I’m not going to lie….I love the winter! It drives me crazy sometimes that I have all these recipes in my mind for really cold days, only to realize that maybe half of the “winter snuggle in and watch a movie” recipe will get made, due to us living in TX and we just don’t get that many winter weather days. BUT, this week is exciting that the temps are actually pretty chilly and hot bubbly casseroles or soups sound just perfect! Last night I made a soup that turned out delicious. I had a bag of cheese filled ravioli and a bag of fresh spinach. With the fridge door open and my mind racing, I pulled both bags out. As Randy was sitting watching the Cowboys, I took the opportunity to make us a soup that we loved so much, I added more ingredients today to allow us to have it again for lunch. It was easy and quick and the black olive bread we had bought from Trader Joe’s went perfectly with it. This is a great soup ladies and gentlemen! If you want meat, buy the Italian sausage filled ravioli and use it instead of the cheese filled.
The ingredients pictured below are what I used. Depending on how much soup you want, cut up: 1-2 carrots
1 small onion
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
Garlic as desired With parsley, pepper and oregano or Italian herbs to taste
I don’t add Sat because of The boullion! No need. Sauté the onion and carrot in about 1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add the spinach, seasonings, can of tomato sauce, 1 table each: tomato and beef (or chicken) boullion! Add about 2-3 cups of water to mixture. Cook until carrots are tender. When veggies are done, bring mixture to a boil and add ravioli and cook according to directions. Add enough ravioli to give you the servings of soup you want. I used about half of the large bag. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired. This is a great soup base that freezes well to just add tortellini or ravioli to when ready to use. I don’t freeze the soup with the ravioli in it. Just add it when you thaw and bring to a boil when needing a quick meal!
Like so many Christians. I began choosing one word for the year that leads me more into learning more of God through scripture. This year, I felt that my word was “wonder” and I began a quest of all the scriptures that had the word wonder in them. Each day I write one of the scriptures in my booklet and pray that God would help me to see His wonder even in the small things that already are and that happen around me! As Randy and I enter a new season of having to accept some changes in our lifestyles and get used to a more quiet day not going many places we use to go and be at home more than we would normally want!
Today He gave me a “wonder” that made me cry, as I sat and truly contemplated what He had just done. Not only was it a blessing to the lady that it happened, but to me as it was just so amazing to see that God is everywhere and in everything! This morning as Randy and I had our morning devotion, I ask the Lord to help me make at least 3 people smile today and to let me see His wonder in a way I had not seen before….and He did just that!!
Needing stamps. I made my way Into the PO in Frisco by our house. As normal, instead of standing in long lines, I just use the machines! When trying to insert my credit card to pay, the screen just kept saying “please remove your card”. I had not even inserted my card. After about 3 tries, I looked down to see that there was a card already in the slot! So I removed it and paid for my stamps with my card. Taking the card that wasn’t mine to the counter, I turned it in but not before looking at the name on it. Helena Marco. Well, I’ll just sit in my car and try to find this lady. So that’s what I did. I looked for her on Facebook, but only one I could find was in France. Looking across the street I noticed Marcos Pizza. So I called them to see if there was a family member whose name was Helena as I could tell her where her credit card was. No such luck. So I headed to a store to pick up items at Tom Thumb when I felt the urge to go ahead and go to Dollar Store first. I still had days to get what I would be going for, but just decided to go ahead and get that errand behind me. So into the dollar store I went. As I gathered 4-5 items i walked up to the checkout behind a lady who had a couple of items herself. When she pulled out her wallet to get her credit card, I heard her say “oh no. My credit cards not here”! As soon as I heard the words, I knew she was Helena Marco. I ask her if she was by any chance Helena and she said yes I’m Helena Marco before I could finish my sentence. I told her where her credit card was and she couldn’t believe the timing and what had just transpired. I told her “you know, Only the Lord could have done this!” She agreed and couldn’t thank me enough. I got to the car and just couldn’t control the tears that came as I thought of how amazing our God truly is and the wonders He does each day, if only we had our eyes and hearts open to not only see but expect these wonders! What a blessing it was to me to see how he orchestrated this! May His wonders never cease to amaze me and be grateful for His love and faithfulness, which in itself is a most wonderful “wonder”. He is, after all, the God of Grace!
