Category Archives: Recipes

Hot Cocoa Recipe!

When I was in high school, our youth group was one of the best social outlets for me in that small town. We met every week, of course, but that was where friendships were formed – relationships that are still strong today.

Several couples co-lead the group with Mom and Dad through the years. Belva and Mel Hollingsworth were the first to jump on board and they embraced us kids with so much love.

Belva also gave us this hot cocoa recipe – unbelievably simple, but it tastes so great that a five-quart bucket of this was always open whenever the group met. Christmas caroling? Hot cocoa. New Year’s Eve party? Hot cocoa. Three people just getting together to meet at the church? Hot cocoa.

I’m going to post her original recipe quantities. You can tell it was made to share. Fill jars for friends and family and make up a pretty recipe card to hang off the side. Polly’s big family will go through this in a single winter, don’t you think? It keeps really well in a sealed container.

Belva’s Hot Chocolate Mix

8 qt. box dry milk
6 oz. dry creamer
1 lb. box Nestles Quik
2 C. powdered sugar

To make one cup of hot cocoa, add 1/4 C. mix to 3/4 C. hot water. Stir and enjoy.

Egg Casserole

funny_egg_picture_37This is an incredibly easy breakfast casserole and one of my go-tos when I have people in my space.

Quite a few years ago, I was in a group of great friends that met once a month for dinner somewhere and as we caught up on our lives, we spent a lot of time laughing and crying with each other. Babies were born, weddings happened, kids grew up and life was just … life.

Every one of us loves to cook, so we pulled together our favorite recipes and shared them. This is one of those recipes. Diana was another transplanted Iowan (we lived in Nebraska) and her grandparents lived near where I am now, so we had fun things in common. I love her and I love her recipe.

Diana Wilkey’s Egg Casserole

1 stick of butter (you can skimp on this – but the hash browns really like it)
32 oz. shredded hash browns
1 dozen eggs (ten will work, but why would you?)
1 C. milk
4 C. grated American cheese (1 bag – and honestly, any cheese will do – you want it to be cheesy)
1 lb. cooked sausage (this is on you – mild, hot, whatever you like)
Alternatively, you could use bacon or ham

Melt butter in 9×13 pan.  Spread hash browns out on top of it.

Mix together eggs, milk, cheese and cooked sausage (or whatever meat you choose – mix ’em up and fill it with joyous flavor!) Salt & pepper to taste.

Pour over hash browns

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Do NOT make my mistake and try to get by with 45 minutes. You want the middle of that casserole to be cooked through.

Let it sit for a few minutes while you make toast for everyone and then cut and serve.

My sister loves this casserole best when served with a side of sausage gravy.

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

Ethel's Sugar Cookies 002When we were young, these were Mom’s go-to cookies. For everything. If we wanted a quick sugar fix, she made this recipe. If we wanted chocolate chip cookies, she simply added chocolate chips to this recipe and dropped them on the cookie sheet.

Mom was married in 1958 and received the classic Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding gift. It was a good thing, too, since she had never learned to cook. Fortunately for Dad, their first church was within close proximity to his sisters and when they realized how little Mom knew, they took her under their wing. She became a terrific cook.

3487.1LThe cookbook was worn and used. I still have it and it is as much a treasure to me as anything. The page with Ethel’s sugar cookie recipe is long gone. However, much like the page in the picture, it was covered in dried dough, the page was wrinkled from wet spoons being dropped on it and it had been taped together so many times, it was quite heavy.

Here is the recipe. These are truly amazing.

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

Mix together
1/2 C. butter, softened
1/4 C. shortening
1 C. sugar
2 Eggs, room temperature
1 T. vanilla (or lemon flavoring)

2 1/2 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt

Bake at 400 – 6-8 minutes
Ungreased baking sheet

Pumpkin Bars / Cream Cheese Frosting

I love pumpkin. When I was young and mom would ask what dessert I wanted for my birthday, it was pumpkin pie before chocolate cake every time.

