GIVEAWAY on My Blogoversary!

One year and 292 posts...

Woo hoo!!!  Today is my one year blogoversary!

One year ago today, I had no idea what this blogging was all about.  I just saw a couple of food blogs and thought it would be a great way to finally organize my recipes and have fun doing it.

First of all, I must give much credit to my older son, Bubba (Bill, Jr.) who has a blog of his own.  He helped me with the start up and answered my multitude of questions.  Thanks Bubba!!! 

 After I decided to go ahead with it, I told Bill about it.  He rolled his eyes and I knew what he was thinking, “Here we go, another impulse thing.  I wonder how long this will last!”  Surprise, surprise Bill!  I’m still at it and enjoying every minute of it.  I love it!

I want to tell you what is incredibly wonderful with this blog ~ it is meeting all of you caring, smart, loving and often times funny people out there.  I just want to thank you all very much for your support and your comments.  I am very humbled by it all and I just wish I had the chance to meet each and every one of you! 

For those of you who follow me, you will know that it has been an amazing year with the changes in our family.  In celebration of it all, I have a giveaway…

“My New Orleans, the Cookbook” by John Besh

I love, love New Orleans, the food (imagine that!), architecture, gardens and people and have visited the city many times.  I told you about this cookbook on June 23rd and it is way up there, in the top 10 of my favorite cookbooks.

“My New Orleans” is a masterpiece created by the award winning chef, John Besh.  This is a hard-cover book that’s almost 400 pages long, filled with amazing photographs of food and New Orleans.  It chronicles the history and culture of New Orleans with archival photographs as well as current ones. 

French Crawfish Boil

French Quarter Ironwork

Thanksgiving Whole Roast Stuffed Turkey

Here is what Besh says in the very first line of the cookbook:  "This book is the story of a dreamy, starry-eyed boy brought up in the shadows of New Orleans surrounded by cypress knees and tupelo trees, good dinners and great friends…  I wrote 'My New Orleans' in the same spirit in which I launched my restaurants; it's a book dedicated to roots and rituals, to the way I cook."

I could go on and on about this cookbook ~ it is indeed incredible with a great story, scrumptious recipes and fabulous photos and I thought it would be the perfect cookbook for my giveaway.

Here are the easy giveaway rules:

  • This contest is open to everyone.

  • Leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite city to visit is.

  • You must be a follower through Google Friend Connect.

The contest is open through Monday, November 8, 2010, midnight CST.

The winner will be chosen by and announced on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010.

Bill made a comment saying if I picked it by using the Chicago political style, Bill would win!  I’ll stick with!

Thanks so very much to all of you kind folks ~ for all your support and comments during the past year!  I’m looking forward to another year of it!

Roasted Pork Loin with Citrus and Onions

I feel like I’m Dorothy in a scene from the “Wizard of Oz!”  There is nothing magical about this storm front passing through “Chicagoland” though.  The wind is howling and the only good thing is that it is not frigid cold ~ it’s in the high 50’s with wind chill in the low 40’s; our first wind chill reading since April.

I’m used to this area being a little windy, especially regarding Chicago politics, but yesterday was a little too much and more strong wind is in the forecast for today with sustained winds of 40 MPH with gusts of 65 MPH.  The barometric pressure readings were the lowest ever in a non-tropical storm in the mainland United States.

There were times yesterday when I thought our house would be carried away.  Tornado warnings abounded and fortunately no tornadoes touched down in this area; however, our subdivision looks like a war zone.  Trees are down, large branches are everywhere along with debris.  And then there are the power lines.  We were without power for most of yesterday and you don’t realize how vital that is until you don’t have it!

Dinner last night ~ no electricity, no cooking ~ so it was fast food.  We had this savory roasted pork loin Monday evening.  The recipe was in our local newspaper, The Northwest Herald a while back and it is outstanding to say the least!  The onions and citrus juices were the perfect combination and I have a feeling I will be making this again soon!  Wonder if I should go back to cooking with gas…

Roasted Pork Loin with Citrus and Onions


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, diced medium
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and medium chop
1¼ cups orange juice
1/3 cup lime juice
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (3-4 pounds) pork loin roast


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add onions and garlic.
Cook until onion begins to soften, about 4-5 minutes.
Pat pork dry with paper towels.
Season with salt and pepper generously and place in a roasting pan.
Pour onion mixture on and around pork, leaving some on top.
Ladle onion and juices over pork.
Cook covered until an instant-read thermometer reaches about 160 degrees, about 2-2½ hours.
Baste frequently and spoon onions over top.
Remove lid near end of cooking time to brown further, if desired.
To serve, skim fat from cooking juices and spoon sauce over sliced pork.

