Posted in Food

Christmas Sugar Cookies

I recently came across the greatest sugar cookie recipe I believe I have ever had the good pleasure of making.

When it comes to cookies, I am all about simplicity. I don’t like long ingredient lists or special ingredients that I don’t already have in the pantry. If I can throw it together quick, all the better for me and everyone in my house  🙂

This recipe yields a nice chewy cookie with a snap of a crunch on the outside without being “crisp”. However, if you leave them just a minute or so too long in the oven, they will be overly crisp and not very good.

Let’s just say I learn from my mistakes…

Here is what you’ll need:

  • About 3 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cups softened soft butter
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. This is always the preface to a recipe, but with cookies, it can be of the utmost importance. If your oven hasn’t reached the right temperature when you put the cookies in, the bake time will be off and you won’t get the result you’re looking for.

Next, add your dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well to incorporate everything. In another bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until you have a nice fluffy consistency. Then beat in one egg at a time, making sure the first is completely mixed in before adding the next. Once those are nicely mixed, add the vanilla and mix again.

Gradually add your dry ingredients to this mixture, making sure to incorporate everything well before adding more. You might need the entire 3 cups and you might not. You don’t want your cookie dough to be too thin, but you also don’t want it too thick. Once it becomes hard to mix with a spoon, you have your desired consistency.

Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. You can refrigerate it for longer if you want, it certainly won’t hurt it. But don’t take it out before the half hour is up, as you want it chilled enough to be easy to work with.

Using an ice cream scoop or a regular spoon, make walnut sized balls, rolling them in sugar before transferring them to your greased cookie sheet. For snickerdoodles, roll them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, or use colored sugars or sprinkles for a festive look. Flatten them slightly and bake for about 8 minutes. Remove them from the cookie sheet and place on racks to cool before serving.

This is a great cookie base for decorating, especially if you plan on using shaped cookie cutters, which can easily be done. Just roll the dough out to about a quarter of an inch thick before cutting, instead of rolling the dough into balls.

Good luck! If you happen to make these, make sure you stop by and let me know how they turned out. I know my family loved them.

Posted in Food

A Simple Pot of Beans

Pinto beans. Soup beans. Bean soup. There are many names for it. I grew up with it. In the Appalachian mountains, it was sometimes all a family had, along with a hot iron skillet full of fresh baked cornbread. And sometimes some potatoes, either boiled down low with butter or lard, or fried with onions. Ah, it makes my mouth water.

However, when I was a child, every time I saw it I couldn’t help but think, “Beans? Again?” Of course, you dared not speak that out loud! By God’s good graces, Mom would say, We should be thankful for it because some people don’t even have that, and would love to have it! I knew that, really.

I swore THEN that once I grew up, I would never cook such a thing, no sir, not me. That was “poor people food”, I thought foolishly. And now, I find myself looking for an occasion to cook it! As a matter of fact, I just served a huge pot to my family that gobbled it up, along with cornbread and bits of meat left over schnitzel from last night.


You can tell from the ring in the bean pot and half of the bread being gone that I didn’t get pictures until after supper 🙂  But that’s okay. It’s a simple meal that’s easy to fix (once you learn how to cook it) and it keeps good as leftovers too. Have you ever had a mug of cold cornbread with milk? Oh my goodness, but that is simply DIVINE! It’s one of my favorite things, and was even back in those days when I thought it was just awful to have to have beans and corn bread.

So how do you fix them? Well, it’s not as hard as you think. Now, I’ve heard people talk about soaking dried beans overnight and then pouring the water off, but I’ve never done that. So, you might hear somebody say that’s how it has to be done, but I’m here to tell you, and my Mother will tell you too, we’ve never done it that way and never had a bad outcome.

First, you take your dried beans… I’ve found that a one pound package usually feeds a family of 4+, usually with leftovers. I always put mine into a colander and wash them real good. Even though they’re packaged and on a store shelf, they’ll still be dirty, I don’t care who tells you different. You can find this to be true yourself if you put them in a bowl to hold the water and squeeze them through your fingers a time or two under the water. In some cases, it will nearly turn black. Another reason you want to wash them and look through them is that there may be little rocks or pebbles, clumps of dirt and bad beans that you need to pick out. Nobody wants to find a rock in their soup! I mean, I’ve heard of stone soup, but…  🙂

Once you’ve rinsed them and made sure they’re free of debris, you put them in a big pot, about the size you’d make spaghetti in, and fill it full of water. Bring that to a rolling boil and let it boil like that for about 10 minutes. You can add your fat at this time, either lard, meat scraps, butter…whatever you’d like. Next, turn your heat down to about medium, or maybe a little less, put a lid on it and let it boil. BUT…you have to keep an eye on it! You’ll need to add water as it cooks down, every half hour or so, and keep adding water until the beans are done, which should be anywhere from 2-5 hours. It depends on how mushy you want them and how thick you want the soup to be, and also the altitude plays a part in it as well.

And that’s about it. I usually add some onion to the pot about a half hour before they’re done, which adds an excellent flavor, but to be honest, you can over-season beans really easily. I use to try to follow directions for bean soups that had all kinds of different seasonings thrown in, but my family never liked them near as much. Yours might, it’s certainly something you can play around with. It’s a really cheap meal to make, especially if you know where to shop. Some people add things like oregano, beef broth, soul seasoning, curry or cumin…I’ve seen recipes with all kinds of stuff in the ingredient list. But for us, beans, fat, salt and onion are the best way to go about it 🙂

So, I guess that’s it for this post, guys, thanks for reading along. If you make a pot of beans like this, be sure to stop in and let me know how they came out 🙂

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!