Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Asparagus Puff Ring

As soon as Jim and I were engaged, my father-in-law's wife introduced me to "Taste of Home" magazines.  This was the Grand Prize winner in the very first issue I received and it was actually a few years before I tried it because, quite frankly, it just looked intimidating to me.

But when I finally did try it, it was actually one of the simplest recipes I had ever made. And yummy!  And a great home for any leftover ham (although shrimp would be a great substitute).  Oh, and now that asparagus is coming into season, a great value.

A great meal in itself, you really don't need anything else unless you want to add a green salad.


3/4 cup water
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed and remaining stalks cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup diced onions
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 cups diced fully-cooked ham

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil.  Add flour and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each; beat until smooth.  Stir in 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.  Using 1/4 cupfuls of dough, form a ring around the sides of a greased 10" quiche pan or pie plate (mounds should touch).  Top with the remaining cheese.  Bake at 400F for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook asparagus until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes; drain.  In a saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender.  Stir in flour and S&P.  Gradually add milk; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat; stir in cheeses until melted.  Stir in ham and asparagus; spoon into ring.  Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home magazine, April/May 1997, p. 26 (submitted by Shirley De Lange, Byron Center, Michigan)

Monday, April 27, 2015


Years ago (2004) there was an Adam Sandler/Tea Leoni film called "Spanglish."  If you didn't see it, don't rush out and get it.  A truly unremarkable film.  In fact, I don't think I even watched it until the end.  However, Adam Sandler (as a chef in the film) made a sandwich that not only stuck in my mind, but apparently many others due to the many different versions of this sandwich I found on-line (look at Pinterest, for example).

Therefore, I don't really have a true recipe here, but simply some possibilities to choose from.  The one non-negotiable ingredient, however, is the egg (and for me, the pesto).  And every recipe I looked at called for a runny egg (but if you, like my husband, would rather dance with a cobra than eat a runny egg, I won't tell if you use a hard-fried egg.....just don't call it a Spangwich!)


Toasted bread slices (whole grain, artisan country bread, sourdough, your choice)
Cooked bacon
Sliced deli turkey
Sliced cheese, your choice (gouda, cheddar, Swiss, provolone, Jack, etc)
Tomato slices
Leaf lettuce 
Butter (if toasting bread in a toaster oven or under a broiler)
Egg, cooked over-easy

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ham and Potato Soup

I had some leftover ham and a bone from Easter.  I generally use it to make a navy bean soup, but we've been getting some really good fresh corn at the market, so decided to go this route.  Great choice!

This is so tasty.  And the addition of cauliflower lends another flavor.  While the original recipe calls for frozen corn, I urge you to use fresh corn when in adds to much extra texture.  And it's just better.  I also added some smoked paprika, just because I love that stuff!

HAM and POTATO SOUP (8 servings)

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes, red or russet
1 cup diced cauliflower
1 cup frozen corn, or fresh corn but off the cob
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup diced celery
3 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 ham bone, optional
4 cups water, or as needed to cover
2 Tbsp chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp ground white pepper
5 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp AP flour
2 cups milk
smoked paprika to taste, optional

Combine potatoes, cauliflower, corn, cooked ham, onion, celery, garlic, and ham bone (if using) in a large soup pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduced heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Stir chicken bouillon, salt, and white pepper into mixture.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk in flour to a make a roux.  Cook for 1 minute and gradually whisk milk into flour mixture until smooth.  Continue cooking until thick, 4-5 minutes, whisking often.

Stir milk machine into soup.  Add smoked paprika, if using.  Cook until heated through, 5-10 minutes.

Recipe Source:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sharon's Fabulous Tomato Chicken

Greetings, Friends!  So glad you stuck around during my absence.  But I'm back in the kitchen with some great new recipes.  And this one is at the top of my list.

I was fortunate to be able to spend a night with my friend, Sharon, when I was in Oklahoma City.  It was, unfortantely, just for one night and I had thought we might go out to dinner.  But she told me she had planned to make dinner so what could I say?  I would never, ever turn down a meal at her home.  And I knew I was in for a treat when I got to her front door and the aroma wafted through her screen door.

Sharon, however, is one of those "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" cooks and so her recipes are a touch of this and a tad of that, or you could try something different!  So I did the best I could to duplicate hers and think I came pretty darn close.

This is so, so simple and oh-so-good.  I think she told me she got this original Weight Watcher's recipe from a friend.  I almost always use skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but she had used thighs and they were so tender after simmering in the sauce that I stuck with her choice.

The amounts I have below are what I used.  This is a small batch since there are just the two of us, so adjust according to how many servings you'll need (or make extra in case you like this as much as I did).  You can use tomato soup (any kind, prepared.....not condensed) in lieu of the tomato sauce.  Onion and pepper amounts are also a guestimate......add more or less to your liking.  And you really must serve this over mashed potatoes......this simple sauce makes the best gravy.


