Friday, November 30, 2007

Show & Tell Friday for November 30

For show and tell today, I would like to share some samplers that are hanging in the hallway between our kitchen and living room. For years this hallway, which is narrow and short, was sort of a dead space as far as any sort of decorating is concerned. I had these samplers, which I had made years before, and had never gotten around to framing them. The main reason for that is that they were all odd sizes and the frames would have had to be custom-made. Either that, or (my preference) my hubby would have to make the frames.

Amazingly, a couple of years ago he finally did find time to make them. I thought that rather than scatter the samplers all over the house in different rooms, or put them in a large space such as the living room, they might have more impact if I painted all of the frames the same color and put them all together in a smaller space -- such as this hallway. I am so glad I had that thought, as I pass through that hallway many times a day. The busy colorful designs of the samplers always make me smile, and the Scripture verses they include bless my heart as well.

Here’s the first one:

This was the first of these samplers I made. It features Isaiah 1:18, a favorite Scripture verse. I just love the falling snow outside the window.

Here’s another one. I think this is the second one I did. It features Philippians 1:11.

I love all of the detail in this one. That teapot? It was originally a cat in the pattern. I am not a fan of cats and I certainly would not want one on my kitchen counters or tables, so I turned the cat into a teapot.

Here’s the third sampler:

The verse on this one is Luke 6:38.

And the last one on this wall is the most recent sampler I made. It has a very helpful, practical verse -- Colossians 4:6.

I do apologize for the quality of some of the photos. The hallway is so very short and narrow, I had to lean into the hall to take the photos and they really aren’t the best. But I think you can get a good idea what the samplers look like.

Favorite Ingredients Friday for November 30

Okay, I hope lasagna can be considered a casserole. I think of it as one, anyway. This is one of my very favorite recipes, so I hope others enjoy this too.


6 ounces cream cheese (the light kind works fine), softened
6-8 green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded Mexican-cheese blend, divided use
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. ground cumin, divided
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
12 flour tortillas, cut in half

In mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, green onions, 1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese blend, garlic, 1/4 tsp. cumin and parsley. Stir in chicken; set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour until smooth and bubbly; gradually add broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, chilies, thyme, salt, pepper and remaining cumin. Spread 1/2 cup of this cheese sauce in a greased 13x9-inch baking dish.

Top with 6 tortilla halves. (If need be, cut tortillas smaller to fit.)

Top with a third of the chicken mixture and a fourth of the cheese sauce.

Repeat tortilla, chicken and sauce layers twice.

Top with remaining tortillas, sauce, and remaining Mexican cheese.

Cover and bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand 5 min. before cutting.

Yield: 12 servings.

Sew Crafty Friday for November 30

I haven’t really accomplished much crafting this week, but wanted to share what I have done. Lord willing, I plan to spend the afternoon crafting, so maybe next week I will have more to share.

First, the 5th flour sack towel in the “Fine China” set is finished! Just 2 more to go!

And then, here is another photo ornament. Would you believe, after I had it all hot glued together, that I noticed the piece of cotton batting (which is supposed to go between the fabric and the cardboard) still on my desk? The glue was dry by then and there was no undoing it. So, I decided to go ahead and finish the ornament and keep it for myself, since the photo was already on it and everything.

Someone had suggested that I try and make the captions on the computer and just transfer them to fabric as well, rather than trying to write them by hand with a fine-point Sharpie as I did on the first one. So I did find a good font and tried this. I got the label on the ornament crooked on this one, but the labels themselves turned out very well and I think I’ll be pleased I did them this way.

At the rate I’m going I will have many photo ornaments for myself, and none to give away as gifts, if I continue to keep all of the mistakes!

What about you? If you have managed to accomplish or even start any crafting, then head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. Shereen and others will be eager to see what you have to share.

Happy Crafting!

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 29

Thursday wasn’t too bad a day for this challenge, though of course I didn’t accomplish all that I’d have liked to. Here’s what happened:

* Health & energy -- started out with good intentions and ate healthy for most of the day

* Bible study/devotional -- wonderful quiet time; good time of studying for Sunday School lesson; worked on Scripture memory

* Homemaking -- did 2 loads of laundry; kept up with dishes and daily routines; washed up a set of dishes I’d been given and found room for them in the dining room hutch

* Creativity -- not much of that today! The photo ornaments I'm making have a cardboard base to them, and I did cut out 8 of those, but that's about it.

* Christmas prep -- made and froze a batch of Christmas cookies from a new recipe called Chocolate-Dipped Maple Logs. They are absolutely delicious and will probably earn a regular place on my Christmas baking list.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 28

Yesterday (Wednesday) was an okay day for this challenge. I’ve sort of given up trying to update at night because we’ve been trying to get to bed earlier with Mr. T’s earlier hours this week. Here’s what got done yesterday:

* Health & energy -- ate healthy all day

* Bible study/devotional -- wonderful quiet time; worked on Scripture memory; good amount of studying for Sunday School lesson

* Homemaking -- kept up with daily routines; fixed a wonderful crockpot meal for supper

* Creativity -- finished a family photo ornament, spent a bit of time on an embroidered flour-sack towel; posted on my Christmas blog

* Christmas prep -- ordered 4 gifts from Amazon

Hoping for a more productive day today!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 27

Tuesday was a pretty good day for this challenge:

* Health & energy -- ate healthy all day; had supper guests and served them a healthy, lowfat meal

* Bible study/devotional life -- good quiet time with the Lord; worked on memorizing John 17; reviewed John 14

* Homemaking -- “blessed my home” really well! Dusted, vacuumed, emptied wastebaskets, spiffed up bathrooms, etc.

