Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Texas Caviar

Happy New Year!

If you are not from the South, you may not know about the New Year's tradition of eating black-eyed peas.  As a matter of fact, you may not even know what black-eyed peas are.  I can hear Annette gasp as she reads that one!

I could go into some kind of explanation about WHY we eat black-eyed peas on New Year's, but in all honesty it would be information I got by way of "Google," because quite frankly I never have been worried about "why."  I just know we do it for good luck, and it is taken seriously!  When I "Googled" the subject, there were plenty of explanations, so Google to your heart's desire.

On to the food ~ black-eyed peas are a pretty fun subject to Annette and I.  We remember picking them as children/teens at various gardens.  For whatever reason, you apparently cannot plant a "few" pea plants - you must plant a million or so - rows and rows and rows...  So then of course you have to invite your friends over, because you have too many peas.  It was the friendly/neighborly thing to do.  I guess our parents had lots of friends. :)
They are of course ready to pick in the heat of the summer, so picking them was so much fun - NOT!  Now shelling them - that was FUN!  I would say that Annette and I feel we were "professional" pea shellers.  Daddy taught us how to do it efficiently, and it is a sweet memory of family time - everyone sitting in the living room, shelling bushel after bushel of peas.  I can still see Daddy smile and laugh as Annette tried to compete for who could shell more.

It is well-known in our family that Annette LOVES black-eyed peas.  Black-eyed peas and cornbread have always been a favorite for her.  You can see her previous post about how to cook them here:
Black-Eyed Peas!!

I, on the other hand, eat peas on New Year's, because that is what I am "supposed" to do.  So, I am sharing a recipe for a different way to enjoy them, called Texas Caviar.  If you can make something that goes with a chip, I am there!

Texas Caviar

2 cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
OR 1 bag of frozen black-eyed peas, cooked according to package, cooled and drained1 small can yellow corn, drained and rinsed 
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup purple/red onion, diced
1/8 cup chopped cilantro 
6-10 pickled jalapeno slices, chopped
1 garlic pod, finely minced
4 to 8 oz. Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste

Cook and/or drain your black-eyed peas and set aside.
Chop your veggies:

CAUTION:  when chopping jalapenos, remember to avoid contact with eyes by taking every precaution possible (not that I have had a bad experience with this).  I use my handy-dandy chopper that I love oh, so much.

 TIP:  I like to use my kitchen shears to snip cilantro.  Seems easier than chopping.

Toss all ingredients until well mixed and chill for several hours or overnight.
Look how pretty :)

Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, or even as a salad.

May your New Year be prosperous, and filled with health, love, peace, and joy!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Muffins

Have you been just dying to try that post on Facebook / pin on Pinterest?  You know, the one with only 2 ingredients - a yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin.  Well, I HAVE, so I DID!  I am happy to report it was a huge success with my family and guests.


 Easy Peasy Pumpkin Muffins

Ok, so you've got the 2 ingredients:

1 box of yellow cake mix
1 can of pumpkin

OK, OK, OK - True confessions time -- I couldn't do it...
I just had to "kick it up", just the tiniest bit ;)
However, if you don't want to "kick it up," I am CERTAIN these two ingredients will make awesome muffins!  These ingredients did not alter the consistency one bit!

So here are my few still "easy peasy" additions:

1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Teacher note:  Save those Box Tops for Education for your kids' school(s), or your grandkids' school(s), or your neighborhood school, but DON'T THROW THEM AWAY - that's like throwing money away!! Thank you :)

First, either spray your muffin pan, or line with cupcake liners.
Of course I picked liners, because that means easier clean-up!

*Next, mix all those ingredients together until smooth 
BONUS ARM WORKOUT included at NO CHARGE - You're welcome ;)

It's pretty sticky, so I used a scoop to fill each muffin cup.
Since it was an experiment, I only put chocolate chips in half.  Of course those were the first ones gone - BIG SHOCKER!

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


My husband recommends popping them into the microwave to warm them once they have cooled -
20 seconds should do it.  YUM!

I've seen on Pinterest where some people use Spice Cake Mix, Devil's Food Cake Mix, etc.
Experiment and make it your own.  
Whip these puppies up for a quick dessert, breakfast muffin, or an afternoon treat with coffee or tea.

Thank you to whoever originally posted this trip, because I'm loving how "Easy Peasy" it is!!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Some of the fondest memories of our travels while my husband was in the U.S. Air Force were, of course, shared over food.  At the many events, potlucks, etc. I was able to try yummy foods and get recipes from dear friends from all over our great country.  The recipe I am sharing today came from my friend, Shelley Brock, from our time living in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It is an easy recipe - perfect to whip up for a holiday potluck, or if you are traveling for the holidays and you want a sweet other than pie.

