Archive for June, 2009

I’ve been wanting to share some ideas to help you add special touches to your July 4th celebration, so I decided I would just share this part of my latest newspaper column in the Leader Enterprise……

My mind has been spinning with numerous recipe ideas to help you celebrate the upcoming birthday of our nation on July 4th.

I decorated this cake with jelly beans to look like ‘Old Glory”. A pretzel rod was used for the pole, but you could also use a black licorice stick.
patriotic cake

It’s easy enough to use a purchased pound cake – lay slices of it in the bottom of a rectangular dish, top with blueberries and strawberries, and then whipped topping, and decorate the top like a flag, with more blueberries and strawberries. Or you can bake a cake from a mix, in a 9″ X 13″ pan, and decorate it likewise.

You can layer berries with pudding or whipped topping in a bowl, and decorate the top with an outline of blueberries in a star shape, and fill the inside with strawberries, or raspberries, if you prefer. Or just make layers in parfait cups for individual servings.

I love the idea of using the store-bought cake rolls to make ‘dynamite’. Use a little string of licorice to make a wick -Stack a few together and tie with a piece of licorice – to add a ‘blast’ to your holiday.

Bake cupcakes (we love them in ice cream cones) and sprinkle the frosting with red, white & blue edible decorations. Or just celebrate with a McDonald’s healthy yogurt/fruit parfait. I enjoy them often!

If you want more ideas, go to this link for some cool patriotic menu ideas

For Taste of Home’s Top 10 Patriotic dessert recipes….

Whatever you decide to do, make it simple and fun and enjoy yourself as we have so much to be thankful for. We can always be grateful to live in the land of the free and home of the brave, and be proud of our country! Let’s not hesitate to throw a big birthday party for the good ole USA!

May God bless America!

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I love reading them – I love collecting them – I love sharing them – I love making them!

I have sooo many recipes and need to have an ‘extra’ day in my life to get things organized as I’d like.  There are times when I get totally frustrated, because I have Too Many Recipes, and can’t find the one I’m looking for.

But I do have some thoughts for organizing your recipes that I want to share.

If you have many cookbooks, have you considered the idea of making a ‘recipe file’ with the name of the cookbook, the recipe name and page number?  I have often kept a list in front of the cookbooks with the recipes I want to try, along with the page number.  It helps save me time looking, but what works for one, may not be good for another.

I have a recipe drawer – this is where I keep my most used/new recipes.  If it’s out of sight, it’s so often out of mind, so it’s something I go through often.

I use the small flimsy-cover photo albums, and have them labeled with different topics: 9 x 13 desserts, appetizers, ‘real food’, microwave – whatever you use most, to keep recipes handy. I stand them up on end in the front of the drawer, so they’re easily accessible and to view.

I do love the ‘make your own’ cookbooks – with sections for holding magazine (rectangular) recipes. It helps me clear out the recipe magazines that pile up in my kitchen.

I also keep folders in the drawer – color coded – and store favorite recipes in them.  I have one just for ‘Favorites from Friends” and write on the manilla folder, which recipe from which gal, because they often get shared too.

I have a friend who tries a new recipe nearly every day of her life and I often get to be a part of taste testing.  She sometimes, leaves a sample at my door – and I don’t have to wonder who has dropped it off.  She keeps a 3-ring binder with recipes/pictures and it’s wonderful to go through.  I have learned from her,  to always write on a recipe what I thought of it, but if it isn’t a ‘keeper’, it gets pitched.  I do LOVE recipes – and it’s easy to get frustrated if you don’t have a system.

Hope some of these ideas make things easier for you in the kitchen.

For more ideas, visit my daughter Deb’s post at Family Foodies from last week…

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I have to say I love shopping!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve offered  to do shopping for friends – of course, with their $$ – but I do enjoy getting as much as possible for my money, so going to the grocery store is a pleasant event for me, at least most of the time.

I recently got some great deals because my regular grocery store was running coupon deals for a 2 week period.  As you can see by the picture of my receipt, I was able to save 40%.  That’s quite a savings these days, when we have to spend so much more for products than what we were paying a year or two ago.   Paying regular prices these days can be a real killer.

I save coupons that come in our weekly newspaper, but I only save for the items that I would purchase, IF they were on sale.   I carry a coupon keeper in my purse at all times, and I’m ready to save all I can.

Occasionally, I am able to save more with manufacturer’s coupons, along with store coupons, but it wasn’t so this time.  I only used store coupons, and was very pleased with my bargains.



My local store regularly doubles coupons up to $1.00, and I have purchased items on sale for 99 cents – used my manufacturer’s coupon for 50 cents, and gotten the item for free.

I try to stay stocked ahead, so that when things that I normally use, are on sale, I buy them, even if I don’t need them right now.  I believe it saves in the long run.

We prefer frozen vegetables.  The regular price for a 1# bag, is $1.59.  It is rare that I ever pay that price, because they are on sale often, and that’s when I choose to stock up.  This week, because of a store coupon, I was able to get 5 bags for $4.  Thus, a savings of $3.95 there alone.

I also saved $4.00 on the 3# bag of quick frozen chicken breasts, because that was part of the coupon deal. That’s nearly half price.

grocery deal

We like to shop at our local bulk food store too.  We recently saw a sign posted there for co-jack cheese…our favorite…for $2.40 a lb.   That’s nearly half as much as the regular price, and we had to buy a big chunk.  We got almost 6#. so I chunked some up for a quick nibble, and shredded much of it, and put some in the freezer.   Cheese tends to crumble more after its frozen, so having shredded it first, will make it easier to use.