* Creativity -- spent a few minutes working on a photo ornament

* Christmas prep -- see above; looked through some Christmas magazines for ideas also

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 26

Not a bad day for this challenge:

* Health & energy -- ate healthy all day; adapted a biscuit recipe to use canola oil rather than butter; drank plenty of water.

* Bible study -- great time of devotions; study in Luke 16 for Sunday School lesson

* Homemaking -- several loads of laundry done and put away; caught up on ironing; kept up with daily routines; decluttered a lot of catalogs from the area where I store them

* Creativity -- posted in both blogs; created a Christmas screen saver for myself

* Christmas prep -- ordered a gift online; worked a bit more in Christmas notebook; got some gift ideas for a faraway grandchild

Menu Plan Monday for November 26

Monday again! My menu plan this past week was adjusted due to Thanksgiving leftovers, etc. so I have some menu items I am repeating this week since they didn’t get used. Here’s how the week is looking:

MONDAY: Turkey Soup, Multigrain Biscuits

TUESDAY: (guests for supper) Creamy White Chili, Cornbread, Carrot and Celery Sticks, Apple-Cranberry Crisp

WEDNESDAY: Tamale Casserole (crockpot), Coleslaw

THURSDAY: Fish Fillets with Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes, Country Carrots & Celery

FRIDAY: Lentils Ole´, Baked Potatoes, Coleslaw

SATURDAY: Homemade Vegetable Soup, Tuna Melts

SUNDAY: (potluck at church) Spicy Lemon Chicken, China Lake Fried Rice, and a dessert (probably something Christmasy, but I haven’t decided yet)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 25

Today was a much better day!

* Health & energy -- made good choices for food and drink all day; went for a nice long walk.

* Bible study/devotional -- good time of devotions this morning

* Homemaking -- did some dusting in Zone 4 -- the master bedroom; kept up with most routines; relocated some summer clothes to guest room closet

* Creativity -- finished an embroidered dish towel

* Christmas prep -- did some planning in my Christmas notebook, did some online ordering of gifts; dusted glass-topped desk in bedroom and arranged old Christmas cards under glass

I'm feeling much better about this challenge! Thanks to those who encouraged me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I guess it's official -- my Back-on-Track challenge has been derailed by the events of real life. It's not that I've gotten off track in every area -- I've done pretty well with my Christmas preparations, quite well with homemaking, and very well in the Bible study/devotional areas. But I just haven't gotten back on track consistently in all the areas I hoped to. So, I'm planning to start it up again tomorrow and go until Christmas, and see how I can do with the areas of:

* Health & energy

* Bible study/devotional life

* Homemaking

* Creativity

* Christmas preparations

Lentils Ole´

Several people have asked for the recipe for Lentils Ole´, which I mentioned in my menu plan. So here it is. These are good over rice or as a taco filling. But we like them best over baked potatoes, sort of “taco potatoes”, topped with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar and served with salsa, sour cream, chopped tomato and lettuce, or any other taco toppings you enjoy.


3 cups water
1 cup lentils
1 Tblsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tblsp. chili powder
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar
1 Tblsp. molasses

In large saucepan, bring water and lentils to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender but not mushy. Be very careful not to overcook them; lentils are a quick-cooking legume.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic, green onions, green pepper, cumin and chili powder; saute´for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir in the tomato sauce, vinegar, and molasses, and simmer the mixture for 1 minute.

When the lentils are cooked, add the vegetable mixture to the lentils, and heat it all through before serving.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sew Crafty... Saturday?

Sorry I was not able to find time to post this yesterday. It was a very busy day.

Even though I did a lot of crafting this past week, it was mostly on works in progress and finishing these crocheted snowflakes. I have had it in mind for some time that I wanted to crochet some snowflakes for family members, so this year I finally did it. I am not skilled or fast at crocheting with thread, nor do I enjoy it as I do crocheting with yarn. I am really disappointed with my efforts, but I did finish 12 snowflakes. Here are three of them.

I’m also disappointed with my photography efforts. I took 3 different pictures, but this one (which is not very good or clear -- and that may be a good thing!) is the best of the three. I do apologize for its poor quality.

I’m continuing to work on embroidering day-of-the-week flour sack dish towels. I have 3 left to go, but one of those is nearly finished.

And I’m also working on some family photo ornaments like those I shared last week. I now have all of the photos transferred to fabric. Someone suggested that I try doing the captions with the computer as well, and I think that’s a great idea and have begun the process of doing that.

