Archive for the ‘Let’s Cook!’ Category

Ham and Egg Tostadas

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

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Ham It Up – Again!

Last week, I shared with you the fact that, though one can think that one has all things under control, the reality usually rears its ugly head and one finds out that one has NOTHING under control! My dad used to tell about a professor at the University of Kentucky, back in the 1950s, who used to quip that as soon as you think you have control over anything, just take a big rock, hold it over your foot, drop it and then WILL it to stop. That will cure you of that illusion.

BUT….I also have been taught to make lemonade out of lemons, or in this case, ham and egg tostadas out of ham that I didn’t get to serve! We love these breakfast yummies and the ham that I had to can after the disaster at our son’s rehearsal dinner has come in really handy! They are wonderful for a brunch as well and look so pretty on the plate.

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Home canned ham is wonderful for this breakfast treat, but you can used any kind of ham you like. It just needs to be shredded or chopped. Toss 1/2 cup of ham, per person, into a hot skillet that has been wiped or sprayed with a little olive oil and toss until thoroughly heated. Remove ham to a bowl or plate and place in a slightly warmed oven.

Ham and Egg Tostadas

Per Person:
1-2 eggs
1 corn tortilla
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup shredded or chopped smoked ham
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tbsp. chopped green pepper
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped tomato
Sour Cream, Cilantro and Guacamole for Garnish

Printable Recipe

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Add a tbsp. of butter and a tbsp. of olive oil to the skillet and heat until butter is melted.

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Prepare one corn tortilla per person and place into hot oil for about 30 seconds. Quickly flip and allow to cook until puffy places start appearing. Pick up with tongs and transfer to a paper towel and pat to remove excess oil. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. You want the tortillas to be tender, not crispy. Add more oil and butter as needed. Stack on a plate and place into the warmed oven as well.

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In a bowl, add one to two eggs per person with 1 tbsp. of milk per egg. Add a dash of salt and pepper and whisk until well-scrambled. In the skillet that is still hot and has the remaining oil and butter in it, add eggs and stir to cook. When about half-cooked, add onions and green peppers. Continue stirring and tossing to scramble the eggs.

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On each plate, place one tortilla in the center and top with 1/2 cup of ham. Add eggs, onions and green peppers on top of the ham. Sprinkle shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese over the surface of the eggs. If the cheese doesn’t melt right away, microwave for a few seconds to melt it. Add freshly chopped tomatoes and picante sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro and sour cream or guacamole if desired.

Happy Eating!

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Shout Out

Monday, June 29th, 2015

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100 Year Old Pie Recipe!

Heh all! Well, because of all your help, we got the votes we needed and qualified to be considered for the Mission Main Street Grant! I can’t thank you enough for all your support! We got way more votes than we needed!

Now, I am long past due giving a shout out to a really amazing lady who is helping people all over the internet with her cooking channel. Hands That Cook offers all kinds of recipes, tips and demonstrations that are easy to follow. She has a wonderful knowledge of cooking skills and a heart to share them with those who wish to learn.

Though she likes to remain anonymous, the videos and voice are warm and inviting and I know that you will get a lot out of them. She has a diverse following who obviously love her to pieces.

Hands That Cook ordered one of our Oklahoma Pastry Cloths™ and it was certainly a pleasure working with her. She liked our product so much that she did a show about a 100 year old pie crust recipe that she uses while offering a great review of the pastry cloth. You can enjoy it here:

It is so wonderful to see how our products are making life easier and pleasant in kitchens across the country and even in other countries. That is our goal!! We tried Hands That Cook’s recipe for pie crust and it was wonderful.

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And of course it had to be an apple pie. Yummy!
Thanks to Hands That Cook for a great recipe and a wonderful testimonial.

Happy Baking!

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Left Over Fried Okra?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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Quick Tip For A Salad

Don’t Forget the New Giveaway!

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Remember that we are celebrating the venerable tomato and to support our favorite tomato packagers, Red Gold Tomatoes, and along with out favorite chili creators, Willis Chili Seasoning, we are having a giveaway that will make your mouth water. The winner will receive a can of Red Gold tomato sauce, a package of Willis Chili Seasoning and a lovely Red Gold Tomato apron to wear while making chili. I know it is summer, but we eat chili all year round and it is one of our summer favorites.

So leave a comment below and on following posts or previous posts and your name will automatically go into the drawing that will be held on August 20th. Good luck!

I just thought I’d give you an idea during this okra season that will give you a little extra umph for your salad. I don’t know about you, but when I fry okra, I have just enough left over that I look at it and say, “Do I REALLY want to keep this? It isn’t enough for more than one person but I sure don’t want to waste it.”

Well, you don’t have to waste it. Put the fried okra in a refrigerator dish or bag and keep it refrigerated. When you make a salad next time, put the okra on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350º for about 8 – 10 minutes (just long enough to heat through and crisp). Instead of croutons on your salad, add the okra. It gives the crispy of croutons but gives more fiber and is really tasty!!

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So don’t throw that little bit of okra out! Enjoy it on your next salad.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Happy Crunching!

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Fresh Tomatoes For Scrumptious Spaghetti Sauce

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

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Talk About Scratch!

Don’t Forget the New Giveaway!

