January 29, 2010

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts

This morning as I sip my coffee I am trying to plan dinner for this evening. Since I've been working full time hours and juggling two positions instead of one, my time to truly update my websites is fleeting. 

This afternoon, even before I arrive home from the office, my parents are going to be in town to stay with us this weekend. I'm trying to juggle schedules to make sure someone is here at the house as my husband and I will both be at work so I'm verifying schedules with my 17 and 14 year old's to be sure someone will be here to meet them. 

We are also currently hosting two 'extra' teenagers (last night and this morning before school) and I'm giving permission for tonight's plans of movies and sleepovers before getting each of them out the door to school at the appropriate time. 

 In the meantime... let's plan tonight's dinner! 

Not only will it be our family and my parents, but my oldest daughter and her roommate are returning home from college this weekend. Without a menu in place yet, I did make homemade bread dough last night. I intended on baking two loaves but admittedly, I was so exhausted and worn out from the day that by the time it finished its first rising I was too tired to stay awake and finish them. I formed them into two loaves and put them into the deep freeze. This morning I've grabbed them out and placed them in the (turned off) oven. Hopefully this morning they will thaw, this afternoon they will raise and by the time I arrive home at 5:00 they will be ready to bake! 

I'm considering a roast for dinner as I could conceivably put it into a slow cooker this morning before I leave for work and then just fix a side dish when I arrive home tonight. With 2 of my guests already at my home when I arrive and the other two arriving within an hour of myself, having the bread and roast ready to go will be a blessing. A side dish I spied this morning in my files that I've not yet made is this dish for green beans. Simple but sounds delicious! 

 Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts 

3 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine beans and 4 cups water in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender (I like them more on the tender side - your choice!).  Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain. (You can chill beans up to 8 hours, if you want to make this later.)

Sauté mushrooms and next 7 ingredients in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes. Add beans, stirring until thoroughly heated; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.




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January 28, 2010

Versatile Cake Filling and Frosting

When I was a child we visited the home of one of my parents friends and the lady of the house served a brilliant red cake with a frosting that was not butter cream (the only kind I had had up to that point, being a mere 7 years old). Not only was I taken with this cake and frosting, but my mother was as well and that is how the original Red Velvet Cake recipe made its way into our household. To this day I refuse to eat Red Velvet Cake with any other frosting but the one that starts by cooking flour and milk on the stove top.

When I saw this recipe listed as a "filling" for a poppy seed cake I thought I'd copy it down for future reference. I did, but then got busy with life and working full time outside the home and didn't get around to really looking at it. Once I did, I realized it was not just a poppy seed or white cake 'filling' but was in fact, the recipe for the frosting and filling we've always used for our Red Velvet Cakes!

Versatile Cake Frosting and Filling

1 cup half-and-half or milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Gradually whisk together half-and-half and flour in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until a thick paste forms. Remove from heat; cool. Cover and chill 1 hour or until cold. Beat paste, butter, and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in extracts. Use as a filling between layers or frosting.Print Friendly and PDF


This recipe is for something called Ribollita which I had never heard of until 2008, but had made in my own way and with many different versions just as a vegetable soup. You may know it as Ribollita though. Enjoy.


4 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 large onion, cut into a ½-inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut into a small dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into a ½-inch dice
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into a ½-inch dice
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup dry red wine, such as Côtes du Rhône
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 bunches Swiss chard, stemmed and roughly chopped
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 slices (about 10 ounces) stale crusty bread, torn into large bite-size pieces
6 teaspoons prepared pesto (optional)

Place a Dutch oven or a soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the oil and onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potato and cook until it has started to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, broth, beans, and 2 cups of water. Place the Swiss chard on top, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, stir to combine, and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the salt and pepper gently to combine. (At this point, the soup can be chilled for serving the next day.) Divide the bread among serving bowls. Ladle the hot soup over the bread and finish with a drizzle of olive oil or pesto, if desired.Print Friendly and PDF

January 26, 2010

Low Carb Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (with macadamia nut oil)

Originally posted in 2010... I'm updating to say that there are a lot of really great better options for low carb baking now than there was 10 years ago.  You can find another Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin from 2018 here or do a search for my Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from June 2019 which makes amazing muffins as well.

Although I'm always on the look out for low carb recipes to add to my LC Binders, I haven't tried all of them. This is one of those. In the past 8 years I've never bought Carbquick Bake Mix and I've never even seen macadamia nut oil. If you have both of these on hand and want to try this recipe... well then, this one is for you!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

1 whole egg
1 cup Carbquik Bake Mix
2 tablespoons Splenda
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup water
1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 400°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 6 regular-size muffin cups, or grease bottoms only of muffin cups. Beat egg slightly in medium bow, stir in remaining ingredients just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among cups.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

253 Calories; 21g Fat; 8g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 4.5g Dietary Fiber; 6.5g Net Carbs Print Friendly and PDF

Low Carb Lemon Muffins

This was originally posted almost 10 years ago, in January of 2010.  A lot of great products have come out since then I'd like to add that you can find another terrific lemon poppy seed muffin that uses pumpkin puree' in this post from 2018.  Also, a search for my lemon poppy seed cake from 2019 can be made into great muffins!  Just use the search bar to the right.

From my files of low carb... enjoy!

