WHY IT WORKS: This recipe works because it is simple, week night friendly, flavor packed and PURE comfort food. It also makes a great addition to a backyard BBQ or church pot luck supper.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders, cut into 1 inch strips
1/3 cup Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
6 cups diced hash brown potatoes, thawed*
1 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup seasoned Panko crumbs**
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 bunch green onions, sliced

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 13×9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the chicken strips and hot sauce, tossing to coat well.
  • In a LARGE mixing bowl whisk together the undiluted soup and ranch dressing.
  • Fold potatoes into the soup mixture.
  • Spoon potato mixture into baking dish.
  • Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on top of potatoes, drizzling any excess sauce evenly over top.
  • Evenly top with grated cheese.
  • In a small bowl combine Panko Crumbs and butter until a coarse mixture.
  • Sprinkle Panko crumbs mixture over chicken pieces.
  • Cover and bake 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake 20 minutes more or until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  • Top with green onions.
  • Cool slightly and serve warm.

NOTE 1: * The original recipe called for a southwestern style hash browns.  Tater tots in a single layer work in a pinch also, but make sure everything is COMPLETELY thawed and drained of all moisture.

NOTE 2: ** The original recipe called for corn flakes crumbs.



WHY IT WORKS: Classic crab cakes, but with a TEX-MEX flair by adding the corn, hot sauce, red pepper and cilantro with the lime sour cream to the mix.

1 pound crab meat, picked and cleaned
1 1/3 cups Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 cobs)**
2 large eggs PLUS 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup FRESH chopped cilantro
FRESH ground salt and pepper
1 large lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Frank’s Original hot sauce
Shredded lettuce
Shredded carrots

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the crab, Panko crumbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Gently add the eggs.
  • With gloved hands mix and form 8 tight patties about 3/4 inch thick.
  • Place patties on plate – place in freezer for 5 minutes.
  • Toss together the lettuce, shredded carrots and cilantro. Divide between plates.
  • In a small mixing bowl, juice the lime and fold in the cilantro and sour cream.
  • Add hot sauce, whisking until you have a pourable sauce.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Add 4 crab cakes at a time, flipping once until both sides are golden brown.
  • Serve over shredded lettuce mixture with sauce and lime wedge.

NOTE: If you like, canned corn works, but I prefer the small white shoepeg corn. It is a much more tender corn.




WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: This recipe works for so many reasons, but most importantly because it’s Pineapple Cherry Pie! You end up with a tart, thick gooey tasty goodness sandwiched between two layers of flaky, crispy crust.


4 1/2 cups fresh tart cherries
1/4 cup Pineapple Brandy
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
Your favorite pie crust or pie dough recipe for 2 crust pie
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sanding sugar

  • Place butter in freezer.*
  • Pit cherries and place in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir in Pineapple Brandy.
  • Cover and simmer until cherries begin to soften and lose their juice.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the granulated sugar and cornstarch.
  • Pour the cherries into the sugar and stir to blend until sugar is dissolved.
  • Return cherries to pan and simmer over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.
  • Remove cherries from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Prepare your dough and divide into 2 sections.
  • Place 1 section in your pie pan. **
  • Pour cooled cherries into pie pan.
  • Grate butter evenly on top of the cherries.
  • Place top pie crust on top, fluting the edges.
  • Slit top in several places for steam to escape.
  • Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  • Bake 35-45 minutes until crust is golden and flaky.
  • Cool on cooling rack.

NOTE 1: * Putting the butter in the freezer makes it solid enough to grate.
NOTE 2: ** I love my air cool perforated pan. I just wrap the bottom with foil in case any juice gets out.




I’ve been making these recipes for years.  I originally found them in AMISH & MENNONITE KITCHEN (1995).

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS and what doesn’t:

The Creamed chicken works as a comfort food that is satisfying and rib sticking too. I made a few “small” changes over the years to add some additional flavor. It can be made quickly and easily on a week night.

The marinated carrots add tons of color and a bit of acidic tang too. You just have to plan ahead on the carrots since this recipe requires marinating and chilling overnight. I’ve included my next best marinated carrot salad recipe (given to me by a very sweet old lady) that I’ve been using since the 80’s. Both recipes keep well in the fridge and taste better several days later.

The cookbook called for the creamed chicken to be served over “FLOATING ISLANDS”. I tried making them twice, but they were VERY bland and terribly horribly full of fat and cholesterol.


