Monday, January 30, 2012

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie

A sweet friend, Jocelyn brought me a pie for Christmas. It just happened to be the best pie I have ever tasted. Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie is quite a mix of delicious flavors. I now think that Pecan Pie was meant to include coconut and chocolate. This would be a perfect dessert for your Valentine
Day dinner.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie
1 package refrigerated pie crusts
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
3/4  cup semisweet chocolate chunks or morsels
Unroll 1 pie crust and place on a lightly floured surface (I love my Roll' pat), lightly brush top of crust with water. Unroll remaining crust and place over bottom crust, gently roll to a 10-11 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch deep dish pie plate. Fold edges under and crimp.
Stir together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gently stir in the pecans, coconut and chocolate. Pour filling in the pie crust.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until set (my pie took an extra 10 minutes). Shield crust after 45 minutes to prevent over browning. Cool overnight. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
I think thr original recipe comes from Thanksgiving Point.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Hello! It's Cindy's daughter, Candise, taking a turn on the blog. My husband and I recently purchased our first home. 2400 square feet of bare walls, vaulted ceilings, and empty floors. We are thrilled to have our own space, and are looking forward to the challenge of making it "home".

Eliza Jane, at the ripe old age of five, is quite excited about holidays and decorations. I have great memories of a fun mom who decorated for each holiday and I am excited to do the same. I decided that I needed to add my creativity to the kindergarten art that decorates each room in our home! Enter Pinterest, with a wealth of ideas and info. I found the idea, read a number of comments and set to work creating my own.

I used a Big Shot to cut the scalloped circles, and attached them to the stryrofoam heart form with small pins. I opted for the pricier wool felt with the hope that it will bring love into our home for years to come!

The idea and general information came from The Idea Room . I found her estimation of 3/4 of a yard to be incorrect. I used close to 2 yards. The wool blend felt is not nearly as wide, and I probably placed mine closer together, a matter of personal preference. Overall I am pleased with how it turned out! (And yes, I counted the circles. I used approximately 185). For more info and instructions check out The Idea Room, this wasn't the only project on the site that made my list!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Baked Chicken Parmesan

So here is a family favorite. The perfect thing to do with chicken tenders purchased at Costco. This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, 'Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry'. I'm sad to say this cookbook is now out of print. I did find a couple of pricey copies on Amazon.

Baked Chicken Parmesan
10-12 thawed chicken tenders
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, fresh or Panko--I've used both
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano--purchased at Costco
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Mix butter, garlic, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl mix together bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper and parsley.
Dip chicken tenders in butter mixture then in bread crumb mixture. Place on bar pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes turning once. Serve with steamed veggies. This is one great meal. I made it last week, Max thought it was so yummy he asked me to teach him how to make it. So I had a mini cooking class for Max and Jess. It's an easy dish with big flavor.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Costco Shopping

So, here is part two of my shopping strategy. Shopping at warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s club can save you money—if you are a wise shopper.
Some of the things I buy are:
Wheat bread, gourmet LeBrea bread (slice it and freeze in meal size amounts--perfect to have a couple of slices to eat with spaghetti, lasagna or to make a Pannini.
Fruit and vegetables—you must buy large amounts, split a case with a friend if you can’t use it all. Wasted produce is not a bargain. I like to challenge myself to use all six heads of romaine! Watch for out of season produce that looks yummy but costs a fortune. Last week Costco had beautiful looking cherries. They were $9.00 a pound! In January it's probably more cost efficient to stick with citrus fruit and apples. We live in an age where we can get almost anything any time of the year. Eat produce in season, it will taste better and cost less.
Paper products—toilet paper, paper towels, tissue, foil, plastic wrap, storage bags, garbage bags, feminine products etc. Just make sure the sometimes larger size boxes will fit in the space you have for them. Have you noticed that when you get things home from Costco such as mirrors, paintings, furniture etc they often seem bigger than they did at the store. It's a good idea to carry a tape measure in your purse when you shop (thanks Kaytie for this idea, I've used it several times.)
Cleaning supplies such as dish soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, Windex,. etc I avoid liquid laundry soap. I huge bottle of Tide somehow danced its way off my dryer. It ruined the carpet, I stick to dry Tide. If I really want to save money I buy the Kirkland brand of laundry detergent. It works fine. Avoid detergents with added bleach, it tends to dull your colors and fade your jeans.
Frozen fish, I like the individual wrapped salmon portions. They are delicious, they don't have a great shelf life so use up within a month or two. Boneless skinless chicken tenders are my favorite piece of chicken. This chicken is individually flash frozen so it is easy to use. I can take out just a piece or two as needed. I also purchase boneless, skinless chicken thighs. These are great on the barbecue
Milk, butter, cream, cheese, and yogurt. I always buy bricks of cheese and shred as needed. Wrap unused portion of cheese in foil, it will keep longer.
Real vanilla, pecans, soy sauce, Worcester sauce.
Tuna, pickles, artichoke hearts, olives, canned chicken broth, some canned fruits and veggies.
 Pain relievers, over the counter medications. Shaving cream, razors, Dove soap, Soft Soap.