What about your crafting efforts? Are you doing some crafty decorations or gifts for Christmas? Then join Shereen and her readers at Waiting for Him and share your projects. Shereen and others will be eager to see what you have to share. Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms.

“For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3)

I hope that each and every one of you who are reading this had a truly blessed Thanksgiving. We surely did! We have so much for which to thank and praise our great God!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A closer look at the handhooked picture...

Several people have mentioned they wish they could get a closer look at the picture made by my Auntie Marge. I thought I would take a moment and post a larger picture for those who wish to see it in more detail. If you click on this picture, it will enlarge it a whole bunch. Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Plan Monday for November 19

Monday again already!!! And in a week which includes Thanksgiving here in the U.S.! It looks like a busy week in the kitchen. Here’s my plan (always subject to change):

MONDAY: Enchilada Casserole, Spanish Rice, Guacamole

TUESDAY: Lentils Ole’, Baked Potatoes, Coleslaw

WEDNESDAY: Italian Wedding Soup, Oatmeal Bread

THURSDAY: Thanksgiving Day. (We are having a small group this year -- 7 or 8 adults and 2 small children. Everyone is bringing something. I will be cooking the turkey & gravy (and stuffing) and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Oh yes, and creamed onions. And maybe a pie.)

FRIDAY: Thanksgiving leftovers.

SATURDAY: Homemade Vegetable Soup, Tuna Melts

SUNDAY: Slow-cooked Pork Loin, Baked Potatoes, Squash & Apple Bake

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Tried & True #6 -- vegetable side dish

For many people, a dish of onions is a must with Thanksgiving dinner. Most people probably resort to a jar of boiled onions or a box of frozen creamed onions. I prefer to make the recipe I’m sharing today. If you enjoy creamed onions, you will love this. I wouldn’t bother to add the pimiento or chopped parsley for Thanksgiving, but they do make the dish very pretty indeed for Christmas.


2 pounds frozen baby onions, cooked and drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped pimiento, optional
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 Tblsp. melted margarine

Place onions in casserole dish.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter; stir in the flour and cook until bubbly. Remove from heat while you gradually stir in the milk. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick. Stir in the cheese until melted; add salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Stir in the pimiento and parsley if you are using them.

Pour sauce over onions in dish and mix well. Combine the crumbs and margarine and sprinkle this mixture over the onions, but just around the edge of the dish. (In other words, you want to see creamy onion mixture in the center of the dish, with a pretty edge of crumb topping surrounding it.)

Bake at 350º for 15 minutes.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Tried & True #5 -- homemade dinner rolls

I very seldom make homemade rolls for Thanksgiving. For one thing, rolls are something that people who prefer not to cook will sometimes offer to bring. They can then buy rolls at a bakery or even a supermarket and bring those to the big meal. For another thing, my daughter Carrie makes a wonderful recipe called Honey Rolls which our extended family always hopes and expects to see on our Thanksgiving table.

But if I were to make rolls myself for Thanksgiving, the following recipe is the one I would most likely use. It’s easy and has never failed me.


2 cups warm milk, scalded
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 or 2 eggs
5 to 6 cups flour
1 packet dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar

Mix together the milk, butter, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, and eggs. Now add 2 to 3 cups of flour and mix well. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp. sugar. Add to the flour mixture and beat well. Now add as much more flour as you need to make it the right consistency to use -- about 3 to 4 cups. Cover dough and let rise in bowl.

When dough has doubled in bulk, punch down, divide in half, and roll each half out like pie crust -- into a circle. Dough should be at least 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into triangles. Roll triangles up into crescents and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Repeat with second half of dough.

Let rise until light. Bake at 400º for 10-12 minutes.

Yield: About 3 dozen

This wonderful recipe is one that I used when I cooked at an inn many years ago. Most people today probably don’t want to go to the trouble of making crescent rolls from scratch, but these are truly delicious and really quite easy to make.

Sew Crafty Friday for November 16

For today’s Sew Crafty Friday, I’m sharing something that is mostly finished, but still can’t really be considered a completed craft, because the next ones I make will hopefully come out much better. This one was just a practice run. These are family photo ornaments which I found in a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book. I have been wanting to make these for several years, but didn’t have as many old family photos as I wanted to work with. Now I do, and I have done all the preparatory work of scanning them and turning them into JPG images.

I wanted to make just one ornament first to see if I could get it to work. Here is the (very imperfect) result. The first photo shows the ornament lying on a table. As you see, the writing on the “label” is a bit messed up because the marker bled into the material. I’ll be more careful next time!

The second photo shows the ornament hanging on a wall. The ornament is supposed to have little black felt triangles to look like “photo corners” but I had forgotten to put them on when I took the first picture. They are in place now!

The pattern actually calls for making one’s own welting or piping for the edges of the ornament. I would like to try doing that, but for this one I just used some red piping which I had on hand and it worked fine. (And I have bought more piping in dark red, green, and cream for subsequent ornaments.) They also suggest using a bit of greenery with the bow and charm at the top of the ornament. I didn’t have any appropriate sized silk greenery on hand, so skipped that. For a charm at the top I used a jingle bell button which I had. It seemed appropriate with this snowy outdoor photo.

