Friday Blue Plate Special

I love Fridays. It makes me think of what all I want to bake for the weekend and who can I invite to have dinner with us. It is fun to immediately think, “wow, we can watch Netflix until midnight if we want and still sleep in on Saturday and so what do I want to bake for a Republic of Doyle, or Call the Midwife or our new favorite, I’ll Have What Phils Having” marathon?”
Last night, since we had Mexican food that we had not eaten at a favorite Mexican restaurant at lunch, instead of me having to make dinner, I choose to go ahead and make our dessert for tonight. Tonight is a great night. Friends are coming over for dinner for spaghetti and meatballs and ta da…..Tuxedo Cake, before taking off for game night at the clubhouse.
That is probably my favorite cake outside of wedding cake. Of course Randy and I had to go ahead and have a slice. We couldn’t go from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. last night without dessert, so a slice we had.

Tuxedo cake is very simply a chocolate cake with almond flavored buttercream frosting with chocolate ganache poured over the top. Not only is it beautiful but gives me that almond flavor that I love. This year a very special lady and friend gave me one a most favored gift. A cake server/keeper. Not only is it the color of my kitchen, but it has what has become my motto written on the front:
“Made With Love & Butter” How could I not love it? So tonight, The recipe for this wonderful cake is on the blog already, so I’m not going to post it again, but simply put Tuxedo cake in the search bar and it will pop up. Will post the recipe for my spaghetti & meatballs tomorrow.
Have a great and blessed weekend, but remember no matter what you make, make it with Love & Butter!

Old Fashion Chicken Pot Pie (Minus the Peas)

One of the most dear to my heart comfort foods is chicken pot pie. But, because one cannot ever find it without peas, I am forced to make my own. Actually, it is such a great dish to make. For some reason, it makes me feel like autumn is in the air, even though it is over 100. It brings back memories of sitting by a fireplace while the pot pie is in the oven and the apple crisp is sitting over on the counter waiting to bring about a wonderful closure to our meal. Yesterday I could not wait any longer. Chicken pot pie was on the menu. I didn’t care if there was no fire in the fireplace, or that the thermostat was turned down to 64 so the oven could be on. Because we had had the kids over for dinner on Sunday evening for barbecued chicken and hash brown casserole, there was still some of the potatoes left over so I began to think, “hum, the hash brown casserole could be used in my pot pie and give it a wonderful cheesy flavor. And flavor it did have. The pie was absolutely wonderful and we ate unit there would have been no room for apple crisp (ok, not for a couple of hours anyway, but we had pumpkin cookies and cherry pie so didn’t need to make anything else). The only thing I will change when I make it again is that I will homemake the biscuits to place on the top. Last night I used canned biscuits because I was in a hurry to get to game night at a girlfriends house. But it was still really really good.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped chicken
1 cup chicken broth
1 can Campbells cream of chicken with herbs (not ever store has this but if you can find it, get it, it is a great addition) I find it at Walmart
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup of finely chopped cooked potato
(If Randy would not have been here, I would have added 1 cup of sliced mushrooms and cooked them along with the onion, celery, chicken mixture)
1/2 teas poultry seasoning
1/2 teas thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Biscuits to cover the top of casserole

To a medium size saucepan, place carrots and potato in a little water to cook for about 3-4 minutes after bringing to a boil. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet (If you use an iron skillet, you could actually complete the baking in the skillet and would not need to pour mixture into a different baking dish), melt the butter and add the chopped chicken, onion and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper until veggies are tender and chicken is done. Add the can of cream of chicken to the mixture. Stir. Slowly add the chicken broth (you might not need to add the full cup, so after adding about 1/2 cup, stir and add to thin mixture until it is still creamy, but not to runny) to this mixture along with the poultry seasoning and thyme. Stir in the drained carrots and potatoes. (Yes, if you are a pea lover, you can add those also, but be are and drain them well before adding.) Stir until mixture is well combined. If leaving in iron skillet, you an top with enough biscuits to cover the top and bake at 350 until mixture is bubbly and biscuits are done. (I cut each biscuit in 4th’s, but I think if I did use canned biscuits in the future, I would slice them in half horizontally making each biscuit into two. That way the biscuit isn’t so think on top.
If you are not using an iron skillet, pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish, top with biscuits or corn bread stuffing and bake until bubbly and biscuits are thoroughly cooked.
This pot pie reminded me so much of Thanksgiving that I think next time i make it, I am going to top it with corn bread dressing. The sauce in the pie using the cream of chicken with herbs was outstanding.

