So here is one for the sugar-free folks. I myself like sugar but my stepmom is diabetic so this one is for her.


• 1/4 cup shortening
• 3 tablespoons sugar substitute with
• aspartame (such as Equal packets)
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons skim milk
• 1 1/4 cups cake flour
• 1 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate, melted


Cream shortening. Add sugar substitute, egg, vanilla and milk and blend well. Add half the flour, mix well and stir in chocolate and the rest of the flour. With cookie press, press onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Use hands and make small ball if you do not have press. Putting flour on your hands, this keeps dough from sticking. Press down with fingers on top of each cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes.

1 cup tomato sauce cooked uncovered till reduced to l/2 cup.

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you and yours are having a wonderful Christmas!


• ¼ C fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, thaw cranberries first)
• 2 T balsamic Vinegar
• 2 T sherry Vinegar (if you can’t find sherry vinegar, can substitute red wine or rice vinegar)
• 1 T sugar
• 1 t Dijon Mustard
• ¼ t dried rosemary
• 1 c canola oil
• ¼ t salt
• ¼ t fresh ground pepper


In the work bowl of a food processor, puree cranberries until smooth. Add vinegars, sugar, mustard, thyme, and rosemary. Pulse to combine. With food processor running, gradually add the oil and process until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Before serving, bring to room temperature and whisk the dressing again.

Today is the daythe hubs fam comes over and we get to see the grandkids! What are your family traditions?


• 1 small red onion, chopped
• 1 T canola Oil
• 1 (5 oz.) bag Spring Mix lettuces
• 1 t Kosher salt
• 1 t fresh ground pepper
• ½ c walnuts – toasted
• 1 red pear, cored and sliced
• 1 green pear – cored and sliced
• ½ c Gorgonzola Cheese
• Garnish with pomegranate seeds if desired


IN a small skillet cook the onion in oil, on medium setting until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before adding to salad.
In a large bowl mix lettuces, salt, pepper, walnuts, pears, and red onion. Drizzle with desired amount of Cranberry Vinaigrette (recipe to follow) and toss salad to coat. Crumble the Gorgonzola over the salad and sprinkle the seeds on if desired.

Today I am off and doing some prep work for the big meal on Friday.... that and spending time with my son who is over from Texas.


• 6 medium sweet potatoes, washed and skins scrubbed
• ¼ c firmly packed light brown sugar
• ¼ c butter- melted
• 4 oz. cream cheese – softened
• 1 t vanilla extract
• ½ t ground cinnamon
• ¼ t ground nutmeg
• ¼ t salt
• 18 jumbo marshmallows


Preheat your oven to 350
Bake the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet until soft, approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and let stand long enough to be cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes down the middle lengthwise and remove the insides to a medium size bowl, keeping the skin shells. Beat the insides on medium speed until smooth. In another bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter, cream cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt at medium speed until smooth. Add the mixture to the sweet potatoes, beating well. Spoon the micture back into the potato shells.
Bake on a baking sheet until heated through, about 15 minutes. Place 3 marshmallows on top of each potato and bake 5 to 10 minutes, until marshmallows are brown. Serve immediately
*Notes* Potatoes can be baked 1 day ahead. Then do the mixing on the day of serving


• 3 lbs fresh green beans - trimmed
• 6 slices of bacon
• 2 large sweet onions - chopped
• 2 T sugar
• 2 T balsamic vinegar
• 1 t black pepper


In a large saucepan, cook beans in boiling water until tender (about 10 to 12 minutes). Drain and set aside. (Beans can be precooked and refrigerated overnight if desired.) Also this year I am using fresh frozen green beans.
Next, in a large Skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon, let cool, then crumble. Add onion and sugar to skillet and cook onions until they are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. (You can also prepare this a day ahead and refrigerate if desired).
Add Beans and vinegar to onions and cook until heated through, which would be about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top before serving.

This one (and the Carrot Cake) is for my son.


1 gal. apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
Garnish: apple slices


Bring apple cider, orange juice, lemon juice, orange slices, lemon slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Discard solids. Garnish each serving with an apple slice, if desired. Serve hot.
Makes about 4 1/2 qt.

So some of my friends will say, "There she goes, using liquor in a recipe again!", and I say "Why not!", cooking with the spirits adds great flavor to many recipes. And who doesn't enjoy a nice glass of wine or brandy on occasion?


