Tuesday, March 24, 2015


My daughter, Hannah has been telling me for several months now that she and her family like shrimp and grits and that I should try making it. I'm not a Southern gal. I was raised in Northern Indiana and then spent 30 years in MI. So up til now I had not had the opportunity to try it. It's definitely not a Northern dish! But let me tell you... this recipe packs a wallop of flavor! I think I would move it right up into the ranks of my top 10 favorites! I love shrimp anyway. And this just made me love it even more! Most of the recipes I read for this dish sounded quite bland - even those on the websites of popular TV chefs. But adding just the right spice to it, did the trick! If you like shrimp, you should put this on your menu for next week! It went together in a snap! I also don't use the regular white grits, but opted instead for polenta (yellow grits). Very yummy dish! And even better - hubby gave it a thumbs up! Not sure if it was because of the bacon that's added into the dish, but either way, he made me a happy woman! This one's going in the "keep" file!


For the grits portion, I used my creamy polenta recipe that is featured on my blog in other places.

1 1/2 cups low fat milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 (14 oz) can fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup instant dry polenta
1/4 cup preshredded Parmesan, romano, asiago cheese blend (or just parmesan works too)
1/2 cup shredded, medium cheddar cheese
4 Tblsp butter

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a med saucepan. Reduce heat to low and slowly add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk, to prevent lumps. Cook 3 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add parmesan, cheese blend and butter, stirring until cheese melts. Serve immediately. If it seems to thick, add a little more milk. It should be the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes. Yield: 8 servings (1/2 cup). Keep warm while you prepare the shrimp.


  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  •  1 tsp Slap yer Momma seasoning (could also sub old bay, or your favorite Cajun seasoning)
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped (I cut mine with my kitchen shears)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; with slotted spoon, remove bacon to a separate bowl. In bacon fat that remains in skillet, add shrimp. Season with Slap yer Momma. Cook until shrimp turns pink. Add chopped bacon, parsley, green onions and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.
    Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Spoon shrimp mixture over top. (some say to stir the shrimp into the grits, but I think it presents nicer if you spoon it over the top) Serve immediately.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015


    These cookies are nostalgic to me. My Grandpa made THEE best oatmeal cookies I've ever had. I am 53 years old and I still remember with great fondness, the look, smell and taste of his oatmeal cookies. I don't believe he ever used a recipe. They were made with such love that he probably could have prepared them with his eyes closed and one arm tied behind his back. What made them EXTRA special to me, was when he was coming to the end of a batch, he would save out enough cookie dough to make a "giant" cookie, JUST FOR ME! His cookies were perfect. Moist and flavorful in the middle and just enough of a crispy edge to balance out the soft middle. I loved my Grandpa. He was a Naval war vet. He passed into Heaven when I was just a little girl in 1st grade. But he made a tremendous impact on me. As I grew older and became interested in cooking, I remembered his oatmeal cookies and asked my mother if she would share his recipe with me. Sadly she told me, "he took that recipe to the grave with him." That broke my heart. "BUT," she said, "I know what his secret ingredient was that made them so special. Mincemeat! So I began experimenting with various oatmeal cookie recipes and before too long - VOILA! My Grandpa's cookies! I was thrilled, to say the least! If you've never tried using mincemeat in your oatmeal cookies, you are missing out! Talk about depth of flavor and MOIST! You won't be sorry you added it!


    2 sticks butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
    3 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    3 cups quick cooking oats
    1 (9 oz) pkg Nonesuch condensed mincemeat

    Preheat oven to 350. Spray baking sheets liberally with cooking spray.
    In mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir into creamed mixture. Stir in oats. Crumble mincemeat with your fingers and stir that in until combined. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets, Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to cooling racks or foil sheets to finish cooling completely. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

    Monday, March 16, 2015


    Throw out everything you ever thought you knew about making Peanut butter cookies and memorize this recipe. It's the last one you'll ever need. These literally were the most PERFECT peanut butter cookies I've ever made! I detest a dry, crumbly, peanut butter cookie! It HAS to be moist to be able to savor that decadent peanut butter flavor you crave in this cookie. These don't have to be dunked, to be enjoyed! You can eat one all by itself and still be in heaven. Although a tall, cold glass of milk or a steaming, hot cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee are perfect compliments to this cookie. I'll NEVER use the "traditional" peanut butter cookie recipe, ever again. THIS one is IT for me!

    There are lots of tips and tricks that cookie bakers can share with you to get a "perfect" cookie. But for this one, my biggest tip for you is DON'T OVER-BAKE THEM! And don't skip the step where you coat them in sugar before baking.


    1 cup brown sugar (that's right, I said BROWN sugar!)
    1 stick butter, softened
    1/2 cup Jif peanut butter
    1 large egg
    1 tsp Vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 Tblsp sugar or more, for coating cookie dough balls before baking

    Preheat oven to 350.
    In large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, softened butter and peanut butter. Beat with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix again until combined. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the cookie dough mixture. Stir again until combined.
    Using a small metal cookie scoop (or a spoon) measure out 1" cookie dough balls. If you don't have a cookie scoop, then just use a spoon to scoop the dough out. Use hands to roll the dough into balls. Roll each one in sugar and transfer to baking sheet. Place cookies 2" apart. Lightly press the tines of a dinner fork flat against each dough ball, creating an indentation. Then make another light indentation perpendicular to the first. Creating that classic "criss-cross" pattern that is so familiar on a peanut butter cookie.
    Bake until the cookies are a very light brown - 8 to 10 minutes. 8 minutes was the perfect time for my oven. Cook an additional 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer cookies to sheet of foil to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough. Store baked cookies in airtight container for up to a week.