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Casserole

I am ready to get back in the kitchen and begin posting again. This summer we have been gone for over a month to California and Texas, where we experienced the birth of a precious new grandson, Collin Howard. New birth seems to bring on a sense of hope and realizing the many blessings which are given to us. It has been a struggle, for some reason, this summer to get in the mood to not only cook, but to post recipes. Maybe because I still prefer to bake desserts instead of meals. But, this is the new me….after watching Food Channel, Triple D and now, I’ll Have What Phil is Having (on PBS), food has again drawn my attention to trying new recipes. When I received my new Paula Deen magazine last month, I began to look through all my old PD magazines and found this one, which I had every intention of trying when I saw it, but it got pushed to the background behind settling for burgers & fries and pizza. So, here we go and I think you are going to like this one, ALOT! Thanks Paula for always drawing me back into Cookingville! You truly do inspire me beyond cookies, cakes and pies.

1 (6 oz) pkg fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup refrigerated pesto sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
12 oz uncooked penne pasta, cooked according to directions
2 1/2 cups choppe rotisserie chicken
4 oz pre-shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tables thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 teas paprika

Preheat oven to 375. Toss together spinach and pesto in a medium bowl.
Stir together Alfredo sauce and chicken broth in another bowl. Spread 1/3 of Alfredo mixture (about 1/2 cup) into a lightly greased 11×7″ baking dish. Top with half of spinach mixture.
Stir together cooked pasta, chicken and remaining Alfredo mixture, spoon, half of chicken mixture over spinach mixture. Repeat layers once with remaining spinach mixture and chicken mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 min.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.
Return to oven and bake until hot and bubbly; about 5 min. Top with basil and paprika.

Serves 4

Baking Chocolate Cakes

Chocolate cake (or cupcakes) always seem dryer than vanilla so wanted to share something a dear lady taught me years ago! When baking chocolate cakes, take the layers (or cupcakes) out of oven when they still have a glossy look to part of the top. They will continue to bake for a min after removing them from oven so this helps keep them moist. Plus after frosting my cakes or cupcakes, i cover them and place them in fridge until a couple of hours before serving. Ensures a more moist cake!

Lemon Cream Cheese Crescent Ring

Some sweet ladies came to our house for a brunch a couple of weeks ago. Because I had talked about sausage gravy over biscuits at water aerobic class, a couple of the ladies expressed a desire to have some, as they had never experienced this wonderful southern dish. While others in the class are talking about how this class is helping them feel better and building muscle strength, we are at the other end of the pool planning our sausage gravy biscuit brunch. One of the ladies said that she would bring some watermelon so we would have one healthy food item, while yet another said that she would bring a coffee cake. Well, this is the pastry she brought and everyone had a hissy (I’ve been dying to see that word)fit over it. We had such a grand time that morning. The night before, I got this great idea to type out questions to pass around the table and let everyone pick out one a the bowl was passed around. Here are some of the questions that got us talking and getting to know each other a little better. So before I post the recipe a little further down, why not think about having some ladies over that you would like to get to know and use this idea to start the conversation flowing. IT was a really nice morning and we had some really nice memory sharing among us.
What is one of your favorite summer vacations?
What is your favorite toppings to put on a hot dog?
Tell us about a memorable 4th of July
What color of the American flag best describes your personality?
A favorite summer food/drink
Which do you prefer, the beach or pool and why
Did you have a favorite swimming place to go growing up?
What time/place did you experience watching fireworks that is still a great memory?
Favorite flavor of homemade ice cream
Favorite thing to grill

Now for the great recipe that Patty was so kind to share. Thanks Patty for another reason that my bathing suit is tighter than before our breakfast
Crescent Ring:
3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temp
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tables fresh lemon juice
2 teas grated lemon peel
1 can 8 oz Pillsbury refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheet or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teas milk

Heat oven to 350. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon juice and peel with mixer on medium speed until blended.
Unroll dough sheet (if using the rolls, unroll dough and separate into 2 large rectangles) Overlap long sides to form 13×7″ rectangle; firmly press edges and perforations to seal.
Spread cream cheese mixture on rectangle to within 1/2′ of edges.
Starting with 1 long side of rectangle, roll up; pinch edge to seal
With seated knife, cut into 12 slices.
arrange slices on cookie sheet in a circle; over lapping slightly.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over warm crescent roll.

