"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Balsamic and Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Roast

I served this at the hospital party last Christmas and it got the same rave reviews from that crowd as it did my family.  I love Jamie Cook’s It Up blog I get many keeps from her kitchen.

Balsamic and Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Roast

Time: 10 minutes prep + 4-6 hours cooking
Yield: 6 servings
Recipe from Let's Dish via Pinterest

1  2 pound pork loin
1 t sage
1/2 t salt
1/4/ t pepper
1 t garlic
1/2 C water

1/2 C brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C water
2 T soy sauce

1. Place your pork roast on a pan, or plate. 
2. In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, rubbed sage, and garlic. Press the seasonings into the pork roast. Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray. Place the seasoned pork roast inside and pour the water along the edges of the roast. 
3. Cover and cook on low for 4-6, depending on how hot your crock pot cooks things. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180 degrees. 
4. In a small sauce pan, combine the glaze ingredients. Bring it to a boil while stirring and let the sauce thicken. (Should only take a couple of minutes.)
5. Drizzle some of the glaze over the top of the roast and let it cook for another 30 minutes. 
6. Remove the roast from the crock pot and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Slice it thinly, drizzle the remaining sauce over the top and your are ready to eat. It's fabulous served with rice and a green veggie...or with roasted vegetables

I (Jill) serve this with the glaze on the side. 

SIDE: Seasonal Steamed Veggies or Roasted Carrots (2 Tablespoons melted butter. Salt and Pepper to taste) Quick steam them in the microwave then roast them in the oven at 400 degrees until tender.

Slow Cooker Upside-Down Chicken Pot Pie

This a favorite at our house, but how can you go wrong with a classic like Chicken Pot Pie?
My kids give this recipe a 5 Star rating; I have been making it for a couple of years now and can't believe I couldn't find it when I came searching on my blog for it.  I love this classic comfort food and that I can throw my chicken thighs in frozen and still have it done in 6-7 hours on low.
Make your favorite biscuit.  I usually use Bisquik because it keeps things simple, but any favorite biscuit will act like the crust if you will.  Split the biscuit and place in bowl and spoon some of the hearty stew over the top. Or if you are filling extra motivated you could bake pasty puff shells in place of the biscuits.  It's even good without biscuits if you don't have time to get to them.

Slow Cooker Upside-Down Chicken Pot Pie

1 1/4 pound of boneless chicken thighs (3 Costco size thighs)
1/2 cup chopped onions (Instant onions could be used here 1 Tablespoon. I prefer fresh always)
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 jar (18 oz) chicken or Turkey gravy or 2 envelope pouches made as instructed on package
2 medium celery stalks, diced
Add the last 15 minutes of cooking:
1 (12 oz) bag of your favorite frozen mixed vegetables

Place the chicken in a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker. Top with onions, bay leaf, pepper and gravy.  Place celery on gravy.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. (If you have an older crock pot it may take 8-10 hours just check your chicken to make sure it is cooked through).

About 30 minutes before serving, make and bake your biscuits.  Meanwhile, gently stir in frozen vegetables into the chicken mixture.  Increase heat to high setting, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Serve with your favorite biscuits as preferred- over the top or on the side whatever makes the crowd happy.  My in-laws like this served over mash potatoes. Its versatile.

MAKES 8 (3/4 cup each) SERVINGS

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I got from Betty Crocker Kitchens

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Homemade Granola Bars

This recipe was recently shared at a recipe/menu exchange group I created a year ago called My Girlfriends Kitchen.  It is a group that shares our tried and true favorite recipes based around a chosen theme for the month.  The month of September I thought I need new ideas for home lunches for school and after school snacks.  Many great ideas were shared, but this one was my favorite! Annette is a fabulous cook and baker and cake decorator extraordinaire.  Check out her blog to see for yourself.   http://www.violetscustomcakes.blogspot.com/

Homemade Granola Bars—Annette Moss

1 cup sugar (granulated or brown)
1 cup corn syrup or honey
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)

Stir until combine


2-3 cups old fashioned oats
2-3 cups rice krispy cereal

Combine and add more oats if needed.  (More oats make it drier/crunchier, less oats makes it chewier).

