"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain


Ham It Up

Do you remember the butters I made at Christmas and gave to people? One of them was Crock pot Apple Butter. SUPER easy. Wonderful smell. Delicious taste.  Well, I had a jar left.  I also had a big ham I needed to cook.  Somehow it just hit me, "Hmmm, I wonder how that Apple Butter would taste basted across that butter?"  So, I decided to try.                          
I used about 1 3/4 cup of Apple Butter and mixed it with about a 1/4 cup of syrup.  Yes, you read that right.  Syrup.  No, I have never heard of this. No, I have never tried it before. But rest assured I WILL try it again. It. Was. Delicious! I mixed the syrup and the Apple Butter together and heavily basted the ham.  I glazed the entire ham and put extra on the outside.  I covered the ham with foil and baked like normal. I had already used most of the concoction, but with what was left, I re-basted a couple of times during the cooking.
And, even if my pictures are not that good, rest assured the ham was certainly good. Look at the outside of that.  It was crispy and had a wonderful taste. I am sure that store bought Apple Butter would work well too.
Now, I have deleted a pic (on accident), so I need to get this posted before I ruin the whole post.
We are under a blizzard warning here in Oklahoma. That is highly unusual for us.  Time for me to get in the kitchen and see what I can cook up for a cold, cold snowy night.
Don't forget to try the ham baste! 


There's no meat loafin' at my house.......Just getting eaten!

My family love meatloaf. In fact on birthday nights when the kids get to "pick the menu", I always have one that picks meatloaf.
I always add a packet of dry onion soup/dip mix. I think that is a secret ingredient anytime you add that to something.  BUT....what did I do last night to jazz it up even a step further?  I baked the meatloaf for about 20 minutes, then took it out of the oven and covered it with puffed pastry I had rolled out. I continued baking until the puff pastry was golden.  You can see how delicious it looks. And it was! I think we have a keeper!

Meatloaf recipe: (this is for a big meatloaf, as pictured)
3-4 lbs. lean hamburger
1 egg
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 can Ro-tel tomato
1 to 1 1/2 sleeves of any crackers you have in the pantry
(I have used Ritz, saltines, butter crackers, etc. It is all good)
Small can of evaporated milk (optional, but keeps it moist)
1 packet of onion soup mix
Spices to taste: I use garlic salt and red pepper flakes.
Cheese--also optional (see below)

In a big bowl........Squish (very chef-like term) it all together. This needs to be worked with your hands. Do not be timid!
I usually put half of it in a large baking pan, and pat it into the shape of a loaf..or a football..that type of thing. Then I add a layer of whatever cheese we have on hand...cheddar, white, Velveeta, mixture, etc.  Then I put the rest of the meatloaf on top of the cheese. At this point you could also put a few strips of bacon on as well. Squish it all together and bake. After about 20 minutes, I take it out of the oven.

Take one Puff Pastry sheet. Roll it out to fit around your meatloaf loaf..Then gently layer it on top and the sides, tucking it into the bottom as far as you can get it.

Bake until golden. The meat should be done at that time too. Excellent!!

Check out this and other great ideas at Foodie Friday.


Let It Snow....(As in Snowball Cookies!!!)

 Last week I heard that 49 out of the 50 states had at least some snow, somewhere.  This week looks like it could be much of the same.
 With that in mind, how about making some snowball cookies to munch on while you are stuck inside?  There are so many variations of the snowball cookie.  Many are also called Mexican Wedding cookies.  There is the traditional almond flavored snowballs, lemon, chocolate mini chip, coconut, and even chocolate.  My recipe is just a basic snowball recipe.  Doctor it up any way you see fit!


1 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

2-1/2 cups flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup pecans, chopped as fine as possible
Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter in large bowl. Add sugar, cream until light. Stir in vanilla. Mix in flour and salt. Stir in nuts. Shape into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar then in additional powdered sugar straight out of oven. Roll again in powdered sugar when cool.

I found this image with stacked snowball cookies. Those would be great fun to make as well!

Check out other great recipes at Foodie Friday;


Another Candle on the Cake......

My birthday was last Thursday (the 13th ...day of the year!) Like it or not, those 'ole birthdays just keep rolling around. As one of my (older ha!!) cousins said to me, "Didn't you just have a birthday?"  Well, it actually does seem that way. I guess that is part of getting older. And I would sure as heck like to keep getting older...as opposed to the alternative! Or as Mark Twain liked to say, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
It is always kind of like Mother Nature's birthday present to me each year....If you can read the picture above, that was the temperature on my way to school the morning of my birthday. I can almost guarantee I will have a very cold birthday. Even when I lived in Houston (many years ago) it got cold on my birthday. It actually even snowed!  When I lived in Kansas for years I could count on having white birthdays. But the good thing about Oklahoma is that the frigid temps are very short lived and now we are back to our normal "chill" as opposed to "arctic".