• bag (12 oz.) fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1/3 to 1/2 cup brandy
• tablespoons finely shredded orange zest


Preheat oven to 325°. Discard any soft or decayed cranberries.
Mix cranberries, sugar, brandy to taste, and orange zest in an 8- or 9-in. square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally.

1 tbs. instant minced or 1 tsp. onion powder.

Brussels Sprouts aren't for everyone, but I heart them! This recipe tones down the sprouts strong flavor just a bit so that most everyone likes them!


• 4 bacon slices
• 1 (14-oz.) can chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved


Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Crumble bacon.
Add broth, brown sugar, and salt to drippings in Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Stir in Brussels sprouts. Cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon, and sprinkle with bacon. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup mashed potato flakes
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, potato flakes, yeast, sugar, chives, salt and parsley. In a small saucepan, heat milk and sour cream to 120°-130° add to dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes longer. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 24 pieces. Shape each into a roll. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 35 minutes.
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
2 dozen.

24 Servings

Prep: 30 min. + rising Bake: 30 min.

Warm Citrus Cider
Christmas Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Roasted Turkey with Nannies Cornbread Stuffing
Twice baked Sweet Potatoes
Bacon - Brown Sugar Brussels Sprouts
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
Brandied Cranberries
Herb Potato Rolls

Then ending with:

3 Layer Carrot Cake with Apricot Mousse filling and Cream Cheese Icing


• ½ C Balsamic Vinegar
• 2 t Honey
• 1 t Dijon Mustard
• 4 t Cold Water
• 6-8 t Olive Oil
• ¼ t each of Salt and Pepper
• (Optional) ¼ to ½ t herbs such as dill or basil


Warm vinegar and honey in microwave for 20 seconds or more until honey dissolves in vinegar. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well. Shake vigorously after pouring into a bottle and chill before serving.

I Large Marshmellow

3/4 to 1 tsp dried herbs


I have been making these for quite a while. The beer adds to the "fluffiness" of these pancakes and you can't taste the beer. Great on a relaxing Sunday Morning! This time I adapted the recipe to add pumpkin...
First the basic recipe...


• 2 C Bisquick
• 2 T Sugar
• 1/2 t Cinnamon
• dash of Nutmeg
• 5 beaten eggs
• 1/2 C Beer
• 2 T Oil

If you want to make them pumpkin style add:

• 3 T pumpkin
• 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
• increase sugar to 3 T

In large mixing bowl stir together the bisquick, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Stir together the eggs, beer and oil. Add the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Add a little extra beer if thinner pancakes are desired. Fry the pancakes on a griddle or frying pan!

Serve with warm syrup, or butter and powdered sugar.

1 cup plain yogurt.

November Guest Cook is Tonia from NC and she is sharing with us her Pumpkin Butter recipe, which she so kindly prepared and brought for us at work today. It was great!
I love the holidays!

• 4 cups pumpkin or (2 cans)
• 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• Dash of salt
• ¼ teaspoon cloves
• 1 box of brown sugar

Cook over medium heat until the color is dark brown (as apple butter). I normally cook this in a slow cooker for a couple of hours. The room/house smells wonderful. Serve warm or cold.

It is particularly good served on graham crackers or chocolate flavored graham crackers.

I have no comment on why I would EVER be out of red wine....

1 cup apple cider or beef broth.

This is another one from the family vault (box) of recipes. I haven't had this in a while but it is a great comfort dish!


• 2 lbs Stew Beef
• 2 cans tomato sauce
• 1 large Onion – sliced
• 1 C diced celery
• 4 to 6 medium potatoes
• 4 medium carrots
• 1 t salt
• 1 C water
• 1 C peas
• ½ recipe biscuit dough (using tomato sauce as liquid)


Preheat oven to 375. Brown meat in a greased 2 qt. baking dish in the oven. Add salt, 1 ½ cans tomato sauce, water and onion. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Add other vegetables, cover and bake another 45 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Prepare biscuit dough substituting ½ can tomato sauce for milk. Roll about ½ inch thick, cut into six 2 inch biscuits. Increase oven temp to 425, place biscuits on top of stew and bake until done.

