Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heres to Taco Soup, Mini Fried Apple Pies and Long Time friends!

    So with this cool crisp air we have been experiencing this week, I have really been craving some good hearty soup.  This is one of my favorites, and it is also one of the easiest.

Taco Soup

This soup is so easy!  You basically just toss a few cans in a pot and you are done, no mess at all!
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can chili beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can beef broth (or water)- more or less depending on how "soupy" you want it
  • 1 packet dry Ranch
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 lb. ground beef (optional)
1.  Brown the ground beef, and drain drippings.
2.  Pour tomatoes, corn, beans and broth into a stock pot.  Then add Ranch and taco seasoings.  Turn stove on low.
3.  Add ground beef to soup mixture.  Continue to cook for 2 hours.  (I think the longer it cooks the better, but you do not have to cook it that long...just until everything is warmed up.)

Perfect on a cool autumn day!
Also good topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and corn chips!

I also love anything apple and wanted to try something new for dessert tonight. So we had "mini fried apple pies," and they were OH! so good!

This recipe makes about 4 or 5 mini pies.  You can double it very easily.  But this was just perfect for our little family. (p.s.- mine got a little crispy-but that actually  made them even more delecious!)


  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)- This gives it a little extra kick!
Dough (I promise this dough is REALLY easy to make, but you can also substitute biscuit dough)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup of water (or more)
  • 1/2 oil
1. Peel and slice apples into small chunks. Add sugar and cinnamon. Cook in a saucepan on low heat. Cook for about 15 minutes or until soft.  Set aside to cool.

2. Sift flour and salt together. Cut in the shortening. Add water and mix with fork.

3.  Roll out to about 1/8 inch thick on a floured board. Cut with a large cookie cutter or large glass.  (I used the lid of a mason jar.)

4.  In each round, place about 1 tablespoon of apple mixture. Moisten edges with cold water, fold and press edge with a fork.

5.  Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Fry pies, a few at a time, 2 to 3 minutes on each side; cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture or confectioners sugar. 
On a fun note, we are going to "Sissy's house" tomorrow.  Campbell is beyond excited, she loves going to Sissy's house. I will be getting to see many of my closest friends this weekend.  First I get to see long time neighbor and friend, Lar Lar.
Then, I will be getting to see my good friend, Becky, and I am so excited about meeting her baby girl, Lily Grace.  I will also be getting to see my long time friend, Starr, who now lives in Washington, D.C. 
Shoud be a very fun weekend! Thank goodness for GRANDMAS! Just wish both mine lived closer!
Have a good one!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice

    So, it's AUTUMN...And, I just could not resist baking some sort of pumpkin delights!

Using this recipe, I made a pumpkin loaf and LOTS of mini pumpkin muffins.  They were so delish.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 and 2/3 cups of flour
  • 1 and half cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, powder, cloves and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin, oil and water.
  4. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened.
  5. Pour batter into a 9x5 greased loaf pan.  Bake for 65-70 minutes.
  6. Let bread sit for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Then cool on wire rack.
*You can add nuts, pecans, raisens or even chocolate chips to this recipe.. I always leave it plain when taking it to others,  but it is great with toasted chopped pecans.
(Note: This recipe makes 1 pumpkin loaf)

I doubled the recipe so that I could also make some scrumptious mini muffins as well!  These mini muffins take about 15 minutes to cook.  These are great for breakfast or even an afternoon snack.  YUM!
And then I wrapped them nice to take to some friends.

And my sweet pea stole her a few as well..I mean, how could she not?

Friday, September 24, 2010

While I was sleeping..

So, I put precious Adeline in her bed for a nap, and right to sleep she goes.
      Then, I take Campbell to her room for a nap, and she ought to be tired after a full day of school.
               Then, I decide that I will lay down for a little while also...Mommy's need their rest too!

Well..about an hour later..I hear Campbell talking to someone.. who? I'm not sure.
         But this is what I discovered....

Campbell in a swimsuit, socks, and crocs!! And EVERY SINGLE piece of clothing from her drawers scattered across the floor!

