Saturday, July 29, 2017


This is a recipe shared with us from our daughter-in-law, Jessica.

20-25 cups peeled, raw tomatoes
6 jalapenos (1/2 cup chopped)
1 1/2 large onions (2 cups diced)
10-15 stems fresh cilantro
4 limes
6-8 cloves garlic
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cumin

How about these beautiful tomatoes?  Fresh from Mike's garden, washed and set out to dry...

And these jalapenos!  He brought them home from the vegetable stand and I washed them out and left them to dry as well...

Peeling tomatoes with little to no waste:

  • Dip whole tomatoes into boiling water for 15 seconds.
  • Remove and plunge into ice water.
  • Slide peel off tomato.
  • Cut out core of tomato and dice.
Salsa Prep:
  • Pulse diced tomatoes in food processor in small batches till thick and chunky.
  • Place tomatoes in large cooking pot.
  • Remove seeds and veins from half  to one/third of jalapenos and dice all of them.
  • Dice onions and add to jalapenos.
  • Pull leaves off cilantro and add to onion/jalapeno mix.
  • Juice limes (I even added the zest from a couple of them.) and add to onion mix.
  • Mince garlic and add to onion mix.
  • Sprinkle in garlic salt and cumin and give mixture a stir.
  • In small batches, place onion mixture into food processor and puree.
  • Stir pureed mixture into tomatoes.
  • Bring mixture to boil and gently boil and stir for about three to five minutes.
Canning Salsa:
  • While awaiting salsa mixture to come to boil, place clean pint jars in oven set to 200 degrees.  
  • Place jar lids in pot and bring water to boil to sterilize them.
  • When salsa is ready, place one jar at a time on a towel and dip salsa into jars with a ladle.  
  • Fill jars to within 1/2 inch at top.

  • Place lid on jars and screw jar ring on jar.  Do not screw on ring too tight.
  • Place jars of salsa into boiling water bath where water covers jars one-to-two inches.
  • Bring to gentle boil and allow to boil for 40 minutes
  • Remove water bath from heat and allow to cool for five minutes or so.

  • Lift jars from water bath and allow to ping and seal.
Yield: 9 pints and a 1/2-3/4 cup sampler
*Note: My first batch was a wee bit runny.  So, I drained out some of the tomato juice after we diced them for the next batch and it was much better.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy

4 bone-in center cut pork chops
2 Tablespoons Steak Seasoning
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 cup diced onions
1 can cream of mushroom soup


  • Rub both sides of each pork chop with the Steak Seasoning.
  • Pour oil into skillet and heat to warm on medium heat.
  • Place pork chops into skillet.
  • Sear both sides until chops are golden brown.
  • After one side is browned, add diced onions to skillet so that they can begin to saute as well.
  • Remove chops from skillet and place in slow cooker on low heat.
  • Stir soup into onions and remaining bit of oil loosening and blending to add the bits of flavor from the chops that are left in the pan.
  • When blended well and all bits are stirred into the soup mixture, pour into slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for at least four hours but not longer than eight hours - depends upon the thickness of the chops.  (The thicker the chop, the longer the cooking time needed.)

Serve with mashed potatoes or rice and use sauce for gravy!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Steak Seasoning

2 Tablespoons coarse ground pepper or peppercorns that are hand ground
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon coarse Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon dried garlic
1 Tablespoon dill
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes (I have substituted with ground red pepper and it is just a bit hotter.)
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons dried mustard (I have substituted with mustard seed but like the ground mustard better.)

Stir all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Use as a rub or for seasoning roasts in a slow cooker or even sprinkle on hamburger when grilling.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad

This is one of those recipes I remember my grandmother serving when we would go to her house.  She would always serve this dish at spring and summer visits and I remember it well.  I never got her exact recipe for this dish.  I found The Pioneer Woman's recipe for Macaroni Salad and it tastes very similar to my Muffa's.  So, I tweaked it a wee bit and it is very close.  Maybe next time I will add a bit of mustard or mustard powder or mustard seed to the dish and see if that is what it needs to be more Muffa-like.

3 cups elbow macaroni
1 large jar pimentos
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 heaping Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
3/4 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
2 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 heaping teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook elbow macaroni as directed on package.  Rinse, drain, and allow it to cool.
  • Add diced onion, pepper, and pimento to macaroni but do not stir till all ingredients have been added.
  • Dollop in relish, Miracle Whip, Ranch dressing.

  • Splash with vinegar and sprinkle in salt and pepper.
  • Give this all a gentle stir to blend well but not break up macaroni noodles.
  • Chill in fridge for an hour or so and serve cold.
I'm taking mine off to the family reunion today.  I hope it hits the spot as much as my Muffa's used to do!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Turtle Cake

This cake is rich, gooey, and a favorite of Bryan's.  It is quick and easy to make and a hit whenever and wherever it is served.


