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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Non-Alcoholic Substitutions

I don't know about you, but as a cook who doesn't partake of alcoholic beverages, I have a hard time figuring out what to substitute in recipes that call for wine and liquor.  I was looking through a cookbook the other day to figure out my next blog post and found this list of substitutions that seem to be pretty good.  It's a little lengthy, but comprehensive.


  • Liquor/Liqueurs--sub an equal amount of fruit juice
  • Wine--sub equal amount of fruit juice plus 1 T. vinegar


  • Liquor/Wine--sub equal amount of liquid: chicken, beef or vegetable broth, or even water.  Add 1 T. of red wine vinegar or white vinegar for a little zing.  Also consider available non-alcoholic wines, but still add a vinegar to balance their sweetness.


  • 2 T. Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur--sub 2 T. unsweetened orange juice concentrate.
  • 2 T. Rum/Brandy--sub water, white grape juice, or apple juice.
  • 1/4 c.or more White Wine--sub equal measure of chicken broth, vegetable broth, or clam juice (If      using non-alcoholic wine, add 1 T. vinegar to cut the sweetness.
  • 1/4 c. or more Red Wine--sub equal amount of chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, clam juice, flavored vinegar, fruit juices, apples cider, and non-alcoholic wines (remember the vinegar trick).


  • 2 T. Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur--sub 2 T. orange juice and 1/2 t. orange extract.
  • 2 T. Rum/Brandy--sub 1/2 to 1 t. rum or brandy extract for recipes in which liquid amount is not crucial.  Add water, white grape juice, or apple juice, if necessary, to get the right amount of liquid.
  • 2 T. Amaretto--sub 1/4 to 1/2 t. almond extract.
  • 2 T. Sherry or Bourbon--sub 1 to 2 t. vanilla extract.
  • 2 T. Chocolate Liqueur--sub 1/2 to 1 t. chocolate extract plus 1/2 to 1 t. coffee granules dissolved in 2 T. water (I don't drink coffee either, so if you know of another way, let me know)
  • For 1/4 c. or more port wine/sweet sherry/rum/ brandy/fruit-flavored liqueur--sub equal measure of orange juice or apples juice plus 1 t. of corresponding flavored extract or vanilla extract.

Source: Just a list stuck in my cookbook.
Image courtesy of

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Baked Beans

Independence Day is just around the corner!  Is there anything more American on the 4th of July than grilling out hamburgers and hot dogs?  You need some good angus hot dogs and Bubba burgers, along with chili and slaw (if you're from the South, ya'll!)  There's one more side you need though!  It's baked beans, of course! 

Ingredients List:

8 slices thick but bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 large cans (28 oz. each) pork and beans
3/4 c. BBQ sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 T. Dijon mustard


1. Place whole bacon slices on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet.  Place sheet in an un-preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Take sheet out of the oven.  The bacon will not be completely cooked, but will cook later once the baked beans are assembled.  Save the bacon grease.  Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel.  Once cool to the touch, cut each bacon strip in half, to make serving easy.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and decrease oven temp to 325 degrees.

3. Add about 1/4 c. bacon drippings to a frying pan, and over medium heat, add onions and peppers.  Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add beans and remaining ingredients (besides bacon) and bring to a simmer.

4. Pour bean mixture into a greased 13 by 9" ovenproof glass baking dish.

5. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours.  Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

Servings: 16

Nutrition Information, per Serving: 198 Calories, 3.4 g Fat, 6.9 g Fiber, 8.9 g Protein

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Thursday, June 18, 2015

White Texas Sheet Cake

White Texas Sheet Cake.  Hmmmm.  For a southern girl who has only had the chocolate version, this seemed a bit unnatural, but I was game, so I tried the recipe for my daughter's 27th birthday.  Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious.  It was so good, and we were all snatching little pieces of it the rest of the evening.  I had to give half to my daughter to take home because I knew I would not be able to stay away from it.  Enjoy this.  And definitely use the coarse sugar sprinkles.

1 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. almond extract
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt

FROSTING: (Mix well in large bowl. Frost cooled cake.)

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. milk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. almond extract

1.  Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2.  In a saucepan, bring water and butter to boil and add to dry ingredients.

3.  Mix eggs and sour cream together in a small bowl and add to mix, along with almond extract.

4.  Pour into a jelly roll pan and bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

5.  Cool and frost. Coarse sugar sprinkles are great on top.

SOURCE:  Shawni Pothier

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (or Layer Cake or Sheet Cake)

This recipe is very versatile, and can be used to make beautiful layer cakes, easy and still tasty sheet cakes, or super cute cupcakes!  Depending on whether you want to make a 3-layer layer cake, a 2-layer layer cake, a 9 by 13 sheet cake, or cupcakes, I have listed the appropriate pan sizes and baking times for each.  There are several steps to making this cake, and a lot of ingredients, but the final product is SO worth it, I promise you!