I love that girl, but sometimes she does the craziest things!!

And this one likes to scoot...

She does not, will not, never will she crawl...She just scoots right along just fine on her bottom! :)

Have a great weekend, it's finally fall!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chocolate Chess Squares


Bottom Layer
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Dark Chocolate Cake Mix (or flavor of your choice)
  • 1 egg
Top Layer
  • 8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 box confectiones sugar
  1. Spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together melted butter, cake mix and egg.  Press down into greased baking dish.
  3. Beat cream cheese, egg and conf. sugar.  Pour over cake mixture.
  4. Bake 350 degrees for about 25-35 minutes.  (Edges should appear golden)

And...FYI... Fall begins this Thursday! (I hope the weather gets the Memo.) We are definately ready for some cooler weather. Along with everything else that comes with it...pumpkin spice lattes, apple pies, pumpkin muffins, and cute pictures like these!!

Happy Fall everyone!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday Dinner- Pecan Crusted Chicken

Excuse my poor photography skills, I know this isn't the prettiest dish you've ever seen, but it sure did taste good!
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pecans
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 TB basil
  • 2 TB chopped parsley
  • cooking spray
  • 2 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, mix together crushed pecans, salt, pepper, basil and parsley.
  3. Beat two egg whites in a seperate bowl.
  4. Dip chicken breasts individually into the egg mixture and then the pecan mixture.
  5. Arrange pecan covered chicken breasts on a lightly coated (with cooking spray or oil.) aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-25  minutes(or until chicken is done) on 400 degrees.
I actually made the chicken breats in advance for our "Sunday Dinner."  So that when I got home, all I had to do was stick them in then oven.  A very easy and yummy dish!  (My husband was just so glad that it was not a casserole!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh Pears!

Sorry for my lack of posting lately.  I've been busy...peeling pears.


Pears, pears and more pears.  Our neighbor has a pear tree that is LOADED with pears this year.  She said she was not going to use any this year, and that I was free to pick as many pears as I'd like.  So what do you do with 100 plus pears???

First, I start with my famous pear preserves. 

Pear Preserves

  • 15-20 pears
  • galloon of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • sugar (about 6 cups)
1.  Peel pears.  Place in mixture of water, vinegar and salt.
2.  Core and slice pears into small chunks.
3.  Layer 4 cups of pears into large cooking pot followed by 2 cups sugar.  Repeat layers till you've used all your pears.  (DO not to exceed 10 or 12 cups of pears per batch)
4.  Let mixture sit for 20 minutes.
5.  Cook on high till it reaches boiling, then cook on medium for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.
6.  Let sit covered for about 12 hours.
7.  Boil again for 20 minutes, or until reaches desired thickness.
8.  Immediately put into sterlized jars.
9.  Put jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  (Click here for directions on canning)
(Yields 4 pints)

Enjoy on warm biscuits, pancakes or toast!

I love to give these as gifts for Christmas as well!

    I also wanted to try some kind of pear dessert to take to our Church's ladies meeting.  And this is what I came up with, Pear Berry Crumble.

  • 3-4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (I used fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cold  butter (Chopped in small pieces)
1.  Arrange pears in pie plate, then sprinkle blueberries on top.

2.  Drizzle honey over fruit mixture.  Then sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour over mixture (This helps to thicken mixture.)
3.  In a seperate bowl mix together, brown sugar, oatmeal, flour and cinnamon. 
4.  Cut in the butter into the oatmeal mixture until crumbly.
5.  Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the fruit.
6.  Bake 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
(Note: You can exchange apples for pears in this recipe if you prefer.)

I thought it was delecious, and evidently, the ladies must have agreed also...

Well i finished with that round of pears, but there are still plenty of pears on the tree, so I think I am going to try some Pear Butter next.  I'll let ya know how that goes.

