A third batch of Watermelon BBQ Sauce....


We were in the car, traveling across the country to visit our oldest daughter and her husband, when I broke the news to my husband.  I was bringing them our last pint of our spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce.  I could see the surprise and then, the pain in his face.  Our last jar?  Of his current favorite "put on everything in sight" sauce?  Yes.  Had it been anyone else, he would have sneaked the little bag of sauce out of the suitcase and hid it in the trunk of his car, but since it was our daughter he relented.  But, only after I promised I would indeed be making another batch as soon as we returned home.

And I did.  Yesterday I bought a seedless watermelon and sliced up the dark pink fruit to eat in a fruit salad while the lighter pink and white rind was made into another batch of sauce.  As it simmered and thickened on the stove the aroma filled the kitchen.  I had a happy husband.

Use this on grilled beef, pork, burgers, as a sauce for wontons...  my husband uses it on his turkey sandwiches and we love it more than ever on chicken!  Baked, grilled, roasted... dipped as a sauce for nuggets.  You can also use this as a spread on crackers with a 'schmear of cream cheese or on a bagel.  It's that good, on that many things!

Cleaning the watermelon

Scraped and chopped. You can use these rinds for watermelon pickles or discard.

Pureed watermelon and the pink/white part of the rind
Bringing to a boil and then simmer an hour til thick

You might also be interested in;
Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets   Billy Joes Grilling on the Go Barbeque Basket
Mr. Bar-B-Q 18-Piece Stainless-Steel Barbecue Set with Storage Case
Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes


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Easy and Delicious - Three (3) Ingredient Baked Crispy Chicken

Ready to go into the oven!

Last night's dinner was marinated and ready to go...  grilled steak and vegetables.  And then?  The storms rolled in.  At 5:30 pm I realized I needed a backup plan.  And lately, this is one of our top three back up plans.  An easy but so delicious chicken dish I can whip up in less than 5 minutes and then do a side dish and salad while it bakes.  

You can do the breading 3 different ways.  In the top photo you see each chicken breast laying by itself on a pan.  However, sometimes I simply lay them all next to each other in a pan (bottom photo) and if you love the breading (I do!) you can cover or coat the whole chicken breast by rolling in the crumbs.  I'm usually going for 'very quick' so I typically make them as you see in the top photo.  Spread the seasoned mayo, sprinkle on the crumb topping and get it in the oven as soon as possible.

Crispy Baked Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Mayonnaise (Hellman's or Kraft)
Panko Crumbs (or bread crumbs if you don't have Panko)
Seasoning (An all purpose chicken seasoning or use salt, pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning blends, a rosemary and thyme mix, or even garlic pepper or lemon pepper.  Use what you like to taste).

Preheat your oven to 350 - 375 degrees.  On a greased baking sheet or foil or parchment lined pan, lay thawed, rinsed and patted dry chicken breasts.  Spread each with a layer of mayonnaise and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings OR you can mix mayonnaise with seasonings of your choice in a small bowl before spreading over the chicken breasts.  Sprinkle liberally with Panko or fine bread crumbs.  Bake for approximately 25-40 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts, until golden brown and done in the center. 

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My natural flea and tick repellent and dewormer for my dogs? Easy. Garlic.

When I started this post I found myself starting to go into details, which made it really, really long.  If I'm to 'cut to the chase' it's that I use fresh, raw garlic for the health of my dogs.

Basically - the REALLY short version is; we found ourselves caught up in the vicious cycle of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that have become commonplace to give our dogs for fighting mosquito's, flea's and ticks and de-worming after the dogs would ingest a random flea from biting at an itch. 

That was not ok with me.  My dogs were miserable from the effects of all those chemicals being put into their body to repel fleas and ticks and kill off parasites in their digestive tract.  (A monthly cycle of lethargy, shakes, throwing up, diarrhea, going 'off' their food, dispelling the dead {and still live} worms from the flea eggs that hatched in their digestive systems... and repeat every single month).  I asked my vet's office;  "It's been 3 months in a row of this cycle of flea's and de-worming.  Is this just what I should expect? Is this what I'm going to have to do year round in the Southern states?"  She said, "Yep.  Pretty much."

That's when I started to do my own research.  And after a few weeks of research, I decided to take the advice of a 90 year old farmer and start giving my dogs garlic.

It's unfortunate there is so much misinformation being spread about garlic for dogs, but I'm not going to get into that argument.  It's easy;  if you don't want to give your dog garlic, then don't.  I'm not telling anyone to.  What I'm doing is simply saying "hey, this is what I use and it works for me and my dogs." 

