Fall Fettish

I have a problem. Hello, my name is Trudy and I’m a pumpkinholic! Randy is getting a little worried now. It seems that I simply cannot pass up a pumpkin, real or not. When we went again (yes, yesterday was our second trip to storage to find the missing box of more Fall decor, which I knew had my pumpkin that said, “Happy Fall Ya’ll” in it) to storage to find some missing pieces which I knew we had just overlooked last Saturday on our first trip to load boxes of Fall stuff. Sorry, but we are way beyond calling it Fall Decor and am now to the point that it has become “stuff”. It all started out being called my “Seasonal Treasure Boxes, now it’s called, “just more stuff”, as per Peter Pumpkin. I reminded him that since we no longer have a house phone to change our voice mail message to Peter and Penelope Pumpkin, he could at least be a little more sensitive to my need to fill our home with pumpkins, spices and everything nice, which in my thinking is more pumpkins.

So, realizing that we don’t have what we need to make my Fall Glass block with lights, we are off to Hobby Lobby this morning to find lights and another tree for the perfect Fall Tree to adorn our Arizona Room. After rummaging through the 40 or so boxes yesterday in storage, we found only half of the tree. Randy agreed that since it was over 10 years old, he would break down and buy me another tree. After all, who doesn’t need 3 Fall trees in their house? I told him that Peter Pumpkin needed a attitude adjustment. Besides, we don’t have room now for 3, only 2, so he could quit with the sarcasm.

Assuring him that I would call the help line as soon as I finished decorating, he began to help me put up the Fall wreath, put the lights on the Fall tree  we already have and even helped wash our Fall Pumpkin plates, and then handed me the phone.

Boy, will he be surprised when our T-shirts arrive with our names, Peter & Penelope printed around  a pumpkin on the front. Hope it gets here in time to wear to my support group.


Travel Mercies

How many times have we told friends or family that we would be praying “traveling mercies” over them as they headed out for vacation, business travel or even just a day trip down the road. Randy and I just feel more secure when we begin any trip asking God’s protection over us and have made it a habit before pulling out of the driveway to just pray for God’s traveling mercies to be upon us, whether flying, or driving.

A few days ago, a friend posted an article she wrote about God’s protection. Lisa Clark, thank you for writing this and reminding us that sometimes God protects us in ways which we might not recognize at first, but nonetheless, we always need to trust His Heart, when we don’t see His Hand….Thanks Lisa for sharing this with us, and for letting me share it on the blog.

“A few weeks ago in our bible fellowship class, I heard the story of Jonah in a new, fresh way. You know the story. Jonah’s disobedience causes him to be thrown overboard into the sea. I’m sure, in his wildest dreams, he didn’t think God would protect and save him, especially not in the belly of a fish.

God’s protection doesn’t always look like we think it should, does it? I’ve thought about this a lot in the past week or so. I think I know what’s best for my life, my kid’s life, my husband’s life, but God…

As we enter a new year, a new season, we must remember that God’s ways are higher, better, and for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28)

Did your child not get in a class with his friends, or the teacher he/you wanted? Could this be God’s protection?

Did your husband not get the promotion or job? God’s protection…

Sale of your house fall through?
Engagement off?

No homecoming date?

Did your daughter not get invited to the party? Could this be God’s protection over your daughter?

Just as Jonah didn’t expect to live in the belly of a fish for 3 days and 3 nights, this was God’s plan of protection for his life.

Thank you God for your protection, even when it doesn’t look like protection at all.”

After seeing the news of the earthquake in Italy this morning, both Randy and I felt so grateful for our trip to Italy being cancelled, as we would have been there at this time, had Randy not fallen and broken his shoulder. At the time he fell, did we feel God’s Hand in it? Did we stop to consider that his accident was actually better than what would possibly had happened to us, if we had gone on the trip that we had planned for months? Since last January we have prayed asking the Lord to guide us and allow us this very special time for us to celebrate our 20th in Italy. But we also prayed that if it were not His will, then to please close the door of us going. And close it He did!

We have had family and friends call, text and email us today, telling us that they were so grateful that we were not able to go. This is a great reminder  to both of us that when our plans fall through and bends in the road disappoint our best laid plans, we need to give praise and thanks instead of grumbling and complaining. It might just be God placing us in our own “belly of a fish”!

