RECIPE #70: Baked Beans (Slow crockpot method & fast method)

Serves: 8

1 lb dry great Northern beans
 8 C water
4 oz diced salt pork
1 C chopped onion
1/2 C molasses
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1 t dry mustard
1/8 t ground pepper

Night before: combine beans and water in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Cook 1.5 hrs. Pour beans & liquid into bowl, cover & refrigerate overnight.

Morning of: drain off liquid, reserving 1 C. Pour beans and reserved liquid into crock pot. Stir in salt pork, onion, molasses, brown sugar, mustard & pepper. Cover & cook on low for 12 to 14 hours. Stir before serving.

Serves: 8

4 cans great Northern beans
4 oz diced salt pork
1 C chopped onion
1/2 C molasses
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1 t dry mustard
1/8 t ground pepper

In a stockpot, saute salt pork and onion over medium heat until browned.

Drain off liquid from 2 of the cans of beans. Stir in beans, molasses, brown sugar, mustard & pepper.

Cover & cook on low for 1 hour over medium heat. Stirring every 5 or so minutes.


1. Remove lids and seals. Sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher.
2. Ladle cooked fruit in jars. Immediately seal with new lids. Screwing it on fingertip tight.
3. Immediately turn the jar upside down on the counter for 5 minutes then turn upright.

4. Cool.
5. You might hear the seals popping into place, but check them after an hour to make sure.
6. Then you can put them in the refrigerator or in the pantry.

makes approx 2 cups
2 C blueberry juice (juiced or squeezed) OR buy 100% juice at the store
2 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 t lemon juice
1 3/4 oz dry pectin (more or less for thicker or thinner syrup)

In a large saucepan, mix juice, sugar & water over medium heat and bring to boil. Boil 20-30 min. Stir in pectin and boil 5 more min. Stir in lemon juice. Then ladle hot syrup into jars & follow cold packed canning method instructions above (or use hot bath instructions ).

Use your ROMERTOPF clay baker to roast your chicken potatoes & carrots

I like using my clay bakers the best because they completely seal in the moisture and cook perfectly.

ROAST a Chicken in your clay baker

Soak your clay baker for 10 minutes.

Place sliced or chopped 1 onion in the bottom of the baker.

Place chicken in on top of onions, chicken butt up, legs & wings tucked.

Arrange peeled carrots & potatoes around chicken.

Salt & pepper.

Cover with lid.

Place in COLD oven. Turn it to 400 degrees.
Cook for 20 minutes per pound plus an extra 20 min. Then remove lid & bake for another 10 min to brown.

WATER BATH CANNING jams, jelly & preserves: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam & Blackberry Jelly

I've always wanted to learn how to can my own jams, jelly & preserves, so I searched the Internet and did it.

I went to my local grocery store and bought new jars with lids & seals along with pectin. Of course I decided to do this as I was going down that isle. Didn't even have a recipe.

I got home to search my cookbooks for recipes and all called for fresh fruit. All I had as bananas and pears, so I was praying frozen fruit would work too. And it did. I couldn't find a recipe of what I had ingredients for so I made up my own.

Water Bath Canning
1. Sterilize jars in boiling water for 10 minutes in a stock pot. Lids have to be sterilized in boiling water for at least 2-3 minutes. You have to use a new lid every time you jar something new. Rings can be reused. Jars can be reused.
2. Ladle cooked fruit in jars. Or pack them with vegetables or fruit and ladle hot liquid over. Using a knife or skewer, run it inside and around the jar removing air bubbles. With a damp paper towel, wipe rim of jar clean. Immediately seal with sterilized lids. Screwing it on with a ring, fingertip tight.
3. As you've allowed your stock pot with water to continue to boil, add the newly sealed jars to the boiling water bath.
4. Cover with more boiling water until at least 1 inch of boiling water covers the top.
5.  Fruit Times (in minutes)     pts    qts
Apples                                   20     25
Applesauce                            25      25
Apricots                                 20      25
berries (except strawberries)   15      20
cherries                                 20      20
cranberries                             10      10
currants                                  20      20
figs                                         90      90
juices                                      10      10
grapefruit                                20      20
grapes                                    20      20
nectarines                               20      25
peaches                                  20      25
pears                                      25      30
pickles                                    20       20
pineapple                                30       30
plums                                     20       25
rhubarb                                  10        10
strawberries                           15        15
tomatoes                                35        45
Add approx 2 minutes for every 1000 feet you are above sea level.
For example, we live at 6217 feet above sea level. So I add 12-13 minutes more to my time.
6. Use tongs to take each jar out of the bath and set it directly on a wooden cutting board or a clean towel.
7. Let them be undisturbed for 12-24 hours to set. You should be able to hear the popping sound of them sealing within an hour or two. Check the seal. If it's one or more are not sealed, something went wrong. You can put the unsealed in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, otherwise throw it out. The sealed ones, you can put them in the pantry.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
makes approx 6 cups
2 C frozen strawberries
2 C frozen rhubarb
2 C sugar
1/2 C water
3 oz dry pectin

In a large saucepan, mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar & water over medium heat and bring to boil. Boil 20 - 25 min or until fruit is soft. Stir in pectin and boil 5 more min. Then ladle hot mixture into jars & follow canning instructions above.

approx 4 Cups
2 C frozen blackberries
2 C sugar
1/2 C water
3 oz dry pectin

In a large saucepan, mix blackberries, sugar & water over medium heat and bring to boil. Boil 20 - 25 min or until fruit is soft & falling apart. Stir in pectin and boil 5 more min. Then ladle hot mixture into jars & follow canning instructions above.


