Posted in Food

Stuffed Pepper Casserole – From Buttered Side Up

One of my favorite dishes is stuffed peppers. I share the same feeling as the author of this blog, however, in that the normal recipe often leaves me wishing I had less pepper and a lot more filling  🙂

This recipe is an awesome version of the stuffed pepper, that comes together easily and makes for a great family dinner. I’m also betting that it could be done in a slow cooker as well, which is how I will be trying it…just leave off adding the cheese until either just before you serve it, or as you serve it to each individual. You could also vary what kind of veggies you add in, to your specific taste.

Source: Stuffed Pepper Casserole – Buttered Side Up

Posted in 365 Days of Writing Prompts

And The Award Goes To…

If I hadn’t made a commitment to do ALL of these prompts, I probably would leave this one off for sure 🙂  I am not even remotely a person that thinks about myself and certainly not in a celebratory way…

You are receiving an award –- either one that already exists, or a new one created just for you. What would the award be, why are you being honored, and what would you say in your acceptance speech?


Well, let’s see. I guess if I really had to get an award for something, it would be my frugality, HA! So let’s see how this plays out, shall we?

The award would be a $1000 gift certificate for one of our local discount/salvage grocery stores. (No, that certificate doesn’t exist in real life haha) And I am being honored for being overheard in our local grocery saying, as I so very often do, “I’m not paying that much for <said product> when I can get it so much cheaper at the discount grocery!”

I can get staples like flour, corn meal, dry beans and rice at about one fifth or less of what they sell for at the major grocery chains. Even with coupons, the discount grocery’s prices are, hands down, unbeatable. I can get canned foods for over half off the lowest grocery store price, and so on. I just can’t allow myself, even during the times when we have plenty of money for it, to pay those kinds of prices when I really don’t have to. And to be honest, I don’t see why anyone else does it either. Maybe if more people shopped where the prices aren’t ridiculous, the ridiculous prices would come down?

My acceptance speech would be…

“I would like to thank whoever is responsible for driving the price of beef to between $4-9 per pound, pork to $3-5 per pound and chicken thighs and legs to $2 or more per pound. It is that kind of increase that drove me to being able to find out about the discount groceries in the first place. Without you, I never would have known that I could get the same amount of protein and not even NEED meat. And even more so, that the price of those kinds of protein are massively less in comparison.

“Thanks is also in order to whoever came up with idea of the discount grocery in the first place. I haven’t done any research and I don’t know all the behind-the-scenes facts, but I know that I appreciate you all more than you will ever know. Especially the girls at the checkout who are cheerful even if the person in front of me was having a bad day and took it out on you. You see to move right along and not let it keep hold of you.

“And finally, to all of those who told me about the discount groceries and where they were because Lord knows, without word of mouth, they’d be the best kept secret on earth 🙂 ”

Not a very good prompt today, but I guess it was all in fun. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, which is why I didn’t mind playing along.

However, I am reminded of a prize much more worthy of attaining. It is the only one that matters to me, and that fact will not change. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14

I hope everyone is having a good Saturday. As always, thanks for stopping by and have a blessed weekend!
Posted in Food

Homemade Dill Relish

This is a recipe I found online at The Daring Gourmet, and it’s another one of those that I have been looking for for SO long! We absolutely love dill relish at our house, but all the recipes that I’ve ever been given were for sweet relish. Now that, my friends, simply turns my stomach.

We use dill relish on so much more than just hot dogs. We put it on burgers and bologna sandwiches, into soups and pinto beans, I just can’t say enough about it. And cucumbers go on sale at Kroger sometimes, so I try to keep my eyes peeled 🙂

Do any of you make your own sauces and condiments? I’d love to hear from you if so, and maybe you’ll even share the recipe? 🙂


A quick, easy and utterly deeeeelicious recipe for homemade dill pickle relish! Sweet and savory with a variety of uses. Canning instructions included.

Source: Easy Homemade Dill Pickle Relish – The Daring Gourmet

Posted in Food

Cast Iron Cookware

Sausage Gravy in cast iron – the only way for me!