This is delicious!!!

Do you prefer gas or electric ranges?

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

Best Baked Apples

Ahhh!  If you could have only smelled these apples as they were baking!  The aroma filled the house with the ultimate cinnamon potpourri!

I love it when apples can be turned into a sweet treat other than the usual pies and cakes.  For these mouthwatering apples, just core the apples; add some cinnamon, chopped nuts and dried fruit that have been soaked in rum, and bake for an incredible treat.

The rum gives a wallop to the apple but, if you prefer, apple juice can be substituted.  This time I made both Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples.  They each hold their shape and bake extremely well so they are perfect for this recipe.

 This is a great autumn dish that could be calling for a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.  Or, eat one the way I like best ~ by itself!  How can you resist?

Best Baked Apples


6 Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples
¼ c. raisins
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped
Dark rum, to cover
½ c. chopped pecans
1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon
½ c. brown sugar (I use Splenda)


Soak raisins, apricots and cherries in enough rum to cover.
While the fruit is soaking, core the apples to 1/2” of the bottom of the apple.  Use a small spoon to dig out the seeds.  Make the holes on the top of the apple 1” wide.
Place apples in a baking dish.
Mix nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Combine nuts and drained fruit.
Stuff the nut and fruit mixture into the apples.
Dot top of each apple with ¼ teaspoon butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes until they are fork tender.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

ENJOY!  They are a delicious treat!

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

Baked Acorn Squash with Spinach

Acorn squash is our favorite winter squash. So many recipes for it as a side dish include butter with brown sugar, maple syrup, nutmeg and cinnamon. I'm not one for really sweet foods other than desserts and candy so, I wanted to incorporate another vegetable with the squash for a more savory dish.

Acorn squash is filled with amazing health benefits:

  • Cancer-fighting properties: Acorn squash contains a large amount of phytonutrients and antioxidants that have anti-carcinogenic effects on the body.
  • Men's health: This particular squash may help reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. 
  • Protects against birth defects: Expectant mothers would do good to add acorn squash to their diet this fall and winter.
  • Immune system support: Eat acorn squash and protect yourself from this year’s cold and flu season.
  • Lung health: Asthma sufferers can help alleviate their symptoms by consuming acorn squash. 
  • Heart and cholesterol benefits: The beta-carotene in acorn squash prohibits the oxidation of cholesterol in the body, thereby preventing the progression of atherosclerosis. 
  • Arthritis alleviation: By using its anti-inflammatory benefits, acorn squash can help ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  • Acorn squash is jam-packed with beta-carotene, folate, potassium, manganese, copper, omega 3 fatty-acids, vitamins B1, B3, B5 and B6 and Vitamin C.

These things are all great but, the very best thing of all about acorn squash is the taste. Acorn squash is distinctive in its color and shape and is mildly sweet and tender. It has a richer, meatier flavor and more nutrients than summer squash.

All of this leads me to the recipe. The squash is baked twice: the first time for making it tender and the second for incorporating the good flavors of spinach, Parmesan cheese, a little bacon and spice. I had a lone tomato and placed it on top before baking, for added color and taste. Serving it in the half-shell, makes for a perfect serving bowl for this absolutely delicious side dish!
Here it is:

Ready for 2nd baking

Baked Acorn Squash with Spinach


1 acorn squash
8 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
¼ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup Oscar Meyer Real Bacon Bits or fry crisp 2 strips bacon
1 teaspoon softened butter
¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tomato slices


Cut squash in half, discarding seeds.
Place upside down on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until fork tender.
Scoop out pulp, leaving a ¼” shell.
In a large bowl, combine squash, spinach, onion, bacon bits, butter salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and 4 tablespoons cheese.
Spoon into shells.
Top with tomato slice and remaining Parmesan cheese,
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until heated through

This is absolutely delicious and I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do!

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

Homemade Gravlax

I can't believe how hands-off easy gravlax is to make!

Gravlax is expensive to buy but I learned it is very easy to make after reading Stephen's post about it. Check it out here @theobsessivechef. If you love salmon and haven't done this before, you should try it. Gravlax is not to be confused with lox, which is smoked, not just cured.