If anyone is interested in making these, I refer you to Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 3. This is a Leisure Arts publication -- mine is a paperback, and I think I bought it at Walmart or Jo-Ann’s. It’s an older one, so you could probably find a copy on eBay or in a used-book place. In fact, I just checked on Amazon and they have used copies here for $4.99 and up.

That is about it for my crafting efforts this week. If you have managed to accomplish or even start any crafting, then head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. Shereen and others will be eager to see what you have to share. Happy Crafting!

Favorite Ingredients Friday for November 16

For today’s Favorite Ingredients Friday, I am sharing what my family thinks is a very special muffin recipe. Enjoy!


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.

Almond Joy Muffins are a great favorite in our family. They make a
wonderful addition to any special-occasion or holiday breakfast or
brunch. I found the recipe in an old newspaper years ago and have
tweaked it a bit to suit our tastes.

Show & Tell Friday for November 16

For Show & Tell Friday today, I am sharing a very special family heirloom -- a picture made by my Auntie Marge with the traditional hand hooking technique. Auntie Marge was so skillful and creative at hooking rugs! She had a sunroom in her home where she kept all of her wool and where she often worked on her creations. For years she gave her hooked pictures as very special gifts, and I am blessed to have received this one. It is modeled after a Currier & Ives lithograph titled “American Homestead Autumn” and portrays apple picking in the autumn.

Auntie Marge’s home was also filled with her handiwork; I recall especially the hand-hooked stairway runner, which depicted colorful songbirds. What an artist she was! I would love to learn this technique someday, but meanwhile I’ll enjoy this picture; it’s in my dining room where I can look at it every day.

Why not head over to There is No Place Like Home and see what you can share for Show & Tell Friday?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving Tried & True #4 -- vegetable side dish

For today’s recipe, I thought I would share one of our family’s favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. My sister-in-law Dawn traditionally brings this broccoli dish to our family Thanksgivings. Some years she brings two of these casseroles and she seldom has any to take home. It is that much of a favorite!


1 16-oz. pkg. frozen broccoli cuts, cooked
Chopped onion to taste
Shredded cheddar to taste
1 roll Ritz (or similar) crackers, crushed
1 stick (or much less, if I am preparing this) margarine, melted

If using onion, saute´it in some of the margarine. Make layers of broccoli, onion, and shredded cheddar in a casserole dish. (1.5 quart would be fine, maybe even 1 quart.) Combine the crushed crackers and melted margarine and spread over the top of the vegetables. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

A Thanksgiving Memory

I've posted this before, a couple of years ago, but thought I would share it again for the special feature Kelli is hosting at There is No Place Like Home. Head over there and check it out and see if there is something you can share. Meanwhile, here's my contribution (Observant readers will notice a familiar paragraph about my Gram's pitcher collection, but it belongs in the story, so I left it in.):


It wasn’t a large group that gathered at the farm for Thanksgiving, although ours was a big family. All of Gram’s six children were married, with families of their own, so it was understandable that n ot everyone could manage to come at the same time. Usually, about eight or ten adults and teenagers were seated around the dining room table, while five or six younger children ate in the kitchen. It was a very big deal when one was considered old enough to eat in the dining room.

Gram’s dining room was a magical place, even on ordinary days. Creamy-smooth painted wainscoting ran halfway up the walls, where it met a pale wallpaper patterned in clear, bright colors. At the far end of the room were dark built-in cupboards that held plates and serving dishes, and a maple sideboard containing the good silver and the table linens. In one wall were two large sunny windows; in the other, one small window which opened -- amazingly! -- into the pantry. No simple pass-through, this was a real window, with glass in it. As a child, I found that window endlessly fascinating, and I always wanted to see it actually being used.

But the most enchanting thing about the dining room was the corner cupboard that held Gram’s pitcher collection. I could stand in front of that glassed-in cupboard for hours and still not see everything. There were animal-shaped pitchers, like an orange-and-black striped tiger and a lifelike moose head. There were brightly painted Toby jugs and other pitchers made to look like people. There were small, shiny copper pitchers. In fact, her collection included almost every kind of pitcher imaginable. The ones that delighted me most were the miniatures. Some were no bigger than my fingernail, and they were beautifully detailed, painted with tiny flowers, rimmed with gold.

On Thanksgiving Day, the dining room assumed an even greater splendor. The table was extended to its full length and spread with a snowy linen cloth. It was set with Gram’s best dishes -- white with a graceful design of trailing green ivy. The serving dishes were of the same pattern. At each end of the table stood a butter dish and salt and pepper shakers, all of clear glass in a bumpy hobnail design.

And the food! Even before the meal was ready, nibbling was encouraged. The sideboard was covered with a tempting array of pretty little dishes, filled with mixed nuts, chocolates, homemade fudge and divinity, and Grammie Wallace’s famous stuffed dates. For those not inclined to nibble on sweets, cheese and crackers were available. My favorite was sage cheese -- an extra sharp Vermont cheddar, with aromatic sage marbled throughout it.