Cast iron is one of those things that usually gets passed down from generation to generation. And rightly so – because it lasts forever if properly cared for. But therein lies the trick: proper care. If the piece gets handed down, then the care and cleaning of the piece usually gets handed down with it. But that’s not always the case.

Then there are those people who just decide they’re going to start collecting it one day, because there is a lot of hype out there about it. In antique malls and shops around they country, they can sell for a pretty hefty price. Which makes them seem important for reasons other than what REALLY makes them important. At least to me.

There are a few things anyone should know before committing to cast iron. And by committing, I do really mean committing. You don’t simply get into cast iron – especially if it’s purchased brand new – and then one day just leave it sitting without the proper care. Even though I’ve seen some pretty nasty looking pieces get refurbished, it just doesn’t need to happen 🙂

First of all, let’s talk about the brand new pieces. They do come preseasoned, but this doesn’t mean it’s going to cook like your grandmother’s piece that she’s had since her wedding day. No, even when you pull that new iron from its packaging, you still need to wash it and coat it with a light layer of vegetable oil. I am a HUGE fan of Lodge, which can be purchased at Wal-Mart or directly from the Lodge website, and they have an awesome article here, about the ins and outs of new iron cookware. Please do take a minute to look it over. They even have a video so that you can see some hand’s on stuff, which is a plus for people like me  🙂

Probably the first thing you should cook in a brand new cast iron skillet is bacon. This seasons the iron AS you cook and some people swear by it. I’ve also found that, really, cooking anything that has a good amount of fat in it is also a good way, though never as good as bacon 🙂  When I got my new cast iron dutch oven for Christmas last year, the first thing I did was roast a chicken in it.


The pieces that get handed down are generally already well seasoned because they’ve probably been in use for years. These need little in the way of preparing, but there’s always the care and procedure for clean up, which is pretty easy. For me, it boils down to not letting anything sit in the piece. When I’m done cooking and serving, anything left in the iron goes into a dish I can stick in the fridge and that piece immediately gets washed. After you wash a piece of cast iron, don’t just throw it on the dish drainer and leave it or IT WILL RUST. No if, and’s or but’s here – it’s iron, and iron is a metal that rusts. It will rust if you leave it in the drainer and it will also rust if you leave it setting on a wet counter or even a damp cloth. So don’t do that.

If you DO wind up with a little rust in or on your iron though, please don’t freak out! Although, whenever I’ve had a piece that has rusted, I did usually freak out just a little. However, it’s savable! It sounds crazy, and yes there are other ways to do it, but the best way to clean a little rust out of your iron skillet is to give it a generous dousing of kosher salt (because it’s very coarse), cut a decent size potato in half and use the cut side to scrub your skillet. The rust usually comes right off and all you have to do then is rub on a little oil and set it aside. All is well.

The harder cleaning comes when a piece has been found, say, in an old barn after an estate sale, or buried in the yard (YES, I’ve had friends that have found pieces that way!), or just cast aside and not properly cared for. The rust can build up to the point that you’ll think you might as well just throw it in the trash. But very few cases are actually to the point that they are not able to be saved.

Now, where I’m from in the Appalachian mountains, when a piece is this rusted, the women-folk just start a big fire in the yard (we called ’em gnat-fires, but some of you all know them better as bonfires, lol) and just threw the afflicted piece in and burnt the rust off. It works great, and after a little re-seasoning, you’d never know there was any rust on it to start with.

HOWEVER… let me just go ahead and throw this out there because there are some people who will literally freak out, get nasty-mouthed and have a true to life conniption fit! IF you do put a piece of iron in a fire, some pieces will warp. Now, I’ve never seen the GOOD pieces do that, because back in the day, they didn’t make thin pieces of wanna-be cast iron, but apparently they do now. So if you’re not sure if yours is “good” or not, don’t try that. Well, unless you’re like me and think even a warped cast iron skillet is WAY better than these Teflon coated  things that some people want to cook in.