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To celebrate the venerable tomato and to support our favorite tomato packagers, Red Gold Tomatoes, and along with out favorite chili creators, Willis Chili Seasoning, we are having a giveaway that will make your mouth water. The winner will receive a can of Red Gold tomato sauce, a package of Willis Chili Seasoning and a lovely Red Gold Tomato apron to wear while making chili. I know it is summer, but we eat chili all year round and it is one of our summer favorites.

So leave a comment below and on following posts and your name will automatically go into the drawing that will be held on August 20th. Good luck!


Grandchildren are such a blessing!! They remind us of our younger days, teach us patience and understanding and give us hours of laughs and stories to tell for years. I have a friend who quips, “If I’d known having grandchildren would be so much fun, I’d have just skipped the kids and gone straight to the grandkids!” I won’t go THAT far, but I do love my granddaughter and her antics.

Her name is Claire and she is 2 1/2 years old of mischief, curiosity, brains and snuggles. She has Mr. Fix-It (An-Daddy) wrapped around her little finger and the other ones too. She says, “Sit”, pointing to the floor and he sits immediately to play trains.

Yep, trains. She is obsessed with trains – all trains – but Thomas The Train is her favorite. She will play for hours watching Thomas go ’round and ’round the track and I will spend days trying to get the stupid song out of my head!! ♪♪ They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight….. ♪♪

And then, there was the other day, while spending the day with us, that Claire asked if she could take Thomas to bed with her for her nap. Thomas was evidently sleepy too. I said, “Of course!” and tucked them both into bed, with every pillow that I could find in the house put around her on that big bed so that she would not roll off. I tickled Claire with our routine, “Night, Night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite” and shut the door to the bedroom.

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It wasn’t very long before I heard my granddaughter wimper, then cry out and then, offer a long, pitiful wail. Quickly opening the door, I found the munchkin sitting in the middle of the bed with head down and Thomas the Train hanging from her head. It didn’t take me a second to figure out what had happened. I’m not totally dense. She had put the toy in her hair and turned it on. The wheels wrapped her hair around the axles and it was not a pretty sight!

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I did NOT want to send my little precious home to her mother with a big chunk of hair cut out of her head and so I diligently pulled one hair at a time out of the train but eventually, hair got pulled and broken. Claire was amazingly still and did not make a peep. When I finally removed the toy she flatly proclaimed, “Thomas bite me.” Yep, he sure did! And as a result, Thomas would not run because of all of the hair wrapped into the wheels. But not to worry. Thomas has been saved. It took Mr. Fix-It and me working in concert to perform the delicate hair removal. A scalpel, fine tweezers and a screwdriver did the trick. I wiped Mr. Fix-It’s forehead and closed. And Thomas is now running around his little track. ♪♪…”Shunting trucks and pulling and green and brown and blue. They’re a really useful crew…♪♪

Claire has another favorite and that is Veggie Tales with Bob the Tomato. The other day, we went to the garden to pick veggies and she got so excited at the first large tomato that she spotted. “Bob!” she squealed and picked it, carrying it around lovingly, as if it were going to break out into the Veggie Tales song (which is also stuck in my head). We gathered many tomatoes and went in to make her other favorite thing, and mine, – spaghetti. Below is my recipe as taught to me by Marilina, a college student from Italy, who lived with us for a summer way back when I was in high school. It really is good! I promise. Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

Fresh Tomato Spaghetti Sauce


12 tomatoes or 24 roma tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green pepper
5 cloves garlic crushed or chopped
½ tsp fennel seed
1 tbsp dried oregano or 2 tbsp. fresh oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
¼ tsp black pepper
1 cube chicken bouillon
¼ tsp soda
Sprigs of fresh parsley chopped
¼ cup fresh parmesan
½ lb Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausage or homemade Italian Sausage **
2 tsp corn starch mixed with 2 tsp water.

Printable Recipe


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Drop tomatoes into boiling water just until the skins split on about half of them. Drain and drop into ice water until tomatoes are cooled. Skin and slice.

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Brown meat in a sauce pan and place into a bowl to set aside. Saute onions, celery and peppers in olive oil until tender.

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Add garlic and toss to release the flavor.

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Add tomatoes and cover to cook for 15 minutes.

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Add seasonings, basil, thyme, parsley, oregano and fennel seed. Stir. We love our herb garden with two different kinds of fresh basil (green and purple), thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage, oregano, spearmint and peppermint. The fresh herbs really make the spaghetti sauce spectacular.

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Add soda. Stir. It will bubble up and fizz. Just stir into the sauce.

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Add bouillon and parmesan and stir. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.

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Add meat and simmer 30 more minutes. Thicken with corn starch mixture or, if you like thinner sauce, skip this step. You can also allow this to simmer for several hours to reduce and thicken, stirring occasionally and making all ingredients become a uniform sauce, but I am giving you a quick meal alternative.

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Serve over pasta and garnish with fresh, grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

** To make homemade Italian sausage, use 1/2 lb ground pork, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper and 2 tsp fennel seed, whole or ground. Mix well with hands until seasonings are mixed into the meat.

Happy Changes!

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New Giveaway and Salad Recipe!