Things I usually avoid at Costco:
Bakery items such as cakes, pies, cheesecakes, brownies, cookies, muffins etc.
Gourmet prepared dinners, dips, fancy spreads, most frozen prepared foods such as Dino fish sticks, tacquitos, lasagna etc.
Most samples—one bite is usually tasty but a whole meal is nasty!
Big boxes of Oreos, animal crackers, jelly belly's, peanut m&m’s, snack foods. I do realize that their 4 pound bag of Peanut M&M's is a great per ounce price. But--do we really need 4 pounds of Peanut M&M's in the house? Probably not. I do buy some individually packed foods for lunches such as fruit snacks, Gogurt, granola bars but I have to keep them well hidden!
Large bags of brown and powdered sugar, large jars of peanut butter, jelly and jam. They may be a better deal, I personally don't like dealing with such large quantities. I have a huge 64 oz. jar of Mayo I bought at Costco. The price was right but with our smaller family size it is just not worth the inconvenience. It takes up so much room in my fridge.
I price compare on many items such as canned goods, Costco’s everyday prices are often as cheap as grocery stores sale prices. So I can get a good price any day at Costco.
Watch for Costco coupons, use them on items you usually purchase. Watch out for the 3 dollar off a 3 pound jar of Jelly Belly's! I shop just once a month at Costco, otherwise I spend too much—it’s not a good deal if you are out of money!
What are your Costco shopping strategy? What can't you live without and what do you avoid?
Tomorrow I will share my favorite recipe for cooking chicken tenders.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Supermarket Savvy

Several years ago I taught a class on wise grocery shopping. It has some great info that is still pertinent today. It is nothing new but is always a good reminder. Groceries is a big chunk of a our families budget. Be wise and get the most for your money.
I know there are sites all about couponing etc., find a system that works for you. Decide just how much time and energy you have to give. Wise shopping habits should become a way of life.


 Cooking, meal planning and smart shopping all go hand in hand. Most of us do not have an unlimited grocery budget. So it is necessary that we be smart shoppers. Listed below are a few ideas that might help you get more for your money! These are just ideas—don’t try them all today; gradual change is always the best. Different ideas work at different times in you life. Decide what your priorities are and implement the ideas that fit your lifestyle.
Use what you buy and buy what you use!  Do not store what you will not use.
Know what you have in your storage room, freezer, and fridge. Some freezer labels and a black marker are a must. I like to make Pasta Sauce, it makes a large batch. I put it in 2 cup containers and label it with the date and contents. Be sure to use these treasures before they become hidden. I think the quality is best if used within 2 months
Buy large quantities of items you use frequently when they are on sale ex. I’ve never paid more than $.79 for a can of olives; when I see them on sale I pick up several cans. Make sure you rotate food.
Study the weekly sales—you don’t need to run to several stores if you don’t want to. Plan your weekly menus around sale items. Ex. last week Kohler's had beef roasts on sale for $1.69 per lb. (I taught this class several years ago, I wish I could get beef rump roasts for $1.69! I think I paid about $2.50 last time I purchased roasts on sale) I purchased several roasts. No, I won’t have roast beef every night! But I won’t have to buy them until they are on sale again. This week there are several Mexican food items on sale; it’s Cinco de Mayo, so I will stock up on green chilies, elPato sauce, salsa etc. This would be a great time to make some Mexican Meat Mix, another dish that makes a lot and freezes well.
Macey's is having a spring case lot sale so this might be a good time to check my canned goods and see what I might need a case of.
Have a group of friends that network—let each other know when you see a good buy. I often get calls from friends letting me know where good deals are. If you find a great bargain let a friend know; she will return the favor!
Set up a checking account for groceries, a set amount of money goes in it each month or week. It is used exclusively for grocery purchases. If you don’t use it all each month it accumulates and it is there when you see a great sale.
Try generic and store brands; they are often much cheaper and high quality. I bought a can of Walmart's diced tomatoes and a can of Hunt's diced tomatoes. I did a blind test with my daughter, we couldn't tell the difference. So I will buy Walmart's diced tomatoes and pocket the savings! Have several kinds of canned tomatoes on hand. Italian seasoned tomatoes make a delicious Tomato Basil Soup. Whole tomatoes make a quick and yummy Pizza Sauce. Try a can before you buy a case.
Make your own bread, pastry, desserts and treats. They taste better, are higher quality and are cheaper. Twinkies sit on store shelves for weeks; that tells you something about the amount of preservatives in them! Eat less treats and junk food!
Tomorrow I will tell you how I feel about Costco--the store that costs $250 per basket, or so it seems.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Perfect Steamed Veggies