* (Because I love orange flavor also, I’m going to use orange juice/peel next time I make this)

Glow Golf-Life Lessons

Last evening a friend of mine and I decided that after playing golf for a few weeks, we wanted to participate in what is called Glo Golf, here in Arizona. Apparently, this particular golf club entices folks to come out at night with this marvelous idea of playing after the sun goes down. All I can tell you is that I don’t remember having that much fun outside of the kitchen when I have a mixer in my hand and a pound of butter beside me. Our husbands decided they would like to go so they could “help” us find the balls, or shine the flashlight on the course so we wouldn’t end up in a water hazard trying to find the tee box. So off we went to play in our first glow golf tournament. We picked out our out-fits that would go with our 4th of July led necklaces. Randy was even instructed to wear a shirt that would match the blue in my necklace so our pictures would look perfect, color wise. We arrived to find that apparently the 50 golf carts that were lined up had made a trip (or 5 trips) to the Dollar Store. Every imaginable glow in the dark neon bracelet, necklace, hanging ornaments had been purchased and adorned the golf carts. We were the only ones that didn’t have a golf cart that could be seen from space. But, what a night. They had told us that if we found ourselves using the glow balls that were given to us and needing more, they would could be purchased for $8/each. Those of you who know Randy know that he would swim an ocean to retrieve a lost ball before spending $8 for a ball. So we take off, realizing that, if at all possible, that glow ball that came in our alloted amount, would be treated like gold. And swim some of us did. On about the 3rd hole, I actually (in the dark don’t forget) crawled under a wire fence that separated the driving range from the “out of bounds” area to the right of the fairway. But retrieve I did. With the help of two different golf clubs and muscles from crawling on my stomach that I had not used in years since trying to get dirty diapers from under furniture that was too heavy to move, when the kids were little. Thank goodness, it was dark. A little further down the course, Teresa found herself crawling over a fence to find her glow ball which was laying near the street. She came back with a splinter in her finger from the wooden fence. Both of our balls landed in the water hazard which we, once again, using the longest clubs we could get, dragged the ball to the edge of the lake, then sticking our hand in that filthy water, was able to rescue the treasured ball. We discovered drainage ditches that we had never noticed when we play in the daytime. All in all, we had a ball. The laughter, the new adventure, the memories that were made with our husbands there to cheer us on, were priceless. We cannot wait to sign up for the next one.
But as we played, I thought about how the “adventure” could relate spiritually to my life.
As we would step up to the tee box, focusing on the glow flag that sat sometimes 200 yards down the fairway, and not being able to see water hazards or sand traps, we knew that we had no choice but to keep our eyes on that blue glowing flag pole at the end of the fairway. We were so fortunate in that one of the men who work for the club house, rode by and gave us some very important information. On holes 10 and 18, the water hazards were on the left and to try to keep our balls to the very right of the fairway. We did indeed listen, but because we are very inexperienced, sometimes, no matter how hard we tried, the ball went to the left, right in the water. How many times in my life have I done the same thing. There have been times when I did ask God for guidance and did try to do what I felt was right. But still failed, because of my immaturity or listening but then feeling like “i’ve got this”, decided to do what I felt was right? How did I handle those times? Did I keep looking at the “blue lit flagpole” (God) and get back up and determined to trust Him and lean on him, or did I give up and try on my own to accomplish what I was attempting? Did I take my eyes off Him and listen to the world in how to live or which path to take?
As in our daily lives, God desires our surrender and love. He promises to guide us and to never leave us. His ways are always best, no matter when circumstances seem hopeless.
Last night, I heeded the instructions of the ones who knew the course like the back of their hand. Had I not, I would have found myself in the sand traps and deeper water than I would have been able to get out of.
In our daily lives, lets keep our eyes on the God who loves us and tries to keep us from “having to crawl or swim” to get back on the path that He knows is best for us. Thanks be to God for His love, grace and faithfulness. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good! Even on the golf course.

