Archive for 'Food & Drink'

Sloppy. Simple. Supper.

A week with the grandchildren means a week of meals that are kid friendly. Recipes that were once my kitchen staples but recipes that have now dropped way down in my rotation. This sloppy joe recipe made me famous at church for many years. It was my standard for church suppers for youth groups.

Even the kids who didn’t like sloppy joes (aka Manwich) LOVED this recipe. That might be because it doesn’t taste like Manwich. (Personally, I never thought Manwich was that bad.) The seasonings here are so simple that there is not much to dislike. The overall flavor has a hint of sweetness. Kids like that. I like that.

I made this earlier this week while Mommy had the girls at ballet lessons. I’ve made this so many times I don’t need to look up the recipe. Even all these years later. Just remember, besides the meat, it’s a cup of ketchup and one tablespoon of four other things—sweet/sour/savory/tangy. That’s easy to remember.


1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef or turkey (I’ve made it with a 1 lb pk, too.)
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

Brown meat and drain. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Spoon over toasted hamburger buns.

If I use ground turkey, which comes in one-pound packages,  I will add some chopped onion when I brown the meat to help bulk it up. It also helps flavor the milder turkey.

If you are making this for a crowd, it’s easy to increase the proportions. And it freezes well, too, so you might make extra for the freezer for a super quick supper on one of “those” nights.

One friend of Mommy’s, who got this recipe from us, told me this was her standard “take supper to the new Mommy” meal. She takes the sloppy joe mix, buns, chips, and maybe slaw or baked beans and a pack of paper plates. Easy for the one taking it to make. Easy for the one receiving supper to get on the table. If there are toddler or preschool siblings in the house, this is a meal they will like.

Honest disclosure here…I have had kids tell me they don’t like this, won’t eat this, have no intention of trying this. But if I can get them to taste one bite, I’ve never had one who didn’t change their mind. Maybe it’s the name they don’t like. Call it something else if you wish.

Baby Girl gobbled her supper up the night I made the Sloppy Joes. She polished off the leftovers the next day at lunch. And begged to have it again that night for supper (there wasn’t any more left) when we were having cabbage with smoked sausage and tomatoes. I can totally understand that. But to her credit, she did eat the cabbage and the “little porks.”

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Miss Doris’ Cookies

When I gathered the recipes from the knitting day at the lake several weeks ago, I asked one knitter to please add her cookie recipe to the collection. We didn’t have these cookies that day at the lake, but she always brings them for the snack table at our knitting retreats. In my mind, I connect these cookies with knitters and knitting.

I was completely surprised when I got the recipe from her. I have eaten many (too many) of these cookies and I look forward to seeing that Tupperware container appear on the table every time we have a retreat. Some of our snacks are homemade. Some are not. There is never pressure on anyone to “make” something. And that makes the homemade goodies extra special.

These homemade cookies—yes, they still qualify as homemade—get 4 stars for easy. Because they start with cake mix! I would have never guessed.

Here is the recipe exactly as I got it from Miss Doris. The notes are hers. (Miss Doris, for the record, is very much a Mrs., but my children always called her “Miss Doris” when they were little, and the name lives on.)

     This is an old recipe from the side of a Duncan Hines cake mix box.

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen two-and-a-half-inch cookies.

1 box Duncan Hines Deluxe II White Cake Mix
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use 1 cup. I like nuts. No nuts are okay, too.)
3/4 cup oil
1 egg (DO NOT try to make without egg—makes a disaster.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Drop from teaspoon onto an uncreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. (My oven requires less time, 7-8 minutes, depending on the size of the teaspoon drop. Just keep an eye on the cookies for the first pan full.)

Cookies will be white in the centers with a slight brownish colored edge. (The chocolate chips will burn if cooked too long.) Cool on cookie sheet for about 1 minute and then place on a rack to finish cooling.

For folks who can’t have nuts, divide the dough and put nuts in only half. Sometimes I take a fork which has been dipped in water and flatten the cookie dough out after I have dropped onto the cookie sheet. This will make a thinner cookie and more crisp.


I whipped these up in no time this morning after breakfast. There was one egg left in the carton, exactly what this recipe calls for. That’s as good a reason as any to bake cookies, right?

I used yellow cake mix because that is what I had. So know white or yellow cake mix works equally well.

Stir the dry cake mix to break up any lumps. Same thing with the brown sugar. I line my cookie sheets with parchment to speed the clean up. And I just moved the warm cookies to a paper towel to finish cooling.

This would be a great recipe for moms who realize at bedtime they need to send cookies to school the next morning. I typically keep a box or two of cake mix on hand. Often it’s a buy-one-get-one-free deal. And it’s a convenient jumpstart to dessert when time is short.

