Recipe for a Happy New Year!

Recipe for a Happy New Year!


Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. 

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time. 

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, prayer, meditation, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing—don't do it), and one well-selected resolution.

Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.

Here’s wishing the best to all of you for a wonderful 2011 filled with good health, joy, success and peace!

Happy New Year!!!

Bubba’s Winning Homemade Summer Sausage


You’re probably asking why would anyone bother to make their own summer sausage.  The reason is, because it is so very delicious!

The flavor of Bubba's home made sausage is much better than the store bought version, cheaper also and you know exactly what it consists of.  You control the ingredients ~ no added chemicals~ and flavor it as you like.  It reminds me of growing up on the farm with Dad making our own pork sausage, not similar to supermarket sausage at all.

Our older son, known as Bubba here on my blog, has been refining his summer sausage recipe and has hit on the exact proportions for it.   It's easy to pull together, it just takes time; requiring 5 days to cure.  

There is no casing involved.  Do not use a grade of ground beef with very low fat content as the result will be dry and crumbly.  Do not substitute any other salt for the Morton Tender Quick Cure ~ it is not the same thing!

It’s a great summer sausage that you just slice and serve with cheese and crackers or by itself.  I love the great flavor and the texture also!

Bubba’s Homemade Summer Sausage


4-1/4 pounds 75%-80% ground beef
4 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick Cure
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
3 tablespoons coarse black pepper
2-3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons liquid smoke


Knead all ingredients together, mixing completely.  
Cover with foil and put in fridge.
Knead, re-cover, and put back in fridge for days 2-4.  Repeat each day.
On the fifth day, knead and then roll into 4-5 loaves (I roll it out on a board and put some pressure into it so the meat packs together without air gaps).
Place on broiler pan, and put in oven at 170-180 degrees.  
For 80% beef I've been using 170 for ~8 hours.  
For the 75% stuff, I went 180 for ~9 hours.  Turn every two hours.
Remove from oven, place on wire rack, and let cool to room temperature.  
When it's at room temperature I put it rack and all into the fridge.  
Make sure to leave a plate under the rack while it's cooling to catch the drippings (in the fridge as well).  
Once it's cooled to fridge temperature, remove from rack and put in bags.  
Freeze or keep in fridge (especially due to lowering of the curing salt).

Good job, Bubba!  It’s delicious!!!

See version with pork addition here.

The CSN Winner Is….

Thanks to all of you who entered the great CSN Giveaway for a $35 gift certificate!

I used and the winner is…


Debbi definitely knows how to cook the low calorie way and has 3 kids to help her with it!  Check out her great blog!

Congratulations, Debbi!  Please contact me at for your CSN gift certificate.

Turducken for our Christmas Dinner

For real?  I always thought turducken was a gimmick! 
You know, if you watch football as much as we do, you’ve seen John Madden and his gang slobbering over the turducken before them at the football stadium on Thanksgiving Day in years past.

It is turkey duck chicken — three birds and no bones with the exception of 2 turkey wings and 2 duck legs.  Turducken is a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck into a deboned turkey ~ separated by a savory dressing ~ then sewed all together into one mighty package of meat and dressing. 

I was amazed to see an article about it in the December issue of Southern Living magazine.  We enjoy our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and it is almost always prime rib, my favorite.  But, after reading about turducken in the magazine, Bill and I discussed it and decided to buy the turducken from Cajun Ed at Hebert’s Specialty Meats (pronounced A Bears) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It didn’t take long to win Bill over as he, along with Bubba and Matt, are huge fans of turkey, duck and chicken. 

Oh my gosh!  It was delicious!  Cajun Ed makes many different versions of turducken and we ordered Turducken with Andouille sausage and cornbread dressing.  Really spicy dressing with the meat so very tender and juicy, it was no effort to cut with a fork! 

After researching on the internet, we were boggled with the many different methods for roasting in regards to cooking time and temperature.  We followed the instructions that came with the turducken that in no way resembled all of those on the internet.

Here’s Cajun Ed at Hebert’s Specialty Meats recommended method:

“Defrost first. Remove plastic wrap. The 14-16 pound turducken cooks at 375° F for 4 hours covered and 1 hr. uncovered, breast down or until the internal temperature exceeds 165° F”.

It is stressed that it has to be completely thawed, which took 4 days in the refrigerator.  That is 14-16 pounds of solid meat with a bit of dressing!  The instructions tell you exactly how to slice it. 

The pictures were taken before it reached the dinner table as I knew there would no hope of taking a picture once it reached the table. 

It will be prime rib for New Year’s dinner here, foregoing the traditional pork roast!  It has been a great year of change here for sure, you know, if you follow my blog!

As I am writing this, Bill is drooling thinking about the leftover turducken in the refrigerator in the garage that he says is calling his name!

It's delicious!!!