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Lord, thank you for your Hand of protection being upon us and help me to trust You for your perfect path which you lay out before me. Help me to be obedient to your will instead of mine and help me to always trust your heart, even when I can’t see your Hand. Thank you for  always being our source of hope and peace. Amen



Pecan Pie Cheesecake

I have deleted this recipe from the blog. Made if for company, following the instructions to a “T” and the pecan pie filling part was so hard that it was hard to cut or to eat. In the future, I feel it would work better if you made the cheesecake without the pecan pie part, (as not to bake the pecan pie filling) and after the cheesecake comes out of the oven, pour the pecan filling over the top of the baked cheesecake.



Thanks For The Memories

Today is the 7th Anniversary of starting Chocolate Castles! FaceBook occasionally posts our memories and this popped up on mine today. It is amazing that it has been 7 years since first wondering if I could write and create a blog.

Just wanted to thank each of you who have taken the time to not only read but comment. Has been so great to keep up with friends through Chocolate Castles. I want to thank my son, Jason, who was the first one who encouraged me to even make the blog. When so many friends or family would email or call to get a recipe, he is the one who suggested that I just put recipes on the blog so people could get them. From there, circumstances begin to happen that helped me get out of my comfort zone and write stories. From there came Princess On The Porch, a book that I felt led to write.

Thanks everyone who has encouraged, written and followed Chocolate Castles! The years have gone by so quickly and it is wonderful to be able to look back and see recipes and stories which have allowed me to share my heart.

If you have enjoyed the blog, please pass it on to friends who might enjoy Southern Cooking and Southern Humor! It has been a blessing to write! Thanks and God Bless!


Lemon-Blueberry Crumble Bars

In the middle of August, when we struggle to find a spot of shade and a refreshing cold drink, our thoughts go to anything light and cool. On the outside of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese box ,(the 3 lb box)this recipe caught my eye.

We are having some new friends over tomorrow night for dessert and since Randy mentioned that he is in the mood for a pecan pie, I found a recipe for a pecan pie cheesecake. So thus the 3 lb box of cream cheese. Will be posting that new recipe after I get it baked this afternoon and can take a picture. In the meantime, this crumble bar sounds easy and yummy, so wanted to post it this morning. After I make it back to Costco for more cream cheese, will be making this.

1/2 cup butter

1 box (2 layer size) yellow cake mix (I love Duncan Hines brand)

2 eggs, divided and at room temperature

16 oz softened cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons juice from 1 or 2 lemons (usually takes me 2 to get that much)

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and allowed to dry on paper towels

Heat oven to 350.

Line a 13×9″ baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides. Microwave butter in large bowl until melted. Add dry cake mix and 1 egg to melted butter; beat with mixer until blended. Press 2/3 of this cake mixture onto bottom of baking pan.

Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended. Add remaining egg, zest and juice. Pour over crust; top with blueberries. Pinch small pieces of the remaining dough between your fingers; press lightly into cream cheese layer.

Bake about 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely . Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting into bars.

Makes 12-15 servings (or if you are in our family, would make about 4)


Dog Art

imageOliver has taken over our lives. We tip toe around when he is sleeping, just like I did when I had babies (well, real human babies) as to not wake him up. We know the minute he wakes up we are expected to play “fetch” or he follows so closely behind us or beside us that both of us have tripped, trying to avoid a squashed dog. Forty-two years ago, I remember being so proud that I could actually bathe my newborn by myself, without asking anyone for help. It felt good to think of myself as a confident, competent new mom. It takes 2 of us to bathe this precious little 4 month old 3 lb dog. He wiggles and squirms and constantly tries  jumping our of the bathtub, so one of us holds him (that is me since Randy is still one-armed) and the other washes him.  An hour later, Oliver is clean, with freshly blow dried hair and finally asleep. So we are back to tip-toeing around. We have even resorted to always having background music when the tv isn’t on, hoping that will soothe Oliver and allow us to walk around without waking him up.