If you have a book entities Tis So Sweet , you know the KBC recipe on page 113 is absolutely one of the easiest and best cakes. In fact, Randy told me last week that he thinks he now likes it better than the cream cheese pound cake he has always claimed was his top choice of cakes. I had baked several KBC’s last week to take to some sweet friends who are going thru a very difficult time! After I had dropped it off I received a couple of text from family members saying that this was the best cake they had ever had. So I think we do have a winner with the Kentucky Butter cake. But for those of you who know me, know that because it isn’t chocolate, it is not one of my favorites to eat. I love making it for people, I just prefer chocolate! Well this morning as I sat at my dressing table for an hr trying to look a la natural like I woke up looking like I did after spending an hour, I had time to think. All I could think of was “if the vanilla KBC is that good, how good would a chocolate KBC taste?” So I started to google different sites and ladies and gentlemen, I think we have it!!! I proceeded to the kitchen and made the recipe that I found and although I immediately wrapped them and froze them for several meals I need to deliver this week, I know it is a winner. The texture when I was poking holes to pour the chocolate syrup into was a very moist cake with a deep chocolate permeating the kitchen! It smelled devine. Am planning on making another recipe of it after I buy more ingredients and will make a video of baking it. But until then, do yourself a favor and make it. After all, if it’s chocolate, it has to be good. Found this on Pinterest.
Add all cake ingredients together and mix well. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. (I actually use granulated sugar instead of flour as it gives a nice crunchy outside to the cake!) Bake in preheated 350 oven until cake tests done. While cake is in oven, place topping ingredients in saucepan except the vanilla of butter extract. Stir until sugar is dissolved! Add extract. When cake is finished baking allow it to sit in pan for about 10 min. Invert over serving platter and poke holes with a small round dowel or skewer! Drizzle warm topping in holes and cake. Cake will freeze well and keeps well at room temp, covered up to 3 days if not freezing. Top with ice cream or whipped cream or just slice a piece off as you pass by. The calories don’t count if you don’t eat it with a fork.
Sunday I learned that a dear sweet friend had passed away during December due to a stroke. This sweet lady who was so smart and efficient, was just a great friend who had encouraged me ever since I began to write Chocolate castles. She would aways tell me how much she enjoyed reading the blog and made several recipes from time to time. During the 15 or so years that I was blessed to know her, she and I began a joke of calling her Ms Green Beans. She would sign her emails Ms GB and that’s how I addressed correspondence to her. To be honest, I can’t truly remember the story of how she became Ms GB! For years when I was up at church all the time, I made sure to go by her office and take what I had brought up to church to share! She would always tell me “oh Trudy, I shouldn’t have that! I’ll put it in my drawer and take it home to Bill”. But when I passed back by on the way out, there seemed to always be a napkin out on her desk with half of the goodie already gone! I would just shake my head at her and smile and say “ poor Bill. He’s not going to get a bite of that, is he?” She was just one of those people who was like everyone’s grandmother. She loved the Lord and she loved the church. Ms Green Beans, you will be missed and one day, we will sit and share a big plate of green beans and I’ll bring the goodies!!! Gladys Heaton, you blessed so so many lives! So thankful for the memories I have with you!