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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Izza Italiano

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It’s tomato season again!! I love, love, love home grown tomatoes. They actually have flavor!! And tomatoes are so good for you. According to

• Eating tomatoes, ketchup, tomato sauce and tomato paste-topped pizza more than two times a week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 21 to 43 percent according to Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard University School of Public Health.
• “The only nutrient that turned out to have significant preventative value (against prostate cancer) was lycopene,” writes Dr. Giovannucci who also found that lycopene was most efficiently absorbed into the body when accompanied by dietary fats (lipids).
• “Cooking tomatoes in oil encourages intestinal absorption and results in a two-to-threefold rise in plasma lycopene concentrations,”
• Men who eat two or more servings of tomato products average a 35 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk.
• Tomato products are beneficial in aggressive cancers that have also spread to other parts of the body.
• The best food sources of lycopene according to the Tomato Research Council in New York City: ( Amount of lycopene in one ounce) Tomato Sauce, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup (5 mg); Tomato Soup, Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Vegetable Juice (3 mg); Minestrone Soup, Vegetable Soup, Pink Grapefruit (1 mg)
• Lycopene helps women guard against cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia, (CIN), tumorous tissue growth in the cervix according to research from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
• Lycopene is a powerful inhibitor of the growth of breast, endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) and lung cancer cells.
• Tomatoes are good for the eyes. Lycopene, the most abundant carotenoid in the blood serum, was found to be the key antioxidant that guards against ARMD ( Age-Related Macular Degeneration), a condition that may cause blindness.
• Tomatoes are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium
• Lycopene is an inhibitor to heart disease.

So there you go…eat your tomatoes and you’ll outlive Methuselah…well…maybe.

New Giveaway!

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To celebrate the venerable tomato and to support our favorite tomato packagers, Red Gold Tomatoes along with out favorite chili creators, Willis Chili Seasoning, we are having a giveaway that will make your mouth water. The winner will receive a can of Red Gold tomato sauce, a package of Willis Chili Seasoning and a lovely Red Gold Tomato apron to wear while making chili. I know it is summer, but we eat chili all year round and it is one of our summer favorites.

So leave a comment below and on following posts and your name will automatically go into the drawing that will be held on August 20th. Good luck!

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To make you hungry for tomatoes, here is something new that we have tried and love. I can totally admit that I am an Okie country girl. I’ve never been to Italy and, up until recently, I’d never heard of a Caprese Salad (you have to say “Caprese” with your hand slightly waving next to your cheek with your thumb touching your index finger to add emphasis). The daughter, Mrs. Wonderful Mommy, is well acquainted with this salad and rolled her eyes at my delight at my new find, but I had been totally ignorant of this epicurean delight.

Evidently, (and the home school mom is now coming out in me) Insalata Caprese is a salad in the style of the island of Capri and is usually served as an antipasto (first course), not a contorno (side dish). Oh yeah. Wish you could hear this Okie accent butcher THAT! Insalata Caprese is sometimes called Insalata Tricolore, because it is the three colors of the Italian flag – red, green and white. It can include avocado as well. from

We have had an incredible tomato season in Oklahoma with the wonderfully cool weather and my Roma Tomatos have done exceptionally well. I love to dehydrate Romas and, of course, they make superb spaghetti sauce, but they are great just to eat! So, when a friend posted a photo of a Caprese Salad on Facebook, I had to try it. As is usual with me, though, I had to add my own flair! A recipe? I don’t need no stinkin’ recipe. Ha! Usually, only a fine olive oil is drizzled over this fresh vegetable and cheese dish, but I gotta dress it up.

So here is my version of a Caprese Salad.

Caprese Salad


Red leaf lettuce and butter crunch or Green leaf lettuce
One Roma tomato per person
Package of Buffalo Mozzarella cheese (the very soft, fresh mozzarella)
Fresh Basil leaves
1 Tbsp Olive oil per person
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar per person
½ tsp Dehydrated garlic pieces per person
Salt and pepper


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In a heated skillet, pour dried garlic pieces onto the dry surface with no oils. Quickly toss around with a spatula until pieces are lightly browned and toasted.

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Mix olive oil and vinegar with a small whisk and add browned garlic pieces. Set aside. Cut thin slices of mozzarella and tear basil leaves into about 3 pieces. If the mozzarella is large, cut it into pieces that match the width of the tomatoes. Set aside.

With each Roma tomato, carefully slice off the stem end of the tomato and then cut a thin layer, lengthwise, along what will be the bottom in order for the tomato to sit flat on a surface. Carefully make slices across the tomato, about ¼” thick, stopping slicing before you go all the way through the tomato. Gently spread the sections of tomato and insert a slice of mozzarella and basil between the tomato slices at the same time.

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On salad plates, arrange torn pieces of lettuces to cover the plate. Place a stuffed tomato in the center of the lettuce. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of the vinaigrette dressing over the tomato, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Isn’t that pretty?

And just to let you know, we went to a VERY nice Italian restaurant this week and there on the menu, under the salads, was “Caprese Salad”. I smiled very knowingly at the waiter and considered stating, “I know what a Caprese Salad is – (while holding my hand to my cheek with my fingers touching.) I make them alllll the time. I just don’t choose to have one at today.” I’m sure that he would have been duly impressed!

Happy Mama Mia It’s Good


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Veggie Popcorn – Is That Redundant?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

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I Came. I Saw. I Ate It!