Just a reminder, today is the last day to enter my CSN Giveaway for a $35 gift certificate that I posted on December 17th!

Also, check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking for her great recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

Here’s wishing you all and your loved ones all the wonder and magic of Christmas. 

May each and every one of you friends have a safe, blessed, joyful Merry Christmas!

Love to you all,

Chex Mix, My Way

Chex Mix ruled back in the late 1950’s and 60’s and it was all home made then.  There were no bags of it in the market in those days!

The 60's

I start with the original Chex Mix recipe and crank it up a few notches with minced garlic, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Then pour it over a mix of cereal, snack crackers and nuts.  It’s garlicky and spicy and you will not be buying this version in the grocery store!

I make a large batch of it and give it to family, friends and neighbors at Christmas time.  If you’ve never made Chex mix, you’ve got to give it a try!  It’s pure crunchy yum!

Chex Mix, My Way


3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
2 cups Goldfish Xtra Cheddar
3 cups Ritz Bits – Cheese
2 cups Planters Salt & Pepper Nut Mix
1 cup whole cashews
2 cups Gardetto’s Roasted Garlic Rye Chips
2 cups Bagel Chips
2 cups Bugels
2 to 2½ sticks butter
6 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
3 dashes hot sauce


In a large aluminum foil roasting pan, combine first 10 ingredients. 
Divide evenly between 2 aluminum foil roasting pans or baking sheets with high sides.
In a microwave-safe bowl, add remaining ingredients and microwave until the butter is melted; stir well.
Pour sauce over chex mix evenly between 2 pans, stirring well to cover it all as your pour.
Bake in a 250-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Grab a handful and enjoy!!!

Be sure to enter my CSN Giveaway for a $35 gift certificate that I posted on December 17th!

Also, check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking for her great recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Saltine Toffee Crunch

This is one crazy delicious toffee delight and soooo easy to make! I'm so glad I came upon this recipe in our local newspaper, The Northwest Herald!

A saltine cracker has always been one of life’s little pleasures for me whether spread with peanut butter, topped with a cheese slice or along with a bowl of soup but, I never would have imagined the lowly saltine cracker being exalted to a great party confection!

The combination of the salty cracker with the butter and brown sugar that turns into toffee and then topped with semi-sweet chocolate and toasted pecans is addictive for sure.  The saltine renders an irresistible salt crunch to play off the buttery sweet toffee.  What great cracker candy!

Saltine Toffee Crunch


1 cup butter
35 saltine crackers
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli’s
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a 10” x 15” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, allowing for some overhang.
Melt butter in a large saucepan.
Brush parchment with a little butter.
Line up crackers on buttered parchment, touching but not overlapping.
Whisk brown sugar into remaining butter.  Set over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil; boil thick, 2 minutes.
Pour evenly over crackers.
Place in 400-degree oven and bake until brown and bubbly, 10 minutes.
Carefully remove from oven.
Scatter molten surface with chocolate chips.
Let melt 5 minutes.
Use an offset spatula to spread chocolate.
Cast on nuts, gently press into chocolate.
Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.
Lift parchment by its overhang and set toffee (paper and all) on a cutting surface.
Slice into 18 squares, then into 36 triangles or break into chunks.

I’d call it “sin on a cracker!”

Be sure to enter my CSN Giveaway for a $35 gift certificate that I posted on December 17th!

Also, check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking for her great recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Blackberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Of all the Christmas cookies I’ve baked in the last week, this is the one that got Bill’s attention.  I have baked them every year since his mother introduced me to them many years ago.  He adores them and so do I! 

Thumbprint cookies are an old standard that are filled with great ingredients that people like.  Make them with your favorite jam or jelly, with just frosting and no jam, with nuts or without, or drizzled with chocolate! However you like them!  They’re all great! 

I added a little blackberry brandy to the blackberry jam and lemon zest to the dough for extra flavoring.  It’s a great mix of flavors that turns out a delicious cookie with the well being filled with jam and frosting.   Blackberry thumbprint cookies are really a huge hit in our house and love at first bite!

Blackberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies


½ cup blackberry jam
1 tablespoon Blackberry Brandy
2¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, separating yolks from whites
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped fine
1 can your favorite frosting
Few drops of red food coloring
Few drops of green food coloring


Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Lightly butter baking sheets or line with Silpat mats or parchment paper.
In small bowl, combine jam and brandy well. Set aside.
In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, whisking to blend.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.
Add the flour in 2 additions and beat until the dough forms a clump.
Gather dough into a ball.
Pinch off the dough and make a 1-inch ball.
In a small bowl, with a fork, gently beat egg whites until foamy.
Dip a dough ball into the egg whites, shaking off the excess.
Place pecans in a small bowl and gently roll cookie in the nuts, coating it completely.
Do the same with the remaining dough. 
Place on baking sheet one inch apart.
Using your thumb, make a well in the center of each ball.
Fill each well with approximately ½ teaspoon of the jam mixture.
Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 15-18 minutes.
Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.
Mix half of the frosting with 2-3 drops of red food coloring in a small bowl and the remaining frosting with 2-3 drops of green food coloring in another small bowl.
When cookies are completely cool, apply a dab of frosting to each.
Let frosting dry some before storing (I do over-night).
Store between layers of waxed or parchment paper.
Makes 4 dozen

Do these have you drooling yet?

