Tuesday, March 31, 2015


This Black Bean Dip is the other dip I made for our bridge friends when they gathered at our house. I found this recipe in The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (1999). It was super easy and fast to prepare. I didn't read that the recipe said to serve warm. I made it in the morning so I wouldn't be rushed just before they arrived. It worked out fine though. I just reheated it in the microwave just before they arrived. I'm not crazy about black beans, but enjoyed the dip.


1       (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1       (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1/2   cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1       teaspoon chili powder
Garnish: shredded cheddar cheese

Combine the beans and tomato sauce in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. 

Mash beans with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.

Add the cheese and chili powder; stirring constantly until cheese melts.

Garnish if desired.

Serve dip warm with tortilla chips or pita chips or crackers.

Yield: 2 cups.

Calories: 25/tablespoon

Monday, March 30, 2015


I haven't read a Joanne Fluke novel in a while. Since her first novel Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is being made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel to premier in a couple of weeks, I decided to check it out and read it. Each one of her book titles is something baked and she includes lots of recipes that her main character Hannah prepares and sells in her bakery called The Cookie Jar.

I needed something for my husband to take to the tax office this morning but had to make it yesterday as I have a dental cleaning this morning at 9:30. So I decided these featured cookies in her book would do the trick. I wanted to substitute for the sugar in the recipe, but didn't this first time. I did substitute crispy rice cereal for the corn flakes because I didn't have the corn flakes. I remember years ago of making chocolate chip cookies and adding the rice cereal to the dough.

Hannah (Joanne) noted that if the cookies flattened too much to lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and not to flattened them out. My first batch did so I lowered the temperature to 350 degrees. I have presented the recipe to you with the lower temperature. If your oven cooks just the opposite and the cookies don't flatten out, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and slightly flatten the cookie dough with a spatula that you have dipped in flour or wet with water.

I also halved the original recipe because I only wanted to make 3 dozen cookies. If you want more, just double the ingredients.


1/2      cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1/2      cup sugar
1/2      cup brown sugar
1          teaspoon baking soda
1/2      teaspoon slat
1          teaspoon vanilla
1          egg, beaten
1-1/4   cup flour
1          cup crushed cornflakes (I did use 1 cup crispy rice cereal)
1          cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray or grease cookie sheets.

In a large glass mixing bowl, heat butter in microwave about 1 minute. (I covered the bowl, and stirred it with a wooden spoon to finish melting the butter.)

Add the sugars and stir.

Add the baking soda, salt, vanilla, and beaten egg. Mix well with wooden spoon.

Add the flour and stir in.

Add the cereal and chips. (Batter will be thick at this point.)

Form dough in walnut size balls. (My trusty little cookie scoop worked great.) Place on cookie sheet (no more than 12 on a sheet....cookies will spread.) This picture was of the first sheet. My last sheet looked the best and I didn't smooth out the dough ball my scoop made or flatten them.

Bake 8 - 10 minutes (8 minutes was perfect in my oven.) This is a picture of the second sheet. I had flattened them slightly. The third sheet came out puffy(sorry didn't take a picture) but flattened perfectly as they cooled. They are pictured above the recipe and in the next picture.

Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing them to wire rack to finish cooling.

In this picture you can see the first two sheets. The back ones were the first sheet and they got too brown and almost too flat. I baked them at 375 degrees F as recipe said and flattened the dough. The front one are the second sheet. I lowered the temperature to 350 degrees F and reshaped them a little so they wouldn't be as flat.

The third sheet was the best of the three. I just left dough as it came out of scoop and baked for 8 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I love to find new ways to cook pork chops. That's why I am always surprised when I start looking for recipes, I don't find very many. Maybe I need to get a cookbook for just pork. Haven't seen one, but I am sure there is one out there. 

I did find this one in my Best of Country Cooking Cookbook, 2002 submitted by Joan Dobbs from Evansville, IL. Her recipe served 8 and I liked the looks of the dish in the picture. I didn't want to serve 8....just 2, for the two of us. So I made a few changes to the recipe. My results didn't look like her picture, but not sure how she did get her pictured results. I read and reread the recipe to make sure you were to add the BBQ sauce to the cranberry sauce. Yes, that's what it said. But in her picture it just looks like cranberry sauce over the chops. 

It really doesn't matter. We loved MY results. The chops were so moist and tender and we loved the combined taste of the cranberries and BBQ sauce.

If you want to feed more than two, use the whole can of whole berry cranberry sauce, 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce, and 1/4 cup of water.


3/4    cups whole cranberry sauce
1/4     cup barbecue sauce
2        tablespoons water
2        pork chops (I used center cut)
salt and pepper to taste
little oil

Heat 3/4 cup of whole cranberry sauce in microwave to soften, about 2 minutes on 80% power. (I opened the whole can and heated all of it and then measured out half of it which was 3/4 cup. I wanted to softened it up so that the whole berries were spread out. I will use the rest in something else or just let my husband eat it. He loves whole cranberry sauce.)