I grew up appreciating a good meal. And I don’t mean a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with potato chips. I mean a filet mignon at La Vendon in Quebec or an authentic meal of Sukiyaki (pronounce Ski-yah-kee) prepared by one of the international students who stayed with us from time-to-time. While others my age were buying Villager clothes (remember those?), sporting around in new Corvettes and swooning over the latest Beatles album, I was being dragged all over the country in, first, a 1959 Nash Rambler station wagon, then a ’66 blue Plymouth station wagon (with a third seat that faced backwards! THAT was safe in a rear end collision) and then a ’71 Plymouth Satellite wagon, all of which could house two adults and four girls, plus suitcases, make-up cases, games, food, drinks, pillows, a grill and maps in relative comfort if we all pretended hard enough, all the while trying new foods like we were searching for gold treasure. In high school, while friends showed off their new Bass Weejun loafers, I, in my Buster Browns, wanted to yell, “Yeah? Well, WE just got a crate of live lobsters in from Maine and they are still waving their claws!” It was all about priorities: Appearance or stomach – decisions, decisions.

And so, I have had a love affair with food that has been passed down from generation to generation (just look at my family cookbook at the website) and which has made it very difficult, as I grow older, to face the fact that ‘food’ and ‘older’ don’t necessarily mesh well. Having a thyroid condition hasn’t helped matters, either, and never mind that aerobics or walking is out of the question at this stage of two broken feet!! All of a sudden, I’ve had to start paying attention to Dr. Oz’s latest diet or researching the Paleo diet, the Fungus Connection, and the South Beach diet, Weight Watchers and, my favorite,, in order to look forward to my twilight years as something slightly smaller than a Beluga Whale. In my research, I have discovered that a Boca Burger has nothing to do with a tasty treat at the sunny beaches of Boca Raton, Florida (can we say, “Ick?”) and that a low-fat, protein shake, no matter how masked by strawberry or chocolate flavoring, is still disgustingly similar to a barium cocktail at your local gastroenterologist. While I love a salad, a perpetual menu of spinach, kale, lettuce and tomatoes renders me boringly unable to carry on a conversation about world affairs because I’m too busy visualizing a sirloin steak with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes.

I have portion control down to a science – digital scale and all. I’m so efficient that if we eat out, I can divide my meal into halves or thirds or fourths and know exactly how many calories I’m NOT getting to enjoy. But with all of my careful calorie counting, organic and all-natural food purchasing, fat/carbohydrate/protein calculating and the purposeful attempt to drown myself in gallons of filtered water (I swear that when I walk, I sound like the tide rolling in at Boca Raton, Florida) I haven’t been able to lose a single pound. In fact, I’ve gained a few more. And I have a bigger problem. I like to snack. Life is not fair.

Four weeks ago, my endocrinologist made a suggestion to try something called the 5/2 Fast. She told me to research it and that she thought it might jump-start my metabolism. I started it three weeks ago and I have to admit that I am feeling really good. AND I have lost three pounds. The kicker is that I’m not having to focus so much on my daily menu. That is really, really, really nice. On Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, I eat normal meals of 1250 to 1500 calories per day (totally lenient span there) and then on Tuesday and Thursday I do a semi-fast of 500 calories per day. That really isn’t as hard as you would think. On those two days, for breakfast, I have one egg, one piece of bacon and a half a piece of toast. For lunch I have an apple or orange and for dinner I have 3 oz of baked or grilled chicken, all of the steamed veggies I want and a small potato or 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes or 1/4 cup of rice. Knowing that I get to have normal food the next day, makes my ‘days of want’ easy to get through! My head feels clearer, although Mr. Fix-It may tell you THAT’S all in my imagination, and my insides feel better too. Really.

As I said, I like to snack and so on my days of ‘fasting’ I’ve come up with a ‘snack’ that I can tolerate. I like crunchy stuff but popcorn, Cheetos and Cracker Jacks just don’t qualify as diet friendly foods. So, I’ve started cutting up celery, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and any other veggie I have on hand and mix those pieces together in a closeable refrigerator dish.

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Then, I add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp. of a dry dressing mix, like Hidden Valley Ranch, and toss it in with the veggies. I taste to see how much I want. Just a little is needed because as the mixture sits, it absorbs the flavor.

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I keep this “Veggie Popcorn” (alright, I realize that popcorn IS a vegetable, but, heh) in the frig and when I get the ‘munchies’, I put some into a bowl or bag and carry it around with me. As great as I was at pretending that I was comfortable, all those years ago and packed into a car like a sardine, I’m still pretty good at pretending I’m snacking too!! I’ll keep you posted on how the 5/2 diet is working. Hopefully, by next time, I’ll be on the cover of Vogue in a svelt Villager dress and Bass Weejun loafers.

Happy Calorie Counting!

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Monday, March 17th, 2014

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Some Thoughts

and Roast or Pulled Pork


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These last several months in boots, on crutches and a cane (I’m still dependent on those last two lovely pieces of equipment, much to my chagrin) have given me a deeper insight into a truth that I think we already know but don’t consider very often: While it is true that “if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” it is much more true that “To him whose feet hurt, everything hurts.” (That’s ol’ Socrates, by the way).

Have you ever noticed that when your feet hurt, your back hurts too, along with your knees, your neck and worst of all, your mood? You may be able to get through a day and sort of get things done, but when your feet hurt, you do not do your best job. With sore feet, the bulk of your intelligent thought tends to center around what you can do to alleviate the pain and get off of your feet. You can’t concentrate on what you are supposed to be doing and your responsibilities have a way of flying out of the window in favor of soothing those throbbing tootsies.