Low Carb Lemon Muffins

1 1/2 Cups EAS Vanilla Whey Protein
2 T Wheat Gluten Flour
2 T oat flour
1 t xanthan gum
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/4 c full-fat plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 T grated lemon rind (or lemon extract)
1/4 Cup Splenda
2 T DaVinci Sugar Free Vanilla or Lemon Syrup


1/3 Cup lemon juice
1/3 Cup Splenda
3 T water

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, melt the butter, lemon rind, Splenda, and vanilla Syrup; stir to combine. Add yogurt and the 2 eggs and beat thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir quickly, just to combine. Don't overwork this batter or your muffins will have air tunnels.

Fill muffin tins about two-thirds full. Bake at 325°F for about 12 minutes or so, until tops are pebbly-looking and just starting to brown. The tops should spring back when touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.

Combine the ingredients for the glaze in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Stir well until fully dissolved. Poke each muffin two or three times with a fork, and drizzle 2 to 3 teaspoons of glaze over each muffin.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

158 calories; 10 g fat; 5 g carbs; 1 g fiber; 11 g protein.Print Friendly and PDF

January 25, 2010

Mock Apple Pie from Ritz - Using Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Crackers too!

In December I was asked by Ritz to try their new Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Cracker. I readily agreed as I knew the perfect recipe I wanted to try them in - my Angel Bars which I usually make with a butter cracker but I thought perhaps the cinnamon and sugar would be a fun creative 'improvisation' to try.

For whatever reason the marketing department was slow to get the product to me and I had finished all my holiday baking by the time it arrived.

Over the next few weeks we had negative 50 below zero windchills, 3 blizzards, car problems, 4 family birthdays, double holiday celebrations and a heavy work schedule.... I didn't have time to play with any new recipes but tonight I pulled them out of the cupboard and immediately thought about the old 1970's "mock" apple pie that was all the rage with my Mother and Grandmother. Using Ritz Crackers instead of apples, it was a food fad that never completely left and many families consider it a staple recipe in their homes.

I realized the new Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Crackers would make the perfect topping to this family favorite and by reducing the cinnamon and sugar called for in the pie filling by just a smidgen, you could use them for the pie as well!

RITZ Mock-Apple Pie
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 45 min
Makes: Makes 10 servings, 1 piece (110 g) each.

2 cups water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. cream of tartar
30 RITZ Crackers
1 refrigerated ready-to-use pie crust (1/2 of 425-g pkg.)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

25 RITZ Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Crackers, crushed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, melted

FILLING: Mix water, granulated sugar and cream of tartar in large saucepan. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Add crackers; simmer on medium-low heat 5 min., stirring occasionally.

LINE 9-inch pie plate with pie crust as directed on package; fill with cracker mixture. Sprrinkle with lemon juice and cinnamon.

TOPPING: Combine remaining ingredients; sprinkle over Filling.

BAKE 15 min. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake 20 min. or until golden brown. Cool.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 340 Total fat 16g Saturated fat 4.5g Cholesterol 5mg Sodium 380mg Carbohydrate 47g Dietary fibre 1g Sugars 27g Protein 2g Vitamin A 8%DV Vitamin C 0%DV Calcium 4%DV Iron 8%DV

And now for a brand new way to use your Ritz Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Crackers! The perfect sweet, but not-too-sweet appetizer.

Raspberry-Apple Danish Spread
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 30 min
Makes: 1-1/2 cups or 12 servings, 2 Tbsp. spread and 5 crackers each

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1 apple, chopped
2 Tbsp. seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup granola
RITZ Brown Sugar Cinnamon Crackers

SPREAD Neufchatel onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate or 1-qt. casserole.
COMBINE apples and jam; spread over Neufchatel cheese. Top with granola.
BAKE 20 min. or until heated through. Serve with crackers.Print Friendly and PDF

Product Review: MyColourCup - Personalized and Color Coded Cups for Families or the Office

Immediately following the birth of our 3rd child my husband was transferred to Minneapolis, Minnesota from down south. Within hours of moving in to our new home we had 2 little boys standing at our driveway ready to play with my two oldest kids. Within 3 days we couldn't go more than 2 hours without the doorbell ringing and a small neighborhood child asking if my kids could play.

For the next 15 years it was rare not to have at least 1, 2... or 7 extra kids at our house at any time. Impromptu sleepovers, Saturday night pizza, video game days and movie nights.... with the moniker of "Kool-Aid Mom" of the neighborhood, came the snacks, the Popsicles, the food and the drinks that children go through.

"That's my cup!" "No that was mine!" "Nu-huh! I put mine right here and you took it!" And soon I would be washing 11 cups and glasses used by just 4 or 5 children.

It wasn't long before I solved the problem by bringing out the plastic or Styrofoam cups and a black Sharpie marker. For the next 10 years this was a given. Birthday parties, sleepovers, movie nights and even just playdates or when a friend of mine with children would come for coffee. Out came the marker.

When an enterprising Mom contacted me to tell me about her Twist-id My Colour Cup product and asked if I would like to try them for a product review, I jumped at the chance. Her timing was perfect. It was just after yet another blizzard had hit and I had 2 extra kids snowed in with us for two days. Kids equal cups. Cups equal dirty dishes and washing.