Even with all the snacking, everyone managed to do the Thanksgiving dinner full justice. In fact, the only sounds during the meal were the clink of forks against china, and the occasional murmur of conversation. Gram prepared and served all the food herself, and never sat down until everything was on the table.

There was turkey, of course, with mounds of moist bread stuffing, redolent of Bell’s Seasoning, and Gram’s incomparable dark brown gravy. There were vegetables -- white, fluffy mashed potatoes, well-peppered golden winter squash, boiled onions, and tender green peas. There was cranberry sauce, both the jellied and the whole-berry types, both referred to by Gram as “cranberry jelly”, and often there was cranberry-orange relish as well. Always, there was a huge tossed salad with Gram’s favorite, Wish-Bone Italian dressing. There were home-baked rolls that exuded a marvelous, yeasty aroma. And sometimes, in keeping with Gram’s love affair with convenience foods (understand this is a lady who once cooked in lumber camps, and you’ll know why!) there were Pillsbury butterflake rolls! What fun it was to pull them apart and eat them layer by layer -- at least, it was fun unless my dad happened to notice, at which time I would be scolded for playing with my food. (There were some benefits to being relegated to the little kids’ table in the kitchen!)

After all this, the desserts were a bit of an anticlimax: apple, custard, and pumpkin pies, and hot, sweet Indian pudding that never tasted quite as wonderful as it smelled.

Even after consuming all that food, most of us were not uncomfortably full. (My cousin Kevin was the exception. He invariably ended up on the living room couch clutching his stomach.) And, as everyone rallied around to clear the table and help with the dishes, there seemed to be a spirit of family closeness and good will that was rarely felt at any other time. Maybe -- just maybe -- the magic of Thanksgiving at Gram’s worked on grownups just as well as it did on children!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 15

Today was a pretty good day for the challenge:

* Health and energy -- ate healthy, went for a walk, raked leaves,drank plenty of water

* Bible study -- worked on my Sunday School lesson, worked on memorizing John 17, reviewed John 14

* Homemaking -- kept up with dishes, cooked a good supper, did laundry, washed bathroom light globes, did most daily routines

* Creativity -- did a tiny bit of backstitching on the sampler

* Christmas prep -- planned some more gifts to buy, worked on the prototype of a family photo ornament -- it’s looking good!

Thanksgiving Tried & True #3 -- Turkey & Gravy

Here’s what I’ll be doing for the turkey and gravy for next Thursday’s feast:

Turkey -- my best advice on roasting the turkey is to pick up a box of Reynolds Oven Bags in the Turkey size, and follow the directions on the box. We’ve been cooking our Thanksgiving turkey this way for several years now and we are always pleased with the way it turns out. The meat stays nice and moist.

Gravy -- for years I struggled with turkey gravy. I can make decent gravy, but not in the large quantities Thanksgiving calls for. And I was always trying to make the gravy, logically enough, at the last minute, when there were a dozen people underfoot in the kitchen. It just never came out right. So one year I tried making turkey gravy from the packets. Good, but not as good as I would have liked. For a number of years I bought canned or jarred gravy, transferred it to a saucepan and got the evidence (empty cans or jars) out of the kitchen before my guests arrived. In both cases, I hated not using the turkey broth, although it wasn’t wasted because it ended up in soup.

Last year I went on a serious search for a good, foolproof gravy recipe and found this one. The search is over.


5 cups turkey stock with pan drippings
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour

Bring the turkey stock to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in soup, and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer.

Warm the milk in the microwave, and whisk in the flour with a fork until there are no lumps. (Or shake the milk and flour together in a plastic shaker.) Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Be careful not to let the mixture scorch on the bottom of the pan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Days 12-14

Some of you may be wondering what has become of my Back-on-Track challenge! It’s been derailed!

I just have fallen behind in every area in the past couple of days. A fire at our family business (no one one was hurt, but it’s a total loss) has meant my hubby is around home more, yet busy in different areas than before, coming and going at odd hours, etc. So my challenge has been sort of sidetracked.

I’ve especially done poorly in the area of health & energy, but today was a better day for that -- I ate healthy and went for a nice long walk.

I didn’t get to any Bible study today, but the other days I did.

I’ve kept up with homemaking routines pretty well. Got a lot accomplished in the kitchen last week. So far this week I’ve cleaned the bathroom mini-blinds, scrubbed the tub/shower, and washed the shower curtain & tub mat. I’ve done lots of laundry and dishes and made some good meals.

For creativity, I’ve worked on an embroidered dish towel, and other things that fall into the next category.

For Christmas prep, I’ve tried out a new recipe with an eye toward neighbor gifts -- Pumpkin Butterscotch Bread. I’ve crocheted a snowflake and put in lots of prep work toward some family photo ornaments I’m making.

Hoping for a more productive day tomorrow! (And I’m thinking I’ll extend my challenge until the end of November.)