You only need a very fresh filet of salmon, some salt, a little sugar and dill; weighting it down and refrigerating it for 2-3 days, turning it every 12 hours. However, it takes a whole lot of patience for the time it takes to cure. The salmon turns into a silky smooth delicious delicacy. Since I'm a pepper addict, the only thing different I did to Stephan’s recipe was add a heaping tablespoon of coarse ground black pepper. In regards to weighting it down: my bacon press, which I never use for bacon, was perfect for the job.

After the gravlax is cured in the refrigerator, rinse it well under cold water and it is ready to enjoy after slicing. I found that slicing gravlax can be a challenge. Since Bill is the one who slices the turkey, roasts, etc., I handed over this task to him. It takes a very sharp knife with a long, thin blade and slicing the salmon against the grain, toward you, to achieve paper-thin slices. If some of the slices don't look great, it's OK ~ it's still delicious!

Gravlax is wonderful served as an appetizer on pumpernickel cocktail bread which has been swiped with cream cheese with chives; spicy mustard, dill butter or a little horseradish sauce. It works for breakfast with cream cheese and bagels or serving it with scrambled eggs and creamed potatoes. Maybe even top it with capers or a tomato slice.

By the way, gravlax means “buried salmon” in Swedish. It refers to the medieval custom of the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian fishermen using a special technique to cure their salmon. They salted and fermented it, burying it in the sand or wooden barrels for a few days or many months in the winter as a method of preserving the fish. The burial produced a smooth buttery aromatic delicacy. I like Stephen's way of doing it better. Thanks Stephen for the recipe!

The cure


Ready to slice

Here is Stephen's recipe:

Homemade Gravlax

 1 lb. skin-on salmon filet
2 tbsp kosher salt (or 1 ½ tbsp table salt)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried dill

Line a glass (or non-reactive) loaf pan with plastic wrap. In a small bowl stir together the salt, sugar and dill.

Cut the salmon into 2 equal-size pieces. Put one piece skin side down in the loaf pan. Scatter half of the curing mix over it. Lay the second piece, skin side up, on piece number one, with the thick side over the thinner side of it. Nestle it together in other words. Sprinkle on the remaining curing mix. Wrap the plastic tightly around the salmon and weight it down with some jars or cans. Refrigerate for 2-3 days. Turn the salmon every 12 hours.
It’s done. Rinse the salmon pieces well under cold water and dry them with paper towels. Wrap in fresh plastic and store in the fridge. It will keep for a number of days, although in our house it don’t last long. To serve, slice against the grain very thinly. Put it on eggs, bruschetta, blanched potato slices, or whatever.

What a great delicious reward for something so effortless!

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


Thanks to all of you who entered the CSN giveaway for a $20 gift certificate!  

Drum roll please...  

I used random. org and the winner is Jacqueline @Jacqueline's cat house.  Jacqueline, please email me at for your CSN gift certificate. 

Thanks again to all of you!

Congratulations  Jacqueline!

Bill's Tossed Salad with Chicken

Every once in a while, Bill makes our favorite salad for lunch! This is a delicious crunchy fresh salad and he does it up perfectly.

I especially like the addition of peas and hard-boiled eggs.  To make it really easy, pick up a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store!  This is a good salad with a simple dressing!

Bill's Tossed Salad with Chicken


½ small head lettuce, torn
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ small carrot, peeled and shredded
½ small white onion, chopped
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
Dash lemon zest
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and coarse ground pepper, to taste


Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl.
Blend remaining ingredients in a small bowl.
Combine and toss.
2 servings

Have a great lunch today!

Today is the last day to enter the CSN Stores giveaway that I posted on October 8th. Don't forget to enter!

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

Mom’s Chicken Casserole and CUMC

Not a pretty picture, but good to eat!

Every month at our church, Cary United Methodist Church, the women's "Dorcas Circle" gathers for a luncheon and meeting.  This month was my turn to prepare the main entrée and I chose this chicken casserole to make for them.

They’re a great group of women whom always have a fun time talking, laughing, enjoying lunch together and then settling down for the program.  Pastor Shirley joins us when time permits and we were honored with her presence on this day. 

This chicken casserole will rise to the occasion as a great entrée for a crowd or for a perfect dinner at home every time.  It’s Mom’s recipe, not sure of the origin, but I’ve made it for years and we love it.   This dish is tasty with the succulent chicken pieces and the savory stuffing mix; containing flavors most everyone will enjoy. 

It has to be made ahead of time and allowed to refrigerate over night.  A lot of times when I still worked, I made it on the weekend, froze it, set it in the refrigerator the morning of serving day ~ then after work just popped the casserole in the oven for dinner.  Easy, easy! 