The set arrived and my 17 year old and his friend immediately pounced on them. I had just opened the package when they both arrived in the kitchen for a drink break from video games. They didn't even wait for me to wash the set! They each grabbed one, asked what they were and how they worked and immediately spun the black dial to choose their own color (calling out dibs on red and blue) rinsed and filled them, and took off down the basement.

My 14 year old daughter and her friend came downstairs from her room and asked me about them. I explained they were plastic cups you could spin the black rim to choose the color and that they could also be personalized with each family member name. Sure enough, purple and yellow dibs were called.

Well that was easy to acclimate them to the new cups!

After trying them on family and their friends as well as two cycles through the dishwasher for product durability I can give them a thumb up.

* sold in a set of six for $17.50
* holds 500 ml/16 oz
* made from a food grade quality plastic
* dishwasher safe
* free station mat with every set (Great for little ones - "Put your cup HERE, not in the sink")

Although my cups do not have names on them, they are usually personalized. I chose not to for two reasons. One, I wasn't sure if I would be doing the product review at home with my own family, or at the office with my co-workers. Second; my kids are teenagers. With one already off to college and the other two with a plethora of friends at our home, it would be easier for us to use color-codes more than personalized names. For families like my best friend with younger kids, I would personalize the cups with names so there would be no "he took MY cup!" arguments.

name labels are made from indoor/outdoor white vinyl material so they are waterproof. They resist degradation from scuffing and wide temperature fluctuations. The adhesive has excellent resistance to chemicals even at high temperatures. They are dishwasher safe on top shelf. One thing to note is to spin the black ring to choose the color, you do have to use a bit of a force to move it. This is a huge plus as it won't spin freely or with small 3 year old fingers, and mix up the chosen color to cause confusion.

For those of you who are parents wanting to support other parents - check out the story behind the cup. Who else would come up with the idea but a Mom!?

You can order your own set by clicking this link.Print Friendly and PDF

January 20, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Banana Peppers

Last month I was on a big 'banana pepper' kick. I was craving them and even had a banana pepper dip three different times as I couldn't get enough. I added them to our cheesy potatoes with ham and put them on deli sandwiches and salads... delicious!

Another idea is borrowing from the jalapeno. Stuffed with cream cheese they are one of my all time favorite appetizers. Stuffed Anaheim peppers with chicken are another favorite. This time we're going to stuff the banana pepper and wrap it with bacon. I never want to share these but eat them all myself!

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Banana Peppers

16 Banana Peppers
2 - 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese
16 slices bacon

Slice banana pepper in a tee on one side open up and remove all seeds. Fill with slices of cream cheese and wrap each pepper in a slice of bacon. Place peppers in a baking dish or on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees until bacon is crisp. Or broil at the end to hurry the crisping process if you have company waiting!Print Friendly and PDF

Chicken and Beef Fajitas

Fajitas! Chicken AND beef in fajitas?  Why not?  This one from my personal computer files - added over a year ago but I have no idea where from.


2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
1 cup Italian dressing
6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
4 pounds flank steak
20 (8-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
Toppings: sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, shredded Cheddar cheese

Combine the chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, pepper, salt garlic powder and chipotle seasoning. Mix the dressing with the dry seasoning mix. Pour half the marinade in a shallow dish or large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Cover or seal. Pour remaining marinade in a separate shallow dish or large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add beef. Cover or seal; chill chicken and beef 2 hours.

Remove chicken and beef from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium heat (300° to 350°) about 15 minutes on each side or until chicken is done and beef is at desired degree of doneness. Cut chicken and beef into strips. Serve in flour tortillas with desired toppings.Print Friendly and PDF

Give Me Something Hot! Caramel Pudding

This morning I'm 'iced in' with my husband and kids as a thick layer of ice over a half inch thick covers everything in its path. Roads are treacherous, many closed completely, and of course school is not in session.

In honor of ice cold days and frigid, ice filled nights I give you a dessert best served hot - Caramel Pudding.

Caramel Pudding

2 T shortening
2 T sugar
1 egg
1 c flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 c milk

1 1/2 c sour cream
3/4 c sour milk (buttermilk or make it sour by adding lemon juice/vinegar)
2 1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c milk

Beat shortening and sugar together till creamy. Add egg and beat hard for 2 minutes. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Put dough in the bottom of a baking tin. For the sauce - using an egg beater, mix together the sour cream, sour milk, sugar and flour. Pour the sauce over the dough and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. As this bakes the sauce will sink to the bottom and the dough comes to the top to make a perfect dessert. Serve hot.Print Friendly and PDF

Graham Flour

As I thumbed through an old depression recipe book a few weeks ago I came across a number of recipes calling for Graham flour. This isn't something I see in our grocery store and because it's a cookbook of 'old' recipes I thought perhaps it was something we don't find readily available anymore or perhaps only in certain regions.

Common sense told me that Graham Crackers must be made out of it which led me to wonder if crushed graham crackers could be used in its place.

Quick answer; No.

Graham flour is basically whole wheat flour.

Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour named after the American Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), an early advocate for dietary reform. According to the Larousse Gastronomique, Graham despised processed white flour and believed that bran was the cure-all for the bad eating habits of his compatriots.

Rather than simply grinding the whole grain wheat kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm), in graham flour the components are ground separately. The endosperm is ground finely, initially creating white flour. The bran and germ are ground coarsely. The two parts are then mixed back together, creating a coarse-textured flour that bakes and keeps well. Graham flour is used to make graham crackers and pie crusts, among other things.