Two of my children have birthday's the same week as me. By the time we had celebrations for each of them, and then by the time I had celebrated with other various family members, I had plenty of celebrating! It was really a birthday week! On the night of my actual birthday, two of my children that were not working or going to school, my Hubby and myself all went to the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game.
The games are GREAT fun.  There is never a single moment when you are not being entertained. Every single time out there is something going on, or prizes being thrown into the crowd, or some kind of crowd activity.
They are NOTHING like the games on TV.  I am a sports nut. I love all sports, but I think pro basketball on TV is boring. But in "living color" it is anything but boring.
The Thunder were playing the Orlando Magic. The size of those men (boys!!!) that play is unbelievable. They make my sons look small!
One time during a time-out my name was on the jumbo-tron wishing me a happy birthday. Unfortunately I was not expecting it, and did not get a picture! Dangit!  But, I did get a random pic of the jumbo tron. Imagine my name in lights that big. For one split-nano-second I was ( so far from) famous!
The Thunder won that night by one point. There were two different records set that night. It was a perfect night for basketball and birthdays.

This is the crowd when the opposing team is trying to shoot freethrows. The picture was too cool to pass up.

Somehow our area got the Hooter sticks instead of the gold sticks. Hmmmm. ... Well my son enjoyed it!
My children made a sign saying it was my birthday, so when the  camera was panning the crowd, they would hold it up for all to see.
(Those little sweethearts!!!!!!)
Afterward we went to the cutest little cupcake store for cupcakes and hot chocolate.  My cupcake was called (fittingly) Birthday Surprise.  It was absolutely delicious! I wish I had one now. Sorry, I guess I did not get the pic turned the right way above!!!

It was a night of great fun. I wish all my kids
could have been there, but it's always fun to
have any of them with us.
It definitely was a night to Thunder Up!!


Stuck in a Rut

Not only am I stuck in a rut, but right now, I am wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy busier than I like to be. 

I have not created anything or cooked anything worth sharing. My creative mode is in winter hibernation.

My rut is: I have cold weather, post-holiday, please-hurry-up-summer syndrome. I really don't have anything to complain about weather-wise, as we have only had two days of really cold weather.  Even then our "really cold" weather is grossly overrated in comparison to many of you.  We have had a smattering of snowflakes.  They were in fact so small, that if you weren't looking for them you would have missed them.  But none the less, if you have read this blog for long you know that I am a Summer Girl and I live for the summer heat and sun.  I crave it.  I need it.  There truly is something to that research about people that have to have light.  That is me. I need light and I need it to be that big ball of sun!

My holidays were also wonderful.  There is nothing there to complain about. I got much more than I deserved and celebrated Christmas several times over. 

I also just had my birthday (on January 13th) and by the time this past weekend was over, I had celebrated that several times as well.  While I GASP at the age the NUMBERS show beside my age, I do not FEEL that NUMBER.  So, it doesn't really bother me.  (Or one could probably call that TOTAL DENIAL!!)

There has only been one glitch in my life recently, and it is what sent me into a funk.  I keep telling myself to find my way out, but telling and doing are certainly two different things.

Again, if you have read the blog for long, you know that we moved back to Oklahoma (our home state) after having lived and raised our five children in the furthermost northeast part of Kansas. We had a wonderful life there and a great old Victorian home. When we moved back we rented a home while we decided where we would put down what we figured would be our "final roots".  That was 2 1/2 years ago.  We started looking at homes about a year ago, and finally found one that when I walked in, I KNEW it was THE ONE.  I had no question.  It was THE HOME.  It was absolutely perfect for my family today and for my family ten years down the road. It fit all our needs. It was a foreclosed home, so we were dealing with all those issues as well as a few others. Every single day I prayed that things would work out.  Finally, after about four months, I thought they were. We did not tell a soul, because I did not want to "jinx" getting the house.  People behind the scenes worked insanely hard for me, because my dream was to have my little (ok, large) family in the home by Christmas morning.  Closing was set for the 15th.  Then closing got moved to the 17th.  That was still fine with me because I was on Christmas break from school, and it would be perfect timing. 

Then we found out there would be no closing. 

And I cried. And cried. And pouted. And felt sorry for myself for one solid month. They say foreclosures are a mess, and I guess they are right. There was a (what they thought originally would be minor) glitch, that at the end turned MAJOR.  And the house could no longer be on the market to sell. And I am still pouting. 

I know, I know. I have heard the "it wasn't meant to be" and "there are lots of other houses out there" but I don't want to hear any of those right now. I want to pout and have a pity party. So that is where I am. Still being the belle of my own pity party. In my rent house. 

That is my rut.... Now the wayyyyyyyy busier than I want to be has to do with my job.