8 oz skinless, boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
14.5 oz can of stewed tomatoes, chopped up
8 oz tomato sauce or tomato soup
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh parsley
garlic powder, to taste
S&P to taste
mashed potatoes

In a skillet or electric pan, brown the chicken on both sides.  Remove.  Saute onions, pepper and garlic until tender.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce or soup, garlic powder, and S&P.  Put seared chicken back into the mix.  Simmer covered about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over mashed potatoes.

Recipe Source: Sharon Davis, Oklahoma City

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Oklahoma City Bombing....20 years later

I was able to go the Oklahoma City National Memorial when I was in Oklahoma City last week.  I believe the pictures say it all.

9:01 a.m. April 19, 1995.  One minute before the bombing.

9:02 a.m.  

9:03 a.m. One minute after the bombing.

Chair symbolizing the life of Paul Douglas Ice.

A partial view of all of the chairs representing the lives of the 168 victims murdered on April 19, 1995.
Never forget.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

See You in a Bit

Just a note to let you know I'll be off-grid for a few weeks.  I'm leaving in a couple of days to spend a bit of time with my sweet mother, who is in late stages of Alzheimer's.

For anyone who has been through this with someone they love with all of their hearts, I don't need to tell you how heart-breaking this disease is.  

On top of this, I'm looking down the barrel of the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing.  It's so hard to believe that my sweet big brother was murdered 20 years ago. He had so many plans (he was only 43-years-old at the time) and was so looking forward to the future (he was a pilot with his own plane and had planned on trips to Alaska, New York, and more).

Not to mention I was just three blocks away on the other side of Robinson Avenue.  I was on the 21st floor of the First National Bank building (a place my father took me to as a young girl to watch the stock tickers on the bank building floor) when the blast happened.  Someone said "that's the Federal Building," and I said "my brother works in the Federal Building."

I'll never forget riding down the elevator around 10:30 a.m, about an hour and a half after the blast.  I was so happy to get a day off of work!  I hated my job and the people I worked with.  It was like a free pass.  And then I saw the enormity of what had happened.  OKC became "The Oklahoma City Standard."  Within minutes, expressways were blocked off with police vehicles.  Luckily, I was able to take Reno Avenue to my parent's home in Midwest City.

I'll never forget the next few hours.  My dad was still in his garden.   Mom and I sat on the couch watching the television.  I laid down with my head on her lap.  After a while, my Dad come into the house.  He eventually decided he needed to go downtown to Saint Anthony Hospital, the clearinghouse for bombing victims, to try to find his son.  Once there, he found a big bulletin board with names of people treated and released.  And guess what?  "Paul Ice" was shown as treated and released.  Needless to say, we were thrilled, but where was he?  Turns out, SO WEIRD, there was a janitor at the Methodist Church across the street whose name was Paul Ice.  

Now we have been in the OKC area for decades and thought we knew everyone with the "Ice" surname, but had never met this man (still haven't).

So the day grew longer.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Eight days until they  recovered Paul's body.  He is now buried alongside his beloved father and other family members at the Fairview Cemetary outside of Apache, OK, the hometown of our sweet, sweet Momma, and next to our Dad's grave and later our Mother's.  There is one more plot and I'd like to think that maybe someday me, my husband, and our cats and dogs' ashes may lay next to them.  Or we'll be in Arlington National Cemetary, or the National Cemetary here in beautiful Chattanooga, TN.

And one last thing since I'm spilling my heart.  Our sweet girl, Muffin, is not long for this world.  I have so loved this sweet, sweet puppy-dog-girl since she came into our lives the 4th of July weekend, 1999.  She and I have been together almost every moment of our lives since then and I can't imagine life without her.  I treasure every moment with her.

So, thank you for your patience.  I look forward to getting back in action in a few weeks.

Please remember Oklahoma City.  Visit

Friday, April 3, 2015

Salmon Pasta Salad

This is a pretty basic salmon pasta salad recipe except rather than using a traditional mayo dressing, you use vegetable oil.  I like to toss all of the ingredients together (including what would be in the dressing, except the oil) and then drizzle the oil at serving time so the pasta doesn't absorb it during the time it spends in the fridge.

SALMON PASTA SALAD (6-8 servings)

8 oz pasta (rotini, farfell, or what you like)
2 cups cooked, flaked salmon or 1 can (14 3/4oz) pink salmon, drained, bones and skin removed
1 1/2 cups quartered cherry or halved grape tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/2 cup vegetable oil, or less
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp finely minced fresh garlic
S&P to taste
leaf lettuce for serving, optional

In a large bowl, toss the pasta, salmon, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.  

For dressing, combine the oil, lemon or lime juice, dill, garlic, S&P; mix well.  Pour over pasta.  Cover and chill.  Serve on lettuce if desired.

Recipe Source: (submitted by Mary Dennis of Bryan, Ohio)