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.




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.


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.




This started out as Carol Faye’s Meatloaf from the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee which I can no longer find on their menu, but it is in Southern Living’s Off the Eaten Path.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, we ended up with an entirely different recipe and hubby absolutely loved it so it’s a keeper!HAWAIIAN MEATLOAF
1 1/4 pounds ground round
1/3 cup minced Vidalia onion
1 large clove black garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon avocado oil
1 medium egg
1/4 cup Country Bob’s special sauce
1/4 + 1/2 cup King’s Hawaiian original BBQ sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Using your hands mix all the ingredients except the last 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Mix only until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Mold into small loaf pan .
  • Bake for 45 minutes or starting to crisp on the edges.
  • Pour remaining BBQ sauce over meatloaf and bake 5 minutes more.

2 pounds small new potatoes
1/4 cup butter, melted
Juice of 1 lemon
1+ teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
fresh ground sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chicken broth

  • Wash and remove any blemishes from potatoes.
  • Add chicken broth to sauce pan and add 2 cups water.
  • Add potatoes and bring to a slow boil, cooking until potatoes are just fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Gently drain potatoes in colander.
  • Add butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper and parsley to mixing bowl.
  • Add potatoes and gently toss to coat.



Recipe Yield: 6 servings

1 whole chicken or 3 cups chicken pieces**
1 cup homemade concentrated chicken broth
7 cups hot water
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 stalks celery, sliced thin
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped small
1 cup quality butter
1 cup scant Wondra flour
1 small jar chopped pimento, optional
Fresh flat parsley for garnish
Garlic Butter croutons

  • If starting from scratch: Place chicken pieces in large pot and cover with water, about 10 cups. Add vegetables and simmer until chicken almost falls off the bone. Strain off enough liquid to make 8 cups of stock. Cut cooled chicken into bite sized pieces and be sure to pick all the little chicken bits off the bones. Set chicken aside.
  • If not starting from scratch:
  • In a stock pot, whisk together the hot water and concentrated broth.
  • Season to taste.
  • Add vegetables and simmer 1 hour.
  • When vegetables are tender, use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables to a food processor. DO NOT DISCARD.
  • The vegetables are a crucial flavor component. Process vegetables until smooth and then whisk back into the broth.
  • Bring to a very LOW boil.
  • In a small sauce pan melt butter.
  • Whisk in Wondra flour until golden in color making a yummy roux.
  • Gradually add the roux, stirring constantly until well incorporated. Simmer 10-15 minutes until desired thickness.
  • Add the chopped chicken*** and 1 small jar of diced pimento.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Serve in warmed soup bowls.
  • Garnish each serving with homemade Garlic Butter croutons and chopped parsley.

**I used rotisserie chicken pieces.

***Since my chicken was fresh and hot from Costco, I chopped about 3/4 cup rotisserie chicken per person and put it into the bottom of each bowl instead, then poured the hot thickened bisque over the chunky parts. This way the remaining bisque stores in a jar easier. I also just used the pimento as a garnish with the croutons.

Cooks Notes: Whenever I bring home a Costco rotisserie chicken I use the skin, drippings and bones (where all the flavor is) to make a pot of broth. I then portion it into 1 cup containers for the freezer. This really makes things easier for those quick weeknight meals.




1 cup diced shallot
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 sprigs fresh basil
2 sprigs fresh oregano
4 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese – garnish

  • Remove the leaves from the basil and oregano, chopping each.  Reserve half of the basil for garnish.
  • Lay chicken in bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle the onions and peppers all around the chicken.
  • Top with the tomatoes, half the basil and all the oregano.
  • Pour chicken broth  over it all.
  • Cook on high for 3 hours.
  • Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred. Keep warm.
  • Add pasta to crock pot and cook another 35-40 minutes or until pasta is al dente.
  • Stir shredded chicken back in and heat through.
  • Season to taste.
  • Top each serving with fresh basil and some of the Parmesan shredded cheese.






4-6 bone in chicken thighs
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup Bertolli balsamic reduction glaze

  • Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray.
  • Arrange chicken thighs in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle onion pieces around chicken.
  • Whisk together the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. Add garlic and blend well.
  • Pour over chicken and onions.
  • Cook 5-6 hours on low.
  • Heat Balsamic glaze to a slow simmer in a small sauce pan.
  • Serve over Jasmine Rice.
  • Pour glaze over chicken and rice.


This recipe was designed after one of hubby’s favorite dishes at the Cheesecake Factory, SWEET & SOUR CRISPY PINEAPPLE CHICKEN & SHRIMP.

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained well
4 chicken breasts
Rice flour for dredging
Avocado oil
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 brunch green onions or a small shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sweet red mini peppers, sliced thin
1/2 cup snow peas
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup Sesame Ginger Dressing
1/4 cup Bertolli Balsamic glaze
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup lukewarm water
Jasmine rice

  • In a saucepan combine the orange juice, pineapple juice,  and sesame ginger dressing bringing to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and add balsamic glaze and honey, cooking until slightly reduced.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • Dredge chicken  and shrimp pieces in rice flour, shaking off the excess.
  • Heat avocado oil in skillet over medium high heat until sizzling.
  • Saute’ chicken pieces until cooked through. The add shrimp pieces and cook through.
  • Remove chicken and shrimp pieces and keep warm.
  • Whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce and cook through until slightly thickened.
  • Add green onions, peppers, snow peas and mushrooms to the pan you just took the chicken from sautéing until softened.
  • Add pineapple and sauce to vegetables, stirring to coat.
  • Add in chicken pieces, tossing to coat.
  • Serve over rice.

NOTE: Use the drained juice to make yourself a cocktail.


CELEBRATION CHICKEN an OLD family favorite A.K.A. as Chicken S.O.S.

I believe this wonderful recipe came from the 1950’s or 1960’s, but the chicken scratch writing of my grandmother with all her changes and then mine too make it a bit hard to tell.  I think this recipe probably came as a promotional recipe on a soup can, box of Philly cheese or even the jar of beef, but who really knows? This is a wonderful recipe for a large family gathering or having company.  It looks and tastes like you worked all day!  Hubby calls it Chicken S.O.S. I add small pasta shells and toss those with the excess sauce. The chicken turns out so tender and juicy you could cut it with a fork and it will melt in your mouth. The pasta work well for a pot luck dish, but the chicken is also tasty with mashed potatoes for a home meal.

1 jar dried beef
8 skinless chicken breasts
8 slices bacon
2 packages cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cans undiluted cream of mushroom soup
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Layer dried beef slices on the bottom of the baking dish slight overlapping each piece.* / **
  • Wrap a slice of bacon around each chicken breast and place on top of beef in a single layer.
  • In a medium saucepan combine the cream cheese, soup and sour cream stirring until smooth and heated through.  DO NOT BOIL – will burn easily!
  • Pour sauce over chicken.
  • Sprinkle with paprika.
  • Cover and bake 2 hours.
  • Spoon some of the soup mixture over each piece of chicken as you serve it.
  • Garnish and serve immediately.

COOK’S NOTE 1: *When cooking for just the 2 of us I have much more dried beef than I need so I layer it on the bottom as well as use it on the chicken and then chop the last 2 pieces to add on top of the sauce – YUMMY!

COOK’S NOTE 2: **An alternative method is to wrap each chicken breast with the beef and then the bacon.

COOK’S NOTE 3: This recipe works well in the slow cooker on low also making it good for church suppers or potlucks.