You may or may not have noticed my profile pic and my "uh hum" great impression of my catch of the day, Mr. Lingcod. We had taken a trip to Alaska (SUCH a great place) and did a little deep sea fishing. We caught Salmon, King Salmon, red snapper and lingcod. Catching all these fish was AWESOME, but the Lingcod were especially thrilling! They look a bit like a wet prehistoric lion when they start getting close to the boat. Anywho.. they are great eating and this was a recipe shared with us while in Alaska. Everyone may or may not can get their hands on a Lingcod, but the recipe works well with any white fish fillets that are thick and flaky...


• 1/3 C nonfat plain yogurt
• 1 large egg white
• 1 T Dijon Mustard
• 2/3 C fine, dry, unseasoned bread crumbs
• ¼ C chopped. Toasted Almonds
• 1 T chopped fresh Oregano
• 1 T chopped fresh Mint
• ¼ t salt
• ¼ t fresh ground pepper
• 1 ¼ lbs. Lingcod, cut into 4 pieces
• 4 lemon wedges


Preheat oven to 400.
Lightly oil a wire rack large enough to hold the fillets in a single layer. Put the rack on a baking sheet and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg white and mustard until creamy. In a shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, almonds, oregano, mint, salt and pepper.
Dip each piece of fish in the crumb mixture, then in the yogurt mixture, and once again in the crumb mixture. Set on the prepared rack; they should not touch. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the fish is lightly browned on the outside and opaque in the center. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

1/8 tsp garlic powder or 1/4 tsp instant minced garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic salt.

My mother used to spend all day making spaghetti sauce. She would start it that morning, (after a cup of joe and a smoke) and simmered it for hours. The whole house would smell wonderful and we couldn't wait to eat it. This recipe has been added to over the years and makes the best sauce ever!


Ingredients –
2 Quarts Diced Tomatoes
1 Quart Whole Tomatoes
2 Quart Tomato Sauce
1 Quart Crushed Tomatoes
1 pint Tomato Paste
4-5 Fresh Tomatoes
2 heads Garlic, peeled, chopped and pressed
2-3 large Onions, chopped
2-3 Green Peppers, chopped
1 large Celery Bunch, chopped
4 pounds Lean Ground Beef
Fresh Mushrooms
2 tablespoons Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Basil
1/4 teaspoon Oregano
pinch Cayenne
pinch Red Pepper Flakes
pinch White Pepper
pinch Celery Seed
pinch Rosemary
pinch Thyme
pinch Garlic Powder
pinch Ground Sage
pinch Turmeric


Add garlic, onions, green pepper, celery, cayenne, red pepper flakes, white pepper, celery seed, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, ground sage, turmeric to large deep skillet.

Add olive oil and simmer over medium heat until tender.Drain off excess liquid. Move vegetables from skillet to stockpot. Add diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes.

Brown ground beef. Drain off excess fat.Drain meat and add to sauce pot. Turn up heat and simmer just below boil one hour. Turn heat down to low. Simmer several hours.
Add mushrooms 30 minutes before serving.

Posted @ Designs by Gollum

I love November and December, it's time for food, fun, family, and warm beverages!

Makes: 12 (6-ounce) servings


• 2 whole cardamom pods
• 16 whole cloves
• 3 inches stick cinnamon, broken
• 2 750-milliliter bottles dry red wine
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 2 oranges, halved
• Orange slices, halved (optional)
• Cinnamon sticks (optional)


1. For spice bag, cut a double thickness of 100 percent cotton cheesecloth into a 5- or 6-inch square. Pinch cardamom pods to break open. Place cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in center of cheesecloth square. Bring up corners of cheesecloth and tie with a clean string.
2. In a 3-1/2-, 4-, or 5-quart crockery cooker combine wine, water, and corn syrup. Add spice bag.
3. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. (Do not let boil.) Add orange halves the last 1/2 hour of cooking. Remove spice bag and orange halves and discard.
4. To serve, ladle beverage into cups. If desired, float a fresh orange slice atop each serving and add a cinnamon stick. Makes 12 (6-ounce) servings.

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp of cake flour.

Susan at Thoughts from over the rainbow is having a cool giveaway. I am interested in doing one of these so let's all go over and enter and see how it works!


• 1 C Olive Oil
• ½ C balsamic Vinegar
• 3 to 5 cloves of garlic – minced
• 3 T Parmesan Cheese – grated
• Salt and Pepper to taste


Whisk together vinegar, garlic and cheese. Gradually add the olive oi. Salt and pepper to task. Chill. Shake well at serving time.
Note: I find that if you put the dressing in a blender with an ice cube and whirl until the cube is incorporated that the dressing doesn’t separate as much.