There is another way to clean the really gnarly looking, super-rusted pieces using something called an “E-tank” that uses water and electric current and lye…I’ll admit, I don’t know much about that method and may even be wrong in listing those three things as being a part of it – so don’t quote me – but I HAVE seen the results of the pieces that were cleaned that way and they are phenomenal! If you are thinking of using this method, let me just point you towards YouTube, where there are an array of great video tutorials and walk-through’s on the subject.

Now I’ve also had people ask me about cast iron and the glass-top stoves. Some people swear you absolutely cannot use cast iron on these stoves, but I have seen it done. There are a lot of precautions though, and you can’t skimp on any of them if you want to keep your stove. Cast iron is no joke: it’s heavy, it’s abrasive and it can do irreparable damage to your stove tops. So if you have a class top, here are a few things to keep in mind…

  • Do NOT leave them sitting, especially stacked one atop another, on the surface of your glass top stove. After awhile, they will crack or flat out break the glass top.
  • Don’t ever use cast iron on a glass top stove if you’re angry. Slamming down that first iron skillet will also break the glass top. Yes, I’ve seen that done too, so trust me.
  • Don’t shake the skillet back and forth on the burner like you can normally do with traditional burners. It will leave scratches on the glass top that you won’t be able to get out and it looks hideous.

So there are some thoughts on cast iron that might help someone out there, I hope. I love my collection and wouldn’t take a million dollars for it. If you’re avid about yours, I know you wouldn’t either. And if you’re just honestly starting out, you’ll soon get that way. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet works far better than Teflon – even eggs won’t stick!


How about you guys? Any cast iron tips or love stories you’d care to share? Please, by all means, feel free to share!

As usual, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it!

Posted in Musings

A Mini-Vacation Is Still A Vacation

Sometimes a body just has to get away. It doesn’t have to be a fancy cruise or a week long vacation either. Sometimes it makes a world of difference to just load the family up in the car and take off and spend a day somewhere beautiful. So that’s what we did. And even the trip is a kind of vacation, because the scenery is absolutely beautiful this time of year…

Somewhere in rural Central Kentucky.

As often as we can, we like to go to the lake and spend the day exploring, getting our feet wet and just taking in the beauty of God’s creation. It’s amazing what a little time away from all the hustle and bustle will do for a person’s spirit. I sometimes just sit for the longest time and look out over the water…


Part of the Nolin River in Central Kentucky.

Once while we were out, it started raining. Not a downpour, just a gentle rain that you could barely even hear, and I loved it! I love rain and storms anyway – I’m one of those weird people who gets a major mood lift when there are storms. This particular time, I happened to a get a picture and it reminded me of that old Don Gibson song, Stars On The Water. Looking at this picture, I can see where they came up with that…

Raindrops on the Nolin River.

Of course, the rain drove us under the cover of a picnic shelter so we figured we’d just go ahead and have lunch while we were there. We started unpacking the van and getting our items out when suddenly, we were being dive-bombed by a pair of birds! I started to pay attention and looked around and there in the corner of the shelter was a little mud nest where some baby swallows had recently hatched.


Anytime we got near the nest, the mommy and daddy birds would have a fit and fly by, as close as they could get to us, letting us know they wanted us to get away from those babies! So we set up shop at the other end of the shelter and they eventually realized we meant no harm and settled down.

The kids favorite meal to have when we’re grilling out is hot dogs, so that’s what we had that day. We’d brought charcoal, so the hubby went about getting everything ready and grilling up the perfect dogs while I sat out some chips and homemade sweet tea we’d made at home and brought with us.


Oh, if we had a nickle for every time we’ve grilled hot dogs at a lake, campground or park! We’d be rich! <smile> It seems like such a trivial thing, but really, it’s a big deal. I’ve always said on days like this, we’re “making memories”, and that’s it. One day, these outings will be stories our children will tell their children as they’re grilling up hot dogs at their own site on the lake or river. And I know they’ll be sure to tell the part where Mom loved her hot dogs one of three ways…burnt, burnt or burnt 🙂 !  I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am. And my wonderful hubby always obliges with the perfect dog…


I can’t wait to do it all over again!

