Soup Base
1 t Seasoned Salt
1/4 t Celery Salt
1 t Onion Powder
1/4 t Garlic Powder
1/4 t Cumin
1/4 t Paprika
1/2 t Chili Powder

Mix all ingredients well. Use as a dry rub or add melted butter and baste meat with it.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Homemade B-B-Q Sauce

I got this recipe from a neighbor a few years ago and I make it all the time. It's a very quick and simple B-B-Q sauce.

1/2 C Brown Sugar
1T. Minced Onion (dried or fresh)
3T. Granulated Sugar
1 C. Ketchup
1/4 C. Worcestershire Sauce

Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.

~ Rinse out the ketchup bottle and pour the cooled B-B-Q sauce into it. Make sure you mark the bottle with it's contents.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Strawberry Shortcakes

While making a quick stop for some loss leaders on Saturday (my LEAST favorite day to shop, but circumstances made it unavoidable this week), Steven asked if we could buy some strawberries.

He hasn't liked strawberries in the past, but he is 4, likes strawberry pop tarts and things could change at a moment's notice.

I try not to refuse my kids fruit or vegetables when they ask for them, so I agreed to the request. I planned on making strawberry shortcakes with them. Usually, I buy the sponge cake-type shortcakes for this, but I am trying new things and trying to make things from scratch more.

I looked up the recipe in my Bisquick cookbook and went to town. The only difference is that I used the homemade baking mix for them.

Strawberry Shortcakes

2 lbs. strawberries
1/2 C. granulated sugar

2-1/3 C baking mix
3 T. granulated sugar
1 C. milk
3T. butter or margarine, melted

Strawberry topping:
Wash, hull and slice strawberries. Coat with 1/2 C. sugar, mix well and refrigerate.

Heat oven to 425*. Mix baking mix, sugar, milk and butter well. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browning on edges. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely. Store in refrigerator.

To serve:
Split shortcakes open, top with strawberry mixture and whipped cream if desired.

They turned out very well! We all enjoyed them better than the sponge cake kind... except for Steven who refused to try even a bite of them. Oh, well. Like I said, he's 4.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Energy Efficiency in the Kitchen

One of the places in our homes that uses the most energy is the kitchen. Think about it- running water, using hot water, heating food on the stove top, baking in the oven, thawing food, chilling food, washing dishes, reheating food, making coffee, brewing tea. There are thousands of things we do each and every day that require energy. Many of us don't think about how to conserve energy in the kitchen.

Here are some tips on how to save or better use the energy in our kitchens.

~Running the dishwasher is more energy efficient than washing by hand.
~Only run full loads. A dishwasher is made to run most efficiently with a full load.
~Open the door and let the dishes air dry to save electricity.
~Make sure the dishwasher is clean. Rinse dishes in cold water before washing to avoid colgging the drain in your dishwasher. Clean the drain trap frequently.
~Run cold water with your disposal. It is actually better for the disposal and saves on heating the water.
~Rinse or soak your dishes in cold water to save on heating costs.
~Insulate your pipes. Water cools down as it sits in pipes. Insulating the pipes will slow that process and retain the heat or cold better saving you energy and water in the long run.

~Only use pans on the correct sized burner. Using a small pan on a large burner wastes energy.
~Only use your highest burner setting to bring water to a boil. After that, turn it down to the lowest setting needed to maintain the boil. The extra heat will make the water/liquid boil faster, but it won't make the food cook faster.
~Thaw foods in the refrigerator or on the counter top. Thawing in the microwave takes more energy and foods that are frozen take about 33% longer to cook.
~Cook in your microwave, toaster oven or electric skillet. They use 1/3 to 1/2 of the energy of your stove top or oven. (This is my favorite tip!)
~Cook in the dish you will serve the dish in. This will save time and energy when you are washing dishes.
~Use the window in your oven door. You'll save 25 to 50 degrees of oven temperature by doing so.
~Mix by hand. Cake batters and cookies don't take that much time to mix by hand and it will save you a lot of energy if you are a regular baker. Save that mixer for things like frosting.