RECIPE #69: Brownie Cheesecake with caramel & chocolate drizzle

I've never made cheesecake before. Practice makes perfect! Our friend Moon requested I make this for him. I was more than willing...he's been such a good friend to us.

Like Julie Powell did, I too might have to put a donation box up so I can keep this blog going :)

Brownie Cheesecake with caramel & chocolate drizzle
1 (9 oz) pkg brownie mix
1 egg
1 T cold water
2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 C sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
caramel sauce
chocolate glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease spring form pan.

In a small bowl, mix together brownie mix as directed then add 1 egg and water. Spread into the greased pan. Bake 25 minutes.

Caramel sauce: Melt 1 (14 oz) pkg caramels, unwrapped with 1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk over low heat in heavy saucepan. Stir often and heat until mixture has a smooth consistency. Reserve 1/3 C of mixture. Pour the rest over the warm brownie crust.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Pour cream cheese mixture over caramel.

Bake cheesecake for 40 minutes. Chill in pan in refrigerator. When cake is thoroughly chilled, loosen by running a knife around the edge and remove the rim of the pan.

Chocolate glaze: In a double boiler over hot but not boiling water, mix 3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips, 3 T butter and 1 T light corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Then add 1/4 t vanilla if desired. Spoon mixture into Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out and seal. Now use scissors to cut a very small corner of the Ziploc bag. Now squeeze in a zigzag fashion over the cheesecake or each slice of cheesecake to plate.

Heat reserved caramel mixture, place in a Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out and seal. Now use scissors to cut a very small corner of the Ziploc bag. Now squeeze caramel in a zigzag fashion (just like you did for the chocolate) over the cheesecake or each slice of cheesecake to plate.

Just try not to eat the whole cheesecake in one sitting!

Truth vs Fiction: My husband, Ryan spoke at church last Sunday

It's about 25 minutes long and might be worth your time.


As we were visiting our friends while on our way to Houston for Christmas, one of my young friends wanted me to have one of her special recipes.

Thank you, Jones! We loved it!!!


RECIPE #68: MeatBall Sliders

serves 24

Soak 2 slices of bread (torn into little pieces) in 1/2 C whole milk for 5 minutes.

Gently mix bread & milk with 8 oz ground beef, 8 oz ground pork & 4 oz ground veal with a wooden spoon or gloved hand (you can even use plastic wrap or a Ziploc baggie).

Mix in 1/2 C finely grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, 3 T coarsely chopped fresh parsley, 1 minced clove garlic, 1 egg & 1 t salt.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat 1 jar or large can of spaghetti or pasta sauce in a large skillet over medium heat.

Roll meat mixture (with gloved hands) into 1 oz balls and place in skillet.

Bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, partially covered, until meatballs are cooked through. About 20-25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You'll need: 2 dozen brioche rolls or slider buns, 1 1/2 C coarsely grated mozzarella, 1/2 C finely grated Romano or Parmesan & coarsely shredded basil leaves.

Working in batches, arrange rolls/buns , cut side up on a baking sheet or pizza stone.

Place 1 meatball, a spoonful of sauce, 1 T mozzarella & 1 t Romano on bottom halves.

Bake until cheese melts...3-4 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Top with basil leaves & top part of bun/roll.

Serve hot.

RECIPE #67: Banana Upside Down Cake

I've made this for our PHOEBE meeting tomorrow night. PHOEBE is a time when anyone can come to writing encouraging cards to others. Not only does it benefit others that receive the cards but it'll benefit all who come for food and fellowship.

Banana Upside Down Cake

4 T melted butter
1/2 C brown sugar
Spread on bottom of greased pan.
1/2 C pecans
2 to 4 sliced bananas.
Set aside & preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl one, whisk together
2 1/2 C flour
1 T baking soda
1 pinch salt
Set aside.

In bowl two, beat
1/2 C unsalted butter
1 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
Then add
2 eggs
Beat in
3 to 4 smashed bananas
Then add
2/3 C buttermilk (Don't have buttermilk? Not surprised. Neither do I! )
Mix in
1/2 C chopped nuts

Now beat bowl 1 & 2 together.
Then pour the cake batter over the sugar, nuts & banana slices in the pan.

Sea level: bake 45 minutes
High altitude: bake 50 min to 1 hour.

TIP #40: Part 1 - Make your own cleaning solutions

I'm sure you find that a cleaner doesn't work as well as you'd like for it to or you run out of a cleaner and don't have time to go to the store. Here are some homemade solutions to help you. Although I have other tips on my blog, here are some more...