I will tell you that boxed cake mix used to be 18 ounces. It’s now just over 15 ounces. That’s a significant decrease in the dry ingredients. When I first stirred this up, I thought the dough was almost like batter. A thick batter, but I still wondered if they would spread too much. The dough sat a few minutes while the oven finished heating. And as the dry ingredients absorbed the liquid, it was fine. The dough spread just as any cookie recipe would.

One day I’ll ask Miss Doris about her note not to skip the egg. Sounds like there is a story there!

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Chicken Salad, No Mayo

This is the last recipe from our knitters day at the lake. I didn’t plan to be so long sharing, but other fun things popped up along the way. Better late than never.

I’ve enjoyed a few lovely “thank you” emails from the knitters who came to lunch at the lake. They did most of the work since everyone brought something to add to the table. It was fun for me to get the tables ready. We are lucky that the extra serving tables and beverage containers are stored just steps away from the porch. That makes it easy when I’m not having to haul them up from the basement or in from the barn. 
Because this was a ladies lunch, I bought flowers at the grocery store and cut the stems to put into some Mason jar cups that we had at the lake. That’s a fancy as I got. But the flowers paired with bright napkins made a pretty table. 
Yes, we really did knit. It’s fun to have a gathering of knitters because there is always a knitter with a problem. And there is always another knitter with a solution. That’s how we’ve all learned to be better knitters.
I promised to share the recipes from our day. Here is another new one. (New to me, at least.) I made my usual chicken salad that we love, and then remembered that one knitter has a serious allergy to eggs—which means no mayonnaise for her. So I found a simple mayo-free recipe and whipped up a second batch of chicken salad so that she could have some. And everyone loved this one, too.
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
This one was different from my standard but just as delicious! And I don’t say that lightly. We Southerners are serious about our chicken salad. It didn’t have the yogurt taste that I thought it might. I think the honey and the sweetness of the grapes balanced the tartness of the yogurt. And the almonds, celery and grapes gsve a nice mix of textures. I’ll be making this one again for sure.
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast (about 3 medium boneless, skinless breasts)
1-1/2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
3 medium celery stalks, diced
3 or 4 green onions, thinly sliced 
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt*
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Put chicken, grapes, celery, green onions, and almonds in a large bowl. 
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, honey, salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Pour dressing over chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate from 2 hours to overnight to let flavors blend.
Makes about 5-1/2 cups
I made this because it was egg free. But as I was mixing it, I realized that most of the ingredients are zero points on the new Weight Watchers plan. I plugged everything in to the recipe creator on Weight Watchers and if you use this recipe to serve five or six people, each serving has 2 Smart Points. For 8 servings from this recipe,  it’s 1 Smart Point. That’s kind of amazing.

Shortcut: I had a bag of toasted almond salad topping in my pantry. Just thinly sliced toasted almonds. No seasoning beyond salt. I used that instead of toasting slivered almonds. It was a good substitute. 

*If you use regular table salt, use less and then taste and adjust. Kosher salt measures differently than table salt (which fills a spoon more completely.) It’s the shape of the salt grains that make the difference.
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Frozen Coconut-Pecan-Caramel Pie

Coconut-Caramel-Pecan Pie

Let’s be honest. Our knitting day at the lake last week probably should have been called an eating day at the lake. Everything was so good. And it was fun to sample other folks’ cooking. A real treat was the frozen pie that Mellie brought. That was the perfect dessert for a very hot day. And she gladly provided the recipe for me to share with you.

Yes. We knitters take our food seriously. 

And when it got too hot to knit outside, we moved inside.
Truthfully, I nearly forgot to make a picture of this pie. I tasted it (a big bite) and realized how delicious it was. <swoon> I flew back into the kitchen and plated the one intact slice left so that I could make this photo. It was that good. Worth stopping mid-dessert to make this picture for you. Thank you, Mellie, for bringing the pie and sharing the recipe.

3 regular 9-inch frozen pie shells (or 2 deep 9-in pie shells)*
1/4 cup butter
1 (7-oz) package flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (8-oz) block cream cheese, softened
1 (14-oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 (16-oz) Cool Whip
1 (12-oz) jar caramel, butterscotch or chocolate ice cream topping

Bake pie shells according to directions and cool.

Melt butter in skillet. Add coconut and pecans. Cook until golden brown, stirring frequently.           Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine cream cheese and Eagle Brand milk, and beat until smooth. Fold in cool whip.  Layer ¼ of the cream cheese mixture in the pie shells.  Drizzle ¼ of ice cream topping over the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinke the nuts and coconut evenly over the topping.  Repeat the layering again.  1) cream cheese mixture, 2) Topping, 3) Coconut and nuts.  Cover and freeze until firm.                                                

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Refreeze leftovers. 

        *Note: Can use 2 graham cracker pie crusts. 
One of our knitters was collecting some of the recipes from our lunch to use for Thanksgiving. She is hosting a large family gathering this year. This pie went on her list because it makes 3 pies and, like the sour cream muffins, can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. Her family is going to be happy.

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