Pumpkin BarThis recipe for pumpkin bars is the best I’ve ever eaten. It is incredibly moist and the taste is out of this world. I’ve eaten other’s bars and am always disappointed. But I’ve never been disappointed in this recipe.

1 C. oil
2 C. sugar
2 C. pumpkin (1 can)
4 Eggs

2 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon

Mix together and put in large greased jelly roll pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you’re smart, you’ll also use this amazing (and simple) cream cheese frosting recipe. It will cover the entire pan of bars. I always make plenty because my family seems to like it better than the bars themselves.

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 T. softened butter
3/4 lb. powdered sugar
3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
2 T. milk
1 t. vanilla

Mix together – spread on pumpkin bars (or anything else).

Pecan Vanilla Pie

Vanilla Pecan PieI tried a new recipe this year and it rocked. Now, I have to admit to the fact that I’m not a food photographer. That is just my reality. And, we might have dug into the pie before we stopped to make it look gorgeous. However, I grew up knowing that when food wasn’t necessarily pretty, it probably tasted amazing. And this tasted amazing.

I’m barely a fan of pecan pie, but add a little cheesecake to it and I will eat nearly anything.  Max isn’t a fan of cheesecake, but add pecan pie to it and he will eat nearly anything. Carol loves them both, she was in love.

I was impressed with how simple this recipe was. A very simple cheesecake, some pecans and an easy pecan pie mixture and I was done. I couldn’t believe it.

Here you go!

1 Pie Crust (refrigerator, frozen, homemade … make yourself happy)

1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese – softened
1 egg
1/4 C. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract

2 C. pecan pieces

2 eggs
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. corn syrup (light or dark – I used dark – yummy)
3 T. butter – melted
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get your pie crust ready to go in a pan.

Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 C. sugar and 2 t. vanilla until smooth. Spread evenly on bottom of crust. Bake 15 minutes.

Beat 2 eggs, 1/2 C. sugar until smooth. Add corn syrup, butter, 2 t. vanilla, salt. Stir until blended.

Sprinkle pecan pieces evenly over baked cream cheese layer. Slowly pour corn syrup mixture over nuts.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until just set in center.

Cool completely on wire rack.

Breakfast Pizza

Bkfst Pizza 1Breakfast pizza is a fabulous invention. My brother has made it for years. I only pull this out when there are plenty of people to feed because … well, it’s a lot of food. I combined several recipes to create this pizza and it is awesome.

You can make this simpler by using a package of refrigerated crescent rolls, any pre-formed pizza crust, or other pizza dough, but of course I use my own recipe. I just let the bread machine do all the work and then roll it out into a jelly roll pan.

I also only used half the sausage on the pizza and saved the rest for a sausage gravy to use for topping the pizza. My sister asked me to do it because she loves gravy. It turned out to be the BEST!Bkfst Pizza 2

Diane’s Pizza Dough

3/4 C. Water
1 T. oil
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
Seasonings (flavor to your own taste, but I use:
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. garlic powder
1 T. sugar
1 T. dry milk
2 1/4 C. flour
1 1/2 t. yeast

2/3rds of this dough will fill a jelly roll pan. I used the rest to make cheese bread for supper that evening.

Pizza ingredients

1/2 lb. bacon – baked in oven on cookie cooling rack in another jelly roll pan for 35 minutes, chopped into 3/4″ pieces

1 lb. breakfast sausage – browned and crumbled
Frozen hash browns

6 eggs
1/2 C. plain yogurt
2 T. ranch dressing

2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese

Press pizza dough into well-greased jelly roll pan – sprayed with oil.

Layer 1/2 of the bacon on the pizza dough
Crumble 1/2 lb. breakfast sausage onto pizza (you don’t need both meats, I like the effect)
Top with 3/4 bag of hash browns (use the whole bag if you’d like, but this gave great coverage)

Mix eggs, yogurt and ranch dressing, pour over meat and hashbrowns
Top with shredded cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Bkfst Pizza 3Sausage Gravy
Leave remaining sausage in skillet.