Thanksgiving Tried & True #2 -- Sweet Potatoes

Here’s another tried and true Thanksgiving recipe. For many years, we didn’t always have sweet potatoes at our Thanksgiving meal; here in New England, winter squash tends to be more of a staple than sweet potatoes. But I have a son-in-law who truly loves them, and so one year I tried this recipe. It became a big favorite with all of us, and is now one of our Thanksgiving favorites!


2 large cans cut yams, drained and mashed*
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk**
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (may use whole wheat)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup softened margarine (may use 3 Tablespoons oil instead)

Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pile into a 2-quart baking dish. In another bowl, stir together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over top of potatoes. Bake the casserole at 325º to 350º for 35 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.

May be made ahead and frozen for future use. Simply thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake as directed.

* Or substitute about 2 pounds fresh sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed.

** Or substitute evaporated skim milk or fat-free half & half.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Tried & True #1 -- Mashed Potatoes

With Thanksgiving coming soon, I thought that for the next few days I would post some of the recipes I use every Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes are standard with turkey and gravy, and yet they must be made at the last minute and it is difficult to keep them warm for a large group.

My solution for the past 8 or 10 years has been this recipe for Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. You can make this even now and freeze it, or you can make it early next week and refrigerate it. We love this recipe!


8 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut up
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt to taste
Parsley flakes

In large saucepan or dutch oven, combine potatoes and enough water to nearly cover them. Bring to boil; reduce heat, and cook, covered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Mash the potatoes, gradually adding cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and onion powder. Beat with electric mixer (or by hand if you prefer) until fluffy. Spoon into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Cover and refrigerate † overnight. *

One hour before serving, remove potatoes from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake potatoes uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

* Potatoes can be baked immediately if you prefer to eat them the same day. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

† If you prefer to freeze them ahead, take them out of the freezer the night before and place them in the refrigerator.

This recipe is a must for Thanksgiving and other gatherings when large amounts of people will be eating mashed potatoes. For our Thanksgivings when we have 20+ people, I usually double this or make 1 1/2 times the recipe.

Menu Plan Monday for November 12

Monday again... Looks like a busy week ahead! Here’s my plan:

MONDAY: Baked Fish Chowder, 3-Grain Biscuits

TUESDAY: Hot Ham & Potato Salad, Green Beans, Coleslaw

WEDNESDAY: Italian Sausage & Vegetables; Ranch French Bread

THURSDAY: Chicken Pineapple Stirfry, Bow Tie Pasta, Asparagus Blend

FRIDAY: Sunday Chops & Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cran-Apple Sauce

SATURDAY: Lentils Ole’, Baked Potatoes, Coleslaw

SUNDAY: Tamale Casserole, Fruit & Nut Tossed Salad

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 11

Today was an okay day for the challenge, but not the best. Here’s what little I accomplished:

* Bible study/devotional -- wonderful quiet time, Scripture memory, worked on study of patience/longsuffering

* Homemaking -- baked pumpkin bread and muffins, cleaned a cabinet and put down new shelf liner, cooked a nice supper, kept up with most routines and dishes; did a load of laundry and some ironing

* Creativity -- sewed a fall hot mat and 2 coasters, did some embroidery,downloaded some sewing projects

* Christmas prep -- got a bunch more gift ideas, scanned photos for some family photo ornaments I want to make.

So a few things got done!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 10

Today wasn’t too bad for the challenge. Here’s what I got done:

* Health & energy -- Ate fairly healthy, kept up with BCI, went for a walk, raked leaves

* Bible study/devotional -- wonderful quiet time, reviewed John 14, worked on memorizing John 17, finished my Sunday School lesson, worked on study of patience/longsuffering

* Homemaking -- kept up with most of my routines, vacuumed upstairs, cooked a great supper, kept up with dishes

* Creativity -- posted on my blog, several creative-type posts; did some embroidery

* Christmas prep -- did a small amount of planning.

"Show and Tell Friday"!

This is my first time for Show & Tell Friday and I am excited for the opportunity to share some family heirlooms. Today I would like to show you a pitcher in the shape of a moose.

This pitcher was part of my grandmother’s pitcher collection. When I was growing up, she displayed this collection in a corner cupboard and on some smaller shelves in her dining room. As a child, I loved to go into the dining room and just look at all the different pitchers she had on display. There were animal-shaped pitchers, like an orange-and-black striped tiger and this lifelike moose head. There were brightly painted Toby jugs and other pitchers made to look like people. There were small, shiny copper pitchers. In fact, her collection included almost every kind of pitcher imaginable. The ones that delighted me most were the miniatures. Some were no bigger than my fingernail, and they were beautifully detailed, painted with tiny flowers, rimmed with gold.

Inside many of the pitchers Gram had little slips of paper noting who gave her that pitcher, and when. In the moose pitcher, wrapped in plastic, is a brittle piece of paper -- a note from my wonderful Great-Aunt Mabel, who gave Gram this pitcher. Here’s what it says:

“I got this in Manchester [NH] for (10) [I assume she means 10¢; she could never have afforded $10 in those days!] in winter of 1921. Was the first time we went shopping in M. after we were married. Didn’t use car in winter in those days -- we went by train.
“I think it will look o.k. on your high shelf with the other animals. I don’t think you have one of the same.”