Pumpkin Bars


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup nuts (optional)

*Beat the eggs, stir in sugar, oil & pumpkin. (I use a whisk, because it is easier/faster to mix!)
*In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

*Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
Note:  You should add pecans if your family likes them!  Sadly, my family does not... :(  

*Pour into a lightly sprayed 13 x 9 baking dish.

*Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.

 (I put it in this particular pan, instead of a pretty one, because I wanted it to have a lid. :) )

*Cool completely and cover with cream cheese frosting.

LOL - could have cleaned up the pan before the picture - oops!  I was excited to cut into it.  I haven't made these in years.

While you CAN use store-bought cream cheese frosting, it is super easy to make and worth the few extra minutes, in my opinion.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz. cream cheese
3/4 stick butter (That would be 6 TBS.)

Cream cheese comes in 3 oz. sizes, but I always have the large ones on-hand.
Check out those fractions!
The teacher in me wants to remind you that cooking with your kids is not only special, quality time, but also provides valuable opportunities to practice real-world Math skills. DO IT!

1 TBSP cream (Milk works just as well.)
1 tsp. vanilla (Makes everything better.)
2 1/2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar (2 1/2 is plenty for me.)
pinch of salt

*Mix cream cheese, butter, cream/milk, and vanilla with a mixer until blended.
*Mix in powdered sugar a little at a time until well blended
Tip:  Do NOT add all of the powdered sugar at the same time or you will surely receive a surprise in the face... Don't say I didn't warn you :)


 My boys have dug into their second pieces already!! Yippee for Thanksgiving, family, and cooking (even better in pjs of course)!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nacho Cups

I hesitate to post my silly little Tex-Mex "snack", given that Annette has posted the best Mexican-style recipe in the family already.  In case you missed her recipe for green enchiladas, you should check it out here:

Our Favorite Green Enchiladas

Many in our family joke that we must have Mexican heritage as much as we love to eat Mexican food!  This little "recipe" (We all know it's just nachos in a cup-shaped chip. lol)  I came up with is easy, quick, flexible for your tastes, and of course YUMMY!  You can have it as a snack or add to it to make it part of a quick meal.  Play with it and enjoy!

Nacho Cups


Tostitos SCOOPS 
Can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
Salsa of your choice
Shredded Mexican Cheese

Of course this is SUPER SIMPLE ~

Line a cookie sheet with foil (I use non-stick.)
Place SCOOPS in a single row.
Put a few beans in each chip.
Drop a bit of salsa over the beans.
Cover with grated cheese.
Bake in a heated oven until cheese has melted.


Optional add on toppings:
 avocado/guacamole (Our personal FAVE!)
chopped green onion
sliced olives
diced tomato
sour cream 
taco meat  

Like I said - easy, peasy, but sometimes that's just what we need on a busy evening or for a quick kid-friendly lunch!  As always, make them your own and enjoy :)


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Melt In Your Mouth Jalapeno Cornbread (Really)

Well it's been forever since we've been in touch with you all!  What can I say...life gets busy sometimes. The recipe I'm (Annette) sharing with you today is a TRUE family favorite.  Beth loves loves loves it when I make this cornbread for her.  She's not as big of a cornbread fan as I am, but, makes exception when it comes to this recipe.

First, I have to give you a little background story.  As Beth and I have told you in previous conversations, we originally came from the country.  Cornbread was a big staple in our household.  I learned how to make it homemade when I was 11 years old. I'm 8 years older than Beth, so many nights I cooked our dinner when we came in from school. The poor child had many nights of cornbread and black-eyed peas, canned from our garden. It's a wonder she will even entertain the thought of cornbread cooking in her presence.  Anyway, she's always excited when I whip up a pan of this hot skillet of goodness. One of the biggest tricks to great homemade cornbread is a good, seasoned cast iron skillet.  I have had the same skillet for let's just say many years. ;) When we grew up and left home our Daddy made sure we left with a sharp knife and a cast iron skillet.  Kind of a unique parting gift, but, very normal coming from our sweet Daddy. ;) He made sure we left with something that would be memorable and useful. He was right.
Now this recipe has a few semi-homemade products in it, but, requires a lot of love put into it.  Maybe that's why mine is so good.  I love food a lot! ;) I feel this is a must-do recipe so please give it a try.  Your family and friends will rave over it! Well, here goes! 

