Saturday, February 18, 2017

A dilly of a recipe

Photo from Taste of Home
Last week in my post about February Favorites from the Archives,  I shared a link to our recipe for Cheeseburger Soup.  This is such a warming winter soup, though it's good anytime of year.

Photo from Taste of Home
It's become a real favorite in our family. Some years when our daughter and family have flown in from far away, we have served this as a "welcome home" supper.

Ever since I first began making the Cheeseburger Soup, I have made these Dilly Rolls to serve alongside.  I think when we began serving these together, we thought that since dill pickles go so well with cheeseburgers, Dilly Rolls would go well with Cheeseburger Soup.  And they do!  Actually, probably almost any rolls, or biscuits, or corn muffins, would go well alongside, but we do love our dilly rolls.  The dill flavor is not too strong, really just about right.  But if you don't enjoy the flavor of dill, you'd probably do better to use a different roll or biscuit for accompaniment.

My dictionary says:

dilly 1 |ˈdilē|
noun (pl. dillies) [ usu. in sing. ] informal
an excellent example of a particular type of person or thing: that's a dilly of a breakfast recipe.

ORIGIN late 19th cent. (as an adjective in the sense ‘delightful’): alteration of the first syllable of delightful or delicious.

And that is why I say this is a dilly of a recipe.  The soup is, too.  Hope you enjoy these rolls (and the soup!) if you try them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Snowy Hodgepodge

From 2007
 Here it is Wednesday again!  Time to check in with Joyce and the gang at From This Side of the Pond for the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Joyce asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers on their own blogs.  It's great fun, so if you've never participated, click the link above and copy the questions.  Then get back to your own blog and get busy answering them so you can link up.

1. What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the name. 

 All of my grandparents have passed on.  My paternal grandfather died when my dad was a child.  I called my paternal grandmother "Grammie _______.   I called my maternal grandparents, who lived nearby, simply Grammie and Grandpa.  He died when I was four, so I have very limited memories of him.
He was showing us his sawmill in operation.
If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?

 They call me Grammy, or sometimes just Gram (in the case of my two teenage granddaughters).  I guess basically I chose it to begin with, but it's what came naturally.

2. Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek? If not, any desire to do so? If you were to take a trip along the California Coast what's one attraction you'd have on your must-see list?

I haven't yet taken a road trip along the California Coast, but one will likely be in my future at some point.  My daughter and son-in-law took that trip a few years back and enjoyed it so much, they want us to go too.  I'd enjoy seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and some of the beaches.  My son-in-law was recently in Huntington Beach and sent us this picture among others:

3. What are three things you don't know how to do?

a) Downhill ski.
b) Drive a stick shift.
c) Text.

4. Tom Peters is quoted as saying, 'Celebrate what you want to see more of.' If that's true what will you celebrate and more importantly, how will you celebrate?

Hmmm. This is one of those thought-provokers.  One thing I would like to see more of is Christians actually living out their faith.  So I can celebrate that when I see it by trying to encourage those I observe walking in a Christlike manner.  Another thing I'd like to see more of is good, loving, responsible parenting.  I do celebrate that when I see it -- for example, if I see a young mom doing a great job with her kids in the grocery store, I will stop and compliment her.

5. Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer-an Almond Joy or a macaron? What's something you make that calls for almonds? 

I love almonds!  I would definitely prefer an Almond Joy.
Photo from Taste of Home
These Almond Joy Muffins are a huge favorite in our family.  They don't contain Almond Joys, but taste similar to them.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream OR plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Almonds (either chopped, sliced, or whole) and sugar for tops of muffins

Preheat oven to 375º. Grease 12 muffin cups. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine margarine, eggs, sour cream (OR yogurt), and extract. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients until just combined well. The batter will be lumpy. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the greased muffin cups. Top each with a sprinkle of chopped or sliced almonds (or 3 whole almonds) and a little sugar. Bake in preheated 375º oven for 18 minutes or until muffins test done. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

6. What does Saturday morning look like at your house?

It depends upon the time of year.  Right now, in winter, Mr. T is working most of every Saturday, so my morning looks just like it does any weekday -- up by 4:20, then a good quiet time and breakfast before jumping into the tasks du jour.  His involves leaving home around 5:15 to head to a logging job site.  Currently that is in a neighboring state.  On an ordinary Saturday when he's not working, we might "sleep in" until 5:30 or 6 a.m. and we might go out to breakfast or at least coffee before starting the day, or I might bake some muffins or a coffeecake.

7. Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.