My mother inherited this particular pitcher from Gram, and several years ago she gave it to me. My mom always kept it boxed up and stored away, but I am displaying it. I see no sense in having lovely things if they are stashed away where no one can see them. And so I am sharing it with all of you!

Favorite Ingredients Friday for November 9

For today’s favorite, I decided to share something that is very seasonal -- made with squash and apples. Buttercup squash is my favorite, but any winter squash would work, I’m sure. Just use the same amount.

3 lbs. buttercup squash
3 apples
6 Tblsp. margarine (or use 4 Tblsp. oil)
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 Tblsp. flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt

Cut squash in halves; remove seeds and fibers. Peel and cut in slices 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick. Arrange the slices in a 13 x 9-inch pan.

Core apples but do not peel them. Cut in 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch slices and arrange them on top of squash.

Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over top of apples and squash. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake at 350º for about 1 hour or until squash is tender. Serves 6 to 8.

I have been making this recipe for over thirty years. It’s nice with any autumn meal and would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving. It would also make a nice contribution to an autumn potluck.

Sew Crafty Friday for November 9

There’s very little crafting to report this week! I did manage to complete one dish towel, so here it is, with the other finished ones from that set behind it. I’m working on Tuesday’s towel now, but have not gotten far yet.

How about you? Have you completed (or even started) any crafts this week? If so, head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. Inspire the rest of us!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 9

Not a very good day for the challenge! Here's what little I did accomplish:

* Health & energy -- ate mostly healthy; drank plenty of water.

* Bible study/devotional-- wonderful quiet time, memory work, worked on study of patience/longsuffering

* Homemaking -- cleaned a cabinet (under sink); cleaned fridge top and several other areas in kitchen. Did grocery shopping.

* Creativity -- stitched a very little bit on the sampler

* Christmas prep -- figured out a gift or two for Mr. T

Sure hope to have a better day tomorrow.

Two pecan pies... plus a bonus pie recipe

Here are just a few more recipes. We tend to think at our house that Thanksgiving is not really complete without a pecan pie, so I'm sharing my two favorites. The caramel one is a recipe I've only been making for a couple of years, but it is really good. Extremely easy, too.


36 caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Combine the caramels, butter and milk in a heavy saucepan; heat until the mixture is creamy and caramels are melted, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt with an electric mixer; gradually blend in the caramel mixture. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake at 350º for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool pie until firm before cutting or serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 eggs
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla and salt until smooth. Add 1 egg and beat on low until well combined. Pour this mixture into the pie crust. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top.

In a medium bowl, combine the 2 eggs, corn syrup, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour this mixture over the pecans. Bake at 375º for 45 minutes or until puffed and nearly set. Cool completely before serving or cutting, and store the pie and any leftovers in the fridge.

And just one more recipe, this one for pumpkin pie. I was trying last year to find a pumpkin pie recipe that my son-in-law would really like. He loves pumpkin pie, but hasn't cared much for the ones usually served at our dinner. So I tried this one and it went over really well with him, and with all of us.


1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 425º. Combine all ingredients except pie crust in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pour into crust.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350º. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool pie before cutting or serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Some favorite pie recipes for Thanksgiving

As promised, here are some favorite pie recipes for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I hope to post a couple more.


1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Unbaked 9” pie shell
6 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
Lemon juice
Crumb topping:
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup butter

Begin by mixing together the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. In the pie shell, alternate layers of apples with the spice mixture. Sprinkle each layer with lemon juice before adding another layer. When all apples and spices are in pie shell, make the topping by mixing the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and dash of salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbs form. Top the pie with the crumb topping.
Bake the pie at 450º for 15 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes more. Serve warm with cheddar cheese or ice cream on the side.

This excellent pie comes from Jane & Michael Stern’s wonderful cookbook, Square Meals. I have made this pie so many times that its page in my handwritten cookbook is freckled with apple juice and spices.


Apple Layer:
2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell ( I use a 10-inch pie shell)
Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon. Place mixture in pie shell.
Pumpkin Layer:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tblsp. melted butter
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and beat well. Pour over apples in pie shell. Bake in preheated 375º oven for 30 minutes. While pie is baking, mix together ingredients for
Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup flour
5 Tblsp. sugar
3 Tblsp. softened butter
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with topping. Return pie to 375º oven and bake for 20 more minutes or until custard is set. Cool.

This wonderful pie combines the best of pumpkin and apple flavors!


Pastry for 9-inch single crust pie
1/4 cup flour, divided use
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tblsp. butter
3 medium-tart apples, peeled, cored, cut in wedges
Mincemeat-Cranberry Filling:
1 9-ounce box condensed mincemeat
1 cup water
3 Tblsp. sugar
1 cup cranberries

Heat oven to 425º. Prepare 9-inch pie shell with high fluted edge. Sprinkle 2 Tblsp. flour over the crust. Combine remaining flour with sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter; set aside.