Company Is A Comin

Wives, pay attention! I have found the secret weapon to getting your husband to do all those little things done around the house without chasing him around with a rolling pin or withholding desserts for a week. You invite company which your husband knows that their house is always in tip top shape and seems to have everything in perfect working order.
For two years I have been yelling…opps, I mean graciously asking my sweet husband to either replace the bathroom faucets or have a whole new bathroom put in. Since yesterday, Mr. Honey Do has installed 3 new faucets, spot cleaned the carpet, patched holes in the sheetrock (and the holes were not made by me throwing things at him, but because I rearrange furniture so much, thus having to rehang pictures) cleaned ceiling fans, painted the front door and this is the best one yet….pulled out the stove and cleaned behind it. Yes, that’s right, my floor underneath the stove is, well, you could eat off of it if you really wanted to pull the stove out and do that. But I have a nice shiny clean table that you might rather eat from. Since grandkids won’t be here until Sunday night when we have a sleep over with the 8 yr old, the breakfast table will be fingerprint free. But after Sunday night, I can’t promise what the kitchen or bathroom will look like. Do all little boys take the opportunity to look around the bathroom when they are standing up peeing or is it just my little darlings? it is almost like, “why bother lifting the lid, hardly any of the pee goes into the toilet anyway!” But back to my story…

So after a few months when things are getting back to needing a little extra attention, I’m going to invite more company. He tells me that he will be cleaning the carpets on Monday, washing the car on Tuesday and then Wednesday, he will change the oil. All this because of a couple we haven’t seen in 2 years. Plus, the couple don’t even get on social media often, so probably won’t share what a beautiful clean house they arrived at. After all this, I would at least hope to get about 50 “likes” of all the cleaning and baking I have done for their arrival. There is now cream cheese pound cake and carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. (not so many cookies are left, as I had to reward Mr. HD for finishing the faucets in record time and not making me go in the backyard to use the hose to shower)

All I have left to do is clean the shutter’s, change the sheets in the guest room, find places for holiday decor that is hidden under the bed and in the guest closet and get a pedicure. I want to appear as if the house just stays like this and make them think that no matter when they would arrive, the house would look this clean and both Randy and I stay dressed in our best summer outfits. Which reminds me, I ironed this week. I do NOT like to iron. Actually that is putting it mildly. I HATE ironing. When Randy kept bringing me shirts to iron, I reminded him that there was a dry cleaners around the corner and that he didn’t marry me for my ironing skills. He spoke up and said as he was rounding the corner, “I’m still trying to find the skills I married you for” If I hadn’t been so tired from ironing his shirts, I would have thrown the iron at him, but then it might have made a hole in the wall and then we would have more chores of patching the hole and paint. We are running out of time before company arrives. He lucked out this time. So if you are needing some company to prod your husband into cleaning and doing house repairs, Randy and I are available to be hired as “company is a comin”. Oh my goodness, I think I just thought of a new career, Company For Hire, literally! Will bring our own baked goods!

Cooking With Ginger

We have a young chef who comes into our community once a month who is absolutely wonderful. Not only does she bring us amazing recipes, but she is funny and just livens up the people who show up. You come away laughing and in such great moods, it is just a great class to attend. Last week she made 4 really good recipes of which I have already made one. It will be one of our staples from now on. Open Faced Caprese Sandwiches. She also gave us the recipe for Butterscotch Peanut bars, Watermelon-Feta-Basil Salad and a summer mixed drink which I will post tomorrow. But today I am posting the Caprese Sandwiches and Butterscotch Bars.
I bet when you read the title you thought this post would be all about recipes which included ginger. Fooled YA!