I haven't finished this one yet, but I'm currently reading The Life-Giving Home, by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson.  It's excellent, just excellent, but unfortunately I keep thinking Why couldn't I have understood these things when my kids were growing up?  Sometimes it's a challenge to look back on one's mistakes and just realize God allowed our kids' childhood to be what it was.  (Not that it was bad; not just as wonderful as I would've liked, in retrospect!)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Snow!  We have had so much snow of late. 10-12 inches between Sunday and Monday, and there is more snow predicted for today and Thursday.  The photo at top was taken ten years ago this month, but it's a pretty good indicator of how things are looking here right now.  My hubby has just gotten new snowshoes, the much more streamlined type than what is pictured.   He actually went out snowshoeing on Sunday and said there was really almost too much snow to do so successfully.

The video below (I hope it will work for you) was taken in February 2007 when our daughter and son-in-law visited us following months of ministry in Antigua.  Clad in borrowed winter gear of my husband's, they enjoyed a snowshoe hike with him.  The crunching of the snow may be a fun sound for those of you who do not live in snow country!

Happy Hodgepodge Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A few last-minute Valentine sweets

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I'm going to share some Valentine sweets with you today, things quick and easy enough to make at the last minute.  But first, something even sweeter.  Stephanie, over at The Enchanting Rose, has written a beautiful post on The Love of God.  If you haven't seen this post, do go on over and read it.  Stephanie's words, the hymns and poems she shares, and her gorgeous, evocative photography will warm your heart today.

For the more temporal sweetness, now, a few candy recipes and a deep-chocolate dessert!  I'll start with the dessert since you might like to make this for after supper tonight:
Photo from Taste of Home


1 package fudge brownie mix (13x9-inch size) plus the eggs, oil and water it calls for
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups whipped topping (or, by all means use real whipped cream if you have it)
Chocolate or heart-shaped sprinkles

Prepare brownie mix as package directs for fudge-like brownies. Spread batter in a greased & floured 9-inch round cake pan. (Or do as I do and don’t bother with greasing & flouring -- just place a 9-inch round of wax paper in the bottom of the cake pan.) Bake at 350º for 38-42 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes.

Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely. In a bowl, stir together the chocolate and butter until smooth. Spread over brownie layer; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Just before serving, top with the whipped topping. Decorate with sprinkles.

Yield: 9-12 servings.

This recipe is so easy and takes such ordinary ingredients, yet produces something really special! You might already have all of the ingredients on hand. It is decadent, for sure. I found this recipe in an early Quick Cooking magazine.

Now just a few simple candy recipes.

Photo from Taste of Home
Angel Food Candy melts in your mouth and is so delicious!  I've had this recipe for years and years.
Photo from Taste of Home
Coffee Shop Fudge is one that I made at Christmas.  It's a lot like Arlene’s Easy Fudge, only with coffee and a touch of cinnamon.  Either one is a quick fudge that you can probably have in the pan in under five minutes.
Photo from Taste of Home
Peanut Butter Balls are a long-time favorite in our family, and maybe in yours too.  If you coat them in white chocolate and add some Valentine sprinkles or red sugar, you will have a festive treat indeed!  This is probably the most time-consuming recipe of the bunch, since it takes time to form the candies and dip them in melted chocolate, not to mention chilling time.
Photo from Taste of Home
Heavenly Delight is a tradition in our family.  Just a double decker chocolate and peanut butter fudge, it is easy and relatively quick to make.
Photo from Taste of Home
Chocolate-Covered Almond Brittle is a delicious candy I've made many times.  It's made in the microwave so it's quite easy, but beware!  The bowl or casserole dish you're cooking the brittle mixture in will get VERY hot.  I once destroyed a glass bowl cooking this mixture.  I recommend a Pyrex casserole to microwave it in.
Photo of full-size chocolate pizza from Taste of Home
And then last but not least, not at all, are Little Chocolate Pizzas.  The recipe is for a large chocolate pizza, but it is much more fun if you make them individual size.

Well, I could go on and on, but I will stop here.  Among these, I'd say you're sure to find a sweet treat that your sweethearts will enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Some favorite cookies for Valentine's Day

It's cold and oh-so-snowy in New England today and my thoughts are turning toward baking, just to help warm up the house.  Here we are, at two in the afternoon on Saturday -- this is a scheduled post for Monday -- and the temperature is 14 measly degrees!  14º!  It actually feels colder than that to me, so it would seem this is the perfect time to do some Valentine baking.
 💟     💟     💟     💟     💟      💟     💟      💟     💟     💟
When I think of Valentine cookies, I always think of heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink frosting, like my mother would make for our Valentine parties in elementary school.  And I will share some cut-out cookie recipes in this post, along with some non-traditional Valentine baking ideas like the cookies at top, from Taste of Home: Dipped Cherry Cookies.  I originally made these as a Christmas cookie, but they are perfect for Valentine's Day!