 Melt In Your Mouth Jalapeno Cornbread


1 Box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 Bag of Martha White (Gladiola) Mexican Style Cornbread Mix
1 1/3 cup of Buttermilk
2 Lg Eggs
1 can (15 oz) cream style corn
1/4 cup whole kernel corn (I use frozen corn as it seems a little more crisp.)
1 lg finely chopped jalapeno
4-5 cloves thinly sliced garlic (this will literally melt during the cooking process)
8 slices of cooked bacon (I cut the bacon up in small pieces with my scissors and fry them in a small sauce pan.  Then I drain off the excess fat.)

Now for the story...

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk your eggs and buttermilk together. Then add your 2 cornbread mixes and combine until it's fairly smooth (it will have a few lumps in it).

Add your garlic, cream style corn, whole kernel corn, jalapeno and bacon to your bowl.  Take a paper towel and generously grease your cast iron skillet.  Pour your cornbread mixture into your skillet and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until top is good and brown.  When you take it out of the oven let it rest for about 5-6 minutes before you cut it.


I sure hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!  It's one of those recipes that goes with lots of different meals, and as my Daddy would say...it will stick to your ribs! LOL! I certainly hope to hear how you all enjoyed the cornbread.  Please take some time and let us hear what you think.
As always, Beth and I hope you and your family have an awesome week! Please take that much-needed time to sit down at the table and enjoy good food and conversation with the ones you love the most.  Until next time...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Homage to the Potato (Oh So Simple Microwave Ranch Potatoes)

Hello from some of your favorite Texas cooking sisters!

In keeping with our "Homage to the Potato," I am sharing an original recipe I have been making for my family for several years.  The best part?  (Besides it's potatoes...)  There are only 4 ingredients!!
Who can resist a yummy potato recipe with only 4 ingredients??

 Oh So Simple Microwave Ranch Potatoes

8-10 medium Red Potatoes
Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix packet
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter

First, you need to wash/scrub down those potatoes.  I mean, they do come right out of the ground!

Now, please forgive me, but I just keep thinking of having young cooks in my home and how they have to be taught everything step-by-step.  If you are a pro and know how to cut up potatoes, skip down a bit, but for some reason I felt the need to show how I cut them up.

First, I slice them in half:
Then, cut those in fourths:
Finally, I cut THOSE in half:
One potato:

10 potatoes in a 2.5 quart casserole dish:

Not gonna lie - I used to get VERY worked up about them all being almost EXACTLY the same size, but then I realized I am no Gordon Ramsey!!  You do want all of your potato pieces to be close the same size so they will cook evenly, but please don't let your OCD overtake you here!

Next comes the hard part - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - I crack myself up sometimes :)
You slice 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter and just place the "pats" of butter around on top
Sprinkle that packet of Ranch Dressing mix over it all (or let your kids).

Then, pour the 1/3 cup of milk over all of it.

DON'T STIR IT - REALLY.  Just cover it and pop it in the microwave.

Depending on how many potatoes you have and how powerful your microwave is, you will cook them for 20-25 minutes on high.  Stir them every 5 minutes.

The potatoes are done when you are able to easily pierce them with a knife or fork, but don't cook them so long that they get "mushy."  Oh, what the heck, TRY THEM - check for doneness the way Gordon Ramsey would tell us to :)  The beauty of the microwave is that you can always pop them in for a few more minutes if you want.

You should have a yummy sauce covering your potatoes.  We have decided in our house that these do not need any extra salt, but of course you may want to add salt or other seasonings to taste.


Yes - part of a balanced diet!  Because you know each of us only ate that small portion - NOT!  We can never get enough of these.  EVERYONE goes back for more!  They also heat up well the next day!

There you have it ~ a Beth Original.
Annette and I hope you enjoy your POTATOES!!
As the Irish would say, May God Be With You.

Homage to the Potato ~ Not Just Another Scalloped Potato

Top O' The Day To Ya!

Hellooo Everybody!  As you can already see, we're keeping with our homage to the potato.  To not have full appreciation for potatoes seems, let's say...almost sinful! ;) Beth and I (Annette) want to make sure to stay true to our Irish heritage.  I'm sure there are quite a few Irish foods we could focus on, but, for some reason the potato just seemed to stand out. ;)
The recipe we will be sharing today is a typical potato favorite, but, I like to think I kick these Scalloped Potatoes up a bit. It's definitely one of my brother, Allen's favorite foods I make. (In all fairness, he's pretty easy to please food-wise). 
WARNING!! This is not the side dish you want to make if you're starting a diet. Just sayin'.
So, let's get this party started!