At this point stir in whatever you want like:

Chocolate chips
PB chips
Pretzel pieces
Graham crackers/ Marshmallows/ and chocolate chips s’mores flavor

Line 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper so it comes up to the sides.  Dump granola bar mix into the pan. Press flat and cut into bars. Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.  (If they last that long!)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Jell-O Marshmallow Fondant

Jell-0 Marshmallow Fondant adapted from a recipe I found
last year for regular fondant (see post about Elsa cake) and 
one off of pintrest this year for Jell-O fondant.  I am not one to 
eat much of the fondant on any cake, but this jello version is 
probably my favorite. I love the different flavors it had; so
did the kids and guest.  Very little fondant on the cake made it to the trash.  

I am a frosted cake kind of girl, but I sure love the way a
fondant cake looks. I have to say if you ever bawk at what a 
cake decorator charges, don’t this little cake took me at least
$20 in supplies, baking and building time, time to freeze it
before crumb layer of frosting, then 8 hours to roll, just, and 
place the fondant.  You do the math! I think that their prices 
are probably not as bad as you think!  Why do I make my own 
then you ask? I was asking the same question as I was 
putting this together.  I do it because I love seeing the reaction 
on my kids face when they see the final product or the time it 
gives us to work on something together making a memory.

Jill's version of Jell-O Marshmallow Fondant
3 oz Marshmallows Microwave about 30-35 seconds
1/4 lb Powdered Sugar (4-4 1/2 oz)
4 tsp. Jello Mix
1/2 tsp. water 
After water and marshmallow have been heated together Add 

1/2 teaspoon Extract flavor of choice. (Vanilla or Coconut is what I use.) 
1/2 tsp corn syrup

*I actually measure powdered sugar and Marshmallows on my kitchen scale so that each batch turns out exactly the same.  If your fondant seems too wet no big deal just need in more powdered sugar.  It is always going to take what it takes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Salted Caramel Granola

I love granola! I love making it for my family and friends. I came upon this recipe when I was searching for some recipes for a special shower I was hosting at my house for a friend of mine who was a surrogate mother for her dear cousin.  One special gal! So I wanted this shower to be simple yet have a variety.  I made several homemade granolas and this one took the prize. It is more like a treat than it is a tree hugging "granola" snack.  Probably why everyone devoured it.  Its a keeper for sure!



4 cups oats
½ cup flax seeds (optional)
⅛ cup chia seeds (optional)
1 cup pecans
1 cup of pretzels
½ cup honey
½ cup of coconut oil
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ stick of butter
½ cup of brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

1 Preheat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet or use a silicone baking sheet.
2 Mix together the oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, pecans, and pretzels.
3 In a saucepan, bring the honey, coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla to a boil.
4 Allow to cool then mix together with the dry ingredients.
5 Press the mixture onto your cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes,or until it starts to turn golden brown.
6 Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.
7 While its cooling, bring the brown sugar, butter and milk or cream to a boil on the stove stop. Whisk constantly.
8 Allow to boil for 3 minutes then remove from heat.
9 Pour over the granola and place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
10 Remove, let cool and break into pieces!

11 Enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Apples with Toffee Dip

I was introduced to this yummy fall treat years ago when we were grad students in Connecticut. Our dear friend Lynnette was such a gourmet cook that it was always great when she shared something so simple like this that I could put together. She has inspired me to learn more about cooking and enjoying it over the years of our friendship. Here is her recipe word for word:

Every time I make this I get requests for the recipe, so here it is. I know it seems a little pampered chef-like, but I promise it's really good. Don't use fat free cream cheese because it turns into a watery mess. Also, the toffee bits will eventually dissolve, so you might want to wait to stir them in at the last minute. 

¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce block) 1/3-less fat cream cheese, softened
¾ cup toffee bits
apples for dipping

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add toffee bits, mix well. Cover and chill.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fried Ice Cream

Boy of boy! This was a dangerous recipe for me to discover I could do! I loved it, as did my family. Got 5 stars all around! Now I can make it from the comforts of my own home; everyone can have their own serving at a fraction of the price of our favorite Mexican restaurants. If you love fried ice cream you will thoroughly enjoy this sweet find. There are several fried ice cream recipes I have pin from pintrest, I started with this one from Life in The Loft House blog and modified it to our liking. I may not be trying an others because this is so simple and so delicious! And it doesn't require I get my big fryer out!

Fried Ice Cream

6-8 cups of Corn Flakes crushed (you need 3-4 cups total after it is crushed.)
3/4-1 cup sugar
3/4-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup toasted sweetened coconut flakes (I do this separately in a fry pan until its golden brown)

Combine corn flakes, sugar,  and cinnamon. Melt the butter in a large fry pan then add the cornflake sugar mixture. Pan fry for 5 minutes on medium high heat, until the cereal starts to toast. Watch it carefully, stirring frequently, you do not want to let it burn which it can do quickly. When cereal is done frying toss in the toasted coconut and stir until mixed in.

Press half the cornflake mixture into a 9 x 13.  Top with a quart of your favorite vanilla ice cream, then top with the second half of the fried cornflakes.  Transfer to the freezer until it hardens. Top with drizzle of chocolate sauce, a dollop of whipping cream (I like to use the spray can kind on desserts like this.) and top with a Maraschino Cherry.

If you really love the cinnamon flavor you can soften your ice cream and stir in another 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a tub of cool whip if desired. (I have tried it both ways. I don't think that the cool whip really adds that much to the dish other than more expense and calories.) If you choose to soften the ice cream to spread it into the pan than plan for 5 hours to set back up.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Garlic Oven Roasted Cabbage

My sister-in-law EC asked me if I had ever tried or seen the roasted cabbage idea on Pintrest.  I hadn't so I went looking.  We enjoy cabbage one of my 10-year old sons loves it! It just wants to crunch and munch on it plain.  When I am shredding it up for a salad or a stir-fry he has a hard time keeping his little paws out of the pile.  Makes me happy that he enjoys a few healthy things in his diet to balance out our sweet tooth we all have.

This recipe was great.  I made one modification to it. I minced my garlic and put it in a small bowl with olive oil then brushed it on both sides of my cabbage before roasting.  I did note that if it isn't slices thick enough it tends to roast a little to quickly and dries out, turning brown and tasting a little burnt. So learn from me don't throw those loose ends on the pan with it, toss them in your salad bowl instead.  This got rave reviews from my family.  Thank you Everyday Maven for a great recipe to add to our favorites.

Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks
By: Everyday Maven via Pintrest
Serves: 4

1 (approx 2lb) head of organic green cabbage, cut into 1″ thick slices
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
spray olive oil OR non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Pull outer leaf off cabbage (it’s usually dirty and nasty looking), cut cabbage from top to bottom (bottom being root) into 1″ thick slices.
Rub both sides of cabbage with smashed garlic.
Use a pastry brush to evenly spread the olive oil over both sides of the cabbage slices.
Finally, sprinkle each side with a bit of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Roast on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Carefully flip the cabbage steaks and roast for an additional 30 minutes until edges are brown and crispy. Serve hot and Enjoy!

Rueben Deli Sandwiches

I got inspired by the Taste of Home website when I was looking for a easy main dishes to feed my family for St. Patricks day.  It was a toss up between a Reuben Soup or a Reuben Sandwich.  With March madness of all sorts whirling around on our calendar I opted for the quickest and easiest meal plan.  We served it with oven roasted garlic rubbed cabbage and a lime/pear green jell-o.  It really hit the spot.

Knowing that my children love a good Rueben like their daddy I may just have to try the original recipe that has more of a kick to it and is made more like a chicken salad but with corn beef.   

