Thank you gift!

Well friends, I am finally starting to cook and bake again!  I know that may not seem significant to you………but to me this is huge!  I have always enjoyed baking and generally liked to cook a healthy, yummy meal for my family.  But last spring………I could not muster the wisdom to plan a meal, or the strength to carry it out.  Life was so crazy busy……with both kids playing a varsity spring sport, taking care of Curt, working full time, planning and attending all the graduation and senior awards ceremonies, Madi’s 16th birthday, laundry, paying the bills, taking care of the financial planning for college, yard work…you get the idea.  I just could not even manage to think of what to make, my brain was total mush.  I know it seems hard to understand how that can be, but you are going to have to trust me on this one. 🙂

So that is where  dear friends stepped up and made meals for us. Our Sunday school class brought dinner once  a week, a dear friend has faithfully brought us dinner twice a month for the last TWO YEARS and other thoughtful friends who saw the need and just called at the right time to say they were bringing us dinner.   OH it was SO HELPFUL!

Really it wasn’t until Mid August did I slowly start to emerge from the chaos of late spring and June, and start to cook again.  When your life is in an upheaval there is something so comforting about a good home cooked meal.  Thank you dear friends for giving that to us!

It’s also nice to be able to cook a little again.  When you are daily dealing with the onslaught of a terminal disease and the ramifications of all that accompanies that you crave a normal routine. And cooking seems to give us some degree of normalcy.  So I wanted to share with all of you one of my all time favorite fall recipes.  I have made these DELICIOUS cookies twice this fall.  They are always gone in a day.  So as a way of saying THANK YOU to everyone, enjoy this recipe this fall…..really go ahead and make them.  Trust me they will be gone in a day 🙂


Pumpkin Cookies

 I usually throw a little whole wheat flour in also, but you can use white flour. The whole wheat is used to try and convince me that they are healthy, so then I can eat more of them!! :) Remember to make the frosting as listed, it is what makes the cookies so good…….and it tastes yummy on it’s own also!!

1 cup of pumpkin

1/2 c. of butter ( softened)

1 1/2 c of sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. of white flour

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. of raisins ( to soften, boil 1/2 c. of water and add raisins, and let sit about 5 min., drain, and add to mixture)


3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/4 c. butter

1 1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 to 2 tbsp. half & half

1 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheets. In a large bowl combine, granulated sugar, pumpkin, 1/2 c. butter, egg and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Beat at low speed, until soft dough forms. Gently stir raisins into mixture. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookie is set. Cool completely.

Frosting – In a 1 qt. saucepan, combine brown sugar, 1/4c. butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture can be stirred smooth. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth. Spread frosting evenly on cookies and ENJOY!!!

Also I just had to sneak these pictures of Madi’s Homecoming into this post.  Poor Curt had to endure what no man should have to do……he  had to shop with Madi  and I for a homecoming dress for almost 3 hours and then had to endure round 2 when we looked for shoes.  So after all of that he was happy to pose with his daughter for a picture before the big dance.

homecoming 1

homecoming 2

homecoming 3

Baseball Beef Stew

This was one of my Twitter posts this week.

Can I just tell you how great that beef stew tasted!  For those of you who are not enduring a very cold spring, then you may not be able to fully understand the depth of this bone freezing cold that has penetrated this area!  It may look nice out, flowers blooming, grass greening up,  but I can assure you it does not feel anywhere near spring when you are standing at a ballgame for over 2 hours!  Saw this on our local weather forecast.


Geez 1983!!!!!!  I was just out of high school….so yes it’s been a long time since it has been this cold!  (And really don’t feel the need to let me know you weren’t even born in 1983 or you were in kindergarten then!)

And since we may have a few more days of this cold I thought I would share my fave beef stew recipe.  See at Jesus and Dark Chocolate you can get more than just biblical insight, stories of dealing with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, family moments to share……you also get cool recipes!! 🙂

Baseball Beef Stew for the Crock Pot

Throw ( that is baseball lingo for carefully place) the following items in your crock pot:

  • 4-5 med potatoes cut into quarters
  • As many petite carrots you think your kids will eat
  • 1 -2 stalks of celery chopped and cut
  • As much chopped red onion as you like ( I use about 1/4 of a medium onion)
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • 2 cans of water
  • 3 packets of beef broth granules ( or 2 cans of beef broth, then eliminate the cans of water)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lbs of beef stewing cubes

Heat on low for 7-8 hours.