Graham flour is not available in all countries. A fully correct substitute for it would be a mix of white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ in the ratio found in whole wheat. Wheat comprises approximately 83% endosperm, 14.5% bran, and 2.5% germ by mass[1]. For sifted all-purpose white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ having densities of 125, 50, and 80 grams/cup, respectively, one cup of graham flour is approximately equivalent to 84 g (~2/3 cup) white flour, 15 g (slightly less than 1/3 cup) wheat bran, and 2.5 g (1.5 teaspoons) wheat germ.

Plain whole wheat flour can also be used as a substitute in recipes, but the resulting baked goods' textures will differ from that of examples where graham flour was used.Print Friendly and PDF

Milk Moisurizer

In one of my depression era recipe books I saw a very simple 3-ingredient recipe for a moisturizer. Just milk, oil and honey. The same ingredients that could be the start of a cake or muffins were also used by our Great Grandmothers as a facial moisturizer.

Milk Moisturizer

1 T milk
1/8 t oil
1/8 t honey

Mix ingredients well. Apply to face, blot off with a damp cloth. Especially good for dry skin.





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January 19, 2010

Homemade Mini Pizza Crusts

Over the Christmas holiday break my husband and I were working while our kids were all off from school and college. During the day they slept late, hung out with friends and fixed quick and easy lunches. My 14 year old started to make 'mini pizzas' out of English Muffins - which I know are rather popular but it's a food I've never been able to stomach. I love English Muffins - it's one of my favorite breads - but I've never been able to stand eating what I think of as 'fake' pizzas on them. The flavor is not one of a pizza crust, and isn't meant to be. To me it's kind of like dipping a Ritz Cracker into French onion dip... they just aren't made to go together.

So! While rushing to the store one evening after work I picked up a package of pre-baked mini pizza crusts. To my delight she took to them immediately and stopped killing perfectly good English Muffins with pizza sauce. At first my 17 year old son thought them too much 'work' to make and they took too much 'time' as apparently 10 minutes is too long to wait when you are 17. However, he was quickly won over when he saw his sister eating a freshly made pepperoni pizza!

Not being a fan of spending money a food that was grossly over-priced and full of preservatives and not much flavor, I made my own pizza crusts from my favorite pizza dough recipe and baked them and packaged them individually in the refrigerator for a quick do-it-yourself meal for the kids. If mini pizzas are something you regularly purchase and would like to save money by investing just a little time... make pizza dough this weekend and refrigerate or freeze them for future use!

Pizza Dough

1 pkg. (2 1/4 t) dry active yeast
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 c dry powdered milk
1 1/3 c warm water

Put into the bowl of a mixer or mix by hand. Wait 2 minutes.

2 T olive oil
4 c flour

Knead in a Kitchen Aid style (heavy duty) mixer 5 minutes or knead 10 minutes by hand. Let rest 10 minutes.

Depending on the thickness of the pizza you like - Use in 1, 2 or 3 greased, average 'home' sized large pizza pans Let raise about 1 1/2 hours and top with your choice. Bake at 400 approximately 16-25 minutes depending the size of your pan and how many toppings you have on it. Bake until golden brown.

To make the mini pizza's above - I split the dough in half, then each in half again and continued dividing each piece in half again until I had 8 balls for a 1/2 inch thick crust. You could do up to 16 if you like very thin, crispy pizzas.

I formed each ball into a circle on a pizza stone and then baked at about 410 degree's for 10 minutes to pre-bake the thicker crusts - less if you make thin. Bake just until the bottom barely begins to get golden. You will finish baking when the pizzas are used in the future. Let cool and package for refrigeration or freezer. To use, spread pizza sauce, toppings, cheese and bake at 410 until the top is melted and beinging to turn golden brown.

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - American Housewife at Amazon

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January 16, 2010

What's For Dinner? Homemade Beef and Bean Burritos (starting with a chuck roast!)


After a busy week at work and more than a few late nights and too-early mornings I'm glad to see Saturday here! In celebration of being able to be HOME for once I shuffled out to the deep freeze in my slippers this morning (in the garage) and grabbed whatever looked promising this weekend.

The winners were a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for bacon wrapped chicken with a mushroom sour cream sauce (tomorrow night) and a chuck roast for today that will be made into homemade Beef and Bean Burritos.

I posted this recipe previously (click here) but my readers know what I do with recipes... I improvise, I add ingredients, delete ingredients and in general I play with my food.

Today I put the roast in the crock pot and here is what I did this time around! 


Homemade Beef and Bean Burritos 

1 - 4 pound chuck roast 

4 t chili powder 

3 t paprika 

3 t cumin 

2 t onion powder 

1 t garlic powder 

1/2 t cayenne pepper 

1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce (because I don't have any canned/diced tomatoes on hand) 

1 - 10 oz. can enchilada sauce salt and pepper 

tomatoes - either 1 (15 oz) sized can of diced tomatoes or the equivalent. (I used tiny tomatoes from my garden that I had frozen last Fall) 

jalapenos or chilies if you desire a level of hotness 

1 can refried beans 

Trim the roast of excess fat now or be sure to cut it off after cooking before shredding. Place your roast in a crock pot and sprinkle the seasonings, salt and pepper and tomatoes (and chilies if you use them) over all. Cook on low for 8-10 hours until completely done.