For one thing, I teach high school English. That is enough to stay busy at all times. Plus, our state assessments are only months away and in our state if MY students do not pass their English assessments, they will NOT get their high school diploma. (No pressure there as a teacher!!!)

   In addition, any time you sign on to "teach" students, there is a whole different side of education that most people don't see.  That is called the extra-curricular duty.  It is the stuff that will wear a person out! ha!! (Especially if a person is worn out from her pity party!) One day a week I have to do Cafeteria Duty in the morning and at lunch.  It might not sound like much, but 1. there is no pay and 2. you are giving up precious free time when there is much else to do in the classroom.  
Then I am also a class sponsor at the high school level and that involves fund-raising and basically just sponsoring the class. The grade level I sponsor does all the home high school and middle school basketball games concession stands.  So, another teacher and I have to "sponsor" or "supervise" or "direct" the students two or three nights per week at the concession stands.  Let me tell you....the concession stands are an insane amount of work. I spend all kinds of time ordering, assessing inventory, going to pick things up, and then setting up....All this before we ever sell a single bag of anything!  The concession stands make for very long nights (at the school) and very short nights (at my home). I usually don't get home till 10:30 or after. And we do this two or three nights per week!  But, such is the life of a schoolteacher! 
All this verbiage to explain where I have been since the week before Christmas.  My posts have been sporadic at best.  
I decided last night that all that pouting was getting me nowhere and I needed to find my creative mojo again, and to actually DO something about it and not just think about it. 
So, my plan for tonight, (a non- basketball game night!) is to get a few projects started.  I might even make some cookies to eat while I work on my project....Now if this weather would cooperate and turn into that hot, blazing sun..........


Mini Eats for Plus-Size Appetites

After a 17 day Christmas vacation, a moderate case of Holiday Letdown, and then being back at school (with two nights of concession stand duty till after nine already under my belt), my brain is just not in The Blog mode yet. I haven't thought of things to write. So, in the struggle for topics, I resort to food.
 Over the holidays, one of my sons pointed out to me that I tend to enjoy making food in a miniature size.  He wasn't griping about it, as he eats--and treats-- the mini-size food as if it is a snack...and therefore eats up! 
Mini-size treats?  What is better than mini grilled cheese sandwiches (made with Pepperidge Farm mini bread).
Mini fried or baked pies. (Remember when I showed you that whole stack of pie molds I have?)

 Sliders..The ultimate mini.  I use buns/rolls from Target.

 Mini cheesecakes --cookies and cream and banana split! (Remember when I showed you the super cool mini cheesecake pan I bought?

 Mini pizzas...all because I found these uber cool mini pepperonis at the store. (On a side note, I also bought the mini turkey pepperonis and my sons did not like those at all!)
 And finally, mini-cinis.  What is better than, or more tasty than, a bite-size cinnamon roll
 I even used my mini-cheesecake pan to make the mini-cini's. I am sure you could also put them in a mini-muffin pan as well.  Either way, it retains the miniature size. (The great thing about the cheesecake pan is that the entire cini pops out with the moveable bottom and it does not tear up the roll.)
 Pop the cinnamon rolls on a sucker stick and you have a cute little bouquet to take to a friend.  (As seen in the photo a few above.)

No matter which mini you choose for your family, make sure you make plenty of mini's!  They disappear quickly!


An Apple A Day.................Makes a very good dumpling!

When the weather is cold outside, there is nothing better than comfort food. One of those comfort foods would be apple dumplings. We had a little lady friend that made THE Best apple dumplings imaginable.  And she made them all the time. They were so good, that my children instantly associate Apple Dumplings with her. That little lady friend passed away this past summer, so I finally was brave enough to make apple dumplings of my own. With that in mind, I chose a quick and easy recipe and decided to make these the best I could in the quickest and easiest way possible. I know they will never live up to the apple dumplings that Mrs. O'Kief generously gave to us, but it is a recipe worth sharing.


1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup sugar

2 (15-ounce) packages refrigerated piecrusts
8 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut up

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Bring 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup butter. Set syrup aside.
Combine 2/3 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Cut piecrusts in half, and roll into 8-inch circles. Place 1 apple in center of each circle. Sprinkle each evenly with sugar mixture; dot evenly with 3 tablespoons butter.
Honestly, the recipe does not call for it, but I like to fill the core of the apple up with the sugar mixture as well.
Fold dough over apples, pinching to seal. Place in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Drizzle with syrup.
Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Serve these up on a cold winter afternoon and ENJOY!



All pics taken with my phone, July 4, Seaside, Florida.
Welcome 2011! It is hard to believe it has been a decade since we celebrated 2000!

A new day, a new year, a new decade to begin again.  If each of us manage to make our little area of the world a better place, just think of the changes we can make!

Here's to the start of great things!


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