Speaking of pears, if you are in need of cute stationary, invitations, birth announcements, recipe cards or calling cards then you should visit
She can design and custom make your invitations and stationary to your own personal taste.  You can also visit her Etsy shop here

And of course, here are a few pictures of my sweeties!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top Ten Tricks of the Trade (in the kitchen)

    If you've ever looked through an old cook book, you may have found that at the end of each recipe there is an extra note.  Sometimes it is just a light hearted quote like.."I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden."- John Erskine
Sometimes it gives you a tip in the kitchen like "Remember not to refrigerate fresh tomatoes...they'll keep their just picked taste longer when stored on your cupboard shelf or counter."
Others give you ideas for crafts or decorating such as "Instead of one large flower bouquet centerpiece, set a single zinnia flower bloom in white milk glass cups for each place setting."

Let me tell you a few of the other ideas that I have come across that I found particularly helpful.

1.  No more tears when peeling.cutting onions if you place them in the freezer for 5 minutes first.  -This really works!  I was stoked about this one after cutting many an onion while buckets of tears ran down my face.
2.  If a recipe calls for buttermilk and you do not have any, you can stir one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into one cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes.
3.  To remove stains from a favorite table cloth, kitchen towel, cloth napkins, etc.- Combine half a teaspoon of salt with a tablespoon of water.  Wet the stain and lay cloth in the sun. After sitting table cloth in sun for hour(smaller cloths need less time), gently rinse the cloth with cold water.
4. After enjoying an orange or grapefruit for breakfast, don't toss the hollowed out fruit halves.  Filled with potting soil, seeds and a nice drink of water, these clever little starter pots can be planted directly in your garden.  I look forward to trying this one!
5.  To keep just-cut fruit slices looking fresh, dip them into lemon-lime soda before serving.
6.  For baking, it's best to use medium to large eggs; extra large eggs may cause cakes to fall when cooled. I've learned this lesson the hard way.
7.  To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it into a pan of cool, salted water.  If it sinks, it is fresh - if it rises to the surface, throw it away.
8.  A dampened paper towel or terry cloth brushed downward on a cob of corn will remove every strand of corn silk.
9.  To soften up brown sugar that has hardened, throw an apple slice in the bag.
10.  Rubbing the inside of the cooking pot with vegetable oil will prevent noodles, spaghetti and similar starches from boiling over.

I found a few of these tips in a cookbook that I recently purchase called "Farmers' Market Favorites," and it has become on of my favorite cookbooks.  Since we always have a plethora of vegetables each summer, I am always looking for new recipes.  In this book you will find homegrown recipes, crafty ideas for vintage finds and tips for market shopping.  You can visit their website at  They have more more great books to choose from.  You can find this cook book at Cracker Barrel as well.

I hope to try many recipes and tips from this book, and I will share them with you as I do.

And now, just a few pictures from Labor Day.

I got this for Adeline, but every time I turn around- Campbell is rolling around in it.

Our nephew, Houston came for a visit this weekend, and he did a lot of this.

And when Sissy came, she brought Campbell a NEW back pack.
She carried it around ALL weekend long.  She could hardly wait to show it off at school this morning.  I actually found it with her in the bed this morning!

Campbell was worried about all the attention she was getting, and wanted to be sure I took a few pictures of Adeline also.

Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful and restful Labor Day Weekend.
Bye for now!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sissy came and we made Cinnamon Bun Bars!

Well this Sunday marks the start of our "new year" at Church, so I decided it would be nice to have a baked treat for our Sunday School class.  I found this great recipe in a Betty Crocker magazine, but here is a link to the recipe online.
It is super moist and very sweet.  Anti-nut eaters can omit the pecans.

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow Cake mix
  • 1/2 butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caramel topping
  • 1/3 butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray.
2.  In large bowl, beat cake mix, softened butter, milk and eggs with mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute.  Spread evenly in evenly in pan.
3.  In medium bowl, mix brown sugar, caramel topping, melted butter, pecan and cinnamon.  Drop by spoonfuls on rop of batter and spread evem;y.
4.  Bake about 25 minutes or until topping is deep golden brown and slighlty puffed throughout.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.  Store covered.

Also, Sissy came for a visit this weekend.  We had a blast and were sad to see her go.

 Campbell says... "Warrr Eagle!"

 These two love each other, can you tell?

 I love my sweet girls too!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!