There will be a lot of liquid, but don't drain it. Using two large forks, shred the beef. Cook for another hour. Just before serving, stir in 1 can of re-fried beans. Warm through until all is hot and serve on tortilla shells with salsa, cheddar cheese and sour cream.




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January 15, 2010

Licorice Candies

My husband thinks I'm a nut but I love the flavor of black licorice/anise candy. I have found over the years that a lot of the general population does not care for black licorice - my husband and two of my three children included. I, however, love it - as long as it's the anise flavored black licorice and not the more harsh flavor.

It's hard to describe but there are two versions and I prefer the anise one. For that reason when I make these caramel-type candies I use anise flavoring. These are fun to make around Halloween because with the black paste food coloring you have a fun treat to offer in a candy dish in the traditional black and orange color scheme.

Licorice Candy

2 sticks butter
1(14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c light corn syrup
1/4 t salt
2 c sugar
3/4 t black paste food color (or any color)
3/4 t anise or licorice oil flavoring

Use some of the butter to coat the sides of a heavy pan. Add milk, sugar, syrup, salt and remaining butter. Over medium high heat, cook, stirring constantly, to 234 degrees. Remove from heat, add oil flavoring & food coloring; stir to blend. Pour into a greased 9x9 inch pan. Cool completely. Cut into pieces, wrap individually in wax paper.Print Friendly and PDF

Amaretto Cake

Amaretto Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts; beat until blended. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Bake at 350 until done in the center when tested with a knife or cake tester.Print Friendly and PDF

January 13, 2010

Chocolate Nut Clusters

Nut Clusters

2 cups sugar
1 c evaporated milk
28 caramels, unwrapped
2 c chocolate chips - milk or semi-sweet
2 c chopped nuts
1 t vanilla

Bring 2 cups sugar and 1 cup evaporated milk over to a boil over medium heat and boil 1 minute; add the caramels and boil 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla. Stir until thick and drop by teaspoon on waxed paper -- chill and serve. (You can also freeze these.)Print Friendly and PDF

Plant Food

When it comes to plants I admit I look for plants that will exist on sunlight and water and little else.

Well, I used to. Right now the 5 plants in my home are all fake so I guess they don't need the water and sunlight either!

I copied down this old recipe in a moment of positive thinking when I decided I would mix up a little 'pick me up' for my plants.

Plant Food

In a gallon jug of tepid water, mix 1 teaspoon each of;
Epsom salts
baking powder
and 1/3 teaspoon ammonia.

This is a complete plant food and should be used only once every 4 to 6 weeks. It can be stored. Shake well before use.Print Friendly and PDF

Oatmeal Bars

Oatmeal Bars

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white syrup
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. shortening
4 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. peanut butter

Mix together sugar and shortening. Blend in white syrup and add oatmeal. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes in an ungreased jelly roll pan. Cool until almost cold and cut. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter. Spread and cut. Refrigerate until cold and re-cut. Remove from pan.Print Friendly and PDF

Green Salad with a Simple Vinaigrette

Green Salad with a simple Vinaigrette

1 large head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
8 radishes, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hard-cooked eggs, halved

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, radishes and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk the oil with the vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the salad and toss well. Top with the eggs, serve!Print Friendly and PDF

January 11, 2010

Homemade Caramel Brownies - Starting from a Cake Mix

For about 12 years you would have been hard pressed to find a store bought cake mix in our home. Until about 4 or 5 years ago, I simply never bought them. If we wanted a cake or cupcakes I would make them from scratch; just as easy but tasted so much better. This all changed when I spied a recipe by Nestle for caramel brownies that started with a cake mix. I bought one to try out the recipe with and it was so quick and so easy that I regularly make sure we have a chocolate cake mix in the cupboard just for this recipe alone.

But... regular readers know that I almost never follow a recipe. I use it as a guide and improvise. Add, delete, mess around with the amounts. Use what you have on hand and make do. Make it yours.

That's what I did with the original recipe and every time I make it I do something different. Some ideas might be to use different base cake mixes; Dark Chocolate, Triple Chocolate, German Chocolate, Chocolate with mini Chocolate Chips... Use your own chocolate chips, use peanut butter chips, mint or white chips or caramel chips. Leave out the caramel completely or use hot fudge sauce or ice cream caramel topping in its place. Play with your food!

Homemade Caramel Brownies (starting from a cake mix!)

1 chocolate cake mix of your choice
1 c chopped nuts (optional - I love them, my son and husband hate them)
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted
1 c Evaporated Milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
35 caramels - unwrap
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate, etc. (up to you)

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the cake mix with the nuts, butter and 2/3 c evaporated milk in a bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon - the batter will be very thick. Spread half the batter into a 13X9 inch ungreased pan. Bake 15 minutes. In the meantime, unwrap the caramels and add the remaining evaporated milk. (Sometimes I add all the milk to the chocolate batter and just use a few teaspoons of water to thin the caramels instead - like I did in the photos below). Drizzle the caramel mixture over the brownies and drop the remaining batter over the caramel by heaping teaspoons.

Bake for 25 minutes more. Cool in the pan before cutting into bars.