Add the barbecue sauce and water to the sauce you will be using for this recipe.

Spray a medium size skillet with oil and brown the chops on each side over medium heat, about a minute or two on each side. (I was getting the sauce ready and didn't really pay close attention to the time.)

Cover the chops with the sauce mixture and lower the temperature to medium low to simmer. Cover skillet with lid.

Cook for about 35 minutes or until chops are done.

Remove chops from skillet.

Serve with the leftover sauce in skillet if you like.

As I said, the chops were so moist and tender. Loved the combined taste of the cranberries and BBQ sauce. You won't be sorry if you try this one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I found this recipe in a file I created a  l - o - n -  g  time ago when I was trying to find something to bake for my husband to take to the tax office at Fort Leavenworth. Since I had some fresh strawberries and banana ripening, I thought it was the perfect "pick-me-up". It was so refreshing. I enjoyed two glasses as pictured below and then told my husband he could have the rest. I think I will be enjoying this freezie every time I have fresh strawberries in the house. You can see in one of the pictures below, I filled the 1/2 cup measuring cup to overflowing. Since the strawberries were so big (#1s), I wanted to makeup for the empty space in the measuring cup. My banana was also small, so I used more like 3/4 ths of it.


1        cup orange juice
2       teaspoons honey
1/2    medium-size ripe banana, sliced
1/2    cup unsweetened strawberries, halved
crushed ice

Combine the orange juice, honey, banana, strawberries in electric blender.

Cover, and whirl at high speed until smooth.

With motor running, gradually add as much crushed ice as necessary for desired thickness. (I added about 1 cup crushed ice.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The first time I made this Pineapple Cheesecake was several years ago. Even then I was always trying to reduce calories whenever I could. That time was no different; I used fat-free cream cheese. I made it for a couples' dinner group my husband and I belonged to. When it was time for dessert, I left the table to cut the squares to serve it.

I am always nervous when I try to remove the first piece of a dessert. Some of my friends and I have an expression, " Expect the first serving to not come out perfectly and then be surprised when it does." 

That night, the first one didn't come out perfectly, but none of the others did either. The cream cheese layer just didn't "set" up...even though I had cooked it. At least it tasted really good so no one really cared.(but me, of course)

So Thursday night when I made the dessert for a second time, I used regular cream cheese. I definitely didn't want a repeat of that other night several years ago. Each piece came out perfectly this time. I'm not sure why it didn't work the first time. Usually substituting fat-free cream cheese for regular cream cheese works in recipes that require some baking time. Another change I made was cooking the crust the full amount of time (20 minutes). I am sure before I took it out after 15 minutes. That might have helped also as the crust stayed together with each piece I cut.


Pat-in-the-Pan Crust (below)

2       packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened or at room temperature
1/2    cup sugar
2       eggs
2/3   cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4    cup all-purpose flour
1/4    cup sugar
1        can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, well drained (reserve 1 cup juice)
1/2    cup whipping cream (or 1 cup Cool Whip)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F if using a glass baking dish)

Prepare the crust according to directions below. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy.

Beat in 1/2 cup sugar and the eggs.

Stir in the 2/3 cup of pineapple juice.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the hot crust. 

Bake just until center is set, about 20 minutes.

Cool completely.

Mix the flour, and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. 
Stir in the reserved 1 cup of juice. Make sure you whisk out the lumps.

Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Remove from heat 
and fold in the pineapple.

Cool completely.

When cooled, beat the whipping cream in a chilled bowl until stiff OR use 1 cup of Cool Whip. Fold into pineapple mixture.

Spread carefully over dessert.

Cover loosely and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. ( I always make mine the day/night before)

Cut into squares to serve.


2       cups all-purpose flour
2/3    cups margarine or butter, softened
1/2    cup almonds, finely chopped
1/2    cup powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until crumbly.

Press firmly and evenly in bottom of an ungreased rectangular pan, 9 x 13 - inches

Bake until set, 15 - 20 minutes. (I did mine in a glass Pyrex 9 x 13 - inch dish at 325 degrees F and baked it 20 minutes.)

I had two desserts Friday night for people to choose. Most people chose the Key Lime Cake I will also be sharing. I decided to take what was left of the Pineapple Cheesecake Squares (except for several servings for my husband to enjoy later...he liked it better than the cake) Saturday to share it with the downstairs volunteers. They were really surprised to see me walk in with a dessert. I heard Dale asked if if were Tuesday. When I explained that I had told everyone at our house the night before that I would take the leftovers to Hillcrest the next day, Dale laughed and said, "We'll eat anything!" They thought it was delicious. Dean and Bob even had a second helping. Guess it was good most of the regulars who are there on Tuesday, don't volunteer on Saturday.