These Almond-Raspberry Kisses are also very pretty

Photo from Taste of Home
 and just right for Valentine's Day.
Another great recipe, this one all chocolate, is


1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 Tblsp. milk
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
9-ounce bag chocolate kisses or hugs, unwrapped

Heat oven to 350º. Beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla until blended. Add eggs and milk; beat well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 11 minutes.

Cool 1 minute; press a chocolate kiss or hug into the center of each cookie. Cool another minute before removing cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies.

These were a big favorite when our kids were away at school, regardless of the season. Each weekend I would send a tin of cookies back with them, to get them and their friends through the week.

For Valentine's Day, any cookie topped with a Hershey's kiss or hug would be very appropriate!

Another easy cookie is made with a strawberry cake mix.
(Photo from Tasty Kitchen)
Very pretty and very appropriate for Valentine's Day! They happen to be delicious, too:
Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Now for a few cut-out cookies!  These are not as easy or quick, but they are fun.
There are several cut-out cookie recipes here in this post at my Christmas kitchen blog: Cut-out Cookies . Any of them would make a nice Valentine cookie.
For a chocolate cut-out cookie, this one is my favorite: Cocoa-Molasses Cookies.
But this one, from Cook & Tell, is a close second:

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup melted shortening (for example, one Crisco® stick, melted)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup warm water or coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Beat the egg; add sugar and molasses and beat 1 minute more. Dissolve the cocoa in the melted shortening, cool slightly; then add to batter and beat again. Dissolve the soda in the warm water or coffee and vanilla. Sift together the flour and salt. Add soda mixture to the batter alternately with the sifted dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Chill dough for 1 hour before using.

Roll out dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface; cut into shapes. Bake about 8 minutes at 350º; do not overbake; you want them to be fudgy, so watch carefully. Remove to racks to cool.

When cool, frost generously with a vanilla butter frosting. If you need a recipe, try this: 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tblsp. softened butter, 1 tsp. vanilla, and up to 5 Tblsp. milk -- start with half that amount and stir in more milk as needed until smooth and spreadable.

Makes a good amount of cookies!
Or, even more special for Valentine's Day, try these:


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups flour
2/3 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, drained and dried well on paper towels
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 Tblsp. cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)
About 30 maraschino cherries, halved, blotted well on paper towels
About 1/2 cup cherry or raspberry jam

Beat the butter, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift together the nutmeg and flour and beat about half of it into the mixture; add the remaining flour to the dough and beat well. Form dough into a ball; wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a circle, about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the cookies with a 2-1/2-inch scalloped cutter (hearts would be pretty, too) and place on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 13-16 minutes at 350º. Remove and cool on racks.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and cherry juice to make a thick glaze. Place waxed paper under cooling rack. Pour the glaze carefully over half of the cookies to within a half inch of edges. Let stand 4 to 5 minutes, then place a cherry half (rounded side up) in center of each glazed cookie. Let glaze set completely.

Sandwich together with remaining, unglazed cookies with a thin layer of jam between. Store these cookies airtight at room temperature. Makes about 5 dozen sandwich cookies.

I wish that I had a picture of these to show you.  I have only made them a couple of times, but they are picture-perfect for Valentine's Day -- like something you would see in a child's storybook.  Visualize pink scalloped sandwich cookies with a cherry glaze and a perfect half cherry centered on top.  So pretty!

Tomorrow I will be back with a few simple candies for Valentine's Day.  Meanwhile, why not bake a batch of Valentine cookies?  If you live in New England, you may not be able to get out to the store, so pick a recipe with ingredients already in your pantry and get baking!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February Favorites from the archives

Photo from Baptist Bible Hour
Since my mind is a blank right now (too much gazing at the white and snowy landscape, no doubt), I am going to link to a few posts from the archives that might be of interest to someone today.  Quick and simple, but hopefully one or more of them will be just what some reader is looking for!

First, from 2006 (my first February as a blogger!), Entries from my Journal.   This was just thoughts and ideas from my journal, just as it said.  I was surprised by how it encouraged people!

A Winter Afternoon’s Excursion tells about a sleigh ride in 2007 when my daughter and son-in-law and little one visited here following several months of ministry in Antigua.  If you've been wanting to go on a sleigh ride, you can read about this one.  I was certain I had more photos, but can't find them even after a rigorous search of my older computer.

If you want a soup that will really warm you up in this frigid weather we've been having, take a look at this Cheeseburger Soup which I posted in February 2008.  This is a huge favorite in our family.
Photo from Taste of Home
In February 2009 I posted about The Completed Puzzle. This is a gorgeous White Mountain Puzzle given me by my dear friend J.  The image is the Fred Swan painting Walking to Town, one of my very favorite scenes.