I really hate unwrapping caramels.
Sometimes I just use caramel ice cream topping instead.

The caramels are melted in the microwave and thinned with a bit of water
stirred in.

Carmel is drizzled over the half baked brownies

Drop the remaining batter by heaping spoonfuls
over the caramel and return to the oven to bake.

Let cool in the pan before cutting

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January 09, 2010

Press Release: National Pie Day - I'ts As Easy As 1-2-3

Recognize Someone Special: Take, Bake, Or Buy, An American Pie For National Pie Day (As Easy To Remember As 1/23!)

CHICAGO (January 5, 2010) – The image of a homemade pie being shared with a friend, soldier, or loved one is an integral chapter in the American story. Offered as a way to express gratitude for a soldier’s service or given to a friend simply as a way of saying thanks, to this day a fresh-baked pie presented as a heartfelt gift carries with it a reassuring sense of courtesy and sincerity.

As the nation steers through a series of challenges, the American Pie Council (APC) recognizes that we still have much to be grateful for and many to say thank you to: Men and women who defend our nation, friends and neighbors who volunteer time to worthy causes, and family members who are always there for us.

So to help say ‘thank you’ the best way they know how, the APC and its associate members have decided to highlight National Pie Day (January 23rd) by helping people across the nation recall the simple pleasure of presenting a pie as a gesture of kindness. On its website, www.piecouncil.org, the APC’s commercial members will post discount coupons and award-winning recipes that can help anyone bake or take a homemade or bakery-fresh pie to someone who’s earned their love or respect.

“There’s something touching about giving someone a gift as special as a pie,” suggests Linda Hoskins, executive director, American Pie Council. “When you picture troops receiving pies as they rolled through a train depot in the Midwest, or recall a time when neighbors shared pies to reflect a treasured friendship or recognize the strength of a close-knit community, it all brings to mind a comforting sense of nostalgia and kindness. So as our members discussed it, we realized we had the ability to help rekindle those connections.

“Besides,” Hoskins adds, “If you were getting a gift, would you rather receive an ordinary tie… or an extraordinary pie?”

The act of sharing America’s quintessential dessert brings with it an extraordinary heritage. In many homes family recipes go back for decades and, quite often, special kitchen utensils have been passed down over generations. As with family reunions and special get-togethers, what takes place in the kitchen also brings families together as children and parents and husbands and wives experience the pleasure of working together and creating something special for someone else.

“Whether you’re the one who gives or receives a pie,” suggest Hoskins. “It’s an experience that’ll put a smile on your face.”Print Friendly and PDF

January 07, 2010

One Cup Sour Milk, One Cup Sweet.... A Poetry Recipe

The blizzard outside certainly is giving me time to catch up with some recipe reading! It's wonderful. While reading this old cookbook I found an old "Poetry" recipe to make corn muffins. This is so wonderful because I imagine a lot of little girls from days gone by learned to make muffins by reciting this old recipe to themselves.

Corn Muffins

Two cups Indian, one cup wheat
One cup sour milk, one cup sweet
One cup good eggs that you can eat
One half cup molasses, too
One half cup sugar and thereto
Salt and soda, each a spoon
Mix up quickly and bake it soon!Print Friendly and PDF

Oven Temperature Chart for Old Recipes Requesting a "hot" oven

About 10 years ago I remember a Mom from an online group I posted on asking about old recipes that called for a 'slow' oven or 'hot' oven and what the temperatures might be converted to today. 

I had forgotten about this until today as I came across this listing in one of my old cookbooks. 

This, along with can sizes and a few other tidbits of information have been lost over the years but have left many a current-day cook scratching their heads in confusion. Be confused no more! Here you go - from an old depression era recipe book.  




If Grandma's recipe says cook in a..... 

very slow oven - bake at 250-300 degrees 

slow oven - bake at 300-325 

moderate oven - 325-375 

medium hot oven - 375-400 

hot oven - 400-450 

very hot oven 450-500




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Old Fashioned Recipes; Wrinkle Cream, Mayonnaise Moisurizer and Oatmeal Cleanser!

I'm snowed in today with a blizzard raging outside, school and work both canceled. 

As I sip coffee and flip through some old depression era recipes I'm content and smiling as I 'rediscover' recipes and idea's from our not-to-distant history but have been lost due to the easy availability of commercial products in their place. 

The last one; oatmeal cleanser, I've actually used many times and I add ground oatmeal to my homemade almond soaps as a great light version of a loofah. 

I salute the good, old fashioned, homemade versions of wrinkle creams and moisturizers.  


Wrinkle Cream 1 oz. white wax 2 oz. strained honey 2 oz. lily bulb juice Melt ingredients together and cool. Apply to the face every night.

~ ~ ~

Mayonnaise Moisturizer 1 egg 1 c salad oil 2 T lemon juice Blend egg and oil slowly; add vinegar. Apply to face and leave on for 30 minutes. Remove with warm water. 


~ ~ ~

Oatmeal Cleanser 2-3 T oatmeal water Grind oatmeal to a powder. Mix with water to make a paste. Gently rub onto face and neck. Rinse with warm, then cool water. 




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A Depression Era Cure for Pneumonia

In my collection of cookbooks and old books in general I often come across 'recipes' for ailments. I have a keen interest in them as well as old American Indian 'recipes' as I believe the cure for what ails us can indeed be found in nature.

