Friday, January 31, 2014

Chicken Thighs in Balsamic Vinaigrette with Tina Russo Radcliffe

 Chicken Thighs in Balsamic Vinaigrette

with Tina Russo Radcliffe

This is another of my “write all day or read all day” and “pretend you cooked all day meals." I’m cooking for two so I use four boneless chicken thighs. Put FROZEN thighs in a crock pot.

Add one bottle of Ken’s Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Place in a crock pot with a timer, and set for six hours. If yours is only an on and off type of crock pot, it will be done in four to five hours. (I tried two thighs today and they were done in four hours.)

After six thighs you may need a second bottle of vinaigrette. But basically the vinaigrette needs to cover them at least half way, and then you can turn the thighs on occasion. If you won’t be home to turn the thighs, then add more vinaigrette so they are well covered.
I remove the skin before serving. Yum.


 Tina Russo Radcliffe writes romantic comedy as Tina Russo and inspirational romance as Tina Radcliffe. From Western New York, she's lived in Massachusetts, Alabama, Germany, Oklahoma, and Colorado. She now lives in a cave in Phoenix, Arizona and comes out for coffee and writing supplies. A former Specialist 4th Class in the U.S .Army, Tina has been a registered nurse, a library cataloger, a pharmacy clerk and now writes full-time at home. You can reach her or 
Tina’s next release from Love Inspired, Stranded with the Rancher, is a September 2014 release.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mary Connealy's Crunch

We've seen this before and it's amazing....

I loved it. TOO MUCH, thank you very much, and the fun thing is if you have the white chocolate, you can use just about any combination of anything to come up with wonderful goodness.... white chocolate and crunch = delicious!

I scrambled to find some fun substitutes from Mary Connealy's original recipe:

Connealy Crunch
2 pound package white Almond Bark (melted)
Melt in microwave 1 ½ minutes. Stir. Melt 1 ½ minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn’t lose its shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if its enough. Add:
3 C. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal
3 C. miniature marshmallows
3 C. Rice Krispies
3 C. mixed nuts
Spread out on waxed paper. Let cool. Break into bite sized pieces.

 Reese's Puffs and Rice Krispies worked great!!!!

 I didn't have mini-marshmallows so we chopped up big ones and dusted them with powdered sugar to keep them from sticking together. Anything in a pinch, right???  :)

And instead of regular mixed nuts, I had about a cup of Spanish peanuts and about a cup-and-a-half of Baklava mix in the freezer.  Baklava mix is equal parts chopped walnuts and almonds with half of that as a cinnamon/sugar mix.  So if I make four cups of Baklava mix for the freezer I use:

Baklava mix:

2 cups chopped almonds
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon.

Mix and freeze until needed for Baklava or as emergency substitution for Connealy Crunch... Oh, that cinnamon background taste was a marvelous addition!!!

Then I chopped up about another cup of almonds.... Nuts 4 Nuts, that's me!!!!

So you blend all this fun stuff in a very big bowl.....

And of course, each ingredient must be sampled and studied for our later research papers!!!!

Then we add the melted white chocolate. (It had been in my cupboard for a long time, it was BEGGING TO BE USED, a huge 2 lb. bar of Ghirardelli White Chocolate....

Spread it out onto a freezer paper or aluminum foil covered BIG cookie sheet to cool.

Break away one little corner at some point for grown-up research.  :)

When cool, break it into smaller hunks/pieces, whatever. This was HUGELY POPULAR which meant I was hugely popular, and my ego was so grateful!!!!

If you have any left over, store it like you would any candy. I used a pretty decorative can with a tight lid. And then I wrote "Onions" on the lid so people would STAY AWAY.

But they didn't believe me, they're used to my tricks.


And this is our baby Jesus manger, with the continually growing pile of "good deed" yarn to keep Jesus warm.

 And here's the plate of yarn on the shelf below.... Note the color chart made by Casey so the kids could "track" their good deeds!
This has worked so well, thinking of sharing and caring, that I may not put it away.... At least, not for a while!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

15 minute easy dinner- Huevos Rancheros

Hello everyone! I thought this dish had been done here, but I'm looking and not seeing it so.... here we go!
 You'll need olive oil, some corn tortillas, some beans (refried out of a can is fine, but I'll use some that we made a few days ago), lettuce, eggs, salsa.
 Brush the tortillas with olive oil on both side, sprinkle lightly with salt, and put in the oven at 400F for 12-14 minutes. Some people like them softer, and some like them more crispy.
 While the beans are heating in the microwave, get the salsa bubbling on the stove. When it's ready, drop in your eggs.
 Put a lid on and wait about 3-4 minutes until the egg white is opaque.
Take out your corn tortillas and lay a few on a plate.