E.A.S.Y and delicious!

~Enjoy with fresh bread or biscuits

Hoping for warmer weather next week!  Ready to grill on a regular basis!

Play Ball!

Feeling rather BLUE!

We love blueberries!!!  Summer is such a great time for fresh produce.  I bought 10lbs of blueberries last week to freeze.  I also made a family favorite recipe for these scrumptious muffins!

1 1/2 c. flour (I mix in about 1/4 of whole wheat flour, to help me feel better about eating so many of these!)

1/2 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg

1/2 c. canola oil

1/2 c. milk

1  1/2 c. fresh blueberries

Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add egg, oil, and milk.  Stir until just enough to moisten dry ingredients.  Fold in blueberries ( Tip!  coat blueberries with flour before folding into mixture, this helps the blueberries to mix into the dough and not gather at the bottom of the muffin!)

Scoop into a greased or paper lined muffin tin.  Sprinkle with sugar before baking

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

~~ ENJOY!!!!!

Been jammin!! – Freezer Jam

I just LOVE strawberry season!!  Fresh strawberries are in abundance where I live in farm country!

So every year I make lots of strawberry jam…….unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to make my usual 12-15 pints of jam.

So I bought ONE quart of strawberries and made 4 pints of jam…….it took about 30 min. from start to finish!


Have you made freezer jam before?  If not let me show you HOW simple it is!

First start with this – ONE quart of strawberries

Wash, cut off the stem and mash.

Add 4 cups of sugar (yep 4 cups!!) – Let the berries and sugar sit for 10 min.


Boil 3/4 c. of water and a packet of Sure Jell

Pour the sure jell mixture into strawberry mixture, stir well and there you have it Homemade Strawberry Jam!!

In case you are wondering why the jam upper right side container is almost empty….well what do you expect I made the jam 2 days ago!!

And it is SO delicious!!  It makes great PB and J sandwiches, great on toast and biscuits in the morning……and my all time fav, it makes a wonderful topping for vanilla ice cream!

I am off to enjoy some on ice cream right now.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Friday Fave Five

I missed joining this fine and fun group of ladies last week.  But I won’t miss it this week!  For more Friday Fave Five, please stop by and visit Susanne.

Well I guess one of my Faves is a snow day today.  It’s 8:30 and I just woke up! It’s always nice to not have to rush out the door in the mornings!  Sipping coffee and reading blogs on a snow day.  Nice!!!!

Last weekend was fun, The Inventor had a sleepover with 5 other girls.  Of course we had the sleepover while Drums was away playing drums for a Mission Fest and SportTman was on a Winter Retreat.  I enjoyed having the silly 12 &13 year old girls over.  They made pancakes and french fries at 1:30 am, “decorated” one of the girls in tons of rolls of TP, dipped their hands in a hot parrafin wax hand spa,and watched the movie “Up.”

These YUMMY, simple “homemade” donuts are always a fave on a cold and snowy day.  In my opinion you can NEVER go wrong with hot, fried dough, rolled in powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar!  The recipe simply requires a tube of refrigerator biscuits.  Cut out the middle of a biscuit ( I just use the lid of a vitamin bottle, it’s the perfect size), fry in about 2 cups of oil, then roll while still hot in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. Trust me, you WILL eat them as you are rolling them in the sugar mixtures, so hard to wait for these!

Coffee is always a favorite for me.  I have been enjoying this Green Mtn. French Toast coffee immensely as of late!

Last night I was helping SportTman write a short paper on the influence of the Monroe Doctrine on foreign policy.  And since Drums, the social studies teacher, was NOT home.  I had to limp my way through the internet to help him out.  I love the MANY great reference sources available on the internet!  The days of the ole World Book Encylopedia are LONG gone!  Loved this site and this one!   Our school district has a membership to both of these sites through the school library.  So research was made simple!  And let me tell you, I now know all you ever wanted to know about the Monroe Doctrine!