• 1 Coffee Mug
• 4 tablespoons flour (that's plain flour, not self-rising)
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 3 tablespoons oil
• 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
• Small splash of vanilla


Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well . Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. Put a fork in it!

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Lighten it up: substitute Spenda for the sugar and applesauce for the oil and low fat or skim milk.

I am forever out of something, how about you?

1 tsp baking soda plus 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.

This is a recipe from my husbands family and it has been passed down for a few generations. The outside is nice and crusty with a great texture to the pound cake.


• 3 C Sugar (I substituted 3 C Splenda and 1 1/2 t baking soda this time)
• 2 sticks of butter - softened
• ½ C Shortening
• 5 Eggs
• 3 C Cake Flour
• ½ t Baking Powder
• ¼ C Milk
• 1 C Sour Cream
• 1 t Vanilla
• 1 t Lemon Flavoring (for today's cake I did not add the lemon flavoring)

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening; gradually add sugar a little at a time until all blended. Add the eggs, one at a time; beating well.

Sift together the flour and baking powder then add a little at a time to the creamed mixture, alternating the flour with the milk. Add the sour cream, vanilla and lemon flavoring until mixed well. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, then pour in the cake batter. Tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to remove any air pockets.

Bake 325 for 1 ½ hours If you use Splenda shorten the cooking time by about 10 minutes. The usual toothpick test works.
The finished cake! I saw no loss of volume compared to the full sugar version...

When I make the regular "full sugar" recipe I make this icing:

• 1 stick of Butter - softened
• 1 box of sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
• 3 oz pkg. of Cream Cheese - softened
• 1 Lemon Rind – grated
• 3 to 4 T lemon juice
Cream softened butter and cream cheese together, mixing well. Add small amounts of the sifted conf. sugar and continue creaming until all the sugar has been added. Add lemon juice, as needed, until it is the right consistency to spread on cooled cake. Stir in the lemon rind, then ice!

Lighter Icing
But for today's cake I used 2/3 stick of butter and halved the sugar and left out the lemon to make a lighter icing to drizzle on. Spoon it into a baggie, snip a small corner off and drizzle away!

Slice it up and put a fork in it! Enjoy!


We've all seen them and or had them. They are just to handy and get used regularly. I actually have access to two sets. The ones pictured and another set that are in orange tones. The other set where my grandmothers and are packed to send home with my son...
The green ones are my husbands moms and will be M's or A's... they can figure that one out one day... LOL

In a pinch?

4 parts cinnamon, 2 parts ginger, 1 part nutmeg, 1 part allspice and dash of cloves.

These are dangerous!


• 1 C butter, softened
• ½ C sugar
• 2 t vanilla
• 2 C all purpose flour
• ½ t salt
• 2 C finely chopped pecans
• Confectioners’ sugar (in a bowl)


Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. I skip this step and use parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy, then add vanilla and mix in.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and pecans. Gradually add to butter mixture and beat until combined.
Rub hands in flour. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Let sit 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove from cookie sheets and roll in confectioners’ sugar then place on cooling racks to cool.

There is a cool front coming through NC now and lowering the temperatures. When that happens, I don't know about you, but I think about soups and stews. This is a great recipe and just enough heat!


• 2 medium onions - diced
• 1 T olive oil
• 2 (4.5 oz) cans green chilies, un-drained
• 2 cloves garlic – minced
• 2 t ground cumin
• 1 ½ t dried oregano
• Dash of red pepper
• 5 ½ cups chicken broth
• 5 cups chopped cooked chicken breast ( 5 or 6 large breast)
• 3 (15.8 oz) cans of Great Northern Beans, drained (reserve juice)
• 3 C (12oz) shredded Monterrey Jack cheese with jalapeƱo peppers
• Salt and pepper to taste


Cook onions in oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat, stirring constantly until tender. Add green chilies, garlic, cumin, oregano, red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth, chicken, beans with juice and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil: reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in 2 C of the Monterrey jack cheese, stir constantly until cheese melted.
To serve, ladle chili into soup bowls, top with part of the remaining cheese. You can also add to toppings:
Salsa, sour cream, fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.