2 tablespoons GHEE or butter
1 shallot, sliced or diced thin
3 tablespoons Wondra flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pink Himalayan salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped celery leaves
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups diced, cooked chicken*

  • In a large skillet melt ghee.
  • Saute’ shallot until translucent.
  • Add flour, salt, pepper and celery leaves, stirring until smooth.
  • Add milk and chicken broth, stirring to blend.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil and and boil slowly for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add chicken pieces and heat through.
  • Serve over toast, wide egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

NOTE: *I use rotisserie chicken quite often, but usually just brown and shred 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts.


1 pound baby carrots
1 small onion, sliced into rings
1/ green pepper, sliced
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • Bring a pot of water to boiling.
  • Add carrots cooking JUST until softened. DRAIN.
  • In a large mixing bowl toss together the carrots, onion rings and bell pepper slices.
  • In another mixing bowl whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables.
  • Chill and marinate overnight.
  • Serve chilled.

An alternate recipe for this type of marinated carrot salad is:

40 ounces +/- canned sliced carrots, drained
14 ounces +/- canned baby peas, drained
1 medium red onion, chopped small
1 can Campbell’s tomato soup**
3/4 cup vinegar (I sometimes use apple cider and it is just as good)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup salad oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • Whisk together soup, salad oil, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Add carrots, peas and onions.
  • Chill overnight so flavors blend.
  • Serve cold.

**I replaced the canned soup with the following recipe:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup pureed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups milk
dash each of garlic salt, onion salt, basil, and oregano.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour and seasonings and cook until bubbly.
  • Add tomato puree’ and blend well.
  • Remove from heat and gradually whisk in liquid.
  • Return to heat and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened to desired consistency.





This is another recipe originally found in COLD WEATHER COOKING (1990) by Sarah Leah Chase. I have manipulated this recipe several times over the years to a whole new recipe, but loved the name so have always kept it.

The original recipe called for a bone-in ham. I have by passed that for convenience, BUT I always keep a Honey Baked Ham bone in the freezer for recipes like this and Split Pea Soup. I usually make them back to back for that reason so nothing is wasted also.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: It is sweet and savory ALL at the same time, makes enough for the perfect family Sunday dinner with plenty of leftovers too.  The extra dressing freezes well too.

4-5 pound ham
1 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup Marsala wine (original recipe called for Madeira, but I use what I ALWAYS have on hand)
3/4 cup salted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
6 large mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 cups stuffing (I usually make my own out of stale sourdough), but the original recipe called for Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing
2 cups chopped pecans (original recipe called for 2 1/2 cups)
1 large can crushed pineapple (NOT the one in heavy syrup and DO NOT DRAIN)
1 tablespoon creamy horseradish**
2 tablespoons sour cream**
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Zest of 1 large Orange
1/2 cup Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 cup ham broth
1 cup cream Sherry
1 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup honey
Honey Baked Ham bone

  • In a large dutch oven cover ham bone with water, season with salt and pepper and simmer over a medium heat for 2 hours until ham is falling off the bone.
  • Strain broth into a large bowl to cool.
  • Pick through ham pieces saving the best for your Split Pea Soup and save for later.

  • Make a crater in the center of each half of ham and set aside.***
  • In a small sauce pan bring the wine, raisins, apricots and mushrooms to a SLOW boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat to cool.
  • Over medium high heat, melt the butter in a LARGE skillet.
  • Add onions, shallots and celery, sautéing until they soften.
  • Transfer onion mixture to a LARGE mixing bowl.
  • Add stuffing, pecans and pineapple blended loosely.
  • Stir in apricots and any residual wine.
  • Whisk together the horseradish, sour cream and egg. Then blend in cloves, coriander and orange zest. Fold into stuffing until well blended.
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Stuff each side of ham with the stuffing mixture and then either tie the ham pieces together with kitchen string or us baking bands.
  • Bake any leftover stuffing in a baking dish at the same time.
  • Place ham in roasting pan.
  • Whisk together the pineapple juice, orange juice, ham broth and cream sherry. Pour around the ham.
  • Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.
  • Reduce heat to 325° and uncover the ham.
  • Whisk together 1 cup of the pan juices with the honey.
  • Spoon half of the honey mixture over the ham ad bake another hour, basting often with the glaze.
  • Let ham rest 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice serve and enjoy!

**Original recipe called for 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, but I am deathly allergic and have had to make substitutions.