Garlic is an amazingly healthy food.  Our family loves garlic and eats it with almost every meal in some way, shape or form so I usually buy it in the bulk container at Sam's Club.  For dogs, garlic is a natural antibiotic,antifungal and antiviral.  Garlic boosts the immune system, makes dogs less desirable to fleas and ticks and is a natural antiparasitic.

In the Fall of  2012, I embarked on my 1 month 'garlic' trial for my two dogs.  No more chemicals.  Just garlic and only garlic. I started to add it to their food in the morning and evening.  At first I worried they wouldn't like the taste or strong smell so I actually cooked it the first couple days!  By the third or fourth day I was cooking it in a bit of water in the microwave.  Finally, I decided to just add it straight to the bowl and see what they thought.  Gobbled it right up.  No more cooking.  Just a spoonful of garlic with every meal.

After 1 month I saw such an improvement, I continued it on a 3-month trial.  Wow. We never went back.  We didn't have to.   For the past 2 years, my dogs have been getting fresh garlic every night with their food.  Flea's and ticks don't like my dogs.  We simply don't have issues with them anymore.  Mosquito's don't like our dogs.  They avoid them.  We haven't had to deal with worms or de-worming in almost 2 years.  And this is in the deep South!  Where flea's and ticks and mosquito's are awful!

I don't measure, I just add a scoop to their dog food, mix it up and serve it.  (My dogs are 65 and 75 pounds each) But I did find this recommendation on using fresh garlic from The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Pitcairn.

10 to 15 pounds: 1/2 a clove
20 to 40 pounds: 1 clove
45 to 70 pounds: 2 cloves
75 to 90 pounds: 2.5 cloves
100 pounds +: 3 cloves

You might be interested in;
Nylabone Dura Chew Bone, Bacon Flavor
Purina One SmartBlend Dog Chicken Rice
Suncast Elevated Feeding Tray


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Quick & Easy - Chewy M&M Bars (Blondies)

This is an old recipe.  One that's been made for as long as chocolate chip cookies have been baked.  Because it's basically a cookie in bar form.  I've made these off and on since Junior High School, but never really wrote down a recipe.  I just use whatever cookie recipe I was making at the time and pressed it into a pan.  Now, I need to write it down.

I am going to be traveling to see my oldest daughter and her husband soon, and need to make sure I get this recipe posted before we leave since I use my site as my personal "recipe box" and I hope to make a pan of them for all her company while we are there.  They are so quick and easy to make, but they so good, chewy and perfect that they are a hit with almost everyone.  (Except me. I painstakingly pick out any chocolate chips or M&M's as I don't like chocolate.)  I know.  I'm weird.

I know people are impressed by 'food blogs' that take amazing photos with expensive camera's to try to get readers attentions.  I'll tell you right now, if I remember to snap a picture at all, it's on my cell phone.  This morning when I decided to hurry and type this recipe in, I was thinking to myself, "Boy, I hope I remembered to take a picture at some point when I made these?"  I did.  One. A quick one of the pan as it cooled on the counter.  Whew.

But what makes it funny that I didn't take pictures is that I've made these three (3) times in two weeks!! My husband loves these bars and even though I asked him if he would like me to make something else he's specifically asked (twice) if I would make another pan of these.

Here is where you can play with your food....    the M &M's.    Use chocolate chips, sugar free chocolate chips, M & M's, Reese's Pieces, Sixlets, toffee chips, caramel chips, Heath bar crunchies, white chocolate chips... whatever you want.  Personally I think the best flavored bars are M&M's, chocolate chips or a mixture of both.

I also have cut down on the sugar content by using half sugar and half natural sweeteners.  When I used all sugar substitutes the texture changed, but with half and half I still got a chewy, delicious bar with only half the sugar.  I used Just Like Sugar (brown), and a mixture of brown sugar with granular Just Like Sugar Table Top Sweetener.

Whew!  Ok, after that LONG explanation about how you can use part sugar substitutes, here is the EASY and quick recipe.

M & M Bars

1/2 c butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t salt
2 t baking powder
2 c flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and M&M's or mixture of whatever you want

Beat the butter, eggs and vanilla.  Add the salt, baking powder and flour.  Stir in the chocolate chips or M&M's.  Press into a greased 9X13" pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes until the edges are golden brown but not dark.  If you over bake them they will be crunchy instead of nice and chewy.  Let cool completely before cutting.