They would be a great colorful addition to your Christmas cookie tray!

Be sure to enter my CSN Giveaway for a $35 gift certificate that I posted on December 17th!

Also, check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking for her great recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Russian Teacakes

Whether you call them Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Teacakes, they’re all the same delicate nut-based cookie!

I love the delicate buttery flavor of these cookies.  I don’t recall Mom ever making them but, my mother-in-law baked them every Christmas without fail and so do I.  I’ve made them with walnuts in place of pecans for a little different flavor.  

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, it can easily be halved!

This recipe comes from my well-used 1979 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  I have made so many notes in this poor cookbook over the years that it is a little pathetic looking now.  I have a huge cookbook collection and when Bill asked what I would like for Christmas, naturally I said, “A cookbook!”  He just shakes his head and doesn’t get it!  I might add that not a one of my other cookbooks is in the horrible condition that this cookbook is in, thank goodness!

Do you make notes in your cookbooks or are they nice and neat?

Printable recipe

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cup finely chopped pecans
Confectioners sugar for rolling


Heat oven to 400°.
Mix butter, ½ cup confectioners sugar,  and vanilla in large bowl.
Stir in flour, salt and nuts until dough holds together.
Shape dough into 1” inch balls.
Place about 1” apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown.
Roll warm cookies in confectioners sugar.
Cool on wire racks.
Roll in sugar again.
Makes 8 dozen


Be sure to enter my CSN Giveaway for a $35 gift certificate that I posted on December 17th!

Also, check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking for her great recipes and cookbook giveaway!

Another CSN Giveaway and Jam Kolaczki!

Winter is just beginning here in the Midwest with our share of snow, ice and very cold weather with horrific wind chill readings. 

So many people around here love snowmobiling, skiing and even ice fishing.  I remember when I met Bill and he told me about his father going ice fishing.  I thought he was pulling my leg and I was waiting for the punch line.  In fact, his father ice fished quite often.  He had a home-made sled in which he placed a sterno heater to sit on to keep warm; along with an auger, an ice pick plus the usual fishing equipment.  That was paradise to my father-in-law!

My father-in-law loading up his sled to go ice fishing ~ Feb. 1974

Paradise to me is sunning on a beach and swimming in the warm ocean water at the Riviera Maya or in a nearby pool.  If I can’t be there, then second best is parked in my recliner at home, eating these Christmas cookies and watching TV.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso ~ Riviera Maya, Mexico

Speaking of TV, if you will be purchasing a new flat screen TV or should be lucky enough to receive one as a Christmas gift, you will be in need of a new TV stand and CSN stores is the place for you to shop for it!  Sean at CSN has kindly given me another wonderful opportunity for a giveaway for you good people.  Look at these great TV stands:    

CSN Stores has about everything you could imagine in their over 200 specialty online stores ~ an amazing array of products for you to choose from.  They have everything from wall art to lighting to au gratin dishes, furniture, baby items and even beds for your favorite cat or dog. 

Or maybe you’d like:

A Chicago Cubs inflatable chair

A new bed for your favorite cat

So after you browse around CSN and see what you would like to purchase, take a break and enjoy one or two of these cookies with a cup of coffee or tea, if you favor.  The dough for these kolaczki is what makes them irresistible. 

The kolaczki are filled with jam or preserves, such as peach, apricot, strawberry or pineapple.   I made some with apricot preserves and the remainder with blackberry preserves.  They are a very popular item in this area of “Chicagoland” and after making them yourself, you will see why.  They are delicious!

JAM Kolaczki


1 cup butter, at room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups flour
Your favorite jam, I used apricot and blackberry
Confectioners sugar


Cream butter well.
Mix in cream cheese until smooth.
Gradually work in flour until a dough forms.
Gather in a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Roll out chilled dough on floured surface 1/8” thickness.
Cut out circles with a 2” round cutter.
Dot center of each circle with about ¼ teaspoon jam.  Don’t use too much.
Place on greased cookie sheets, or sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.
Bake until golden about 8-12 minutes.
Let cool for a minute or two.
Transfer to a wire rack.
Sprinkle lightly with confectioners sugar when cool.

Mmmm  Mmmmmm!!!!

Now, more about the great $35 gift certificate from CSN…

The $35 gift certificate does not include shipping costs but, you can use the gift certificate on ANY product from ANY one of the CSN sites.