Such is my life at this moment, and while I have thrown myself into the research of new and wonderful all-natural and holistic methods to attack pain and broken limbs so that I can be a know-it-all at the doctor’s office to all of the patients unfortunate enough to be sitting in my general vicinity, – “You DO know that frankincense essential oil could help relax that tight muscle, right?” – the fact is, short of giving up all semblance of reality to the likes of morphine, hurt feet hurt.

It has been with this earth-shattering revelation that I have also discovered a coinciding truth: If the foundation isn’t strong, while what is built upon it may work, it will not work well or as it was intended to work. This applies to businesses, to governments and to individuals. There must be a strong foundational basis for existence or any of those entities will function in less than an optimum manner. And what is that foundation? It is God.

Any entity, whether public or private or individual never functions well without a Godly foundation. They may exist and they may function, but they will never enjoy the full potential or optimum purpose for which they were intended. Many will argue with me and swear that they are doing just fine and dandy without any focus on God, but if brutal honesty came into play, there would be an admission of struggle, dissatisfaction, pain and uncertainty. I know. I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

Making God the foundation simply requires the acceptance of His power and authority over all things. Human beings will always fall short of living out a perfect/Godly life, but the first step has to come in the admission that only God is in control – not man – and that He is the authority over the individual, the family, the city, the state and the nation. Without that foundation, nothing works as it should. There is only the constant focus on the pain that ensues and a desperate attempt to alleviate it. And so, on a serious note, I recognize my need to release everything to God’s authority (including my aching lower extremities) and I ask all of those in my nation to do the same, as One Nation Under God. Until we do that, nothing will work as it was intended to work.

And speaking of foundations, I have an idea here for the foundation on which to use that leftover pork from the last recipe. Starting with a base of tortilla chips, you can build a meal that IS everything it is intended to be!

Roast Pork Nachos


  • Tortilla chips
  • 1/4 lb roast pork per person (leftover pulled pork works great too)
  • Shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses
  • Chopped onion
  • 1 tsp smoked barbeque sauce per person
  • Pickled Jalopeno peppers
  • Sour Cream
  • Taco Sauce
  • Leaf lettuces

  • Printable Recipe

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    Chop pork into small 1/2″ pieces or pull into shreds. Toss with barbecue sauce until the sauce is totally incorporated. Arrange tortilla chips onto a plate and top with pork.

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    Sprinkle with fresh, chopped sweet onions and the two cheeses. Microwave until the cheeses are nicely melted over the meat and chips – just about 20 to 30 seconds.

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    Add pickled jalopeno peppers and then top with lettuces, a dollop of sour cream and a spoonful of taco sauce. Enjoy!

    Happy Leftovers!

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    Walk – Don’t Run

    Saturday, February 8th, 2014

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    Walk – Don’t Run

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    I know. I haven’t written anything since November. It was at that time that I had an “accident” of sorts, the details of which I am not at liberty to go into at this time but suffice it to say that I wound up with two broken feet, a broken ankle, two torn knees and a brain really not functioning all that well. Oh wait, that brain part was going on before the accident. Never mind.

    Mr. Fix-It, around the same time, had to have pretty major surgery and so, the two of us were quite a pair trying to care for each other – he couldn’t lift anything larger than a piece of toast and I couldn’t walk. It was the stuff that Lifetime Movies are made of; really bad background music and all.

    Creating Concepts, Enterprises managed to continue with the busy Christmas season of orders, still shipped on time and closed out 2013 with a sigh of relief (and a shuffle on my part). For two months, I rarely showed my face to the general public unless it was for a doctor’s appointment or MRI when Mr. Fix-It could drive me. I don’t live in a cabin, but I can pretty well say that I have a good clue what that kind of ‘fever’ entails!! Today, however, I am back in shoes – sort of – and am slowly getting around flat-footed and, when I first get up in the morning, doing a pretty good imitation of Quasimoto. It has been an interesting ordeal with quite a bit of pain and a greater number of jokes. You have to laugh about stuff like this. That’s the only way to deal with it sanely!

    God has shown me some interesting stuff during this time where life has been forced to a crawl – no pun intended. I have learned that in these times, when nothing is normal, we can hear God quite audibly because all of “life” isn’t getting in the way. It’s that “Be still and know that I AM God” kind of thing. I have been able to take time to really read and pray and I must say that my joy is even more abundant while I feel that the teaching from the Lord has increased daily. As a friend so aptly put it, God has given me “a season of quiet.” And if you know me well, ‘quiet’ does not fit into my nature very easily!

    I feel very blessed. I got the good news that I do not have osteoporosis – yay – and that I broke my bones because the human body and a concrete floor do not work well in a spirit of cooperation (you know, kinda like Congress. I’m waiting on a few broken bones there too!). Mr. Fix-It is all better and back to normal and the blessing of working with customers continues. So, on that note, I think it’s time for a recipe good for these cold days (is Winter EVER going away???). A yummy pork loin roast is just the ticket. Quick, easy and tasty. This serves 4 people so you can do a larger roast for more.

    Savory Pork Roast and Mushroom Gravy


    2 1/2 lb boneless pork loin roast brought to room temperature
    meat tenderizer (optional)
    cotton twine
    2 tbsp. onion soup mix
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp thyme
    1/2 tsp paprika
    1 tsp rosemary leaves (fresh or dried)
    aluminum foil
    pkg chicken gravy mix
    1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
    1 tbsp. butter

    Printable Recipe


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    On a cutting board, slice the roast into 1″ slices, keeping them together in the original shape of the roast. You can sprinkle between the slices with meat tenderizer. This step is optional depending on if you like to use tenderizer or not. With cotton butcher’s twine, tie the roast back together. Place the roast onto the dull side of a square of aluminum foil.