Thanks for stopping by, once again, and have a blessed day. Remember to smile!

Posted in Food

Brown Sugar: SO Easy To Make!

If you use brown sugar very often, this one is definitely a game changer! And had you known – if you don’t already, that is – you’d probably have been making it all along. I know I would have.


My daughter LOVES oatmeal. Her favorite is apples and cinnamon but no matter what flavor she decides on, it automatically gets brown sugar. For a long time, I inwardly groaned every time I heard, “Mom, we’re out of brown sugar!” Because, believe it or not, it was a catastrophe around here. No brown sugar? What kind of mother was I anyway!

One day, I had a particularly curious moment and I decided to look up how brown sugar was made. I was blown away. You want the recipe? Are you ready? Okay, here it is: one cup of regular white sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of molasses (depending on whether you like light or dark). Yeah, I know, right? Crazy simple. Well, with one minor thing that makes it take awhile…

You have to mix it together with a fork and it does take a while. There’s no shortcut, at least not that I have found at this point. I tried it with a hand mixer and lets just say I got less than perfect results. It was a mess, but I still had to giggle. At least I could now make brown sugar!

And let me just say, once you make it for yourself, you’ll absolutely LOOK for things to make with it. It’s so light and fluffy and fresh, it’s amazing. And I don’t worry about running out anymore. I do a lot of my shopping at discount groceries and sometimes I can find a 10 pound bag of sugar for just 3 dollars. I stock up when I find buys like that. And I always keep a jar of molasses – Brer Rabbit, of course. It goes a long way, so I don’t have to buy it very often.

As far as keeping it fresh, I usually put mine in small recycled coffee tins. Those things come in handy for just about everything, but it really works for brown sugar. And corn meal. And rice. And dried beans. But, I digress {smile}.

I’d love to hear from you if you make it, just to see if you love it as much as I do. Thanks for stopping by, as always. And don’t forget to smile!

Posted in Food

Old Fashioned Chess Pie

My husband absolutely LOVES chess pie. I’d heard about it practically from the time we got married but it took me years to find the recipe. The first one I ever made was good, he said, but not exactly like he remembered it. Of course, I went and lost that recipe, and over the years, have searched and searched for one that would work. It really was somewhat unfair to him though, as I had no idea what I was looking for. I’d never had it.

Not long ago, I started the search up again, because I found an absolutely awesome pie crust recipe and had to use it for something. In doing so, I found THE recipe, apparently. My husband was beyond thrilled and I had to make it two days in a row <smile!>

It wasn’t an easy find, however, so I thought it my duty to record it and pass it along. Authentic chess pie HAS to have vinegar and meal, or it just won’t turn out right. I found untold recipes, and they all seemed like they’d make good pies, but it wasn’t until I found this one that I found something my family was literally drooling for. Besides, with my track record for losing recipes, I figured I’d better get it somewhere I wouldn’t lose it again!

I’ll also add that awesome pie crust recipe as well, below, so just keep scrolling for that.

Warning: this pie is INCREDIBLY rich and sweet! 🙂


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 TBS cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 TBS vinegar
  • 1 unbaked 9″ pie shell

Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Add in eggs, meal, and evaporated milk, mixing well. Finally, add vinegar, mix well, and pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Now, there are some tips I’ll give you up front for this pie. If you’re NOT new to pie baking, especially “eggy” ones, then you’ll already know these. But for anyone like me, who wasn’t too sure, it will come in handy…

First of all, it’s best to use a deep dish crust. This pie puffs up during baking and can boil over on you. At any rate, it’s also best to put the pie tin on a cookie sheet as well. In the event anything does boil over the tin, the cookie sheet will catch it and won’t make a mess in your oven.

Secondly, at the end of the cooking time, when you pull this pie out of the oven, it will look as though it’s not done. I pulled it out and the center was still jiggly and it would have been easy to stick it back in and overcook it, but thankfully, I didn’t. So if it looks undercooked at the end of an hour, pull it out anyway, and just make sure to let it sit and cool for at least a half hour before cutting.