1 box chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong, brewed coffee
1 stick butter
1 14-ounce package caramels
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecan pieces

Y'all, I was so excited to be making this yummy cake that I forgot to take a photo of the assembled ingredients but here is a mish-mash collage of most of what was used.

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine eggs, oil, and coffee and beat in cake mix.
  • Pour half of batter into a 13" x 9" pan.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • While this is baking, melt butter and caramels.  
Don't these look beautiful resting on that pretty little saucer?  Mike helped me to unwrap these little nuggets of wonderfulness and I think that helped him to appreciate the deliciousness of the cake!

I do this melting in the microwave by zapping on high for a minute and stirring.  Then, zap again in thirty second intervals till all is melted and creamy and beautiful.
  • Add condensed milk to the melted butter/caramel mixture and stir till blended and smooth and creamy and luscious.
  • Pour half this mixture over the baked half of the cake.
  • Sprinkle with half of chocolate chips and half of pecans.
After the caramels looked so pretty on this saucer, I decided I'd have to get a shot of the morsels of wonderfulness on it too!  Isn't this a beautiful sight?
  • To add another layer of yummyness, pour remaining cake batter on top and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove cake from oven and pour remaining caramel mix on top of warm cake.
  • Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and pecans.
This cake is divine served warm from the oven!  (Mainly because it looks so beautiful and tasty that I cannot wait to give it a taste.)  It is a little slice of heaven no matter when it is served, though.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Meat Brine

I was inspired to try this brine after word from our son and daughter-in-law that they thought it was good and made for a juicy grilled boneless, skinless, chicken breast.  I concocted this mixture for chicken after having much success with The Pioneer Woman's Maple-Whiskey Turkey.

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
sprig of rosemary
1/2 to 1 cup of water


  • Mix together all ingredients except the water in a gallon zip-bag or a plastic seal-able container.
  • Add six boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  (We have even added boneless pork chops or thick steaks.)
  • Add enough water for meat to be immersed in liquid at least half-way and stir around to mix with other ingredients.
  • Place chicken and brine in fridge for at least a half-hour or for as long as a couple of days.
When getting ready to grill or roast:
  • Remove chicken from brine and rinse well.  Optional - add desired spices as a rub - salt will not be needed!  (We've added  pepper, paprika, Cajun spices, mustard, jerk seasoning, poultry seasoning, steak seasoning, and lots of different BBQ rubs.)
  • Cook over direct heat on a grill rack for about five to seven minutes per side.  (We often will also give a quick splash on both sides with of a combination of melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard and/or BBQ sauce with a basting brush.)
  • Or roast in the oven, uncovered, at about 300 degrees.  
  • Remove from heat when meat reaches an internal temperature of about 150-160 degrees and let rest and continue internal cooking for two-three minutes.
We almost always grill all six chicken breasts at the same time even though there are only two of us eating because the chicken is so good later as left-overs.  I will add different seasoning rubs to each piece or leave a piece or two naked so that we can have different flavors when we eat chicken later in the week.  We often slice it into thin slices or chunks and top a green salad or add to pasta for a pasta salad.  We have chopped it and used it for fajitas and quesadillas.  I've even chopped it and used it for chicken salad with some mayo, celery, nuts, and fruit.  This method of preparation makes it delicious, no matter how or when you choose to eat it!

This chicken is juicy and flavorful even when eating it as left-overs as described above.  We have added a commercial BBQ sauce right before removing from the grill, too.  We also have been known to add a splash of Tennessee's famous Jack Daniels to the brine a time or two in homage to The Pioneer Woman!  The image above is one I made with left-overs that I diced and tossed with a combination of mustard and commercial BBQ sauce.  I added the chicken to an onion roll for an image to Tweet in hopes of winning a sweepstakes.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Breakfast Muffins

1 pound ground, loose, fresh sausage
10 farm-fresh eggs
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup biscuit mix
salt and pepper to taste


  • Crumble the sausage into a skillet and brown evenly.
Fresh sausage made by my husband

  • Beat eggs together in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in spices.
Farm-fresh eggs gathered by my bonus son, Stephen

  • Stir in biscuit mix.
One little sneeze and the entire kitchen would be dusted with this stuff.

  • Add browned sausage.
  • Fold in grated cheese. (I use a mixture of cheddar and Colby cheeses.)
Isn't this one big pile of yummy-ness?

  • At this point I use a half-cup scoop to dip the batter into my muffin tins.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Yield: 18 muffins

A plate full of savory deliciousness

These muffins were inspired by a recipe and gift of a similar muffin recipe given to us by Mike's friend Big Willie D.  The keep in the fridge for a week or so and even freeze well for use later.

baked in a teacup

I have made this recipe and put about a scoop-and-a-half of the batter in a tea cup.  The bake time is 3-5 minutes longer.  They are a perfect size to pair with some fruit or a small yogurt parfait for a brunch.

Brunch Size

I have also been known to make this recipe by substituting a cup of cubed ham for the sausage.  I'd bet it would be good with a combination of sausage, ham, and bacon, too!