I loved these bars with half the sugar making them with Ideal brand brown sugar sweetener but they stopped making it (I'm not happy about that!)  But Just Like Sugar makes a nice brown sugar substitute so I keep that on hand now.

Just Like Sugar Table Top Sweetener

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Homemade Watermelon BBQ or WonTon Sauce

I grew up in the heartland of America where cooking was usually 'from scratch' and everything that can and could be used from foods was.  It's a mindset that you don't throw things away without thinking of they have further potential.  Doesn't matter what you are talking about from old hand-me-down clothes you take buttons and zippers off of and then use to patch other things with the fabric or make into a quilt - or if it's food.  You can almost always make 'something else' out of whatever is leftover. Our Great Grandma's and Grandma's were awesome at this... it has been lost a little bit along the way, but some of us still think like that and in the horrible economy we've had the last five or six years, more are returning to the old ways of thinking frugally.

When I bought a large watermelon, I thought it would be finished off right away but the melon was larger than our appetites.  This week I cleaned the last half of it, putting cleaned and cut cubes into jars in the refrigerator but still had a nice portion of viable fruit as well as the rinds left.  Although many make watermelon rind pickles, I'm not very lucky with pickles so I opted for something else.  A sauce. 

If you have sliced the dark pink watermelon to serve, don't throw out the rinds before cutting down about 1/2" into them and use the white and light pink portion for this sauce. Don't use the green portion though!  That part is bitter. 

This sauce is much like a spicy plum sauce you could serve with your Chinese Cream Cheese Won Tons.   It's also similar to the ingredients in a watermelon chutney except pureed and cooked down to thicken.  I put a healthy bit of spice to it and used it on grilled chicken but you could also use it for bbq ribs;  beef or pork.  So many things you can use this on.  

If you don't like things too spicy, cut back on the crushed red pepper.  If you don't have crushed red pepper flakes, substitute with a bit of minced jalapeno or if you don't like spice, try some canned green chilies.   I opted to my a syrup from scratch because I wanted to make it with a sugar substitute for less sugar and I don't buy corn syrup.  (I used Just Like Sugar Sweetener) But if you regularly have dark corn syrup on hand, you can use that instead of the sugar/water/cream of tartar syrup.  Lots of ways to play with this and make it your own!

Sweet and Spicy Watermelon Sauce

Watermelon flesh and pink/white rind but don't use any of the bright white or bitter green
1 1/4 c brown sugar (or white sugar and 1 heaping T molasses)
3-4 T water
1/4 t cream of tartar
dash of salt
1/4 c ketchup (reduced sugar is fine too)
1/4 c white vinegar
3/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 t liquid smoke flavor (hickory or mesquite)
1/8 t ground black pepper

Chop watermelon and pink/white rind into chunks.  About 3 cups full of chunks.  Place in a food processor and pulse briefly to puree.  You want about a cup full more or less and you want it to stay thick.

To a saucepan on the stove place the brown sugar (or white sugar with molasses added) into a pan.  Add the cream of tartar, dash of salt and about 3-4 T water.  I used a mixture of white and brown sugar but found I was out of molasses. No worries, you are just making a general syrup.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 3 or 4 minutes until it's thickened. Add the watermelon puree, ketchup, vinegar, red pepper flakes, flavoring and pepper.  If you want to use less crushed red pepper flakes you can, or substitute similar measurements of minced jalapeno, canned green chilies, or for a completely sweet sauce, leave out the spice.  Bring to a boil again, reduce to s simmer and let simmer for 1-2 hours until it reduces down, becomes dark and thickens.  The longer you simmer, the thicker and darker it becomes.

I canned mine in sterilized jars with lids and used a water bath process for 30 minutes.  But then we ended up using it that night anyway because it was SO good I couldn't wait!  We used it on grilled chicken (basted, grilled, basted more, grilled more and finally, final basted and served extra with dinner).   We are saving the rest to use with Cream Cheese Won Tons like a spicy, sweet plum sauce.

Making a simple syrup

Cleaning the watermelon

Scraped and chopped. You can use these rinds for watermelon pickles or discard.

Pureed watermelon and the pink/white part of the rind
Bringing to a boil

/Simmer until it's as thick as you need or want it to be

I used sugar substitute in my syrup since I don't typically buy corn syrup.

Just Like Sugar Table Top Sweetener
Brown Sweetener:by Just Like Sugar
Ball Jar Heritage Collection Pint Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 6


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