A couple of days ago, I had made a huge pan of cornbread dressing to take to a Christmas party at church. There was enough to feed about 30 people! To be sure it was getting done in the middle, I decided to take it out of the oven to stir it but as I did so, the aluminum pan it was in decided to buckle in the middle and the dressing went all over the kitchen floor (and on the carpet which sits between the sink and the stove). As i tried to clean it up with towels, tracks of cornbread dressing lined the floor from the kitchen to the utility room because it was sticking to the soles of my shoes from stepping in it! Because I had just finished cleaning up chicken broth from leaking out of another aluminum pan that held chicken meat in it for the party, I stood there and decided that as mad as I was that there would now be no dressing for the party. I didn’t want to mess up my makeup and go to the party with red eyes because I cried! It had indeed been a trying afternoon! Frosty and I got to the party, decorated some tables, and enjoyed the wonderful evening with sweet friends and some really great food (in spite of the fact that we had no dressing)! The carols that were sung brought me to tears for a few min when I began to think of the words that were being sung! Had my day panned out as planned? Absolutely not! But when I thought about Mary and Joseph, their plans didn’t exactly pan out as they had thought. In fact, the plans they had made, but didn’t get to keep, brought I’m sure, some pretty judgmental looks, and probably some very unwise advice to both of them! But God….because of the light that He brings to our lives, unplanned circumstances can be accepted with a joy that is ours because of the One who makes all things, planned or unplanned, quite beautiful! Did we have dressing that night? No, but did we have a precious time of fellowship and wonderful food! Absolutely! Did Mary and Joseph begin their marriage in the traditional way expected! No, but their obedience to God allowed them to raise the Son of God! What the world sees as a disaster, is sometimes simply put, God shining His light into our lives which will shine forth to others!
As Christmas draws near, let us all allow for unplanned or planned circumstance to shine our lights brightly in our worship of the Christ Child!
Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive Her King!
As the pastor said Sunday, The best Christmas Carol of all….Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe!
Saw this recipe on Two Peas & A Pod and made it into cupcakes. They are so moist and so so rich with ginger. Took them to a party at our sons house and they were a hit!
With powdered sugar or frost with cream cheese frosting! Made them into cupcakes instead of the bundt cake so only baked them for about 15 min. Buy because ovens vary, begin to check them after 13 min and remove when cupcakes test done. They should be very soft on top when done but do not leave a dent when pressed down! Topped with Archway gingerbread men and gold sprinkles! Thank you Two Peas & A pod for a most delicious recipe!
Where there is a will, there is a way! We wanted lights around the garage door since we don’t often see the lights that were installed to outline the front of the house! Since we enter thru the garage in back, we followed several of our neighbors who have put lights up around their garage doors. Dresses up the ally! So because Randy is no longer able to get up and down a ladder or a step stool, we worked as a team! I climbed on the step stool and glued the lights up one by one! In order for me to balance getting up and down each few feet I used a walker to balance myself. We started laughing thinking how hilarious we looked with a walker rt beside the ladder with me using it to steady myself climbing up and down! I told Randy we would probably win some money on AFV for that sight! But we got the job done and tonight when we drive back in from having Mexican food for dinner, beautiful white lights will welcome us back in the door guiding me into the kitchen to once again find the Advil for all the aches from stretching and climbing! Chocolatecastles.com
Last evening we were having friends over for dinner. A few weeks ago I had experimented with pork tenderloin and thought that was what I had taken out of the freezer to make again for dinner last night. The loin had turned out so good when I made it the first time, that I figured I would try it again and because it is so easy, I could serve it with rice pilaf, cashew salad (what we call Rita salad because Rita gave me the recipe and we LOVE it!) and hot rolls! About 3:00 when I undid the meat out of the paper, I discovered that instead of finding a pork loin staring back at me, I was looking down at a pork roast. Well, I didn’t have time to run to the store because I still had to make the pie and clean house, so I decided to just cut the roast up in pieces, trimming off any fat and cook it the same way I had done with the loin! When our friends walked in the door at 6 sharp, I quickly told them my story and if it didn’t turn out because it was too tough to chew, we would send the guys out for Whataburger! When I uncovered the dish of the roast, I kept praying “Lord, let it be tender”. Well answer He did! It was so tender you could cut it with a fork! It was delicious. The only thing different from when I made the pork loin, was this time around I layered thinly sliced onion before pouring the gravy over it to bake. This is such a great and different way to make pork and one that should be in your recipe keep file! We served it with the salad, rice pilaf and had some Trader Joe’s orange cranberry sauce! It was a delicious dinner. Ended our night with pecan cream cheese pie! Also started with our new tradition since we did this with all our kids last year, that anyone who comes in our house during the holidays has to take an “Elfie” picture. Janet and Gary, not only were you our Guinea pigs for two new recipes, you are the first non family member to take an “Elfie” for us! Happy Thanksgiving and since y’all have a million recipes of traditional thanksgiving recipes I thought I would give you a new recipe that gets your mind off turkey and onto the pig!!!