Here are the rules for entering:

  1. Leave a comment telling me you are a follower through Google Friend Connect (on the side bar of this blog) and tell me what you would like from CSN when you win the giveaway.

  1. For an extra entry, follow this blog on the Facebook Networked Blogs (on the side bar of this blog) and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

  1. This giveaway is open through midnight, CST, Monday, December 27th.  The drawing will be by a random number generator on Tuesday, December 28th and is open to US entrants only. 

Good luck and I hope you win!

Mom’s Pecan Dreams/My Favorite Christmas Cookie!!!

 I love this time of year as it gives me an excuse to bake a lot of cookies for family and friends.  What would Christmas be without cookies? 

These Pecan Dreams were my favorite Christmas cookie when I was growing up and to this day ~ they are still my favorite!   I could hardly wait for Mom to bake them when I was a kid and I could probably say the same for my brother Jim.   I always knew that Christmas was getting really close when Mom would pull out the bag of coconut and the package of pecans.  The wafting aroma in the air as they are baking is indescribable!  I love coconut and this cookie reeks of coconut!

Mom’s Pecan Dreams has two layers.  The light bottom layer made with butter, confectioner’s sugar and flour has an almost cake-like delicious texture.  The top layer is a combination of brown sugar, pecans and coconut; common ingredients, but just the perfect combination for a melt in your mouth cookie.  They are lip smacking good!!!

Mom’s Pecan Dreams
Crust ingredients:

½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup sifted cake flour (a must!)

Cream butter, add powdered sugar and cake flour.  Mix well.  Spread in bottom of 13" x 9" Pyrex baking dish.

Filling ingredients:

2 eggs
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
1 ½ cups flaked coconut

Beat eggs till light, add brown sugar, blend well.
Add flour and baking powder.  Mix well.
Blend in pecans and coconut.
Pour over first mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cut into squares when cool.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mom’s Pecan Dreams!

Be sure to check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking.  She is hosting a Tate’s Bake Shop giveaway!

And the Tate’s Bake Shop Winner is…

There were 66 eligible entries and the random number generator selected Patticake.  She is a North Carolina lady with a wonderful blog:  Southern Home Style Living.  Just wish I lived in the South now to escape all this cold weather and snow!

Thanks so very much to all of you who entered the great Tate’s Bake Shop Giveaway!  I loved reading all your comments about your favorite Christmas treat and every one of them sounded fantastic to me!!!

Patticake, please email me at with your mailing address.  

Chocolate Malt Crinkles

Do you love chocolate malted milk balls?  Do you love Ovaltine?  If so, you will love these cookies.  I’ve never had Ovaltine but, Bill says he loved it when he was a kid and I’m a believer!  The fusion of melted chocolate and malt powder gives these cookies the incredible flavor of chocolate malted milk balls. 

I got this recipe from our local newspaper, The Northwest Herald and posted it over a year ago before I had followers and know it is a fantastic chocolate charmer worthy of a repost!  They are soooo yummy!  Chocolate Malt Crinkles are loaded with chopped semisweet chocolate and malted milk powder.  And let me tell you what they taste like:  a very rich dark lush sinful rich brownie morsel.  You won’t believe it!  And then just imagine what it is like to eat one still warm from the oven.  Wow!

If I were you, I would not hesitate to bake these cookies.  They would be great for a cookie swap, a snack or dessert, you name it.  And they are so easy to make; mix the ingredients together, roll in malt powder, bake.  That’s it, no decorating or powdered sugar on top.  I’m wondering though how they would be warm with a scoop of ice cream….

Chocolate Malt Crinkles


8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups malted milk powder (such as Ovaltine), divided


In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter on high in 15 second bursts, stirring between until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and mix until smooth.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and ½ cup of the malted milk powder.  Mix thoroughly, then refrigerate the dough, covered and in the bowl, for at least 2 hours, or overnight.  When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. 
Place the remaining 1 cup of malted milk powder in a bowl.  Roll the dough into tablespoon size balls, then roll in the malted milk powder and arrange 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until puffed and the tops start to crack slightly.  Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Let the cookie sheet cool off between batches.

Makes 3 dozen

Note:  Look for malt powder alongside the hot cocoa mixes and instant coffee in your favorite grocery store.

What are you waiting for?  Go start baking!


Don’t forget to enter my Tate’s Bake Shop giveaway to win 3 boxes of their delicious cookies and the incredible Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King!  The contest closes at midnight CST tonight so be sure to leave a comment.  I hope you win!

Also, check out my friend, Linda’s blog, at My Kind of Cooking.  She is also hosting a Tate’s Bake Shop giveaway!

You know,

nobody can ever

cook as good as

your Mama.

~ Paula Deen

You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at:
You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at:


Jules-Alexandre Grun

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!



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