Reuben Deli Sandwiches Recipe

The classic Reuben sandwich. The filling is easy to prepare and keeps well in the fridge. Add a salad and dessert, and you have a delicious meal

TOTAL TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 min.

Wishbone Thousand Island Dressing
1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
3/4-1 pound sliced deli corned beef
        Swiss cheese Deli Slices
Slices rye bread
Butter, softened
Spread Thousand Island dressing on bread like you would a mayo.  Top one slice with cheese, sauerkraut, corn beef another small piece of cheese (I like to put a small slice of cheese on both sides of meet when I made grilled sandwiches to make them hold the bread and toppings together.) top with remaining bread. Lightly butter the outsides of bread. Toast sandwiches on a hot griddle for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. 

Yield: 6-8 servings (depending on how much meat you use per sandwich)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Nicole Hendershot via Girlfriends Kitchen Group)

I got this recipe from a good friend Nicole in our month Girlfriends Kitchen group I recently started up.  I started this group for many reasons 1- to get out of the house and have lunch with friends and 2- to exchange menu ideas to help me get out of a funk I was in.  It has proven to be meeting both of those needs.  This recipe got 5 stars from all but one of my kids whom gave it a 4.5 so you know it is now one of our favorites! I love that there is no pre-cooking, just open the cans and pour everything in. The *'s are what I did for our adaptations.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (I usually put in about 8 tenders) 
     *I used a 1 lb. breast meat that I diced into small pieces while frozen
1 (15oz) can crushed tomatoes *I used a can of petite diced tomatoes with chiles
1 (10oz) can enchilada sauce
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles *I eliminated this because I used the tomatoes w/chiles
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder (or you can put in real onions) *I used 1 cup sweet onions, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can black beans
1 package frozen corn (Nicole usually just put in one can of corn) 

      *I used half a bag of frozen corn so roughly 8 oz.
1 TBSP. chopped cilantro (I don't add this).

Directions: Pour all ingredients in slow cooker and cover and cook on high 2-3 hours until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and shred then place back into cooker. Continue cooking on high 1-2 hours. Remove bay leaf before eating. (Nicole usually just cooks it until everything is done and shred the chicken and put it back in and eat it right away) Top with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream. She also suggest trying it with fresh diced onions and avocado on top! 

Love avocados in any Mexican flavored soups! Thanks for sharing this amazing soup recipe with us Nicole!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Photo to be added soon :-)
Found this recipe on pintrest. My family is in love with it! These remind me of a caramel version of our much beloved "Fudge Nut Bars".  I have waited a long time to try this and it was well worth the wait.  You can see the original recipe on Averie Cooks below I listed the way I adapted it for a larger pan- we always need larger than an 8x8 for family dinners! This Quick and simple layered bar cookie.  The crust and topping are an sweet brown sugar, vanilla (heavy on the vanilla), oatmeal and flour mixture. The middle there's layers of rich chocolate and caramel sauce. This cookie is chewy and just oozing with caramel. We served it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and they are a match made in heaven.  Averie suggested that "You can add salt, to taste, to the caramel sauce for salted carmelitas" I chose to add a little kosher salt and loved it. You must let these bars set up for at least 4 hours before slicing or even overnight. I put mine in the fridge to help with the set up time too. These got rave reviews and 5 stars from all.

1  cup margarine, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, optional and to taste
58 caramel squares, unwrapped (I used one bag Kraft caramels) 
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste, if you prefer salted caramel sauce
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 11.5 x 13.5-inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside..
2 Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
3 Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
4 Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
5 Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
6 In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl or in a sauce pan. For the microwave: combine the caramels, cream, and heat on high power in 60-second bursts to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It will likely take about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt; heat until mixture can be stirred smooth. Alternatively, combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth.
7 Optionally stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, for salted caramel sauce; set sauce aside.
8 After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
9 Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
10 Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
11 Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
12 Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing pan in fridge with a sheet of foil over the top to prevent fridge smells. If you don't wait for bars to cool completely, they'll be a literal hot mess. They'll taste fine (don't burn yourself), but they won't slice neatly with clean cuts. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.