Caprese Sandwiches
1 Roma Tomato, sliced into four slices
2 tables chopped fresh basil (or more depending on how many slices of bread you are using)
Fresh Mozzarella log, sliced thinly
4 slices of Italian Bread or baguette
Balsamic Reduction *Found it at some Walmarts and also Trader Joes
Butter and Olive Oil

Preheat oven broiler or toaster oven
Gently spread olive oil or softened butter on one side of the bread. Place in oven to lightly toast.
On opposite side of buttered or oiled bread, with a pastry brush, place olive oil on the dry side of the bread that has not been toasted. Place tomato slices on top of bread. (If you are making more than 4 slices of bread, use another tomato)
Top with slices of mozzarella. Again, use enough slices to make however many slices you need.
Place bread onto baking sheet and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to bubble.
Top with chopped basil and sprinkle with the balsamic reduction. You may want to sprinkle each slice with sea salt.

Butterscotch Peanut Bars
This quick and easy bar to make taste similar to a Pay Day candy bar.

1/2 cup butterscotch flavored baking chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup salted Spanish peanuts or salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

1/4 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teas shortening

Melt butterscotch chips, peanut butter and butter oven low heat in small saucepan, stirring constantly 3-5 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Stir in peanuts and marshmallows. Pour into a buttered 8″ square pan. Cover and place in fridge 30 min or until set.
Melt chocolate chips with shortening in a small saucepan or microwave until chips are melted. In 15 second intervals. Sir after each interval. Drizzle over the cooled bars and refrigerate until chocolate is set.
Cut into bars and keep covered in fridge.

Signs & Wonders

Today was the 3rd day I have been to water aerobics this week. Will wonders never cease? We have been in a celebratory mood all week, as we are so proud that we have joined the group of folks here that really do believe that exercise is good for you. Who knew? So to celebrate our good choices, of course what does it make me want to do but bake. I made chocolate chip cookies and ate 8 of them. We went for Baskin Robbins on Wednesday night to celebrate that I didn’t die from a heat stroke playing 7 holes of golf before collapsing in the golf cart and promising myself I would never get back on a golf course until after the first freeze of the season. We had company over for dinner and what is a girl suppose to do but be sure that your friends don’t go away hungry. So chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, hot rolls and key lime pie with whipping cream was the dinner of choice.
We have been so proud of ourselves for actually going to this class in the mornings that we have been calling friends we haven’t talked to in a long time just so we can hear ourselves say, “oh us, oh not much, just got back from water aerobic class and resting up to head over to the bocce ball courts after we cool down a bit.” We sound so cool getting to say that. Our old conversation use to sound like this, “oh us, well, we just finished some eggs, bacon and toast and am trying to figure out what to have for lunch. But right now, I’m in the kitchen baking some brownies and a pie for dessert tonight.” Now at least we can say “well, after exercise class we were both famished and just had to have lots of protein to replenish what was lost exercising this morning, so we made bacon and eggs.” And….”Trudy is hoping to have time to get a pie made before heading up to the clubhouse to sign up for line dancing.” Am saving that for June I think.

Since I have talked Randy into going with me, telling him that this will surely help his balance, and is an activity other than eat, that we can do together,he has decided that it is fun and has joined me. I told him that he can go, but I like to be in the shady part of the pool. He loves the sun so we are on opposite sides which is fine with me. That way, he isn’t able to see me just standing still when the exercises get to hard for me. I tell him that I might look like I’m standing still, but I’m doing cross country skiing under the water. So this morning, I look across the pool at him and smile and he sends me a little hand signal. Some of the ladies around me saw him and ask me what he was trying to tell me. I just smiled and told them that he was trying to make a heart like you see people do on Ellen a lot. They said, “ah…that is just so sweet of him to do that.” After class as we are all getting out of the pool, a couple of the ladies told Randy how neat that was for him to be watching me and sending me a heart sign with his hands. He said, “what? oh no, that wasn’t a heart, I was trying to tell Trudy I wanted to go get a donut after class.” The ride home on the golf cart was pretty quiet. In the first place, I want the ladies to think that we go home and have a fruit shake, NOT donuts. But, anyone who really knows us, knows that we are much more likely to celebrate our “good choices to exercise” with ice cream, donuts and pizza than we are fruit shakes. That is something you will never have to wonder about. Am seriously thinking about signing up Randy for a sign language class.