Brownie Mistakes


I have a brownie recipe that I love and have been using for years.  I am not a fan of boxed mixes( although I have used them for bake sale emergencies!).  However the other day, I must had a major PMS kind of  brain lapse.  I did not MELT the butter as the recipe called for.  I just “softened” it.   Of course I did not realize it until I went to taste the batter, like all wise cooks do, and I realized something “just wasn’t right.”  I looked back over the recipe and realized what I had done.

But here is the shocker of the whole mistake………the beloved brownie recipe actually tasted better than normal!

So my mistake ended being a good thing!

That is how my life often turns out, something that I think is a mistake, or a mess up, frustrating, sad, overwhelming, heartbreaking……God can end up using for GOOD!  What a difference it makes sometimes to keep the end in sight.  The frustrations of this world, can lead us to a deeper relationship with Christ, and THAT is what really matters!!

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

And now for a YUMMY brownie recipe!

Lets see if I can do it from memory, I have made ’em enough times!  And I must tell you I made them on Tues, and they are now LONG gone and enjoyed.  As brownies should be!


2 sticks of SOFTENED butter

2 c. sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 c. cocoa

1 c. unbleached flour ( can also use King Arthur’s White Wheat flour to make it more nutritious)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. choc chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 13 x 9 pan.  Mix together softened butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt, beat well.  (At this point grab  several spoons and sample your yummy chocolate brownie dough)

Pour into prepared pan and Bake  30-35 min.  After 2o min. of baking pour 1 c. of choc. chips over the top of the baking brownie.

EAT while they are still warm!  🙂

Grilled Ham Slices

Works for Me Wednesday day is hosting a recipe edition.  You can’t go wrong with summer recipes.  We eat LOTS of fresh watermelon, blueberries, corn on the cob and use the grill a lot during the summer.  So I thougtht I would share my all time favorite grilling recipe!

It’s for grilled ham slices, it’s E-A-S-Y and so distinctly yummy!  This recipe on it’s own is famous, it appeared in  Taste of Home magazine  and made the 2008 Taste of Home cookbook.  And where did I come up with such a great recipe……where else, but from my mom!!!  🙂


~Grilled Ham Slices ~

Marinade 3 bone in fully cooked ham steaks ( or if you buy a small ham, you can slice it and use it in this marinade)

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1/2 c. cider vinegar

1-2 tablespoons of ground cloves

1 tablespoons of molasses

2-3 tablespoons of ground mustard

2-3 tablespoons ground ginger

Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl.  Add marinade into a large resealable plastic bag.  Add ham. Seal bag, turn to coat.  Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Grill ham steaks 8-12 minutes until heated through.  Baste frequently with remaining marinade.


Also, just posted yestereday on great summer activities for kids, Click Here to see the post for pratical, fun ideas.  I am a teacher so sorry if they actually include a little learning in the fun!  Imagine that!!  🙂

Dump Cake – Works for Me Wednesday


For more Works for Me Wed. Click Here

This is such a simple and VERY delicious dessert, and in this fast paced world, this homemade treat is a winner in prep time and taste. That WORKS FOR ME! 🙂

Dump Cake……I know the mental image of a cake with that name is not real appealing.  However, this quick dessert is a lifesaver when you haven’t had time to bake something, but don’t want to spend money to purchase a store bought dessert.  Dump Cake is your answer.

I made this for a friend the other day and she asked me for the recipe for the “cherry cobbler like thing.”  When I told her it was called “dump cake”  my 14 year old son who overheard the conversation replied, “you mean like going to take a………..”   Oh never mind I won’t go there when talking about food!  I am really much to immersed in the life of 8th grade boys!

Regardless, the facts are it’s yummy and E-A-S-Y!


First DUMP one can of crushed pineapple ( I drain about half of the juice) in a greased 13 x 9 pan

Second DUMP and spread carefully cherry pie filling on top of the pineapple

Third DUMP yellow cake mix on the cherry pie filling and spread over the filling

Fourth DUMP one stick of melted butter over the yellow cake mix

Bake at 400 for 40-45 min. until cake mix is “set”

Dab a little ice cream or whipped topping over it, serve on a fancy plate and friends will think you worked so hard to make this yummy dessert!