Yesterday, we went to the clubhouse for a concert, then drove a couple back home on our golf cart. The day was hot and we felt badly that they had walked up from their house. So we jumped on the cart and upon arriving at their house, they ask us in to see what all they had done to their house, since moving here around the same time we had. As we entered their front door, a sweet old corgi dog met us, named Toby. He didn’t run around our feet or jump up on us trying to get us to pick him up. The vision that comes to my mind is the difference between walking into a preschool and a nursing home. The preschoolers are running up to anyone who walks in the door, expecting you to go see everything they have done that day. The senior at the nursing home, just welcomes you and although is glad to see you, doesn’t jump up in your lap or expect you to see the lace doily they just completely. OK, back to the dog art story. When we left and headed back to our house, Randy looked at me and said, “I guess you will be ordering a t-shirt with Oliver’s picture on the front.” What? He couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed the t-shirt our new friend was wearing.  Randy told me that he had seem this couple twice this week. The first time, Randy saw her, she wore a t-shirt that said, “I Love My Corgi” and the second time she had  the picture t-shirt. It was then that I did remember seeing a huge picture of their dog on the front of her shirt. I assured him he didn’t have to worry about that. I don’t have any earrings that would go with a dog t-shirt. I feel so ashamed, the only way people would know we have a dog is from the dark circles around my eyes from Oliver waking me up at 5:30 every day.

We don’t even have a picture yet of Oliver in a frame sitting on the coffee table. When company comes, we immediately begin to apologize that we are bad parents to him. We don’t have any pictures printed up, we don’t have any clothing with his picture on it and he doesn’t own one outfit to strut around the neighborhood in. We figure that if we make it out of his terrible two’s,  without confining him to the play pen, we will just be thankful that he is sleeping past 5:30  am and has ceased begging every time we sit down to eat anything. We have never given him table food or fed him treats from the table,; where do they learn to do that? I guess the same place toddlers learn to lie, sneak cookies and bite. Certainly not our house! NEVER! Must be the neighbors house or the Jezebel dog Myah, which is our daughter’s new puppy!

Cinnamon Roll Apple Bread Pudding

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this on Facebook and decided that I would make it when I was wanting a new dessert. Well, tonight was the night. Randy and I found a Farmers Market today where we actually got a 5 lb sack of golden delicious applies for $0.99! We both just finished a bowl of the pudding and decided that we really did like it and will be making it a lot this fall. Very easy, quick and perfect for those nights when nothing but a “comfort food” dessert will do.

Serves 4 to 6 people

1 regular size can of cinnamon roll (I used Pillsbury) with the icing included

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk (I used Pet evaporated milk, undiluted

1 teas vanilla

2 teas ground cinnamon

2 tables butter

2 apples, peeled and diced (I used golden delicious)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Grease a 9×9 baking pan. Cut up each raw cinnamon roll into small cubes and place in baking dish. Set aside.

Melt the butter with the brown sugar and diced apples in a skillet, over medium heat until sugar begins to bubble and caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla until well blended.

Pour over the cubed cinnamon rolls in the baking dish. Top with the apple, sugar, butter mixture. Using the canned frosting, drizzle over the top of the apples.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until center of the baking dish tests done.

Serve with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. * I had some of the brown sugar syrup left in the skillet which I poured over ours after dishing it up in the bowls. Fantastic! Think I will increase the butter and sugar next time so there will be more of the syrup to pour over each serving. It’s not even Fall yet, but Im excited about all the apple dishes which will be on our table, once the temps fall below 100.

Questions & Answers

Today is one of those days which a person always prays that will never come.  My BFF, Cora and her family are mourning the loss of her 20 year old grandson, Jared Frame. The funeral is this afternoon and even though we know that Jared is in Heaven, his loss here is being felt in so many families. Last week, so many of us questioned why God would allow such a tragedy to people who have served so faithfully their Lord and Savior. When so many hundreds of people had been praying and asking the Lord not to take Jared ‘s life, why did God not answer those prayers? He did, but just not in the way we hoped.

This morning, waking up early and reading Streams in the Desert, this was the devotion of the day, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, who passing  through the valley of weeping, make it a well.” Psa 84-5-6

It went on to say,

“Comfort does not come to the light-hearted and merry. We must go down into “depths” if we would experience this more precious of God’s Gifts–comfort, and thus be prepared to be co-workers together with Him.

When night-needful night–gathers over the garden of our souls, when the leaves close up and the flowers no longer hold any sunlight within their folded petals, there shall never be wanting, even in the thickest darkness, drops of heavily dew, dew which falls only when the sun has gone.

I have been through the valley of weeping.

The valley of sorrow and pain;

But the God of all comfort was with me, At hand to uphold and sustain.