All purpose cleaner:
Mix 1/2 C vinegar with 1/4 C baking soda (or 2 t borax) in 1/2 gallon water. Store & keep. Great for water deposit stains on shower stalls, bathroom & kitchen fixtures, mirrors, etc.

Air Freshener:
Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes absorbs odors around the house.
Having plants helps reduce odors in the home.
Cooking odors? Simmer 1 T vinegar in 1 C water on stove top while cooking.
Fish or onion smells on utensils & cutting boards? Wipe with vinegar and wash in soapy water.
Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter top in a bowl.
Grind up a slice of lemon in the garbage disposal.
Simmer water & cinnamon sticks or cloves on the stove top.
Place bowls of fragrant dried herbs and flowers in a room.

Bathroom mold:
Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water in spray bottle and spray areas with mold like grout. Wait a least 1 hour before rinsing or taking a shower.

Carpet stains:
Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain & let sit for several minutes. Then clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
For fresh grease spots. sprinkle corn starch onto spot & wait 15030 minutes before vacuuming.
For heavy duty, mix 1/4 C salt, 1/4 C borax & 1/4 C vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.

Cleaning teakettle or coffee maker, add 2 C water and 1/4 C vinegar. Bring to boil or run through the coffee maker. Wipe with paper towel or cloth and rinse with water. 

Cleaning your drains:
For light cleaning, mix 1/2 C salt in 4 ltrs water, heat but not boil 7 pour down drain. For stronger cleaning, pour about 1/2 C baking soda down drain, then 1/2 C vinegar. After 15 min pour in boiling water.

To reduce static cling, dampen your hands, then shake out your clothes as you remove them from the dryer.

Polish or clean your floors:
Vinyl or Linoleum: Mix 1 C vinegar & a few drops of baby oil in 1 gal water. For tougher jobs, add 1/4 C borax. Using sparingly on linoleum.
Polish wood: mix 1 C vegetable oil & 1 C vinegar. Rub in well.
Damp mopping wood: Mix 2 C vinegar & 2 C warm water in spray bottle. Add 15 drops of 100% peppermint oil (like from Young Living). Shake then spray to mop.
Brick & stone: 1 C vinegar in 1 gal water. Rinse with clean water.

TIP #39: Stains in the kitchen?

Now this might not work for every stain but it's worked for me on coffee, tea and juice stains.

Cut a lemon in half. Squeeze out a little juice onto the stain then smash the lemon into the counter or refrigerator shelf and rub in circular motion. Let it sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Wipe clean.

This method also works for butcher blocks.

Lemon's are a natural cleaner. It's non-toxic so the kids can help clean. It smells great too!

RECIPE #66: Black Eye Pea Gumbo & Cornbread

I'll be making this tonight for dinner to keep up with our tradition.

Black Eyed Pea Gumbo
serves 8

1 T oil
1 med diced onion
1 med diced green bell pepper
2 C chicken OR vegetable broth
1 C brown OR white rice
4 (15 oz) cans black eyed peas, undrained
1 (10 oz) can Rotel
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 minced cloves garlic

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion & pepper until tender. Pour in broth and mix in rest of ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Add water if too thick.

Southern Cornbread
serves 8

1 C cornmeal
1/3 C flour
1/4 C sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T oil
1 egg
1 C milk

Mix all dry ingredients together then add in all wet ingredients. Stir until just mixed. Pour into greased pan. Cook for 20 minutes in 400 degree preheated oven.

TIP: If you're against making it from scratch (laughing), try using Marie Callender's "Just Add Water" cornbread mix.

Where does the tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Years day come from?

Ever since I can remember, Mom makes black eyed peas on New Year's day. She always said it was good luck but I never understood why. I've heard from others that black eyed peas represent coins and prosperity. My parent's are not superstitious so it didn't make any "cents" to me. I'm not even sure my mom really knows why they do it except her mom and grandmother always did it and it's tradition. I even do it since I've left home. Why? It's what we've always done.

This past month as I was thinking about black eyed peas recipes, I wanted to know more of the actual reason why. Why is it a tradition? After much searching, here's what I've found that actually makes sense.

Black eyed peas have always been a symbol of good luck which Wikipedia says as early as 500 bc in Jewish tradition. But as far as New Year's is concerned, it's a tradition that began in the South. On New Year's Eve in 1862, many African Americans waited up all night to wait for Pres. Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some renegade confederates probably in command from General Sherman targeted and raided some slaves and took all their food except black eyed peas because they had black on them & because possibly they thought black eyed peas were only for animal feed. Whatever the reason, the African Americans rejoiced because they had food; they had been spared & felt they had good luck. Although having a church party on New Year's Eve didn't originate with the African American community, it's become very important to so many because of the history on Dec 31, 1862 & Jan 1, 1863. This is why many African American churches have a "Watch Night" on New Year's Eve and celebrate with black eyed peas, of course, among other favorite Southern soul food.

Now I have an explanation as to probably why we do it which is nice but I'm going to continue doing it because it's a family tradition and I like eating black eyed peas.