 Not Just Another Scalloped Potato


4-5 medium to large potatoes
1/2 cup medium onion thinly sliced
4-5 thinly sliced garlic pods (gotta have our garlic)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper-diced small (adds color and a little crunch)
3 Tablespoons butter-cut into small cubes
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup Half and Half milk
4 Velvetta slices (the kind you make grilled cheese sandwiches with)
1 cup Colby Longhorn Cheese-grated
1  1/2 cups of Italian style Panko bread crumbs with 3 Tablespoons of melted butter mixed together well
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Here comes the story!

First peel your potatoes and cut into medium sized slices.  Place your potatoes into a medium saucepan with cold water and bring to a slight boil.  I like to add a small chunk of onion to the water to infuse the flavor into the potatoes while cooking.  Continue cooking until the potatoes are still a little firm.  Drain the water off the potatoes and discard the onion you used in the cooking process.  Set the potatoes aside for later.

In a separate non-stick skillet get your Olive Oil to a simmer.  Add your Bell Pepper, Sliced Onion and garlic and saute until vegetables are translucent. 

Then add your Cream of Mushroom Soup and Half and Half Milk until slightly warmed.

In a 2 quart baking dish spray with Pam.  Put just a little of your liquid mixture in the bottom.  Place half of your potatoes in your baking dish (be sure and be gentle so you don't break up your potatoes).  Tuck in your small cubes of butter in between the potatoes. Take your 4 Velvetta slices and break them up and place them on top of the potatoes. 

Pour Half of the liquid mixture with the sauted vegetables on top.  Put the remaining potatoes on with the rest of your liquid sauce.  Cover with the cup of Colby Longhorn cheese.

Now for my favorite part! :)

Take your Panko bread crumbs, Paprika, Lawry's Seasoning Salt and 3 Tablespoons of melted butter and mix them together well.  Sprinkle this crumble on top of the dish and distribute evenly.  This gives the whole thing that little somethin' somethin'!


As I told you previously this is not a dish you make when you are watching your waistline.  This is the dish you make when you are having special company over or just want to make a home run with your family and friends. It's wonderful! It also will feed quite a few people and is great to warm up for another dinner. This is definitely one of those recipes you put a lot of your love into.

Well, Beth and I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!  We want to thank you for sharing this time with us!  Until next time...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homage to the POTATO (Baked Potato)

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya!

Annette and I are going to take this week to pay homage to the mighty potato, as a small way to honor our Irish heritage.  You don't have to be Irish to love the potato, but we seem to love them an extreme amount! :)  We love them every single way you can cook them, so we are going to pick some of our favorite ways (maybe this will turn into more than a week...) and share them with you.

We are going to start with the most basic - the Baked Potato!  There are several ways to make them:

Baked Potatoes

Beth and I know that showing how to make a baked potato seems a little...let's just say easy, but, let me explain.  Many times over the years different people have asked me, "How do you make such awesome-perfect baked potatoes?"  I have to admit it did make me scratch my head a bit. ;) But here goes and don't dare let me hear (key word-hear) you laugh over this.  Let's say this is for the new cook.

First, you have to be choosy when picking your "perfect" potato.  I try to look them over really well to make sure there are no bad spots on them.  Note:  I usually make 1 extra potato in case there's a spud that has that hidden imperfection. I scrub them really well as some love to eat the skin and I'm kind of, let's say a "clean freak".  Then I put a little softened butter in my hands and coat the entire potato with it. (Makes the skin soft).

Next, I cover the potato with aluminum foil.  I cook this beauty at 450 degrees for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I know that sounds like a long time, but, I forgot to say we typically choose LARGE potatoes  - might as well go all the way if you're gonna do it. ;)  To make sure it's cooked to perfection take a thin towel and squeeze it lightly on both sides to make sure it's soft to touch.  That's it!  Perfect Baked Potato!  Finally, load that baby with all your favorites! I love butter, sour cream, and cheese at the very least.


BTW ~ for all of those healthy peeps out there who have sworn off white potatoes, Baked Sweet Potatoes are just as easy! (Not so Irish, but wanted to give a healthy(ish) option)
Wash them and poke some holes in them.  Pop them in the middle of a 375 degree oven.  Place them directly on the rack with a piece of foil on the rack below.  Bake until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife or until "squishy."  It should take about 60 - 70 minutes.
Annette/Beth special note here:  Notice the lower temp and shorter cook time = never as big on the sweet potato as the white potato - did we mention we're IRISH? 

I mashed mine with butter and sprinkled a little kosher salt on top - OH YUM!!! (Of course you can add brown sugar if that is your thing, but it was as sweet as candy without any added sweetener.