~Cool foods on the counter top before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Putting warm food in the fridge or freezer will lower the temperature inside and make the appliance run longer to bring it back up.
~Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees F and your freezer should be set at 0 degrees F. This is the most efficient settings and the safest for storage.
~A chest freezer is more energy efficient than an upright model. Cold air sinks, so an upright loses more when it is opened.
~A traditional top-bottom model refrigerator/freezer is more energy efficient than a side-by-side model. The top-bottom models use the natural flow of cold air to recycle the cold air from the freezer to cool the refrigerator portion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Easy Swiss Steak

Easy Swiss Steak
4# Round steak, tenderized
2 Cans condensed Tomato soup
1 soup can of water
Salt & Pepper
Flour for coating
2T Butter
2T Vegetable oil

Trim fat and bone from round steak. Cut into pieces about the size of your palm. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your taste. Poke with knife or fork to tenderize further and help incorporate salt and pepper into meat further. Dredge each piece in flour.

Melt butter an oil together in skillet (I use my electric skillet). Place prepared round steak pieces in skillet and brown on both sides (about 3 minutes each side).

Remove meat from skillet and drain off fat. Do not clean skillet or remove drippings.

Add tomato soup, fill one soup can with water and add that as well. Mix and return meat to the soup mixture. Let simmer for 45 minutes to one hour, turning meat occasionally.

Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetable of choice.

~ Let meat sit at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes before preparing. This lets the meat relax, distributes the natural juices and softens the fats in it. I do this with all red meats except ground beef.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Leftover Bread

Food typically goes fast in our house, but occasionally we have leftover bread that is not stale or moldy, but just not fresh anymore. I try to recycle/reuse it as best as I can.

Some ways I use my not-so-fresh bread:

1. French toast. French toast is actually much better when made with day-old bread. It will hold the egg wash better, won't get mushy and it won't rip to pieces while being dipped or cooked.

2. Bread crumbs. I try to make my own bread crumbs as much as possible. The heels of the loaves are great for this! I either toast the bread or just let it sit out and dry completely, put it in the food processor and voila! Bread crumbs!

3. Croutons. I like to use leftover French, Italian or homemade bread for these. The best method I've found is to brush or spray the slices of bread lightly with olive oil or vegetable oil, cube them up with a bread knife, toss in a zip-top bag with whatever spices you like (I like Italian- oregano, basil, garlic, parsley) and toast them in the oven on a sheet pan. Store them in an airtight container or bag.

Do you have any creative uses for leftover bread?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Do Consumers Want? Coupon Edition

As I flipped through our local coupon selection with scissors in hand, I was disgusted at yet another huge coupon. You know the ones I mean, they are either longer that the store receipt or wider than your cart. What is the deal with the huge coupon anyway?

I, for one, keep my coupons in my wallet. I like coupons that are compact, but not too small. I want them to be smaller than a dollar in size. I don't think any shopper likes to fiddle around with folded coupons in the middle of the grocery store. Am I right?

I also don't like the coupons to be too small. It is too easy to lose them in the shuffle. That holds especially true when the other coupons are gigantic.

I love coupons. It is the one section that I make it a point to look at each week. I even save them for other people if I see something I know someone will use. I also love when I can combine a coupon with a sale! I feel like I've gained a little in the battle if you know what I mean.

I know this has very little to do with the product itself. It has everything to do with layouts and which ad is on the back of which, but there has to be a happy medium somewhere.

Let me know what you think. Is there anything about coupons that you like or don't like?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pistachio Pudding Fluff

This recipe is one of my favorite items for all year get-togethers. The ingredients are simple and it can be whipped up right before you leave in about 5 minutes. No kidding! It can also be made the night before. It stores well.

I got this recipe from my husband's family. His Aunt- the one who will bring great food even when you tell her to just bring herself- brought this to one of the boys' birthday parties and it's been a staple ever since.

Pistachio Pudding Fluff
2 small boxes instant pistachio pudding mix
1 can pineapple (20 oz., crushed or tidbits)
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 large tub whipped topping, 16 oz.
5 Bing or maraschino cherries (optional)

In a large bowl, combine dry pudding mixes with the pineapple (juice and all); mix well. Stir in the marshmallows. Fold in the whipped topping completely without over mixing. Top with cherries for color if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until served.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Make It From Scratch #8

We've got a great variety of entries this week! Thanks for stopping by and checking it out and thanks to Stephanie for letting me host. I hope she is having some fun on the beach!


I am amazed at how crafty some of you are! All I can say is WOW!!!

Anastacia has been busy! I can hear the needles clicking now! Check out her third pair in the Anastacia Knits: 52 pair plunge at Anastacia Knits Pair #3. They look great!

What do you do with all of your plastic grocery bags? You'll be able to make a Crocheted Plastic Bag Keeper from Recycled Bags after visiting Cindy!

The ever-frugal, ever-crafty Alexandra made a special quilt for her little one. Sure to become a family heirloom!


Niki at The-A-Team made a soap she calls "the mildest of the mild". Sounds like it would be perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. She gives us the recipe for a cold-process Sleepy Baby Soap.

Before her clean getaway (on vacation, that is), Stephanie decided to give Homemade Dishwasher Detergent a try. Simple recipe, but did it work out? Click on over and find out.


GP almost got a separate category for a VERY informative post! Microwave Magic will give you several uses for your microwave and a great recipe for Hot Cross Buns! YUM!

Don't let her blog title fool you. Lisa at 'Sew What's Up?' made my tummy rumble with, what she claims to be, "The most yummy quick, instant gratification cookies ever!!!" Give her No Bake Oatmeal Cookies a test run.

I tried something new right here at The Fat Bottomed Girl when I made Iced Tea (Or Sweet Tea) Concentrate. The first one turned out great, so I made a bunch of them tonight to freeze!

WHEW! I made it through my first time hosting. How did I do?

I had a blast! It was fun to see what everyone made. Keep up the good work! See you all next week back at Stop the Ride!

Monday, April 9, 2007


Don't forget that I will be hosting the Make It From Scratch Carnival right here tomorrow. Make sure you stop by and check out all of the AMAZING entries we have!!! It will be so much fun!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Iced Tea (or sweet tea) Frozen Concentrate **Updated**

**Update to add: If you prefer, you can leave the sugar out. **

We drink a lot of iced tea around our house. When the weather turns warmer, we can go through more than a gallon a day. It seems like I am forever making iced tea when it is nice outside.

So I was making some juice from a frozen concentrate the other day and wondered why the same concept wouldn't work with iced tea.

I've never seen frozen iced tea concentrate in a store... I wonder if there is a reason why. Does it not have a long freezer life? Does it get bitter after so long? Or, has no one ever thought of it since you can make it from tea bags?

I decided to give it a shot because I think this could be a real time saver for me. To make iced tea, I usually heat 48 oz. of water in the microwave and let 3* of the large, family sized tea bags brew for an hour. I remove the tea bags, add just under a cup of sugar and add cold water to make a gallon. If I had concentrate in my freezer, I wouldn't have to wait an hour for more tea and it wouldn't be warm when I finish it.

To make the concentrate, I figured that since I use about a cup of sugar, I should at least have double that in water. I heated 20 oz of water (figuring that the tea bags will soak a little of it up permanently), added the tea bags and let it brew for two hours. (I thought that I should let it brew longer since there wasn't as much water as I usually use.) I added just under a cup of sugar and stirred it until the sugar was completely dissolved. I put it in the freezer since it was relatively cool (never put warm or hot items in your freezer- let them cool first).

That was a couple of days ago. Today, we were low on iced tea and it was just before supper. I got out the container of concentrate and set it in some water to thaw the sides a little. It popped right out of the container and into the pitcher. I filled it up to the gallon mark and stirred. It didn't take very long to thaw out completely.

I tasted... Excellent!!

My plans for this is to make several concentrates at one time. Even though I let them brew for a longer period of time, making more than two concentrates will save me time instantly!

Try it for yourself and see if you get the same results! Let me know about it!

*I prefer Luzianne brand. One bag is supposed to make a quart, but if you let it brew long enough, I find that 3 will make a very tasty gallon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Homemade Vanilla Extract- *Updated*

**Update to add**- Vanilla can be bought online or at some grocery, natural and gourmet food stores. We have also had friends who were visiting some of the Florida Keys and other islands bring some home for us. They are much cheaper that way.