    This super simple dinner dish is one of hubby's absolute favorites, because it is one that his Momma used to make when he was growing up. So it's for SURE an oldie! LOL But it truly is a goodie! 
    All you need to go along with this dish is a nice green salad and/or veggie, such as roasted asparagus. One thing I like about this recipe is you can use either pork chops or pork steaks with it (whichever is on sale that week!) The dressing baked on top of the chops gets a light crispy top but keeps the pork nice and moist on the bottom. And since you brown the chops before baking them, they don't take much longer in the oven. Which is nice if you still have "a to-do list" that you're chipping away at for the day! You can throw dinner in the oven and check a few more things off that list! Clean up is pretty easy too since you use so few dishes in preparing it.


    6 bone in pork chops (not too thick) or pork steaks
    1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 or whole milk
    1 cup all purpose flour
    Black pepper
    Garlic powder
    Lawry's seasoned salt
    Oil for frying
    1 (12 oz) pkg cubed stuffing mix (your favorite flavor)
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 stick butter (divided in half)

    In separate mixing bowl, place 1 (12 oz) pkg of cubed dressing mix. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and add to the the 2 cups of chicken broth. Pour the chicken broth & melted butter mixture over dressing in bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

    Season chops with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Lawry's. Dip chops in milk and then coat both sides with flour. Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat. When oil is hot, place as many chops in, as your skillet will reasonably hold (without cramming them). I like to fry only 2 or 3 at a time. Fry until a nice golden brown (about 4 - 5 minutes each side). 

    Place browned chops in baking pan, overlapping slightly if space is needed. 

    Top chops with all of the dressing from the bowl.

    Melt remaining 1/2 stick of butter and drizzle over dressing. Bake at 375 for 30 - 45 minutes, depending on thickness of chops, until chops are done and dressing is a nice, golden brown. 
    Serve with a nice steaming side of roasted asparagus!

    Saturday, March 14, 2015


    OK I've made a lot of biscuits in my lifetime, but these really were THEE best I've ever made! And you can't go wrong baking on or in a Pampered Chef stone! Baking stones make any bread item bake up to perfection! And these biscuits didn't disappoint. Be sure to liberally brush the tops of these babies with butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Then watch in sheer delight as the melted butter slides down off the top, over the sides and onto the piping hot stone and FRIES the bottom of the biscuit to give it a crispy edge! Mmm! Makes me want to run into the kitchen right now and whip up a batch of fresh biscuits for absolutely no reason at all, other than to slather them with butter and homemade strawberry freezer jam! OK AND to eat them! :-)


    If you want your biscuits to turn out light and feathery, then handle the dough as little as possible. You're sure to get a nice flaky biscuit if you do it that way.

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 stick cold butter, diced into cubes
    • 2⁄3 cup milk
    Preheat oven to 450°F. 
    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the milk and blend w/ spoon just until all the liquid has been absorbed. With lightly floured hands, work the dough briefly until it barely holds together in a flaky ball. 
    Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll or pat the dough out into a round about 1⁄2 inch thick. With a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Gather up the scraps, reroll and cut out more rounds. Do not reroll the dough more than once or you will end up with tough biscuits.

    Transfer the biscuits to the baking stone and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with real butter and homemade jam. Or top them with piping hot gravy! ENJOY! 


    "First, you make a roux..."
    There's nothing quite so simple as breakfast for dinner! It's what most harried moms turn to when the dreaded question gets asked, "What's for dinner mom?" and they have no clue!
    I believe the test of a seasoned cook is whether she can make good gravy or not! LOL I suppose I'm teasing a bit, as there are a lot of good cooks out there who just cannot make good gravy. It really isn't as daunting as it seems though. As long as you can master making the roux without burning it. This has never been a problem for me, as the perfect color for a finished roux is the color of peanut butter - my all time favorite breakfast treat! I've looked at that color every morning of the world for nearly 53 years! It's emblazoned in my brain! If you are prone to dumping your "instant gravy" out of a jar or out of a bag and mixing it w/ water.... do yourself and your family a favor and learn to make homemade gravy! It will be the star of the show!
    Most of you are probably more familiar with sausage gravy than bacon gravy. I have never been a huge fan of sausage or sausage gravy. I grew up eating my mother's bacon gravy and it was the BEST!


    1 lb of good bacon - cut into bite size pieces (I use my kitchen scissors for this)
    1/4 cup of all purpose flour
    2 - 3 cups of milk (depending on how thick or thin you like your gravy)
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper

    In large skillet or dutch oven, over med-high heat, fry cut up bacon until golden brown and lightly crisp. Remove pan from burner and with slotted spoon, removed bacon bits from the fat in the skillet. Leave bacon grease in skilllet. If it is very greasy bacon, you may want to pour a little bit of it off into a bowl. To the bacon fat in the skillet, add 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Stir constantly with wooden spoon or whisk until flour is cooked through and begins to turn a medium golden brown (the color of peanut butter). Don't let your roux burn! Quickly add milk and whisk to prevent any lumps forming. Add in bacon bits. Let simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping or sticking.  Taste test to add more salt and/or pepper. I season mine pretty heavily. Serve over warm biscuits w/ a side of tender, scrambled eggs! ENJOY!

    Here are a couple of good recipes for buttermilk biscuits or Classic biscuits.