***I often just halve the ham and make a thick layer of stuffing between the two halves and close with baking bands.

NOTE: If you are FORTUNATE enough to have a really cool butcher, they will USUALLY bone a bone in ham for you. Be sure and save the bone for soup at a later time.



I originally found this recipe when we were living in the mountains and needed some hearty rib sticking meals in the long cold winters.  I found it in an old (1990) cook book called in Sarah Leah Chase’s Cold Weather Cooking. She called this chapter Stormy Weather and Magic Mountains. The recipes were all from the New England area, but really spoke to me as all around cold weather YUM!

According to Ms. Chase the original recipe was one her grandmother concocted for her grandfather to be able to make hearty food on hunting and fishing trips. While her family debated whose version was the best, I have adapted it to my family’s likes.

Serves 4

4 slices bacon, diced
1 small Vidalia onion, halved root to tip and sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 Portabella mushroom, cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery hearts and leaves
2-3 tablespoons SWEET Hungarian Paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup homemade chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken pieces**
1/4 cup Wondra flour
1 cup sour cream
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Prepared egg noodles***

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat brown bacon until crisp and crumbly.
  • With a slotted spoon remove bacon pieces to drain on paper towels.
  • Add onions and shallot to hot bacon grease and saute’  JUST until soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add mushrooms to pan and saute’ JUST until mushrooms are cooked through.
  • With a slotted spoon remove onions and mushrooms to paper towels also to drain.
  • Generously season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  • Add chicken breasts to bacon grease and sear well on both sides.
  • Remove chicken (it will not be cooked through yet and that is okay!)
  • Whisk together the chicken broth, paprika and tomato paste until well blended.
  • Add tomato mixture to pan along with celery pieces.
  • Return chicken, onions and mushrooms to the pan making sure to spoon sauce over top of everything.
  • Reduce heat, cover and SLOW simmer, basting frequently, until chicken is tender and cooked through 30-45 minutes or more depending on breast thickness.
  • Remove chicken pieces and keep warm.
  • Whisk sour cream and flour together until smooth.
  • SLOWLY (so as not to curdle your sour cream) add the sour cream mixture to the tomato mixture until well blended.
  • Heat though, stirring constantly, but DO NOT BOIL!
  • Return chicken to pan and coat well with sauce.
  • Serve over wide egg noodles.

**NOTE: I have also cut the chicken into chunks to make more of a stew with great success. Doing it this way will reduce your simmer time considerably.

***NOTE: Also quite good over mashed potatoes for a more rib sticking comfort feel.


1/2 pound ground chuck, browned and drained
1/2 pound bacon, crisply fried and crumbled
1 small onion, chopped small
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce*
1 tablespoon molasses
16 ounces pork and beans
16 ounces black beans

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Combine everything into a greased 9×9 baking dish.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes.

NOTE 1: *A-1 works also

NOTE 2: This recipe works really well in a slow cooker all day also.


This recipe originated from the Southern Living cookbook, Off the Eaten Path as Vanilla-Cognac-Brined Pork Tenderloin with Gingersnap Jus. It’s from the Krazy Kat Restaurant at The Inn at Montchanin Village in Delaware. I made just a few changes to work with what I had on hand and really liked them so will keep the changes for future meals.


1/2 cup cognac
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons corriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons tri-color peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 vanilla bean. split and scraped
3 cups water
1 1/2 pounds bone-in pork chops

  • Whisk together everything except the pork chops.
  • Place pork chops in a Tupperware marinader or ziplock bag in a bowl (in case it leaks).
  • Add brine mixture and close, marinading for 24 hours.  If using the Tupperware turn it over every few hours.
  • Begin gravy before grilling chops.
  • When ready to grill, drain pork chops of all marinade and pat dry.
  • Grill 3-5 minutes preside depending on thickness until 155˚.
  • Let meat rest under foil 10 minutes.


18 gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 teaspoons avocado oil
1 Shallot, diced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons molasses

  • Pulse cookies in food processor until finely ground.
  • Heat oil in sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  • Saute’ shallot and caraway seeds until onion softens.
  • Add wine, vinegar and broth.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in cookies and molasses until well blended and gravy thickens.




1 cup butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
  • Gradually add in flour mixture until well blended.

3-4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple pie spice

  • Combine sugar and apple pie spice until well blended.
  • Form cookie dough into small balls about walnut sized.
  • Roll each cookie ball in the sugar spice mixture and place on un-greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  • Cool 2 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.
  • Decorations are melted candy bark and sprinkle.