If you are looking for a simple but very gratifying sewing project for winter, take a look at my Pillowcase Grocery Totes which I shared in 2010.

Speaking of gratification, if you need something warm and chocolate and you need it right away, this recipe for Chocolate Pudding for One, which I posted about in 2011, will change your life.
Photo from Taste of Home
Have a stash of vintage hankies you don't know what to do with?  Here's some inspiration from 2012: Teatime Table Runners.  I had loads of fun making these.
Lastly, a random post from 2013 -- Random Thoughts, Links, and Recipes.  I love reading other bloggers' random posts, and it seems that many others do as well.  So if you like random, this one's for you.

So there you have it ... a few February favorites which may make for interesting (if not riveting😊) reading on a snowy day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

A Super-Duper Hodgepodge

 Here goes with my answers for another Wednesday Hodgepodge with Joyce and the gang at From This Side of the Pond.  Joyce poses the questions on Tuesdays and participants answer them on their own blogs on Wednesdays.  If you've never taken part, why not join in this time?  Such a fun way to learn more about fellow bloggers.  So here we go:

1. What's the last thing you did that someone else thought was super? 
Hmmm.... that is a good question.  Maybe a Shutterfly photo book that I did about my dad's life.  A lot of people really liked that.
2. The last thing you ate that tasted superb? 
  Maybe a Lindt chocolate truffle back at Christmas time?  Of course I enjoy good food all the time.  I'm a decent cook, and we also enjoy a potluck lunch at church every Sunday; we have a church full of good cooks.  We had a church fellowship on Saturday where the food had a tailgating theme and there were some really yummy snacks (including Vee's amazing Shrimp Dip -- click her Recipes button to access it).  So good food abounds!  But superb?  I guess I'll have to go with the chocolate truffle.
3. Supersensitive, superstitious, superwoman, superambitious, supercilious, supervisor, superficial...pick a super word from the list and tell us how it relates to your life in some way recently or currently. 
 That's a tough one.  Hard to pick from those.  The only thing that comes to mind is that I probably need a supervisor for my homemaking duties.  I don't seem to be doing a very good job of supervising myself or getting things done.  Too easily distracted for whatever reason.
4. Do you love easily? If you're comfortable doing so, explain why you think that is. 
I would say yes.  But at times I can also dislike easily.  I think the ability to love easily (at least in my case) is completely God-given.
Wonderful felt heart made by my friend J.
5. Valentine's Day lands on a Tuesday this year. Will you mark the day in some way? If you're celebrating with a dinner out somewhere will it be on Tuesday or will you celebrate over the weekend? 
I really have no idea.  We will see what my hubby wants to do.   We do have a favorite seafood restaurant less than 5 minutes from here that always has fantastic Valentine's Day specials.  So maybe we will go out that night.  He's currently on a job with a long commute, though, so he may prefer to wait for the weekend.
6. What's something you are loving right now? 
I'm writing this on Tuesday and we are having a snow day.  I'm loving not having to go out and drive in it.

7 Write a three word (or less) phrase you'd like to see on a Valentine candy heart.  
"God is Love."   (I think "Get Over It" may be already taken.)  This one is nicer, and I think part of a Scripture verse would be a good reminder to all of us this Valentine season.
From my collection of vintage Valentines
8.  Insert your own random thought here. 
I cannot believe this adorable little Valentine baker is going to be 13 next month. 
Or that this one will be turning 16 on the same day. 
Grandchildren grow up far too fast!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A bit of Valentine decorating

I've done just a small amount of Valentine decorating in the past week, but it is enough, I think.  I recently read an inspiring post on decorating for Valentine's Day that encouraged me to use what I have to make home special with Valentine decor.  So that is what I've done.

At the top of the post you can see that I've just added or switched out a few things on the bottom shelf of my hutch.  I've left the rest of the hutch the same as when I decorated it for winter.  I don't have a good photo of that, but the top shelf looks somewhat as it did here.

So, back to the top photo (also seen in two parts, below):  I've swapped out the poinsettia runner for a red and cream toile one.  I've added two pretty Valentine tags, one made by me and one by my talented friend J. 

 My friend J. also made the crocheted coaster under the red Maxwell House mug.
 I also added a heart-shaped Altoids tin and a vase from a long-ago Valentine bouquet.

The only other Valentine touches I added to my decorating were these Valentine banners I made a few years back with my granddaughter; one over each dining room window.

And then this framed printable in the front hallway.
I would ordinarily have my Valentine ribbon board up there, too, but I am enjoying the winter-themed one too much to take it down and replace it with the Valentine one. 

Going the simple route this year!