We learned how to make vanilla extract from a friend when he was showing my MIL how to make homemade angel food cake (btw- yummiest thing ever!).

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and commented! I'm getting all kinds of new ideas for posts here. Keep the requests coming!

Vicki gave me the idea to post this. Thanks, Vicki!

Vanilla Extract
3 whole vanilla beans
1 quart brandy (We use J&B, but any will do)

Place the vanilla beans in the bottle of brandy. Re-cap tightly. Write the current date on the bottle. Let sit for 3 months, turning the bottle over and back once a day. After 3 months are up, you can remove the vanilla beans and discard. Use in any recipe calling for vanilla extract.

~To make sure you turn the bottle each day, place it on the counter top near your sink or coffee maker.

~Purchase small bottles and fill them with your homemade vanilla extract for gifts. You can even make your own labels on the computer!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Welcome to The Fat Bottomed Girl- the best food blog around! Come on in and have a seat!

I hope you'll grab a cup of your favorite beverage and take some time to look around. Keep reading to find out more about me and what The Fat Bottomed Girl is all about. I also have some great items in my sidebar you'll want to be sure to check out.

I have been blogging for a few months now and I've had a great time searching all of the great blogs out there. I've checked out a lot of food blogs and sites along the way in search of recipes and meals. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I decided to create my own just in case there are others like me out there. You can visit my personal blog at It's All For The Best to find out more about me and my family.

TFBG is where I plan to post recipes and entertaining ideas for the average, everyday person. Like a lot of women, I spend the better part of my time at home in my kitchen. I don't make a gourmet meal every night, we eat our share of mac and cheese, but each meal is important and it is what sustains us while we work, learn and play.

Things I plan to post here include are:
Recipes- Foods you can make everyday.
Holidays- Special foods and tips to help with the holidays.
Meal/Menu Planning- How to plan attractive, nutritious meals for everyday and special occasions.
Tips & Techniques- how to perform certain techniques used in many recipes.
Storage Tips- canning, freezing, etc.
Special Touches- centerpieces, serving pieces, etc.
Saving Money in the Kitchen- frugal tips.

I will add more as this blog evolves. I have a couple of contests in the works that will be sponsored by brand name foods! I am even considering having guest bloggers post some of their family favorites, ideas and tips for you to enjoy! Let me know if you are willing to be a guest blogger!

I learned to cook from my Mom and Grandmas from an early age. Grandma was the oldest of 8 and grew up on a big farm where she kept house, cooked and mended while her parents and brothers worked on the farm. I learned a lot about down home cooking and baking from both of them.

I also learned a thing or two about cooking from my Dad. He was a real "Okie from Muskogee" and loved Justin Wilson- the Cajun Cook. Mostly, I learned what NOT to do from Dad's attempts... like don't even attempt Cajun duck. (Seriously, the dog wouldn't even go near it!) One thing, though, he wasn't afraid to try new things. He grew his own horseradish, okra and chili peppers. He would eat absolutely anything (except that duck) and we told him it was because his taste buds had been burnt out from all those peppers.

I was 12 when my Dad passed away and with 3 younger sisters, I would often help Mom with meal time. When Mom began dating again, we often cooked meals for her and her date (our Step-dad now) to eat when they got home.. often from a restaurant. :o) Its the thought that counts, right?

When I met my husband, Mike (I call him DH for 'Dear Husband') I learned a lot things from his Mom and Sister, too. His Grandma and Grandpa came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia, so his family introduced me to great old-world European cooking. YUM!!

I am not a school-trained chef by any means, but I have years of cooking experience tested by the best testers in the world- my family.

So that's a bit of my food background for you.

Now, its your turn to tell me about you. What kind of things would you like me to post about? Do you have any food or cooking questions you'd like to see answered here? Be sure to leave a comment and introduce yourself to let me know you've stopped by.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Free USDA Booklet- Recipes and Tips for Healthy, Thrifty Meals.

Even if you don't use any of the recipes, I highly recommend reading the free online booklet from the USDA for planning family meals on a budget.

There are many nice recipes included in this book along with menu plans that include those recipes.