One pork loin or roast! Trim any fat off! Not your body, the roast!) If using the loin, slice into 1” slices if using pork roast, cut in to slices or chunks that can be dipped to fry. Remember this is like chicken fried steak only pork so that is the goal: chicken fried pork covered and baked i n gravy!
In a small bowl, combine 1 egg with 1 cup of milk
Mix and dip each piece In the milk/egg mixture and then dip wet slice into a bowl of flour that you have added some seasoning to (like salt, pepper, garlic, lemon pepper whatever you like)
In a frying pan, heat about 2/3 cup oil. Heat the oil and fry each meat piece until it is lightly browned on each side. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little thyme while meat is frying. You don’t need to worry that pork isn’t complete done. It will also be baked throughly while it is baked. Layer slices/chunks of meat in a Pyrex baking dish (you have greased first) or Dutch oven. Thinly slice an onion over the meat using about 1/3 of a small onion. Pour some of the gravy over this and then Repeat the layers until all meat is used. Top with the gravy. Cover well with foil or lid and Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about an hour to an hr and a half. Depends on how many layers you have of the meat. After an hour check to see if you need to add any gravy or water to the dish so it is not dry. Serve with rice pilaf and any side dish you like.
I had bought a Pioneer packet of brown gravy! I followed the directions on the back and set it aside while I made some gravy to add to it. in the same skillet I fried the pork, I simply added some flour to the left over drippings to create a roux stirring constantly over medium heat. As soon as the roux began to lightly brown, I added about 1 cup of milk, salt and pepper stirring constantly with a whisk to not allow it to get lumps from the flour. Then I added the gravy from the packet to this gravy. And stirred until they were combined. If you don’t like to make gravy simply use the packet of brown gravy and use cream of mushroom soup! Pour the soup into the frying pan with the drippings! (Most of the grease you used to fry the pork will have been soaked up in the meat so you shouldn’t have but a couple tables of grease left in frying pan) Stir in about a 1/2 cup of water. Then add the brown gravy packet to the soup mixture and you are good to go. I think I’ll make a video tomorrow of the gravy so you can watch it be made. Will make it come to life!!! We are having 3 couples over for dinner tomorrow night so will make a new batch of this using the pork loin this time!!! Plus corn casserole and they are bring the rest. Would be a great evening.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all and to all a Great Meal!
This precious little cookbook was bought in 1997 in Lake City, CO when Randy and I were driving with his parents on a day trip while visiting them in South Fork, CO. His parents spent about 25 years going to SF in an 5th wheel where they stayed from May thru Sept. We loved our time with them there and learned about biscuit bakes and microwave divinity. The nights spent gathered around a camp fire would be the highlight for me as we would sit with blankets wrapped around us on cold evenings in lawn chairs and visit with the 50 or so people who gathered around the fire. I loved that. People who came to SF every year knew the peoples families. They heard about grandbabies being born or relatives who died and the friends who went thru cancer or other health issues. It was a campground that formed friendships that lasted for years. Each year when I bring out this little book, it brings back so many wonderful memories which still brings a smile to my heart.
Welcome to Chocolate Castles, a blog about food, family and stories that hopefully will bring a smile to your heart.
Thanks for reading chocolate castles and may the recipes and stories help bring your family and friends a little closer around the table!
Remember that Princess On The Porch is still available on Amazon! Makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys being in the kitchen and needs a little laughter in their lives.
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