Tag: winter

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

In our quest to find the perfect cinnamon rolls we had to take a few important details into consideration. First, the finished dough had to be soft, light and doughy not dry and airy. Second, the filling had to be gooey and buttery. It had 

Pepper Lover’s Peppered Beef Roll

I have grown quite fond of my little ceramic pot since I found an old 1970’s crock pot cookbook at the thrift store. Last week we enjoyed Pork Chops with Oranges and now this week we salivated over Peppered Beef Roll. I have not had 

Family Togetherness: Story Dice

One night when tucking my son into bed he asked me to tell him a story. The sad part was my mind was blank. I could not come up with anything. I relayed the incident to a friend of mine who comforted me with her own tale of bedtime woe. We agreed our husbands were excellent storytellers but somehow over the years we lost touch with that creative side. Stephen calls it work mode. Over time with practice my friend and I have become more comfortable telling bedtime stories. Jim Jinkins is best known for his bedtime stories, “Pinky Dinky Doo”. He originally made up the Pinky’s Adventures as bed-time tales for his children. Each night after he closed the door he would write the stories down.

To make story dice you will need:
– 6 to 12 (3/8-inch) square wooden blocks.
– For the images use permanent ultra fine tip markers to draw your own pictures, stickers, stamps, a wood carving tool and stain, temporary tattoo sheets, pictures from old story books, magazines, print them from the computer using sheet labels, sticker paper or regular white paper.
– Seal the blocks after the pictures have been applied using a sealant or Modge Podge.

Use pictures of animals, transportation, food, household objects, clothing, landscapes, fairy tales and people.

To Play:
Divide the dice among the participants. Take turns rolling a single die. The first person begins the story based on the picture they roll. The next person adds to the story based on the roll of their dice and so on around the group of participants. You can opt to time each segment. Say each person has 30 seconds or a minute then the next person rolls and adds on to the story line. Or each person must tell a short story in one minute using the pictures rolled from all of their die. When they are done the next person rolls and takes their turn.

– Paint pictures on small rocks.
– If you do not want to spend the money or time making story dice use print out and laminate small slips of paper or cardboard pieces. Throw the pieces into a bowl or basket and toss.
– Make dice from card stock.
– Print a selection of pictures at the top of a page with lines across and down the page. Use the pictures create a story and the lines to write the story.

Hearty Lentil Soup

Here is a hearty Lentil Soup to warm the bones through the last scraps of winter. I have tried many lentil soup recipes but they either had an off taste or they lacked flavour. I hope this soup is to your liking. When ever possible 

Beef Tip Stroganoff

Stroganoff is a classic 18th century Russian dish usually made with strips of beef, mustard and a cream sauce. Credit was given to the Count Alexander Grigorievitch Stroganov, a 19th century diplomat, although; similar accounts for a dish containing beefs strips in a cream sauce 



Many years ago I lived in a very small town near Louisiana for a spell. The eastern boarder towns of Texas were heavily influenced by Cajun cuisine. While there I experienced squirrel soup (I will spare you any further details). I learned all about how to shoot a squirrel and became an honorary “Coon Ass”; a ritual that involves sucking the head of a crawfish. Despite the strange customs I loved it there. The people were amazing. Everyone I met was friendly and eager to call me family.

Of all the dishes Louisiana is known for Gumbo is the most popular. Gumbo is a soup traditionally served over rice. Everyone’s Grandma has their own version but typically gumbo is usually made with pork, poultry and seafood and thickened using a rue or okra. In this recipe for Gumbo we break a cardinal rule that disapproves the use of both okra and a thickener. Die-hards believe that you can only use one or the other. In this case the recipe calls for flour and okra.

My sister Michelle sent this recipe to me and I am glad she did. I have been searching for a simple tasty gumbo recipe that would be easy for beginners  or those new to gumbo. More experienced cooks can also use this recipe to expound on.

Source: Adapted from the Weight Watchers Cookbook
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 pound of hot or mild Italian pork sausage
1 onion chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons of flour
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles or Cajun stewed tomatoes
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
3/4 pound of skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into 1- inch pieces
1 to 2 teaspoons Cajun or seafood seasoning
1/2 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 (10-oz) package sliced okra
2 cups frozen or fresh corn
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or teaspoon dried
2 cups cooked white or brown rice

Cook sausage in a large pot over medium to medium-high heat until brown; about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the onion and green pepper; cooking until softened about 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the flour; cook 1 minute longer.

Pour in the tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil.

Add the chicken and Cajun seasoning; return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered until chicken is cooked through about 5 min.

Add the shrimp, okra, corn and thyme; return to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; cover and cook about 5 minutes longer until shrimp are pink. Serve over rice.

–  In place of the Italian sausage use spicy chicken sausage, 1 (2-inch) piece kielbasa sliced, or spicy breakfast sausage.
– Additional vegetables: 1 celery stalk, 6 scallions, 1 squash and/or zucchini sliced.
– Additional spices: 1 garlic clove minced, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.

Creamy Chicken Apple Chili

The kids refer to creamy chicken and apple chili as the “Poison Apple Soup”. The table talk turns to kings and queens and mermaids as they make up stories about a mermaid locked in the tower. When she takes a ‘slurp’ of the soup she 

Cheap and Tasty: Spicy Chili Beans and Rice

This recipe comes from my Brother Todd and his wife Emily. Their super fast dish of spicy chili beans and rice only requires three ingredients. It is great for those late evening games or work meetings. Plus the leftovers can be transformed into burritos or 

Scott’s Cajun Pasta and Beef

When I was in college I rented a room from a friend of mine. There was another tenant named Scott. He was the brother of my friend’s boss. Down on luck and trying to piece his life back together Renea was obliged to help him out. I can’t say that it was like a rerun of Three’s Company. In fact Scott and I were at odds with one another from day one. So I am hard pressed to admit that I actually liked something he created. It is like surrendering to my arch nemesis. Defeated.

Scott was a body builder. His version of cajun pasta and meat was a core staple in his diet. I think he took pitty on me when he realized my diet consisted of yogurt and cereal. I added more vegetables to make it a balanced meal. His version was just tri-colored pasta, ground beef and cajun spices all mixed together in a huge orange Tupperware bowl. Sometimes I add a can of diced tomatoes.

1 box Tri-color Ritoni Pasta
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1-2 tbsp Cajun spices or season salt
Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Cook noodles to your preference. Add butter and toss.

Meanwhile, saute onion, carrot, celery and garlic in oil until slightly tender. Add beef. Cook until no longer pink. Add spices. Let simmer 10 minutes. Serve beef mixture over noodles. Top with cheese.