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    Sprinkle the outside of the roast with garlic powder

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    Add paprika

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    Sprinkle the top with thyme and rosemary

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    And finally top with the onion soup mix.

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    Pull the foil up around the roast and curl the edges over to leave the very top portion of the roast exposed. Place into a baking dish or sided pan and into a 325º oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or 30 – 45 minutes per pound.

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    When roast is done, remove 1/2 cup of the drippings and set aside. Mix chicken gravy with one cup of water, as per directions, and set aside.

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    In a shallow skillet, melt butter and sauté mushroom slices until soft.

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    Add roast drippings and stir. Add chicken gravy mixture and stir continually until thickens slightly. Continue to simmer until gravy is the consistency of thin gravy.

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    Cut strings on the roast and your slices are already made! Serve with mushroom gravy which can also be used on a side of mashed potatoes! Leftovers can be used for pork bbq sandwiches or pork nachos. Dig in!!

    Happy Cooking!

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    Waxing Commercial Cheese

    Thursday, October 10th, 2013

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    Mission Main Street Grants

    Waxing Poetic

    You know I can’t resist a sale,
    And so begins this shopping tale.
    I found a bargain sure to please,
    A dollar for a block of cheese!

    I purchased 12 and paid my dough.
    I hurried home to a problem, though.
    What would I do with 12 blocks of cheese?
    ‘Cause they’re not great if them you freeze.

    I’ve showed you how your cheese may can,
    But something new seemed like a plan.
    And so I researched what to do
    And saw, myself, if it was true.

    I followed directions to a ‘T’
    Which t’ain’t a normal thing for me.
    Voila! Now a new way to stow ‘em!
    And I waxed that cheese as I wrote this poem.

    And so you see (you’ve got to get it!)
    It’s obvious I waxed, poetic!!

    No groans from the peanut gallery out there!! I can’t resist a little verse…a very little verse! I thought that I would show you, step-by-step how to preserve cheese that you find on sale. Mine has been sitting at room temperature for four months now and we are using it regularly. Mr. Fix-It likes this cheese on crackers and sandwiches because as it sits, it ages. Now it tastes like expensive, aged, sharp cheese. But first, I’d like to remind you about the giveaway going on.

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    Just be sure to leave a comment below in the comment section and you’ll be entered to win our fry bread mix and a package of our blueberry scones (complete with a can of real, Maine wild blueberries). The drawing will be October 18th.

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    OK. Back to cheese. Any brand of cheese will work, but I happened to find the REALLY cheap kind. I grabbed mild cheddar, provolone and longhorn. All are relatively mind flavored cheeses so that when they age, they don’t become too sharp.

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    I cut the blocks in half to make 4 oz blocks for easier waxing.

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    Carefully wipe each block with white vinegar to clean. If you do not have vinegar, you can use a brine mixture of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water.

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    Place the cheese blocks onto cookie sheets, wax paper or paper towels and allow to dry for 48 hours. You can turn the cheese if it is not on racks. I am using metal cookie racks here, but I think that plastic racks would be better. The metal can rust or oxidize and leave lines on the cheese. I am purchasing some plastic racks for future use.

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    After the cheese has dried, using paper towels or cheese cloth, wipe excess oil off of each block.

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    I melted the wax in a double boiler. You can purchase cheese wax online at the New England Cheese Making Supply. The wax is supposed to get as hot as possible to kill any spores and the only way to get it really hot is to put the pan directly on the stove eye on high, but that is very dangerous as the wax can catch fire or even explode. Plus, you can really get burned. So I did some research and many people are using a double boiler and getting it hot with boiling water beneath it. It is the safest way and seems to work fine. You can make a double boiler, if you don’t have one, by placing an empty tuna can in the bottom of a sauce pan, filling the pan with water and then placing a smaller pan onto the tuna can to keep it from dropping down into the first pan.

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    Or, you can use an old cake pan, fill it with water and set your pot into the water. By the way, I went to our local Big Lots and bought this sauce pan for $3. I just keep the wax in it and let it harden after melting to use the next time, adding more as I need. To store, I keep the lid on it so that no dirt gets inside.

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    When the wax is hot to almost boiling or is boiling, dip one end of each of your cheese blocks into the wax to halfway up.

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    Turn the blocks to the undipped sides and let them rest to harden

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    It only takes about a minute for the wax to harden where you can touch it. Pick the cheese up by the wax end and dip the unwaxed end. Place the block onto the end with the hardened wax so that the new wax can harden. Continue this process until you have waxed each end four to five times.

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    Place the waxed cheese in a container and into a room that is dark and cool or into a pantry where it can be easily accessed. Every few days, turn the cheese to a different side. Sometimes, the cheese will weep oil or water. It is still ok to use. I found that storing it on paper towels or cheese cloth helped absorb any weeping. Also, in some cases, the wax will thin and so you will need to wipe it clean and dip the block a couple of more times. If you see a dark patch under the wax, it is probably mold which is the result of a pin sized hole or other disturbance of the wax surface. You can use that cheese immediately, washing it and cutting off the molded part.