While I've tried a few of the home remedies myself, I often find my husband and children turning up their nose at onion based cough medicines and preferring the store bought cherry flavored chemically produced version instead - (imagine that! Ha ha!). Still, as a salute to some 'old time' recipes I wanted to add these to my online collection to share. I don't, and can't stand behind if they work or not as I've not personally tried them but some of our Great-Grandmothers swore by them!

A Cure for Pneumonia from the Depression Era

6-10 onions
rye meal

Chop the onions fine. Put in a skillet over a hot fire. Add the same quantity of rye meal and vinegar, enough to make a thick paste. In the meantime stir it thoroughly, letting it simmer 5-10 minutes. Put it in a cotton bag large enough to cover the lungs and apply to the chest as hot as the patient can bear. When this gets cool apply another and continue reheating the poultices. In a few hours the patient will be out of danger. Four applications will do but continue always until perspiration starts freely from the chest.Print Friendly and PDF

Dyspeptic Bread from a Time Gone By

I have a love of all history, an interest in the depression era and an adoration and respect for the time period that my Grandmother met and married my Grandfather and managed to raise a house full of children on a very, very meager farmer's income. They were given a small bag of seed corn as a wedding gift - barely a handful - and that is how they started out life as a married couple on their farm land.

I think of my Grandma often as I flip through my collection of old church and community cookbooks from the 30's and 40's. In honor of some of those recipes I'm warning that these are not tried and true by me... but the cookbooks I have in my collection swear by them. This one is from the 30's in a Depression Era recipe book.

Dyspeptic Bread
This is a bread for those with weak digestion who cannot assimilate bread prepared with yeast

1 pint flour (2 cups)
1 t salt
4 t baking powder
milk and water

Sift dry ingredients. Mix to a soft dough with the milk and water mixture. Knead 2 minutes, turn into a greased pan, let raise 10 minutes and bake slowly for 40 minutes.





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January 05, 2010

The Accidental Crouton - What I Did When My Bread Raised and then Fell

Saturday morning I mixed up ingredients for homemade bread, formed two loaves and set them into the oven for an 'out of the way' place to rise. It was also my youngest daughter's birthday and before I knew it we were out the door to the mall where she was oh-so-excited to get her ear pierced and start to spend some of the Christmas money she had received.

Needless to say the bread was forgotten.

When we returned home that evening I found the bread had raised beautifully... and then fell into an airy, pretty much flat, wide mess. But ever frugal, I carefully scooped the sides together a little so they weren't six inches wide, watched it fall flat and decided to bake it anyway. When they were done they were still shaped exactly as I had carefully molded them.

More importantly they were pretty hard, condensed and rather dry. I got out the knife and started to slice. They were the perfect size for a baguette style appetizer but I had no need to serve such a dish and it would not last in the freezer as they were already a bit hard and dry. Instead, creativity took over.


I sliced the failed bread into cubes and poured a bit of olive oil in a pan to heat. A single layer of croutons with a bit more olive oil drizzled, a garlic seasoning mix with herbs and parsley was sprinkled and stirring over medium high heat I found my mouth watering with the aroma!

As each batch started to get golden I placed them on a baking sheet. They were about 75% dried and crisp but I wanted to finish them completely in the oven so they would keep in storage. When they were all finished in the pan, I left them on a tray in the oven until I would baking something again.

The next day I had the oven on to bake pork chops so I popped the croutons in to 'finish' them. In another moment of creativity I sprinkled them all with freshly grated parmesan and baked. After letting it all cool after baking I placed them in a gallon sized Ziploc to store but I couldn't help but snitch a couple.

They are the best tasting croutons I have ever had and I'm afraid I've spoiled myself for the store bought versions!Print Friendly and PDF

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Bundt Cake

I don't know if it was a 'thing' of the 70's and 80's or if it was more of a Midwestern regional quirk but when I think about people coming to visit our home when I was a child, I think; "coffee cake".  There was always coffee cake.

If my mother was having another lady over for morning coffee she made a coffee cake. If we had extended family coming to visit, we made a coffee cake. If she was hosting a sorority meeting, Tupperware party or any other sort of household gathering... she made a coffee cake.

I don't see as many coffee cakes anymore. In the 90's I saw more 'breads' (lemon poppy seed, etc.) taking it's place and then muffins and bagels. I'd like to see the return of coffee cakes as they are so incredibly quick and easy to make and taste so good! 

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

1/2 c. (just a little under) sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. oil
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 c. water
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the pecan filling and set aside.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients for the cake and beat 2-3 minutes. 
Generously grease a bundt pan & pour in 1/2 cake batter. 
Slightly hollow the center of the cake all the way around, and pour in filling.   Cover with the remainder of the cake batter.  Bake approximately 1 hour. 
Remove and cool on a rack until completely cool then invert onto a cake plate.  Drizzle with a simple glaze if desired.





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January 04, 2010

White Layer Cake

A very basic, simple white cake recipe should be on hand in everyone's kitchen.  Yes, a good number of people just run to the store to buy a box you add oil and eggs to, but the flavor of a homemade cake is very different from tasting the chemicals in a boxed version.  If you have enough eggs on hand, here is a basic white cake to get you started.