I know it sounds a bit strange and you think how will this all turn into something delicious.  But I have been bringing this simple dessert to pot lucks and other occasions for years and it is ALWAYS a hit!





As I lay in bed last night and could not sleep, I got to thinking about chocolate!!  I think I was hoping if I thought about chocolate before falling asleep, I would then have great dreams of working at a chocolate factory or living in a land flowing with chocolate!

Instead I decided that I needed to post more about chocolate, since my blog title obviously endears me to chocolate.  Then I found this chocolate carnival and knew I needed to link up and give it a try!!

So I thought I would post 10 things I love about chocolate!

You don’t NEED much to satisfy that craving, yet it is so easy to indulge in more!

It’s so quick and easy to grab just a bite here and there of chocolate

I live in a town with a chocolate factory.  I can often be found sitting at my daughter’s soccer games catching a glorious whiff of chocolate!!!

As a child I remember my mom keeping a stash of Nestle Chocolate Chips in a kitchen cupboard, and somehow she never got to making the chocolate chip cookies but the bag was often empty.  I now understand why that happened and have determined my affinity for chocolate must be genetic!  🙂

This Texas Sheet Cake recipe has been a favorite of mine since I was a child….more proof that my love for chocolate is genetic.

Here is a perfect example of smart, wise people and people who are leaders that eat chocolate-

The French Leader Napoleon insisted that wine, from the Burgundy vineyard called Chambertin, as well as chocolate be available during military campaigns. Due to its precious nature, the distribution of chocolate was limited to himself and his senior military advisors.

Chocolate comes in such great NUTRITIOUS varieties how can you not love it, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered strawberries, dark chocolate is just full of antioxidants…….veggies and chocolate are all good for you!

Chocolate Chip pancakes and sausage can make a quick easy dinner!

Americans eat an average of twenty two (22) pounds of candy each year, or approximately 2.8 BILLION pounds annually, split almost equally between candy and chocolate. That is far less than most Europeans consume. – Therefore it’s very important to keep eating chocolate to support the American economy during tough times

Jesus and Dark Chocolate….how can you go wrong with that combination.

For more chocolate posts and recipes visit, Stop and Smell the Chocolates!

Happy Chocolate Eating!


Aloha Friday


I had so much fun reading all the responses to my last Aloha Friday when I asked about your ideas for a quick, easy meal. (Click here to read the post and see all the great suggestions in the comments.)

I decided to milk my good fortune a little farther and ask for your help again……..

When I say quick,easy baked sale item or dessert, what comes to your mind?

For me it’s probably brownies from a boxed mix with ice cream.  I will often serve that when  I am in a hurry, or when we are having friends over and I don’t have time for something real fancy.  It’s really hard to go wrong with anything chocolate! 🙂

For more fun questions click on the button above.


Aloha Friday


I love this carnival/meme….it’s easy and it’s fun. You simply ask a question……
When I say quick, easy dinner, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
All suggestions, recipes, ideas are welcome, and heck I will even give you my address if you want to send me a free sample!  And if you can have the dinner arrive at my house right at dinner time, I will send you flowers and chocolate!
For more fun questions click on the button above.

Amazing Chocolate Chip cookies


I have always made yummy chocolate chip cookies over the years.  I had what I thought was a great recipe.  That was until a dear lady brought cookies into our classroom as a treat last week.  These cookies were AMAZING.  They were thick, chewy, filled with chocolate and big!  I asked the dear lady for the recipe and she gladly handed it over.  So this weekend I went to work to make the cookies.
Here is the recipe for these delicious cookies, that you would be proud to call them your own!
6 c. flour
2 c. shortening
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. hot water
4 eggs
1 – 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus one cup of choc. chips
Mix shortening, sugars together, mix in eggs and vanilla and hot water.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Dough will be thick.  Stir in 12 oz. bag of chips.
Here is the different part….Grab about a golf ball size chunk of dough, flatten it, and fill with 4-5 chips.  Roll back up into a ball and dip top in choc. chip so the top of cookie has 8-10 chips on the top.  This cookie can handle lots of chips! 🙂
Bake at 350, 10-12 min.  Grab a glass of milk and eat as soon as it cools slightly!
You can see how thick the cookies are, and how those chips in the middle melt so nicely into the thick of the cookie.