If you have ever eaten overcooked cauliflower and broccoli raise your hand. Okay, we are on the same page now. After much trial and error my sweet hubby has found the perfect way to cook these nutrition packed veggies. Our preferred method is the humble steamer. Put about an inch of water in a pan, heat to a boil. Place the steamer in the pan. Add the cauliflower and cook covered for 4 minutes, add broccoli cook for anther 4 minutes. Serve immediately with salt, pepper and a little fresh lemon juice.
This will produce perfect veggies every time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Made With Love!

When my Dad passed away six years ago one of my brothers said that Dad's possessions were basically the contents of his sock drawer. It was a pretty accurate statement. Dad's hobby was his family.
Years ago I was making Valentine cookies and couldn't find the right cookie cutter. I called my dad and told him what I wanted. He owned a sheet metal shop and was a master at his profession. A few hours later he stopped by my house with the perfect cookie cutter. Made with love.
Every Valentines Day I'm reminded again of my sweet Dad.

I made a pan of Thick and Chewy Cookie Bars cooled them and used my amazing cookie cutter to cut out some large hearts. They were then drizzled with white chocolate tinted pink. Slip this into a glassine bag and you have the perfect valentine.

Linked to A Little Nosh

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chewy Peanut Butter and Coconut Cookies

I think my Love Language must be cookies. Either that or I'm lazy. Cookies are the perfect treat, they are quick to make and easy to share. You just don't take a half of a bundt cake to someone!
I found a recipe on Katrina's blog, she is a great cook. Peanut butter with oatmeal and coconut  sounds like a fun combination. I wanted to add chocolate chips but refrained. I did add peanut butter chips which turned out to be a great move. This recipe is a keeper, try it.

Chewy Peanut Butter and Coconut Cookies
4 tablespoons softened butter
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams)
1/2 cup brown sugar (110 grams)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour (60 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (120 grams)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars until creamy about 2 minutes.
Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. Mix well. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats, coconut and chips. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Cover and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, I used a Pampered Chef medium scoop, on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Cookies will appear underdone. Cool on sheet for several minutes, then move cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
Thanks Katrina for a great recipe.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice

This 30-minute meal from Cooks Country had plenty of promise. We made a few additions and had one yummy meal!

Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup long grain white rice
salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds of chicken)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups Frito's, crushed
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Combine 1 cup broth, rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until liquid is absorbed about 6-8 minutes. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking, Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add remaining broth, rice, tomatoes and beans to now empty skillet and bring to a boil. Return chicken and juices to skillet and cook, covered over medium low heat until chicken is cooked thru and rice is tender 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes then cut into 1/2 inch slices. Meanwhile let rice mixture stand covered for 5 minutes. Combine Frito's and cheese and cilantro in a bowl. Stir chicken and juices into rice mixture. Sprinkle Frito mixture over the chicken and rice mixture and put under heated broiler until golden. 
Leave  the Frito's whole and use as dippers.
This was good as is but we thought it needed a little more so we topped the dish with diced tomato, finely diced onion and sour cream. Avocado would also been a great addition. It was a yummy quick meal.
It would also have been good minus the chip as a filling for a Toastada or burrito. It was very flavorful, plenty of meat and I love the combination of the rice and beans. But, however you serve it the toppings really make it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cowboy Cookies