 First layer is beans, then the salsa and an egg. Add some lettuce and chopped tomatoes if you have any. A bit of salt and pepper and --- DINNER!

My ten year old son can make this dish, so don't be afraid! It's super easy simple, and nutritious, too. Lots of protein in the beans and egg, vegetables in the salsa and lettuce, and fiber in the tortillas. Low fat and good for you!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SUPER (bowl) Amazing Brownies

As far as Super Bowl parties go, it's going to be hard to top the lusciousness of Jan's Brie en Croute from yesterday. But it could use a good accompaniment. Something chocolaty. Ooey, gooey chocolaty, at that. Make it finger food and that's even better.

You know, I've made a lot of brownies in my years, some from mixes, some from scratch, but this recipe I got from my SIL is one for the record books. Not to mention the taste buds.

For these brownies you will need:

  • 1 1/3 c all purpose flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper or smoky chili powder
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/3 c cooking oil
  • 1/3 c melted butter, cooled
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together your dry ingredients.

Including those secret ingredients that are going to turn these yummy brownies into amazing brownies.

Now, as always, I feel the need to instruct you that just because these have chili powder in them does not mean they will be hot. Well, unless you eat them right out of the oven, in which case you will have blisters on the roof of your mouth. And we all know that is not fun. These brownies will have more depth of flavor, but they will NOT be hot.

Combine your oil, butter, eggs and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. You do not want to over-mix this and you do now want to use a whisk. Go for the wooden spoon.

Your batter will be thick.

Spread into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
(Yes, you may lick the spatula)

And bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. If you like your brownies a little on the gooey side (maybe with a scoop of ice cream :), you'll want to go for the shorter baking time. 
The longer they bake, the cakier they will become.

Cool on rack (Like that's going to happen) before cutting.

I let mine bake a little longer because last time they were too gooey. And I also omitted the nuts because I wanted my boys to eat these so I wouldn't. They may be nuts, but they don't like nuts.

So is everyone keeping warm across the country. Ruthy, you chillin' in upstate? Jan, I see you're in the deep freeze, too. Any snow worth mentioning?

We're up and down in Texas. Typical. I won't be putting my heavy coat away just yet. And can you believe they got ice in Houston? Susanna can attest to that. That is a very rare event for Houstonians, so you know they were slip-sliding like crazy.

Has anyone else noticed the tone of the national newscasts regarding the weather? To me, there always seems to be this undercurrent of, "How dare it turn cold again," or "Can you believe we're getting more snow?" Did someone forget to tell these people it's winter?

I'm not complaining about the weather, though. I like it cold. Of course, we're not at minus 20 either. Still, y'all will be the ones who are nice and comfortable come July and August when we're sweltering in 100+ temps. And baking anything will be the last thing on my mind.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Brie en Croute, is there any other way to enjoy Brie?

Treat your Super Bowl guests well next Sunday. Serve them this elegant dish, and they'll be cheering for the Broncos in cultured tones.

This is SO EASY (but don't tell your friends - make them think you've been slaving over a hot stove all day, like in those Rice Krispie Treats commercials!)

Brie en Croute


Puff pastry (use the other half of the package you bought for last week's mini pies)
One round of Brie, either 1 pound or ½ pound, depending on how many people you’re serving
Flaked parsley
One egg beaten with one tablespoon water

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for 30 minutes. Unfold one of the pastry sheets, and place on a lightly floured surface. Cut off the corners to make a circle, and roll out until it’s about twice as big around as your cheese.

Sprinkle parsley in the center of your circle, and then lay your cheese on top of the parsley.

Fold the edges of the pastry into the center of the cheese, pressing to seal.

Turn the pastry/cheese bundle over and place on a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment. Brush with egg wash. If you wish, you can cut decorative shapes out of the remaining pastry and stick onto the round, and brush with the egg wash again.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400°, or until golden brown. Cut open the top, and serve with crackers.

Some of you may remember this recipe - I shared it during the Seekerville New Year's Bash. But it's just as good now as it was then!

And you don't have to have a party to enjoy this. Take it to a church dinner, or a brunch with friends.

Heck, make one for just you. Isn't there something you need to celebrate?

And before you go, I have another video for you. This guy makes me chuckle :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Dry Skin War

Another day when the temperature outside is setting records on the low side. My heater has been running constantly, sucking the moisture out of the air like a vacuum. To make matters worse, I went walking this week in what I thought was balmy 30s but I forgot to add in the wind chill. My bad.  And then there has been my constant use of  alcohol based hand sanitizers because it is the evil flu and stomach virus season. I think a hazmat suit is in order over my deep arctic coat!

It was warmer on top of the Swiss Alps near a glacier than it is here in NC right now!

My skin decided it had enough. Or maybe it was me. My face was dry but my dishpan hands and hiking heels were awful. I mean like so disgusting I couldn't take pictures of myself. If you really want to know how bad dry skin can get, google it. I won't link to the pictures. Blech.

In my war against dry skin, I headed to Google. I learned I am at a higher risk for very dry skin thanks to a thyroid that doesn't work, diabetes in the family and being a woman in the prime of her middle aged life. Well, that explains a lot. My healthcare is up to date. Can't do anything about my age. So what's next?

Diet. Surely foods are important. And they are, to a point. Drinking lots of water. Making sure I eat foods with anti-oxidants. Keeping my sweet tooth at bay. The interesting thing about sugar is it causes inflammation in the body and that includes the skin. So what little sugar is left in my diet has been scrutinized! Studies go every which way on whether diet really improves skin dryness. But all of them say a healthy diet is important. I get to keep my warm milk, got a round of applause for cutting out all caffeine but my morning cup of tea, but need to up my water consumption.
A waterfall from our trip to Maui. Water. WARM! Oh, I mean lots of water!
That's the prevention part. Now to the war on what dry skin I have. Loads of weapons are in my arsenal:

 I love my dishwashing gloves from William-Sonoma (no latex). And remember to put them on!

My Curel Sensitive Skin in the large bottle It's easy to pump a dollop as I pass by.  

But then there are the heels. The cracked painful heels. Did you know you can get infections through severely cracked heels? Not to mention they snag on your fuzzy socks!

My plan of attack included soaking my feet and then scrubbing with a regular washcloth. Then I dried those tootsies and pulled out my secret weapon.

Pumice stone on a stick. Attack that dry skin over a towel to catch the flakes. Uck.

Good old-fashioned Vaseline. My grandmother swore by it. Me too. For the tough dry skin.

I put my slathered feet in plastic bags. If my hands are bad, I do that too.
Kind of weird but I slip on my slippers or ManO's stretched out socks over the bags and then leave them on for a couple of hours.  Note: I do not close the bags with elastic because I don't consider it safe. Usually, I  do my pampering while I'm watching a movie (see below) and not moving around because those things are slippery. OR I just put the socks on my feet as I am getting ready to bed, forgetting the bags. And voila! My feet look great in the morning!

Bonus: Movies to warm my tootsies and me up on a cold winter day? Anything Hawaiian or filmed n Hawaii. The Descendants with George Clooney comes to mind immediately. No clue why! Blue Hawaii. It is dated but still has some fun moments. But if you want to go the opposite way and go for places more frozen than you are, my top picks are: Frozen though you still have to leave your home for it, Dr. Zhivago (ah, Omar Sharif!), Groundhog Day, Ice Age and Happy Feet.

So what about you? How do you keep dry skin at bay in the winter or tame it if you have it? Do you believe certain foods can make a difference for your skin? And what about the movies that make you think warm, either by taking you off to a balmy place or an arctic one that makes you appreciate where you are?    


Friday, January 24, 2014

Guest Sherida Stewart with Date Pudding

Missy, here. When Sherida was talking on the Seekerville blog about her grandmother's Date Pudding, I asked her to share it here. I'll probably share it again near the holidays but was anxious to find out how she made it! Here's Sherida…

Family Treasures

by Sherida Stewart

In a 1950’s Kansas kitchen filled with the scent of frying doughnuts, I learned to love cooking and to treasure the handed-down recipes which are my family’s heritage. Grandmother would stand at the stove frying the puffy dough while I stood on a chair helping Granddad dip the treats in sweet glaze. I waited with anticipation until we finished so I could finally bite into one while it was still warm. Yum! In their small town, Grandmother was known as the Doughnut Lady because of the thousands of doughnuts she made for church fundraising projects and for selling at the local mercantile. That recipe is in a church cookbook in memory of her contributions.

My mother, grandmothers, and aunts cooked wonderful meals for family celebrations. Through their efforts, I learned about family love and family traditions expressed by preparing food for others. Those memories of family festivities are recalled when I use their recipes. A special memory is our Christmas Eve dinners at my grandparents’ home. Thirty-five family members would sit at a very long make-shift table stretching from the dining room through the small living room. We looked forward to Grandmother’s special Date Pudding dessert, a recipe handed down with love. We knew it was a treasured tradition.

My mother and her four siblings grew up during the hardships of the Depression. My grandmother stretched the food budget with her garden and creative cooking. During the Depression, the ingredients for this Date Pudding recipe were very expensive. Grandmother would scrimp to be able to make this special dessert for Christmas dinner. My uncle told me the family would sometimes save money by collecting hickory nuts in the nearby pastures. These were hard to crack, but tasted fine in the Date Pudding. Generations have passed this recipe down, continuing to make it as part of our Christmas celebrations.

This is very rich, but also very easy….a treat to treasure.


1 T. flour
1 T. soda cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 cup dates (cut in thirds)
1 cup walnuts (broken)
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs

Mix dry ingredients. Beat in eggs. Add dates, nuts, and vanilla.
Pour into a greased and floured 8- or 9-inch pan.
Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Makes nine servings.

Mix the dry ingredients (flour, crushed crackers, sugar, and baking powder) in a bowl.

Beat in the eggs.

Cut the dates into pieces. Cutting them into thirds works well for me.

Mix in the dates, walnuts, and vanilla until combined.

Pour mixture into a greased and floured 8- or 9-inch baking pan.

Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Be careful not to bake too long.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

I treasure the recipe card in my mother’s handwriting, reminding me of her love of family, cooking, and traditions.

This year we enjoyed Date Pudding on New Year’s Day when our younger son and his fiancée were able to join us for a late Christmas celebration. Endearingly, she asked if I would give her the recipe. Yes, absolutely I’ll pass it on….along with the cookbook of family treasures I’m collecting for her wedding gift. Welcome to our family heritage of food mixed together with love and sprinkled with memories!

Thanks to Missy for asking about this treasured recipe and for having me visit with you here in the Yankee-Belle Cafe. Do you have treasured recipes which have been passed down with special memories?

Sherida Stewart is hiking along the trail God has mapped for her and learning to trust in His directions. Married to her high school sweetheart for 42 years, they have two sons, two grandchildren, a daughter-in-law, and one future daughter-in-law. A former teacher, Sherida now enjoys blogging about inspirational romance and writing at and about traveling and food at

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Slush Icies!!!

This one is EASY PEASY.

Take one old can of lemonade mix that's gotten hard and think: What can I do with this????

Add water. Allow some of the hardened mix to dissolve.  :)

(Now for those of you who don't have things like hardened pink lemonade mix in the cupboard, a quart of juice will do.  If I use orange juice, I add a little less water, like a can less to the frozen can, and that gives your slush less of a "watery" taste. But regular juice is fine, too!

I used my big ol' retro yellow Pyrex bowl and half-filled it with juice... then put it in the freezer. I stirred it up twice, about every thirty minutes or so, until is was "slushy"....

And then!!!!! Oh, THEN!!!!:

I let the little ones pick their fruit. We had cantelope, too.... It got zero votes. And apples got zero votes, so we went with frozen berries and green seedless grapes.

We put a name on each "cup" and they had to find their own name....

And then we put a scoop of "slush" into the cup, gave them a spoon, and let them stir their fruit into their "slush".

And then back in the freezer for just a few minutes to "meld".....

And this is what I had when all was said and done!

Such a fun, happy, easy bit of science for my little friends!  And they loved their Fruity-slush-icies! Even though it was January!

Nothing like havin' me some fun with the babies in my life!