Mix quick roux: 1 C. water + 1/2 C. flour. Add seasonings (garlic pepper, sea salt).
Mix together well (I use a jar with a tight lid – shake until mixed).

Pour into hot pan with sausage.

Add 1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. plain yogurt
Add additional water to thin if gravy is too thick.

Serve and enjoy!

Bread Recipes

BreadI have come to the conclusion that I don’t like store-bought bread. For the last four years or so, I have probably purchased two … or maybe three loaves of the stuff. My bread isn’t that great for grilled cheese sandwiches if I want them to look pretty, so when Carol is here, I buy bread.

My bread machine is one of my go-to appliances. I will never live without one if I can possibly help it. I wouldn’t make bread if I had to do all of the work. I’m lazy that way and want to spend time doing other things. If a machine can do the work for me … I’m all for it. Mine is really nice, but to make good bread, you don’t need anything more than a machine that will mix, knead and let your dough rise. I do not bake bread in my machine because I don’t like the texture of the crust. I use the dough setting, bring it out and shape it for one last ‘rise,’ then bake it in my oven. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Here are two of my favorite recipes. Dig that bread machine out of your pantry or closet, set it up and use it!

Diane’s Quick Potato Bread

(my grandmother made amazing potato bread – mine is a much simpler recipe and probably not quite as awesome, but it’s my favorite).

In your machine, add these ingredients according to the instructions you have.

1 1/2 C. water
3 T. butter
2 1/2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 C. potato flakes
3 1/2 C. flour
1 pkg. (2 1/4 t.) yeast

When it has risen appropriately, put it in a cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. (the cold oven allows it to rise a little more, makes it all fluffy and stuff).

Oat Bread

Place these ingredients in your machine, in the order the machine’s instruction booklet gives to you:

1 1/4 C. water
2 T. butter
1 t. salt
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 C. rolled oats
3 C. flour
1 pkg. (2 1/4 t.) yeast

Let rise, place in cold oven, turn it to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Biscuits and Gravy Casserole

This recipe is made easier by using tubes of refrigerated biscuits, but I can assure you that Polly Giller and Sylvie Donovan would make their own. At the bottom of this recipe, you will find a couple of my favorite biscuit recipes.

I love my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook, but the cookbook I have destroyed and continue to use is the Sigourney United Methodist Cookbook from the 1970s. In it are recipes from women I know well. I loved their food and trust these recipes. I’ve used them over and over throughout the years. My cookbook is tattered and covered with batter and dough from many, many uses.

Sigourney Cookbook


1 lb. pork sausage
2 T. butter
2 pkgs. Sausage Gravy mix (makes 2 C. per pkg)
12 eggs
1 – 5 oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 t. salt
2 tubes refrigerated biscuits

Cook sausage in skillet, breaking up. Make gravy in saucepan according to directions, add sausage. Set aside.
Whisk eggs, evaporated milk and salt in a bowl.
Soft scramble eggs with butter.
In 9 x 13 pan, layer gravy, eggs, gravy, eggs, gravy, then top with biscuits.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until biscuits are golden brown.

Bette’s Biscuits (from Sigourney UMC cookbook), thank you Bette Harper!
2 C. sifted flour                                 2 T. sugar
4 t. baking powder                           1/2 C. shortening
1/2 t. cream of tartar                        1 egg, beaten in 2/3 C. milk
1/2 t. salt

Mix all ingredients, cut in shortening. Add egg and mix. Just blend. Knead 5 times. Pat out, cut.
Bake at 450 degrees, approximately 12 minutes (if you aren’t topping a casserole!)

If you want a sweeter biscuit, Mom’s drop biscuits rock!

Margie Greenwood’s Sweet Drop Biscuits 
2 C. flour                                                 1 t. salt
1/3 C. sugar                                             3 t. baking powder
1/2 stick margarine                                3/4 – 1 C. milk

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut margarine in. Stir milk in. Mix as little as possible. Don’t use a beater or handle the dough excessively (they get tough). Drop on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.