White Layer Cake

1 cup shortening
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
6 cups cake flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 egg whites

Grease and flour 1- 14" round cake pan; set aside. Beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended.

Combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into cake batter. Spoon batter into cake pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 1-2 hours to firm up. Slice in half and fill with filling or frosting. Frost and decorate as desired.Print Friendly and PDF

Chilled Chocolate and Bourbon Cappuccinos

When I hear 'cappuccino' I usually think of a nice hot drink. Perhaps this is because it's currently about -10 degree's out and is barely making it past zero even at 1:00 in the afternoon. Space heaters, fireplaces and hot drinks are a must for the next few months! However we have friends and relatives in warmer climates that could thoroughly enjoy a nice cold cappuccino and especially might enjoy this one made with a splash of bourbon.

Chilled Chocolate and Bourbon Cappuccinos

2 cups hot brewed coffee
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups 2% low-fat chocolate milk
2 tablespoons bourbon

Combine coffee and brown sugar, stirring until brown sugar dissolves. Stir in low-fat chocolate milk and bourbon; cover and chill. An idea to serve to guests; dip rims of 4 stemmed glasses in water and then in sugar to coat rims. Pour 1 cup cappuccino into each glass.Print Friendly and PDF

Rosemary Garlic Shrimp

There are a few questions that are ever popular when getting to know someone, one of which is "What's your favorite food?" The trouble with that one is that I've never had an answer! I over think things.

Does it have to be a particular way of preparing it? Can it be a food class instead of one particular item? Can I list my top three instead? Because one of my favorite foods are onions but I like them prepared all different ways. If I was to choose my favorite most versatile food it would be cream cheese. I love it prepared a hundred different ways! But if I had to choose a favorite food 'group' in general it would be... seafood! I would gladly live on seafood if I could afford it. I'm sure I'd crave chicken, pork chops, a grilled rib-eye every once in a while, but my love for seafood of all sorts run deep and I'd have to have it so very often before I'd grow tired of it.

In honor of shrimp and sunny days (unlike the -10 degree's we currently have here outside my window) I give you a recipe from an old issue of Southern Living - back around 2003 or 2004. Of course people have been making it for years and years prior, but they copied it to one of their issues that Spring as well.

Rosemary Garlic Shrimp

3 pounds unpeeled, medium-size fresh shrimp
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic bulb
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 dried red chile peppers
3 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on; set aside.

Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Separate and peel garlic cloves. Add to butter mixture, and sauté 2 minutes.

Stir in dry white wine and next 8 ingredients; bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until reduced by half and thoroughly heated.

Add half of shrimp. Cook 5 to 6 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink; remove with a slotted spoon. Cook remaining shrimp 5 to 6 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve with warm broth.Print Friendly and PDF

January 03, 2010

New York Cheesecake with Natural Sweeteners and Almond Flour

When it comes to low-carbing I wonder if the first dessert that almost everyone makes is... cheesecake. Truly though, when you are supposed to be eating low carb how can you resist making cheesecake when you know it's completely allowed and yet so completely delicious?

I have more cheesecake recipes in my files than I can shake a stick at (where did that phrase ever come from anyway?) and the interesting thing is that they are all so very similar yet can taste different with just the simple addition or deletion of one item. This one uses almond flour for the crust and uses sour cream in the filling.

New York Style Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups almond flour
6 Tbsp sweetener
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sweetner
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
16 ounces sour cream

Mix sweetener(s) and almond flour with melted butter; press onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside while mixing filling. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, keeping the mixer on a low setting throughout the beating and mixing process. Add your sweeteners a little at a time and continue beating until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat very briefly after each egg. When eggs have been mixed into the cream cheese add vanilla and mix briefly, just until combined. Add the sour cream last and beat briefly.

Pour cream cheese mixture into the springform pan. Bake at 325° (300° for dark, nonstick pan) for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check before an hour is up and if it's getting brown, turn oven off and begin the next step. When time is up, prop open oven door, turn off the heat and leave in oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove from oven. Cool to room temperature then chill 24 hours before serving.

Note:  This recipe was originally posted in January of 2010 so it's almost a decade old (as of this update) and originally used Splenda as it was the only sweetener that was widely available at the time.  Now there are SO many natural sweetener options! It's awesome!  So use your favorite natural sweetener and if you've baking low-carb for any sort of time you know that mixing 2 or even 3 sweeteners gives you the best taste.  

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Homemade Limeade

Years ago I used to go to the library and spend hours hand writing recipes from magazines and books. After a few years I would make printed copies. Now it's so wonderful to have recipes at my finger tips in seconds - like this simple syrup to make homemade Limeade. Originally I had a recipe just like for lemonade - you can use this one for that as well if you use 1 1/2 c lemon juice instead of lime.

Homemade Limeade

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice (about 6 to 8 large limes)*
5 cups cold water
Garnish: fresh lime slices

Stir together sugar and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sugar mixture reaches syrup consistency. Remove from heat; cool. Stir in juice and 5 cups cold water. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.Print Friendly and PDF

I'm Back!

I'm back!

Thanks for your patience over the last two days that I was incapacitated due to a very naughty cat with a penchant for chewing electrical cords. Her latest conquest happened to have been my laptop power cord. My two cats have their personality quirks... one of which is a head-butter and the other is a chewer but both are still loveable!Print Friendly and PDF