Remember why we celebrate this weekend.
It is NOT for the Monday off, , it’s NOT national BBQ day, it’s NOT for sales and so forth.
It IS for the veterans who gave their ALL for you to live a better and free life.

Have a safe and happy memorial weekend, but remember to thank a VETERAN.

Do NOT forget Memorial Day is ACTUALLY May 30th, not the Monday you are off, so think about it and thank that veteran on the actual day also when their sacrifices are most prevalent in their minds.


Here at our house, Memorial Day is a somber occasion after all the years hubby spent in the military, but we DO BBQ too. This is my go to steak marinade or marinade for ANYTHING going on the grill.

1/3 cup BRAGG’S liquid aminos
1/2 cup avocado oil
Juice of 2 large lemons
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 tablespoons fresh dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon Frank’s Original red pepper sauce
1 clove black garlic

  • Combine everything in a small food processor or bullet, blending until well mixed.
  • Pour mixture over meat, turning to coat.
  • Marinade 8-24 hours.
  • Drain off marinade.
  • Grill and Enjoy!



Is recipe delivery service for you?

I have tried the home delivery services Blue Apron, Home Chef and Hello Fresh. All three offer plans based on family size and have their own merits and setbacks.  For the working mom with little time to shop, these are phenomenal services. For me since I already scratch cook and love to grocery shop they were good, but not mandatory avenues of cooking. I thought I’d tell you about my experiences with each and let you decide for yourself. Price wise they are quite comparable to doing your own shopping if you calculate in your time, gas and such.  It is nice to have them prepackaged and show up right at the front door.

The above picture for Fontina Stuffed Pork Chops with Sweet Pepper Sauce was one of our most favorite recipes (which I have reworked to my methods and hubbies taste likes) from Blue Apron.


  • Good delivery service and food packaging.
  • Well packed fresh ingredients. 
  • Well written recipes with easy to follow directions.
  • Great customer service.


  • I honestly couldn’t find any down sides other than the fact that the recipes were either truly inspired or really pedestrian and choosing 3 recipes each week to challenge our palette was difficult some weeks.


  • Good delivery service and food packaging.
  • Well packed fresh ingredients. 
  • Well written recipes with easy to follow directions.
  • Great customer service.
  • Nice binder to organize your recipes.


  • Delivery is later with this service and tended to mess with my schedule, but that might be because I’m at the end of the delivery route.


  • Good delivery service and superior food packaging for a really fresh delivery.
  • Well written recipes with easy to follow directions. 
  • Great customer service.


  • A bit more expensive, but with quality food and recipes making it worth the while.

After trying all three services I have learned to sign in each week and scrutinize the menus before signing up for any particular week.  I do like that all three offer menus 4-5 weeks in advance so you have plenty of notice to make your decisions.





I worked for quite awhile in the studio today and ran across several unfinished projects that NEED to be finished!  Binding for some reason is my least favorite part of quilting though it should be my most favorite since it is the last step to a completed project.  I’m still trying to figure out where to start!  I’m leaning towards starting with the smaller pieces just because there will be a bigger sense of accomplishment as I whip them out, but am leaning towards the larger ones so I can set them aside into the Christmas pile as completed presents.

In the meanwhile we still needed to eat so I reworked a couple of recipes from my “TO TRY” pile that used ingredients I had on hand.  It’s almost June 1st and I try to clean out both the freezer and pantry every 6 months or so.


2-3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
4 slices crusty french bread, torn into pieces
3 cups crumbled cornbread
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped small
2 large eggs, beaten
Fresh ground sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup butter, sliced thin

  • Put butter slices in freezer while you assemble the casserole.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the broth, eggs and soup.
  • Fold in breads.
  • Fold in celery, onion and chicken pieces.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer to a lightly greased 3 quart slow cooker.
  • Dot with butter slices.
  • Cook on high 1 1/2 hours and then low 2-3 hours on low OR 3-4 hours on high.


1 pound bag baby carrots, washed and dried
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Pinch of ground ginger
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Parmesan cheese
Snap peas

  • Preheat oven to 400˚.
  • In a large ziplock bag add the carrots, avocado oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Close and toss until carrots are well coated.
  • Spread carrots in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast carrots 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Cool carrots.
  • In a large sauce pan melt butter,
  • Add onion and saute’ until tender.
  • Add broth and simmer while carrots roast.
  • Add carrots and puree with an immersion blender.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with Parmesan crisps and chopped snap peas.