 I had a recipe similar to this years ago. Sadly it was lost but I think the recipe I found on Mel's Kitchen Cafe is pretty close.
 A Cowboy Cookie is basically an oatmeal cookie with lots of other stuff added. I can just imagine Mrs. Cowboy making her sweetie a little snack to take while out on the range. Now Mrs. Cowboy was one frugal lady. Waste not, want not was her motto. So she cleaned the cupboards while making this cookie. A little of this, a little of that and it's delicious. Mr. Cowboy loved them so that's how they came to be! (I think.)

Cowboy Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup crushed corn flakes
2 1/2 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans etc.
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, feel free to use white chocolate, peanut butter chip--use it up!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the milk, vanilla and eggs and beat well. Stir in cornflake crumbs and oatmeal. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix. Stir in the coconut, walnuts, if using, and chocolate chips.
Place tablespoon-sized balls of dough on a lightly greased or lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blueberry Granola

I do love granola it is so versatile. Start with oats, add you favorite nuts; I cleaned the freezer on this batch I had almond slivers, raw cashews and pecans. I saved the macadamias for cookies. Sweetening can be honey, brown sugar or whatever you like. Salt, vanilla and cinnamon are good seasonings, this recipe also added cardamom. Melted butter or oil of some kind gives flavor and crunch. This recipe was enhanced by adding whole wheat flour (freshly ground) and flax seeds. Dried berries add flavor and texture. That is why I love granola!

Blueberry Granola
3 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups nuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1 cup brown sugar
4 ounces butter
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
In a very large bowl mix together oats, flour, nuts and coconut. In a pan over medium heat add brown sugar, butter and water. Heat till bubbly. Stir till smooth and add salt, vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom. Pour over oat mixture. Mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes
Pour mixture on a large baking pan. Cook in a 300 over for 45-55 minutes, stir every 15 minutes. Mixture should be golden and dry. Cool and add dried blueberries.
Inspired by Sister's Cafe

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chicken Spaghetti

If you need a new recipe that fits in the 'comfort food' category this could be your pick. Hubby loved it, said it was perfect and was excited to have leftovers in his lunch. I even ate leftovers--I never eat leftovers. It's good. Speaking of leftovers this recipe makes plenty, a full 9x13 pan. I divided it in two square bakers and took one to my sweet neighbor Kristi. She is always doing kind things for me. Sharing always makes one feel good.
This recipe came from Pioneer Woman. Check her site for the complete recipe. I simplified it a bit and it still tasted wonderful.

Chicken Spaghetti--my way
2-3 cups diced cooked chicken, leftover chicken works or a Rotisserie Chicken is always a great choice
1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 can chicken broth, low sodium
One 4-ounce jar diced pimientos, diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this makes it,  please don't leave it out)
Add 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon to a large pot of boiling water, add spaghetti and cook al dente.
Put drained spaghetti in a large bowl and add soup and 2 cups of cheese, mix well. Add onion, green pepper and pimiento. Add seasoning salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Finely add the chicken and broth. Stir together and adjust seasonings. Put in a large baking pan and top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes until bubbly. I cooked some in individual bakers. It's fun to have your very own dish!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Bites

I love Pinterest, so many possibilities. I was excited to make a cinnamon muffin for my kids to eat as they left for home. The muffin I made had many positive reviews. It had a cinnamon filling, cinnamon chips and a strusel topping. It had to be delicious. But it wasn't wonderful, just ok. Not even blog worthy.
My son said, "Mom, why do you mess with perfection? Just make the Cinnamon Apple Muffins that we love."
So friends--here is the Harris Family's favorite muffin recipe. It is perfect!


1 ½ cup flour
1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
½ cup sugar
Buzz together in Food Processor about 20 seconds.
Add 1/3 cup cold butter process a few seconds

Mix together:
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
½ cup grated apple
Add to food processor and just buzz a few seconds. Please don't over mix.

Lightly spray  a 24 mini muffin pan—use small scoop of rounded batter in each cup. Bake 350 degrees for about 12-13 minutes. While warm dip muffin top in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar mixture (1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon).