Archive for January, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Good morning, everyone!  I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead.  The sun finally shone in south central Kentucky this weekend and we all welcomed it with open arms!  What a glorious reminder of the coming spring!!

Now it is back to reality though…the weatherperson is predicting rain and more snow this week, but I hope they are wrong.  My dad’s birthday is this week (Happy birthday, Dad!), so one dinner will be a special one for him.  The rest of the week is made up of some good ol’ basics.  You will notice that there is one less main dish, but a side dish instead.  C & I eat at my Nanny’s one night each week and I try to contribute a couple of dishes.  Instead of a meat and dessert, this week I am doing a side dish and dessert.

Spicy beef vegetable soup

Cheesy beef corn chip skillet (new recipe)

Grilled steaks with butter roasted potatoes and salad

Grilled pork chops with olive oil roasted potatoes

Pizza night

Butterfinger Cake (Southern Plate recipe-more info on this on Thursday)

Italian pasta salad

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Hamburger Stew

I have been a subscriber to Taste of Home magazine for many, many years.  The issues are always packed with delicious and simple recipes that include ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now.  I am also a subscriber to their on-line newsletter and that is where this recipe originated.  I tweaked it just a little and it turned out great!

I know this dish will stay in my cold weather rotation for a very long time!

2 lbs. ground beef

1/2 medium onion, chopped

8 medium carrots, thinly sliced

4 celery ribs, thinly sliced

4 14.5oz cans stewed tomatoes (I used the sliced variety.)

3 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed

2 cups beef broth

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

1 to 2 tbsp. salt

1 to 2 tsp. pepper


The addition of onion, carrot and celery as a base of a dish is called a Mirepoix, which is a traditional French combination of aromatic ingredients.


In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook beef, onions, carrots, & celery until the beef is no longer pink.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.


Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables and rice are tender.  Uncover and simmer for 30 more minutes or until thickened.

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This was delicious with cornbread muffins or crackers.  You can also freeze this for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Transfer to a saucepan and add 1 cup of water.  Cook until hot and bubbly.

Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Exchange sponsored by Le Creuset.

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Check out this week’s spotlight at Eat At Home Cooks on orange veggies!

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Menu Plan Monday

Another week has passed and it is STILL January!  The cold snowy weather has made this month seem three months long to me.  Can you tell that I am not a big fan of winter?  Yeah, not so much.  I am a spring and summer girl all the way.

The one good thing about this time of year is that it leaves plenty of time for trying new recipes and enjoying some all-time favorites and that is where this week’s list comes in.  I have some oldies but goodies plus a couple of new ones as well.  Hope you are toasty warm and full of homemade goodness wherever you are!


Cinnamon Bun Pancakes w/bacon (We went out one night so I didn’t make these last week.)

Homemade sloppy Joes with oven baked fries

Sausage bake and fresh fruit

Pizza night

Famous pork chops (new)

coconut cream cake (new)

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Butter Roasted Potatoes

This is my go-to everyday side dish recipe.  It is quick, easy, and only requires three ingredients that I try to keep on hand at all times.  These potatoes go with just about any meat dish and are great made on the grill as well as baked.

This is the baked version since the weather is a little too cool for the grillin’ version.  Try these and I think you will love them!  Also, you don’t have to use the grilling seasoning.  Try any kind of seasoning you like…I have used Italian seasoning, seasoning salt and black pepper, and sometimes I just used plain kosher salt and black pepper.  Adapt this to your taste!

This recipe will feed about 6 or 7 people.  I generally plan for one potato per person and one tablespoon of butter per potato.

7 potatoes

7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1/2 tsp grilling seasoning (You can add more if you like the taste really strong.)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Slice the potatoes into 8 wedges each and set aside.  Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl.  I set the microwave on 50% power for 1 minute.  Check the butter and microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds on 50% power if needed.  Add the seasoning to the melted butter.




Dip the wedges in the butter and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes and then flip the wedges over.  Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes.  (If you are only baking 2 or 3 potatoes, you will only need about 12 more minutes.  Watch them after that time so they don’t overcook and become hard and dry.)

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Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Kerrygold

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Thoughtful Thursday

This is the second week for this feature, and I had not really planned on it being a feature, but here goes.  In trying to improve my writing skills, I hope to post a little something every Thursday (or at least most Thursdays) that is about something on my mind.  It may be personal, blog-related, news-related, or just a random thought.

Today is an audience participation day.  I have to admit something first, though.  I have had this blog for almost two years and very few people in my community know about it.  In fact, I can count on one hand the people I have told about my blog.  I am not embarrassed about it…far from it!  I have just always thought that this was my “alter-ego”.  I work in a very public job in a very small town where everybody knows your name, your parents’ names, and your grandparent’s names.  You get my point, and even though I never put anything offensive or embarrassing on here, it has been hard for me to tell people about it.  This space has been a sort of refuge from the real world since it contains only things in which I am interested.

What I want to know is this…when you first started blogging, did you tell your family and friends immediately or did you get your feet wet first?  If you didn’t tell them quickly, how did you let them know about it later?

I have people ask me for recipes fairly often and I have thought about telling them that it is on my blog, but I just can’t get the words out.  Help!

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This week’s spotlight ingredient at Eat At Home Cooks is taco seasoning.  Check it out here!

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Menu Plan Monday

Another week has passed and it is time for another menu plan.  When I look at my list, I can tell I am still in comfort food mode because of the dreary weather around here.  The snow that started collecting a week or so ago is finally gone, but it has been replaced by clouds and impending rain.  Oh, joy. 

The sun shone on Saturday and I was hopeful for a few days of it, but it was not to be, at least not yet.  Well, January is now half over and that means we are that much closer to springtime and sunshine and green leaves!  Yay!!!

C & I did get a little accomplished on our basement this weekend.  The plumber that we use came Saturday and finished hooking up the shower and installed a drain for a bar sink down there as well.  He is coming back later to install a gas line from our living room fireplace to the outdoors so we can finally get the fireplace working after 5 years!!! Now, we get to start hanging recessed light fixtures and running tv/telephone wires in the basement when we have time.

What basement project?  Oh, that’s right, I have never shared our “big project”.  When we built our house a few years ago, we did not take the time to finish off the basement.  C has a grand plan for a home theater and game room down there, so that is what we are working toward.  I hope to have a small kitchen area and a reading nook as well.  It may be several years before it is completely finished because we are trying to do as much of the work ourselves as possible.

Back to cooking…here is this week’s plan.

Hamburger stew

Cheesy Steak Sandwiches (2 nights)

Cinnamon bun pancakes & sausage

Pizza Night


Double Chocolate Snowball cookies (C requested chocolate chip cookies this past weekend, so I am moving this recipe to next weekend.  Remember, only 1 dessert per week after the holidays. :))

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Italian Cream Cake

This is my go-to “fancy” dessert for any holidays.  It is also my dad’s favorite so I try to make it for his birthday and Father’s Day as well.   

I made this cake this past Thanksgiving and C’s 5 year old cousin offered me a million dollars for my “wecipe”.  I told him that I would just make him another cake sometime.  He even tried to sell his little toy cars to pay for it.  How cute is that?!?!?

Italian Cream Cake:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cooking oil

2 cups granulated sugar

5 eggs, separated & room temperature

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup buttermilk (I use the dehydrated buttermilk.  You mix the powder in with the dry ingredients and use water in place of the buttermilk itself.  It works great!)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9 inch cake pans.  I have just recently started using Baker’s Joy spray and it is great!!!  I highly recommend it, and, no, Baker’s Joy has no idea who I am or that I am endorsing their product.  It is just good stuff.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and oil.  Add sugar and beat until creamy.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Sift together the flour, baking soda and buttermilk powder.  Add the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with the water (for the buttermilk powder), 1/2 at a time, to creamed mixture.  Stir to blend after each addition.


Stir in the vanilla and nuts.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the whites into the batter.  Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  I have started weighing my cake pans with the batter so the layers will come out even.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn out to cool completely.

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Italian Cream Frosting:

This recipe is actually a double batch of the frosting because I wanted it really thick and creamy.  If you are not as big a frosting fan as I am, cut this recipe in half.

16 oz cream cheese, room temperature

8 tbsp butter, room temperature

1 1/2 to 2 lbs powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the sugar slowly and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla. 


To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer on a plate and line the edges with wax paper strips for easy clean-up of drips.


Spread a thick layer of frosting on the cake and sprinkle with half of the chopped pecans.


Place the other cake layer on top and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Pull out the wax paper strips.  Sprinkle the rest of the pecans on the top.

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Here is a photo of the one I made for C’s family Christmas dinner this year.  I “fancied” it up a little!

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Thoughtful Thursday

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know most of the posts are about cooking, photography, books or gardening.  Those are my favorite hobbies and what I enjoy writing about.  I have never been a person who journals; I had a a little girl’s diary with a little gold lock on it (remember those) when I was a child, but most of the posts were about going to school or playing or something along those lines.  I usually work through my problems in my head instead of writing them down, except to-do lists… I love to-do lists!

Anyway, back to writing.  I started this blog almost two years ago and when I look at those old posts I realize that my writing has improved.  I am still a long way from a good writer, but it is getting better.  I guess I had better clarify by what I mean by “good writer”.  My grammar and punctuation are usually good, but sometimes the content itself can be a little, I don’t know, dry.  I read in a book years ago, that someone’s prose was not “prose-y” enough, meaning the writing was not very interesting.  I want to continue to improve and grow in that area, and that has led to this post.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a blog post published somewhere that referenced a Wired magazine article about blogging.  The title is “Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004”.  Click here to read the article in full.  The gist of the article is that blogging is dying because it has been taken over by big business.  The article also contains a link to the Technorati’s list of the top 100 blogs and when I read the list, I realized what the writer was talking about, but (and this is a really big BUT) maybe what this particular writer is interested in is not what the “small” bloggers are blogging about.  I wonder if he stopped to think about that. Even the blogs that I read that I consider BIG blogs are not on this list. 

Also, I think there is a substantial difference between a “blog” and a “website”.  Some pages that I read regularly started as blogs, such as The Pioneer Woman or Southern Plate, but in my opinion these pages are now actual websites with multiple pages, links and ads.  I think the writer of this article is missing the big picture a little bit…small blogs DO still exist, they just may be harder to find and I think it has a lot to do with the subject matter you are searching for.

When I have searched for cooking or gardening blogs, there are many to choose from that are written by people just like you and me.  They use the blog as a creative outlet or an online archive.

Also mentioned is how Twitter has kind of taken over where blogging left off.  I don’t know about that since I don’t use Twitter.  I have nothing against it, I have just not gotten “into it”.  It is hard to post a recipe with multiple photos in 140 characters or less! :) 

What does this post have to do about cooking or photography?  Not much, but when I read that article, it actually made me a little mad.  I know my little site is not on this article author’s radar, but it is on a few people’s.  If they enjoy it, then I have done my part.  I know I enjoy other “little” blogs that are still personal and relevant at the same time!

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