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    When you decide to use a block, use a knife to pry one end of wax off of the cheese. The rest just lifts off. Wash the wax in hot, soapy water and be sure that any pieces of cheese and oil are removed. Put the wax into your wax pan to reuse on your next batch.

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    The cheese can be grated

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    It can also be sliced or cut into cubes. Because it is sharper, it is also drier. So there you go!! Now you can wax poetic too….and if you want to send me your poems, I put them up at the blog! :-)
    Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway!

    Happy Waxing!

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    Smoked Gouda Chicken Pasta

    Sunday, September 15th, 2013

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    Mission Main Street Grants

    Summer’s End

    I think that all of us have to admit that this has been a strange summer, weatherwise. Thankfully, our normally three digit temps did not appear, however, three monstrous tornadoes – one right after the other – destroyed much of our local landscape. Fires and floods in other parts of the nation have wreaked all kinds of havoc and our prayers go out for those in Colorado who are struggling through some of those floods, right now, after having to endure fires. Abnormally cool temperatures up north have kept places like Alaska in igloo conditions. But now, the days are growing shorter and there is a different feeling in the air. County fairs are popping up and the sound of college football, with its background of cheering fans, dominates the television on Saturdays.

    Fall used to always be hard for me. No joke. It seems that everything bad that happened, occurred in the FAll. For the longest time, when that crispness in the air appeared and the tell-tale muted sunlight of autumn days rose, I would get this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach – a heaviness of spirit if you will. But that has since passed and now the Fall is my favorite time of year with Spring my second choice. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving and I so enjoy the baking, canning and preparation that I do like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter! I’ve included a recipe for one of those meals below.

    I’ve decided to give you a peek into one of those “bad” Autumns so that you might get a little picture into my ready-for-psychiatric-research psyche. Perhaps you won’t find me so strange after all. And then again, this story may make me that much more strange!! Read on.

    It was the end of August of 1992. I was 38 years old, skinny, full of energy and the mother of two young children. My sister and her family had invited us to Dallas, from Mt. Pleasant, TX, to join them at Six Flags Over Texas. The kids were excited. I was ready for a fun day. And it was fun…that is…until we hit the kiddie ferris wheel (emphasis here on “kiddie”). My daughter, all of 11 years old, begged me to ride with her and so I hopped beside her in a swinging chair and watched as the safety bar was lowered over our midsections. Shortly thereafter, the gears ground, the music started and we were lifted probably a whopping one and a half stories into the air. As we came to the highest point, open swing rocking and pitching, I discovered, for the first time in my life, that I am afraid of heights. And I don’t just mean “close your eyes and don’t look” afraid of heights. I mean “scream in abject terror and beg for mercy” afraid of heights. I began to hyperventilate. I started to cry. My heart raced and I gulped for air between screams emitted through clenched teeth. My daughter grabbed my arm and tried to soothe me. She looked genuinely stunned and dismayed – not embarrassed that her mother needed a straight jacket and an ambulance waiting at the foot of the ride. My family members in the crowd below, however, looked like they wanted to change their names and claim no acquaintance with the crazy woman who was unraveling on the kiddie ride.

    When the ride finally stopped, I fell out of the chair, onto my knees, and struggled to stand. My makeup was a mess but that was no comparison to my mental well-being. My daughter led me to find our family which had scattered in embarrassment and someone brought me a Coca-Cola to fill me with caffeine and make me crazier. I finally gathered my wits and returned to a state of calm, trying to laugh off my apparent phobia. We moved on to food and more fun. We knew not to put me on anymore rides that went more than a foot off of the ground.

    I know. You are thinking, “So?” I understand. But that isn’t the end of it. We continued our Six Flags experience and as darkness descended, my niece indicated that, as a last ride, she wanted to do the Splash Water Falls, a ride that sends a boat down a steep slide to hit, bow first into a deep pool of water, sending a wall of water over a walk bridge that acts as the exit for the ride. Those standing on the bridge, at just the right location, get drenched by water cascading over them. I was actually able to handle that ride and even enjoyed it as we plummeted into the water. I’m thinking that it had to do with the idea that falling into the water is safer and less painful than spatting onto concrete from the height of a ferris wheel. My children and I exited our boat and climbed to the bridge to watch my sister and niece take their turn. I pressed way against the back, concrete wall to avoid the water that would inevitably come from their trip. My daughter ran forward to the railing to get a better look. In a series of actions that could only have taken seconds, I first realized that my daughter would be soaked (and would soak the car as well, since we were leaving immediately). I then ran forward to attempt to pull her back as I called out for her to move. She moved. But I was caught in the very center of the width of the bridge. That wall of water came over the top of the structure, full force, hitting me squarely in the chest, picking me up off my feet and tossing me like a rag doll against that back concrete wall and then onto my back on the concrete walkway. All of the air was knocked out of my lungs and I gasped, looking, I am sure, like a goldfish poured out of its bowl, flopping in a huge puddle of water. There was not one inch of me that was dry. Did I mention that I had on white cotton shorts and a white cotton t-shirt? I’ll leave you to imagine the result of soaking white cotton. The guy running the ride and a number of visitors ran to help me up. I could see, “Lawsuit” written all over the poor Six Flag employee’s face. Down below, my entire family was rolling on the ground laughing so hard that they couldn’t even get up the stairs to help me. They didn’t stop laughing until they realized that they hadn’t gotten a video of the whole incident to win $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    I headed back to Mt. Pleasant, beaten, bruised and assured that my children were going to be advertising for a new, less embarrassing mother. And again, you say, “So? What’s so bad that you would hate Fall?” I’m not finished.