For filling, crumble mincemeat into small saucepan. Add water and sugar; stir to combine. Bring to boiling; boil 1 minute. Stir in cranberries; remove from heat. Spread filling in bottom of pie shell. Arrange apple wedges in concentric circles over filling. Sprinkle reserved flour-sugar mixture over apples. Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe is from my friend Jean and is just excellent. It just captures the essence of what a Thanksgiving pie should taste like.


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped peeled tart apple
1 Tblsp. butter
Pinch of salt
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
3 egg whites
6 Tblsp. brown sugar

In large saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries, raisins, walnuts, and apple; cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in butter and salt. Spoon into pie shell.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; gradually beat in sugar. Heap meringue over hot filling, spreading to seal to edge of pastry. Bake at 325º for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

This is a most delicious Thanksgiving pie!

At our family Thanksgiving meals with my husband’s family, traditional pie flavors go right out the window. My mother-in-law always makes some apple and some pumpkin pies, but others bring whatever they like, from chocolate to lemon meringue. Here are some of our favorites.


2 packages cook-and-serve type chocolate pudding
4 cups milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 9-inch baked pie crust, cooled
1 to 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped with 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large saucepan, combine the pudding mixes and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, cut the peanut butter into the confectioners sugar until small crumbs form. Set aside about 2 Tablespoons of the crumbs -- put them in a custard cup or something. (It will be awhile before you use them.) Sprinkle all the rest of the crumbs into the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the pudding over the crumbs. Refrigerate the pie until the pudding is set. It will be cold. Spread the whipped cream over the top and sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

In our family, we call this “Reese’s Pie” because it reminds us of a pie by that name which we used to eat at a Vermont truck stop. I’m not sure, but I think the whipped cream on their pie had some cocoa added. It was chocolate, anyway. If you want to try that, whip in 3 or 4 Tablespoons of baking cocoa along with the sugar and vanilla; add 2 more Tablespoons confectioners sugar too since the cocoa is not sweetened.


4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. milk
1 c. confectioners sugar
8 oz. cool whip
9-inch Oreo cookie crust

Blend the cream cheese and peanut butter with an electric beater. Add the milk gradually, then the sugar. Fold in the cool whip thoroughly and pile filling into the oreo crust. Freeze until firm. Store pie in freezer and serve directly from the freezer.

(To make your own oreo crust, use 1 1/2 c. oreo cookie crumbs -- about 17 cookies. Combine with 2 Tblsp. melted butter and press firmly into a 9” pie plate. You can use this unbaked or, if you prefer, bake for 10 min. at 350º and cool before filling it.)

This delicious pie is from Cook & Tell, my favorite cooking newsletter, published in Southport, Maine. Other than the cookie crust, this pie doesn’t call for anything you wouldn’t be likely to have on hand. It’s a quick, easy, but very impressive dessert.


9” baked pie crust
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 1/2 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. water
4 1/2 Tblsp. dry raspberry jello powder
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 pint fresh or frozen whole unsweetened raspberries
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c. confectioners sugar
4 oz. cool whip

For berry layers, combine sugar, cornstarch and water in medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve. Cook until thick and clear. Add jello powder; stir until dissolved. Divide mixture in half. Stir blueberries and lemon juice into half of the mixture; spread over bottom of pie shell. Refrigerate. Fold raspberries gently into remaining half of mixture; set aside. For cream layer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the cool whip. Spread cream cheese mixture over blueberry layer. Refrigerate until set. Carefully spread raspberry layer over cream layer. Chill at least 4 hours before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

This beautiful pie is very easy to make and is just delicious. It’s perfect for patriotic holidays or any other special summer occasion.

And finally, a favorite Thanksgiving dessert that isn’t a pie:


1 cup flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix together ingredients and pat into a 13x9-inch pan or dish. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

2nd Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
half of a 12-oz. tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Beat cream cheese and sugar well. Fold in whipped topping and spread on cooled crust.

3rd Layer:
16-oz. can of pumpkin
2 small (3.5 oz. I think) pkgs. vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup half & half cream (or use evaporated milk or even regular milk)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves

Beat these ingredients together and spread the pumpkin mixture over the cream cheese layer. Chill for 1 hour.

4th Layer:
remaining 6 ounces of whipped topping (from the 12-oz. tub mentioned above)
Chopped walnuts

Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This wonderful dessert has been a favorite at our Thanksgiving dinners for 10 years!

Back-on-Track Challenge, Day 8

Today went fairly well. Here’s what got done toward the challenge:

* Health & energy -- ate healthy, kept up with BCI, exercised.

* Bible study/devotional -- had wonderful quiet time, worked on study of longsuffering/patience

* Homemaking -- cleaned out 2 kitchen cabinets and spiffed up a lot of areas in the kitchen; planned an easy crockpot meal for supper; kept up with dishes; did some laundry

* Creativity -- nothing today.

* Christmas prep -- looked through Gooseberry Patch Christmas books for ideas. Purchased some small gifts from Avon. Added a few items to my list.