It’s a hearty casserole that I bet your family would enjoy for dinner like we do!  I think the women in the Dorcas Circle enjoyed it also as it was about all eaten.  It’s perfect comfort food for this time of year!

The goods

Ready for the oven


Mom’s Chicken Casserole


4 large boneless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
8 ounce package herb-seasoned stuffing mix
½ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons pimento
½ teaspoon pepper


Cook chicken in simmering water until tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove chicken from broth.
Strain broth, reserving 2-2/3 cups.
Cut meat into bite-size pieces.
Combine chicken soup with half the broth.  Mix well.  Set aside.
Combine mushroom soup with remaining broth.  Mix well.  Set aside.
Combine stuffing mix, butter, pimentos and pepper, reserve ¼ cup for garnish.
Spoon half of remaining stuffing mix into a greased 13” x 9” baking dish.
Top with half of the chicken.
Cover with chicken soup mixture.
Place remaining chicken over top.
Pour mushroom soup mixture over layers.
Sprinkle with reserved stuffing mixture for garnish.
Cover and refrigerate over-night.
Remove 15 minutes before baking and uncover.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until well heated.  Do not under-bake.
Serves 8-10

It’s a savory delicious chicken dish!


There’s still time to enter the CSN Stores giveaway that I posted on October 8th!

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

Cajun Pepper Steak

I don’t know about all of you good people out there but, I love bell peppers and could eat them about every day, raw or cooked.  And steak is delicious also so this dish is the perfect combo.

I decided to cook the Cajun pepper steak last night for dinner after hearing a neighbor mention it.  It’s a colorful, tasty medley of steak and green and red peppers, loaded with spices.  I favor spicy food, not the case so much with Bill.  So depending on your taste, adjust the spices accordingly; especially the Cajun seasoning. 

Round steak is a tougher cut of meat and takes a longer cooking time but, that is what I like about this recipe.  It has ample cooking time to bind the flavors.  Use sirloin steak for a more tender meat that gets this savory dish to the dinner table quickly.

Cajun pepper steak is the best, especially when served over a mound of rice!

Cajun Pepper Steak


1½ pounds boneless round steak, fat removed, cut into strips or cubes
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (14½ ounce) can beef broth
1 (14½ ounce) can Cajun-style tomatoes, undrained
½ cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 to 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, depending on taste
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
Hot cooked rice


In large skillet, cook beef in oil over medium heat until browned.  Drain.
Stir in the broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat.
Cook and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add bell peppers.
Continue cooking for 15 minutes or until meat is tender.
Combine cornstarch and water until smooth.
Stir into meat mixture.
Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until thickened.
Serve over rice.

It’s a Cajun delight!  Uuummmm!!!

Be sure to enter the CSN Stores giveaway that I posted on October 8th!

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

Another CSN Giveaway!

Woo hoo!!!  Another great CSN Stores giveaway!

I was so happy the other day when Sean contacted me as a member of the CSN Preferred Blogger Program and asked if I would like to do another wonderful CSN giveaway!  I’ve enjoyed working with him in the past so of course I said, “Absolutely!”  I know you good folks out there always love a giveaway and I do too!

It’s that time of year again!  There’s definitely a chill in the air and it’s time to bring out of storage all the heavier comforters, quilts and blankets.   Or, maybe you’re like me and want to cozy up with a brand new comforter or quilt like I see among all the bed sets at CSN Stores.

In case you’re not aware of it, CSN Stores has over 200 specialty online stores with an amazing array of products.  You could find just about anything you ever wanted from bed sets to crib bedding, clocks, dinner ware, luggage, rugs or maybe a new cat bed for your favorite cat.  

How about this?

Or maybe you like this one?

Are you like my son and daughter-in-law, in need of a crib set?

Look at this great cuckoo clock!

Fiesta dinnerware?

You won't have trouble spotting your luggage at the airport with this set!

I like this rug!

Don't forget, CSN has beds for your pets also!

So, let’s get to the contest rules for winning the $20 gift certificate from CSN Stores:

  • This giveaway is open only to U.S. and Canadian readers.

  • This does not cover shipping costs.

  • You must be a follower of this blog by using Google Friend Connect.

  • Leave a comment on this post telling me you are a follower.

  • Tell me what product you would like to purchase with your gift certificate from CSN Stores.

Entries will be received through midnight CST, Sunday, October 17, 2010.

The winner will be chosen by a random number generator on Monday, October 18, 2010.

Good luck to all of you! 

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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