I highly recommend reading through the tips in this booklet. They offer basic tips that every good cook should know. They also cover menu planning.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This recipe is copied from my personal blog. You can read that post here.
1 C. flour
1 egg
1 t. salt
4 T. water

2 medium sized potatoes
1 T chopped onion
salt & pepper to taste
1 T. oil

Mix dough ingredients by hand or in mixer with dough hooks until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out on floured surface. Adding more water or flour if needed. Dough should be smooth, but not sticky. Knead for about 2 minutes. Place on a floured surface under an overturned soup bowl to rest. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare filling: peel and quarter potatoes; place in pan and cover with water. Add the oil, salt and pepper to the water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes. Drain. Rice the potatoes with ricer, masher, fork or pastry blender.

As an experiment, I took out about 1.5 Cups of the prepared filling and added about 2 oz. of cream cheese to it. I made this batch just the same as the regular ones, but kept them separate for cooking and serving.

Knead dough once again. Then, roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into squares (Size depends on preference. Mine were about 2x2 inches). Fill each square with potato filling and fold diagonally; pinch edges together taking care not to get filling between edges. Crimp edges with fork. Lay finished dumplings on a floured cloth to dry. Let dumplings dry well (1 to 2 hours).

To cook:In a small sauce pan melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Heat until the butter has a nice brown color. Turn heat to low or off.In large pot, bring 10 cups salted water to a boil. You may want to add about 1 T. of oil to the water to prevent it from boiling over. Place pirogees in the boiling water (I suggest about 15 to 20 at a time) and cook about 3 minutes or until they float at the top. This is fresh pasta and doesn't need to cook as long as dried. remove from water with slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain. Place cooked pirogees in serving bowl and toss with browned butter and salt. Serve immediately.

Suggestions: You may also fry the cooked pirogees in butter, but I like to save that for the leftovers. They make a great side dish, too. If you wish to freeze the pirogees, do so after they have dried on a floured cloth. Place them in a single layer on a tray or cookie sheet to freeze for 2-4 hours. Store in freezer bags. You could also use leftover mashed potatoes as filling if you have them. MIL said that her Mother used to make them with dry cottage cheese mixed with the potatoes and sometimes, she'd make them filled with "lekvar" (pronounced lek-wahr) which is essentially a prune filling. I have never been tempted to make those. :o)
I should also add that I made 5 times the recipe for our meal. I never did count how many pirogees I made, but I would estimate 125 two inch pirogees. I have to apologize once again for not taking pictures during cooking and serving. I am really bad about that. When I cook, I cook and when it's time to eat, forget the camera!

Monday, February 26, 2007


This is a wonderful party drink! It's a kind of non-alcoholic Sangria. This was a favorite at slumber parties when I was younger.

1 two-liter bottle lemon-lime soda (or pop if you're from Ohio).
1 64 oz. bottle of grape juice.
3/4 Cup white sugar.
1 orange sliced
Ice, ice ring or frozen grapes as desired.

Mix soda and juice. Add sugar and stir (mixture will foam a little) add orange slices and chill until served. Add ice or grapes just before serving.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cinnamon Sugar Spread

When I was a kid, I loved cinnamon sugar toast! I thought it was such a special treat.

I still love it to this day, but I don't make it much. I guess its partially due to the fact that I try to eat a lot more protein for breakfast and partially due to the fact that I don't think about it at breakfast time. It does make a great snack, though.

My MIL gave me a recipe for making a spread that will give you the great result of warm, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon slathered on a crispy slice of toasted bread without having to actually get your sugar shaker out each time.

Cinnamon Sugar Spread

1 Stick Butter, softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together well. Spread on hot toast, bagels, tortillas or English muffins. Store in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fudge Brownies

I got this recipe from Taste Of Home Magazine a looooong time ago.

Fudge Brownies
1&1/3 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Baking Cocoa
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)
2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Another 1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9x13 pan with foil. Grease the foil.

In a bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. In another, combine the oil, eggs and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry mixture. DO NOT overmix! Spread in pan. Top with nuts and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side comes out clean.

These are also great frosted with chocolate frosting, but then again, what isn't??