Ingredients List:

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. grated carrots
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (3.5 oz.) can flaked coconut
1 c. chopped walnuts
Buttermilk Glaze (ingredients and directions to follow, at end of post)
Cream Cheese Frosting (ingredients and directions to follow, at end of post)


1. Depending on whether you want to make cupcakes, a layer cake or a sheet cake, you can either line 3 (9") round cake pans with wax paper, then lightly grease and flour wax paper; OR line 2 (9") round cake pans with wax paper, then lightly grease and flour wax paper; OR spray 9 by 13" sheet pan with cooking spray; OR finally place muffin cups into muffin tins; set aside.  It really just depends on whether you want to make a 3-layer layer cake, a 2-layer layer cake, a sheet cake (My personal preference), or cupcakes. 

2. Stir together first 4 ingredients (flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon).

3. Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients (sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla) at medium speed in an electric mixer until smooth.  Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.  Fold in carrots, pineapple, coconut, and nuts.  Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Depending on what you are baking (layer cake, sheet cake, or cupcakes), you will bake your cake at 350 degrees for the following times:

**For a 3-layer 9" layer cake: bake for 25-30 minutes
**For a 2-layer 9" layer cake: bake for 35 minutes
**For a 9 by 13" sheet cake: cover with foil and bake for 50-55 minutes
**For cupcakes: bake for 15-20 minutes

5. While the cake is baking, make your Buttermilk Glaze and Cream Cheese Frosting (ingredients and directions to follow.) 

6. Once cake is out of oven, drizzle buttermilk glaze evenly over warm cake layers; cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans (if making a layer cake), and cool completely on wire racks.  (If making a sheet cake, leave the cake in the pan.  If making cupcakes, cool the cupcakes on the wire rack directly after topping with glaze.)

7. Once the cakes are cooled completely, spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of layer cake, or just over top of layer cake or cupcakes.

**Buttermilk Glaze Ingredients and Directions:

1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. butter
1 T. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.

**Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients and Directions:

3/4 c. softened butter
1 (8 oz.) package softened cream cheese
1 (3 oz.) package softened cream cheese
3 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese together at medium speed until creamy.  Add powdered sugar slowly.  Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

Yield: 20 servings

Nutrition Information, per Serving: 531 Calories, 28.6 g Fat, 1.5 g Fiber, 5.1 g Protein (I know this is a lot of calories and fat, but it is SO worth it!)

Source: Southern Living magazine, October 1997

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

I could not tell you how many times I have prepared a roast this way.  I learned it from a roommate in college, and have used it ever since.  Everyone loves it and I rarely fix it any other way.  So easy, so delish.  This is my favorite roast beef dish.  It's actually cooking in my CrockPot, as we speak.

3-4 lb. chuck roast (cheaper cuts are fine, because the slow cooker tenderizes everything)
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup (Golden Mushroom is great, as well)

1.  Place roast in slow cooker.

2. Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast.

3.  Spread condensed soup over top of roast.

4.  Cook on HIGH 4-6 hours (you can cook this on low; just make the time adjustment.  I usually only have time to cook on HIGH!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Coconut Lime Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are so good!  They are moist, with major coconut and lime flavors!  The chocolate chips are a nice touch too!  As the weather warms up, you should try these tropical-tasting breakfast treats!

Ingredients List:

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. 1% milk
2 tsp. grated lime zest
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. coconut extract

Streusel Topping:
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c. shredded sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips


1. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 c. flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in 1 c. coconut flakes and 1/2 c. chocolate chips.  Make a well in the center; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, 1/2 c. sugar, milk, lime zest,  lime juice, oil, and coconut extract.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture.  Stir just until combined.  Do not overmix; batter will be lumpy.

4. Scoop batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling each 3/4 full.

5. For the Streusel Topping: In a medium bowl, stir together the 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. sugar.  Using a pastry blender, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in 1/2 c. coconut flakes and 1/4 c. chocolate chips.  Sprinkle muffins evenly with topping. 

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Cool in muffin cups on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Serve warm.  These stay good for about 3 days and freeze well.

Yield: 18 muffins

Nutrition Information, per Muffin: 263 Calories, 14.5 g Fat, 0.5 g Fiber, 3.1 g Protein

Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Low Country Beef & Rice

Have I ever told you how much I love one dish meals?  Seriously.  They just find me and I love to make them.  I found this one in a great cookbook that I have already shared.  It's called Saving Dinner.  So Sunday was a good day to throw this one together since I had been on church assignment 1 1/2 hours away for half the day.  And just a little note, I left out the fresh, chopped tomatoes when I first made this.  They were right there in the dish drain but we were in such a hurry to eat, I forgot about them.  I added them in the next day and reheated the dish for my supper and believe me it was even better!

3/4 lb. extra-lean ground beef (I used a whole pound and it was fine.)
1 stalk celery, chopped fine (used my re-hydrated Thrive celery, already chopped.)
1 large onion, chopped (or re-hydrate some Thrive chopped onion, no tears.)
1 small green pepper, chopped (what do you think?  Yep, freeze-dried green peppers)
1 t. Cajun seasoning
1 cup oats (recipe did not specify, so I used quick oats)
3 cups brown rice (I had some Sushi rice to use up)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped--don't forget!!
2 11.5-oz. cans V-8 juice

1.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat, cook beef, celery, onion, bell pepper, and Cajun seasoning about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is brown and vegetables are tender.

2.  Blot any excess grease with a paper towel.  I didn't have any grease.

3.  Stir in oats and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients.

4.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes.

Source:  Leanne Ely, "Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table," p. 148.