There are so many online sources for coupons, but I really love the look of Coupon Mom!  She’s a woman after my own heart!

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Here are some lighter, Weight-Watcher friendly recipes I love!


1 sm. pkg. sugar free butterscotch pudding (dry)
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
Mix together, then add 4 unpeeled diced apples
and 1-8 oz. tub fat free frozen whipped topping, thawed

Just before serving, sprinkle with 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts. This is my ultimate favorite sugar free dish!

Weight Watchers Points – 1/2 cup = 2 points

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1 18 oz. box spice cake mix
1 small can of pumpkin
2/3 cup water

Mix cake mix, pumpkin and water together by hand until smooth.  Fill 18 muffin tins – one heaping spoonful for each  – and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

These are so easy to make a heavenly to eat.

Weight Watchers points – 1 muffin = 2 points

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3 – 15 oz. cans of 99% fat free chicken broth
2 – 16 oz bags of vegetables – preferably California blend or broccoli/cauliflower mix
1 can rotel style diced tomatoes (with green chilies), undrained
10 oz. 2% Velveeta, cubed

Cook broth, vegetables & tomatoes, until tender, then add Velveeta.    Easy and delicious!

Makes 10 cups

Weight Watchers points – 1 cup = 1 point

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Just about anyone could eat more fruits and veggies, and summertime is a great time to enjoy more of them. But you don’t want to purchase a lot, and then have to throw it away because they haven’t been eaten. That’s definitely a waste of money and nutrition.

According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation:

  • Fewer than 15% of school-aged children eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables needed every day.
  • Over half of all elementary school-aged children eat no fruit on any given day.
  • Three out of 10 elementary school-aged children eat less than one serving of vegetables a day.
  • One-quarter of all vegetables eaten by school aged students are french fries.

What’s a mother to do?

The amounts recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is – younger children should eat atleast 1.5 cups each of fruits and vegetables every day.  Older, and more active children should be eating up to two cups of fruit and 3.5 cups of vegetables each day.  (Amounts are based on recommended calorie intakes for sex, age, and activity level: Check out www.mypyramid.gov to find out the amounts you and your children should be aiming for.

Here’s some ideas to help you get your kids steered in the right direction when it comes to consuming enough of these nutritious foods….

  • Take your children to the grocery store or open air market and let them choose a fruit or vegetable they like or would like to try.
  • How about giving them each $5 and letting them do shopping on their own – not allowing bread or candy to be among their purchases.
  • Add berries to their cereal; shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes to their sandwiches; finely chopped carrots or broccoli added to soups, or other dishes, will give them the nutrition they need, without them even realizing it.
  • Encourage fruits and vegetables as snacks. Serve fruit as a dessert, and keep a dish of fruit visible to your family.  They will be more likely to eat more without thinking about getting something sweet instead.
  • Give them fresh baby carrots and/or celery for snacking, along with their own little cup of ranch dressing for dip.

Apple Smiles

Here’s a fun thing I did for my kids when they were growing up and have done it for my grandchildren as well.  If you can make eating ‘fun’, you’re more likely they will eat more nutritionally without a fight.

Take a red apple and cut it in half – core it, and slice it into 8 or 10 slices…to make ‘lips’.  Spread one side of two apple slices, with peanut butter, lay mini marshmallows on top to make ‘teeth’ and put the other apple slice on top.  I can just about guarantee you’ll make them smile as well – and that will be good for mom too.

apple smiles


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1 # ground beef
2 cans chili beans, undrained
1 can chili with beans
1 can rotel-style tomatoes (with green chiles)
1# Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 pint whipping cream

Tostito chips
Chopped lettuce & tomato
Sour Cream
Sliced Black Olives

Brown ground beef – drain grease – add everything but the cheese and whipping cream.

Heat to boiling – stir in cheese and heat until melted.

Pour in cream – keep warm, but don’t boil.

Serve over chips and top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa, etc.

This is such a great company dish because it’s quick and it makes a lot.  You can use ‘hot’ chili or beans, and spice it up if you like.


1 pkg. devil’s food or chocolate fudge cake mix
3/4 cup water
1 cup prepared chocolate frosting, divided
1/4 cup oil
1/2 gal. favorite ice cream, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour bottom, sides and rims of 2 – 9″ cake pans or pie plates (they should be deep).

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, water, 3/4 cup frosting and oil; beat 2 minutes on high. Spread 1/2 the batter in bottom of each prepared pan. (don’t spread up the sides)

Bake 25 – 30 minutes – don’t overbake.

Cakes will collapse when cooling.  Cool completely.

Spread ice cream in each shell.

Heat remaining 1/4 cup frosting and drizzle over the top.

Top with chopped nuts if desired.

Wrap tightly with foil and freeze up to a month.

Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

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This is one of our family favorites!

3 cups chicken brothCheesey Chicken Chowder
2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1 cup each – diced carrots & celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1/1/2 tsps. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
(we prefer 1-1/2 cups velveeta)
2 cups diced cooked chicken

In large pan, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Reduce heat.

Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add flour and mix well.

Gradually stir in milk and cook over low heat until slightly thickened.

Stir in cheese and cook until melted.

Add to broth and vegetables along with chicken.

Cook and stir over low heat until heated through.

(When I’m in a hurry, I use frozen hash browns and frozen mixed veggies, along with the chopped celery & onions – cooking the fresh ingredients a few minutes before adding frozen)

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