As the earth needs the clouds and sunshine, Our souls need both sorrow and joy;

So He places us oft in the furnace, the dross from the gold to destroy.

When he leads through some valley of trouble, His omnipotent hand we trace.

For the trials and sorrows He sends us, Are part of HIs lessons in grace.

Oft we shrink from the purging and pruning, Forgetting the Husbandman knows that the deeper the cutting and paring; The richer the cluster that grows.

As we travel thro’ life’s shadow’d valley, Fresh springs of His love ever rise;

And we learn that our sorrows and losses, Are blessings just sent in disguise.

So we’ll follow wherever He leadeth. Let the path be dreary or bright;

For we’ve proved that our God can give comfort; Our God can give songs in the night.”

Todays posting is taken from Springs in the Desert Devotion book.

As we celebrate Jared’s wonderful faithful too-short lived life,  this afternoon, we have to trust that God has a wonderful purpose and plan that even though we do not understand, and maybe will not this side of Heaven, our prayers are that God is glorified. Jared’s parents have said that they want to “serve their Lord well”! Becky and Darren, you are shining examples of living that request very well. May God be glorified today through the tears and the pain.



Zucchini A La Meatless

I know, that is a corny name, but just couldn’t help myself today. This past weekend we had two different sets of friends from California over for dinner as they were passing through town. It was not only imagegreat to see them, but it allowed me to cook for more than two, which just thrilled my soul. On Facebook last week, there was a recipe for stuffed zucchini, which looked and sounded so good, I had to try it. Am so glad I did. It was delicious! I do have to admit that the first night I made it, I followed the recipe pretty much to a T, and felt that it could use a little more seasoning, so the second night I made it, I added more and it was really good. So here it is:

4 zucchini, washed, dried and cut in half, vertically. With a small spoon, scoop out the middle of the pulp, being sure to leave the skin in tact. I also left the each end intact, so as to create like a boat, so the stuffing wouldn’t fall out either end.

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 tea each s of the following: Italian seasoning, seasoned pepper, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder

1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1″ size squares (or you can sometimes find the fresh mozzarella already in little balls)

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

6 teaspoons of Italian flavored breadcrumbs

Chopped fresh basil

When zucchini is washed and wiped dry, scoop out the seeds with enough of the pulp to give you room to stuff each piece. Combine the seasonings with the olive oil. Using a pastry brush, brush the seasoned olive oil in all of the insides of the zucchini. Use a teaspoon to sprinkle about 1/2 to 1 teas of the breadcrumbs into the zucchini boat. Then cutting 16 cherry tomatoes in half, place 4 halves in each boat, leaving room between them to place a piece of mozzarella in them (this will be done after the first baking, not now)k Sprinkle some of the parmesan cheese over the tomatoes.

Bake in preheated 350 oven for about 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from oven and place now the mozzarella pieces (or balls) in-between the tomato halves.

Cut fresh basil and sprinkle over the top. Place in oven and broil for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted and is beginning to brown.

Chicken-Biscuit Cobbler

Does this sound like a comfort food or what? It has crumbled bacon in the biscuits which will add to the wonderful Southern Flavor or this dish. Taken from Southern Living, 2014

3 tables butter

1 cup sliced carrots

1 medium onion, chopped

2 (8 oz) packages fresh mushrooms, quartered

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup flour

3 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup whipping cream

1 tables white wine vinegar

3 tables sliced chives

3 table shopped parsley

2 teas chopped rosemary

2 teas chopped thyme leaves

8 cups shredded cooked chicken

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Package of Bisquick Cheddar-Garlic biscuit mix (the kind that you just mix with water)

1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon, (about 5 slices)

Preheat oven to 400. Melt 3 table butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add carrots and onion, and sauce 5 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms; sauce 5 more minutes. Stir in garlic and add wine; cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup flour and cook, stirring constantly 3 minutes. Slowly add broth, stirring constantly; bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cream and next 5 ingredients. Stir in chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and remove from heat.

Next, make the garlic-cheddar biscuits according to directions, and add the chopped, cooked bacon into the mixture before dropping the biscuits onto the chicken mixture. When the biscuits are mixed, return the chicken mixture to stove top to heat until bubbly and hot. Spoon the chicken mixture into a greased 3 qt baking dish. Drop biscuit dough by level 1/4 cupfuls, 1/2″ apart onto the chicken mixture.

Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes, or until biscuits are done and golden brown.