    The following week, still literally blue and smarting from my tumble and embarrassed by my fits of hysteria, I went about my normal work which included taking care of our pet raccoon. Rascal the Raccoon had shown up at our home as an unweaned baby whose mommy had been hit by a car while he was clinging to her back. We took him in and nursed him, bottle feeding him to weaning. Rascal readily accepted house training like a cat and soon had run of our home.

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    Rascal loved to hide under the couch and grab feet – human or dog – as they strolled by

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    Rascal and our Australian Shephard/Border Collie cross, Jenny, played like the best of friends

    A couple of days after the trip to Texas, I let Rascal out for a stroll. He was still pretty tiny and so I watched him carefully because I did not want him climbing into one of the huge trees of Northeast Texas. Of course, the first thing that he did was head for the biggest of those trees. I called out to Rascal and walked quickly to retrieve him from the tree trunk, not seeing the large tree root in front of me. The tip of my toe clipped under that tree root and I pitched forward. I tried to catch myself on my left leg, but my leg twisted so that my foot was inward as I continued to fall forward. The sound of a large tree branch snapping echoed through the Fall air as I hit the ground and I noticed that the lower half of my left leg, about 8 inches below my knee was laying in the totally opposite direction of the rest of my leg. It wasn’t a tree branch that had snapped. It was the bones in my leg. I did what any normal person would do. I screamed and screamed for help. And I reached down and picked up the wayward portion of my leg and tried to put it in the right position. Bad idea. My poor, stoic 11 year old daughter was the only person home and she came running out to see what had happened. She quickly assessed the situation, called a neighbor and brought me two ibuprofen and a glass of water without me asking. I was too in shock to know what I needed!! My neighbors arrived and slid a cutting board under my leg, securing it by wrapping and wrapping with a horse lead rope and then slid a blanket under me. They took corners of the blanket and lifted me to a car seat where I passed out. Two surgeries and a $20,000 hospital bill later, a year and a half of physical therapy and the leftover scars and arthritis of 3 plates with 13 screws, I walked out of the physical therapist’s office one Spring, relieved that I would not be a cripple the rest of my life.

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    Rascal’s favorite perch

    Rascal finally grew up and wandered off to find a woman Raccoon, but he left us with an unlimited list of funny stories and precious memories. He was a wild raccoon and needed to go back to his habitat. We eased him from his home life to the great outdoors and he finally did not need us anymore.

    So there is an example of ONE of my bad Autumns. As I have said, those memories are a distant past and now I can’t wait until I see our first scorpion – emphasis on the word SEE – because we know that Fall is just weeks away. I start getting the urge to cook heartier meals and fill the house with the smells of baking. Here is a recipe that I came up with to use our Shawnee Mills Country Gravy Mix for a hearty, lower calorie pasta meal (I’m on a diet you know) and Mr. Fix-It, my critic, gave it a two thumbs up.

    Smoked Gouda Chicken Pasta


    3 tbsp. olive oil
    2 tbs butter
    1 lb chicken breasts cut into strips
    1/2 lb ground Italian sausage or 1/2 lb ground pork mixed with salt, pepper and fennel seed
    8 large shrimp, shelled
    6 large mushrooms, sliced
    1 – 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
    1 pkg Shawnee Mills Country Gravy Mix or Peppered Gravy Mix prepared according to directions
    1/2 to 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (depending on your taste)
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp oregano
    1 tbsp. chopped red sweet pepper
    1 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
    4 cups cooked bowtie pasta

    Printable Recipe


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    Prepare Shawnee Mills Gravy mix according to directions. As 1 1/2 cups water is heating, add tsp garlic powder and oregano to the 1/2 cup water and powdered mix.

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    When gravy has thickened add tomatoes

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    And add chopped peppers

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    Add gouda and parmesan cheeses. Stir until cheeses are incorporated, cover with lid and set aside onto warm eye.

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    Toss chicken and shrimp with Cajun seasoning. Separate chicken from shrimp. Add 2 tbsps. olive oil and 2 tbsps. butter to skillet and heat skillet to smoking. I am using a cast iron skillet here because I think it is best for a blackened meat. Put chicken into skillet and sauté until browned with black areas. Add shrimp and toss until no longer opaque.

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    Add sausage and chop and stir until crumbles are cooked all the way through.

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    Place meats into a bowl and put into the oven that has been preheated to warm or put into a warming oven if you have one.

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    Return the skillet to the heat and add mushrooms to the skillet. Stir fry, constantly stirring.

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    Cook mushrooms until browned and add to bowl of meats. Toss to mix.

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    Prepare pasta in salted boiling water with a tablespoon of olive oil added. Drain well. Stir gravy sauce and slowly add to the pasta, stirring to coat until pasta is covered according to your tastes.

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    Spoon pasta and sauce onto 4 plates and divide meat and mushrooms to top each plate of pasta. Drizzle leftover sauce over the meats and then garnish with grated gouda and parmesan cheese with chopped tomatoes. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

    So there’s a Fall meal for you! Hope you are ready to dive into this year’s season like I am!!!

    Happy Cooking!

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