Now for the crust recipe:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5-7 TBS ice water

Mix flour and salt and then cut in the shortening and butter together. Be careful not to overwork the dough which will reduce flakiness.

Add water, a few tablespoons at a time, until dough just holds together.

Divide dough into 2 pieces, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can also wrap one to freeze if your pie doesn’t call for two crusts. It will also keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

On a floured board, roll dough out in a circle a couple of inches larger than your pie pan. To avoid stretching dough, roll from the center outwards. Lift rolling pin up and off the dough, instead of rolling backwards, to prevent bringing the dough back towards the center.

Use a spatula if the dough sticks to the board at all, rolling or folding it as it comes up. Simply unroll or unfold it into the pie tin and work the sides up as you wish.

*My advice, concerning the dough – it tends to work better if you leave it in the fridge overnight and then set it out to bring it almost to room temperature. Work it carefully, as all crust dough’s have a tendency to split, which – while it doesn’t affect the flavor – can cause all kinds of undue stress, if you’re anything like me.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by, I always appreciate it. Have a blessed day, and remember to SMILE!

Posted in Food

Summer Stuff

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written! Too long, I think. I’ve been incredibly busy with everything lately. I’m about 2 months into being a full time freelance writer and I’m still learning to juggle my schedule since I work from home. Being my own boss is great, but there are times I just get completely discombobulated! Especially when I wind up with a full calendar that contains client deadlines, doctor’s appointments, mystery shopping dates, band practice and performances, grocery shopping and personal stuff. It can be overwhelming! So I have to start putting things down in stone, so to speak, to make sure all my bases get covered.

Summer is in full swing and we’ve been taking some family time out on the lake. I think I love that most of all and the last time we were there, I caught myself looking longingly at the houseboats. I could drop everything and move into a houseboat in the blink of an eye, haha! I love the water and everything associated with it. But the time is not now. Maybe someday?

I finally got some tomato plants going, but not nearly as many as I wanted. We didn’t get to put in the garden we’d planned, but that will be okay. For now, I’m able to buy salvage produce and I’m freezing and storing that right now. Hopefully, as the summer turns into fall, I can buy some other produce from local farms and put back at least a portion of what I had planned to. It’s a little time consuming, but oh so worth it. There’s nothing like eating food you’ve canned or frozen, and it’s so much cheaper than buying the already processed stuff from the grocery.

I’m also hoping to get in some dehydrating this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, but I miss it. And dehydrated fruit is such a great snack when you’re looking for something sweet, but not JUNK. I’ll probably use a solar oven to do it, if it doesn’t get too hot. I’m still learning, and still anxious to learn.

If anyone has any recipes or tips, please feel free to leave them in a comment, and know that they would be greatly appreciated. I am forever looking for ways to cut out frivolous spending at the grocery store by making things instead. I have a great bread recipe and roll recipe, and I’m always looking to add to the list. I just started making my own pie crusts as well!


As always, thanks for stopping by and visiting. I really appreciate it. Be blessed today and don’t forget to smile 🙂

Until next time…

Posted in Food

How To Make Biscuits Just Like Mom’s!

Step 1: Follow the recipe to a “T”, the way she told you, showed you how and wrote it down for you (at least half a million times, I swear!).

Step 2: Try your hardest to make sure to do everything the same way she did.

Step 3: FAIL!!

HAHA!  This is how my every attempt at making my mother’s perfect, light, fluffy, mouth-watering biscuits has always turned out. Of course, they don’t teach you this stuff in school!  Home-Ec never saw anything like my mother, coming or going, OR her biscuit making abilities.

I watched her all of my growing up years.  I saw how she did it, morning after morning.  I thought I was taking mental notes of her technique and I just knew I could do it.  Let’s see now, how did she describe it…?

Okay, so you take out your big old vintage McCoy bowl that Dad bought at a flea market in Knoxville…no, wait, I don’t have one of those.  Oh well, any old glass bowl will do, right? It’s not as big as the McCoy, but that’s okay. Check!  Now, fill it about half full of flour, then make a “well” in the middle, shoving all the flour up on the sides of the bowl, but don’t – under any circumstances – go all the way to the bottom of the bowl.  Leave some flour on the bottom too, so that when you put in your wet ingredients it doesn’t stick to the bowl.  Check! (This isn’t so hard, I got this!)  Now drop in some lard…

At this point I’d like to interject that I don’t believe I ever saw my mother with a measuring cup or measuring spoon in her hand.  That’s not to say she didn’t have them.  I think I remember some yellow ones that use to hang above the sink in our kitchen. On a nail. Out of reach. Dusty.

Get my drift?

Now where was I? Oh yeah, the lard. Drop some of that in.  Was it two spoonfuls or two cups? (Just picture me, if you will, standing over my own glass bowl, flour everywhere from trying to make it look like it did in Mom’s bowl, with my head cocked trying to see far enough back in my memory to that lowly lump of lard…)

Oh, sweet Jesus, a good fistful should work!!  Check!  Now how in the name of all that is sacred did she even get the milk out with that lard on her hands?? She did use two hands for the lard, right? I mean, you have to use one hand to grab that fistful, and the other hand to scrape it off of the hand that grabbed it in the first place…

Well, now it occurs to me as I’m washing my hands for the sixty-fourth time,  that maybe that was the dough she was getting off her hands after the mixing.

Have I messed up already?  Oh surely not…

Okay, back with clean hands, putting in the milk.  Oh no, how much of THAT did she use?!  Okay, be calm, just pour til you think it’s enough (I tell myself).  There.  Check!

Alright, now if memory serves me correctly, she said NOT to squeeze or dig your fingers down into the flour.  She said to just squish the lard and milk together and once that’s mixed, you take your fingers and just swirl it around and around and the wet mixture would start to collect flour off the sides of the bowl, and as you just tossed that around, eventually your dough would come together…

And hers did.

Every time.

Flawless and without fail or mess, my mother’s biscuits would just appear.  Once her dough “came together”, she would pat on it for a moment and then begin “choking off” the biscuits.

She laid each one either in a cast iron skillet or a baking sheet and put them all nice and close together.  As if she hadn’t already put magicians to shame with her ninja-bread-making skills, she bent her first two fingers and made knuckle imprints in the tops of every one of them. (Please, Lord, don’t ask, I have no idea).

And then, a few minutes later, out came the sheer perfection…


I know, right? Perfect. I never knew her to burn a batch or make a batch that didn’t get completely devoured.

What happened to mine, you ask?

Oh, haha, well, right after the whole lard and milk thing, I did try to “bring it all together”.  I’ve lost a lot of bowls that way, come to think of it.  Anyway, have you ever seen ‘Edward Scissor Hands’?  Well, you could just as well have called me ‘Stacey Dough Ball Hands’ because at about this point in my own feeble attempt to make those biscuits her way, I would inadvertently wind up standing there, dough covering both hands (none left in the bowl now) screaming at the top of my lungs for someone to “please turn the water on!!”

Annnd, out come the whop biscuits. You know, the ones in the can you have to whop on the side of the counter to bust open?  Yeah.

Hey, step 3 was “FAIL”. Might as well fail all the way.

Ahem, now I can’t exactly close here without saying that I CAN, in fact, make biscuits from scratch.  They are good and tall and fluffy and my family absolutely loves them and my heart gets all warm and fuzzy…  I found the recipe on the side of a baking powder tin and I even use measuring cups and spoons, the whole nine yards.

I can’t help but feel like I’m cheating though, especially when I take the whole lump of dough and plop it in my cast iron skillet and cut it with a knife while it’s still uncooked.  I even learned (the hard way) to brush melted butter on top before doing that, so it doesn’t make a huge mess, use up the last of my patience, and get thrown in the trash. Again.  Anyway, cutting the dough before baking means we can just tear them apart when they come out.

Ah, my nice square “not Mom’s” biscuits.  Not Mom’s, but not bad, so I guess it’s not a complete loss.

I’ll share my own recipe, with pics, a little later.  In the mean time, I’d like to thank my mom for sending me the picture of her biscuits.

I love you Mom!