Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Well, a new year is approaching quickly. This traditional meal is also a cost-savings meal. I hope everyone has a safe and happy start to 2010, and follows it up with a little luck for the new year. I will blog again to finish out my week of meals in 2010! Enjoy!

  • 1 bag of black-eyed peas (follow directions to prepare) ($1.00)
  • 1 lb. sausage, sliced ($3.98)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped (purchased for previous meal)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can whole tomatoes ($.88)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Place black-eyed peas in large stew pan to simmer.

Fry sausage in oil until well browned.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons of oil from skillet. Saute onion in remaining oil.

Add onions with oil and remaining ingredients to peas. Simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat.

Serve with corn bread (2 for $.88)

TOTAL for a New Year's Tradition: $6.74

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ham and Cheese Quiche- $10.00 Meal

This is another bonus recipe, because it makes two. I think with some of my savings from other days, the total should still be okay, but this is the most expensive meal so far. It is however, something different. That is really what I wanted more than anything else. So, enjoy!

2 (9 inch) pastry shells (Pillsbury 2 for @ 2.00)
2 cups diced fully cooked ham ($2.69)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese ($2.99)
1 onion chopped (purchased earlier)
4 eggs ($2.75 - cage free/ grain fed)
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Line unpricked pastry shells with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer.

Saute Ham and onion on a skillet. Then, divide ham, cheese and onion between the shells. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

Pour into shells. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Or cover edges with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with jar Cinnamon apple sauce ($1.39)

Grand Total: $11.82 (without milk) - so price wise it was a BUST, but it should average out during the week

Crockpot Chicken- $10.00 Meal

I have done this chicken in many different versions (BBQ, Lemon Garlic, Italian Dressing)- all would be pretty cheap, but this is the most basic version, but just as tasty. There is nothing like coming home to a meal already done- so this is another slow cooker meal. You will notice I bought a 10 pound bag of potatoes and a 3 pound bag of onions. I use these ingredients all the time, and it was much more economical to buy the larger bags. Single potatoes were $1.00 a piece! Don't be surprised to see these ingredients come up again this week.


1 whole chicken ($3.20)
4 potatoes- sliced or wedged (10 lbs bag for 2.99)
2 onions (3 lb bag for 1.99)

Place potatoes and onions on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken on top. Salt and pepper generously. Put a few pats of butter in the slow cooker with the chicken and other ingredients. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Serve with green beans (2 cans for $1.25)

Grand Total: $9.43

Vegetable Beef Soup- $10.00 Meal

There is nothing better than a warm cup of soup on a cold winter's day. So, when looking for my next $10.00 or less meal, I wanted a soup. I thought I would share one of the best soup recipes I have. My mom shared it with me when I got my first apartment and I my first crock pot. The name of the soup has changed and so has the packaging, but every time we have it, the family loves it.

1 lbs of stew meat ($3.37) (save a $ and use ground beef)
1 package of Mrs. Grass Soup Starter (Vegetable Beef Soup) ($3.69)
1 box of crackers ($1.29) (purchased for previous meal)

Brown meat of medium heat until outside of meat is brown in a skillet. This step seals in the goodness of the meat. If you are using ground beef brown completely. Drain grease off of meat.

Place meat in the crock pot, along with 8 cups of water, and whisk in soup starter. Place on low for six to eight hours in the crockpot. (Can be cooked on the stove for about 30 minutes)

Serve with crackers.

Grand Total: $8.35

Poppy Seed Chicken- $10.00 Meal

Budget Recipe #1

Poppy Seed Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 leg quarter pieces of chicken ($2.79)

  • 1 container of sour cream ($1.37)

  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (2 @ $1.34)

  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers ($1.29)

  • poppy seeds

  • butter

Boil chicken leg quarters until fully done. Mix sour cream and cream of chicken soup together into mixture. (I found that I used less of the cream of chicken soup and the sour cream than the recipe called for) Crumble package of crackers into small pieces. Melt half a stick of butter in the microwave.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop chicken into large chunks into the casserole dish. Spread sour cream and soup mixture over chicken, completely covering it. Sprinkle cracker pieces all over the top.
Pour melted butter evenly over crackers. Sprinkle poppy seeds all over.
Bake 30 minutes, until crackers are golden brown.

Served with rice (2 cups precooked) ($1.75) and steamed broccoli ($1.00)

Total for the meal: $9.54

BONUS RECIPE: Once I cooked this I found that I had half a pan left, half of the rice left, and some of the broccoli. Now many would have this as leftovers, but we do not do very good with leftovers. So, I got an aluminum pan and mixed the poppy seed chicken, the rice, and the broccoli all together with some of the left-over cream of chicken soup (to add moisture). I placed it in the freezer for a second meal. So really- two meals for the price of one!

Week After Christmas Goal- $10.00 Meals

The week after Christmas is always a great time for teachers- we get one more week off. I find that projects and cooking are attempted that I normally would not have the time for during a busy work week. Once I start back to work, I don't experiment with recipes as much. Last year at this time my goal was to stock the freezer. This year, I am going to try to do a week of recipes all for $10.00 or less each. I was successful with the first two- which I will post tonight. I went shopping today and purchased everything I needed for the seven meals and a few things for the house- for $66.00. A few of the things I already had, but wrote down the prices as I went to share when the time comes I can tell you how much they would cost. I did not use coupons, but I did buy primarily store brand. If there was a huge price discrepancy in items, I would buy the middle. I shopped at Kroger, but I bet most stores would be comparable. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself. :)

So, here is the week's worth of menus- for less than $70.00 (average $10.00 a meal)

  • Poppy Seed Chicken with sides of steamed rice and broccoli
  • Vegetable Beef Stew with Crackers
  • Ham and Cheese Quiche with Cinnamon applesauce
  • Crockpot chicken with onions and potatoes with green beans
  • Middle Eastern White Beans served over white rice with Bread
  • Tacos with Refried Beans
  • Black-eyed peas with corn bread and Sausage (Happy New Year's Food!)

I will post the prices for each of the recipes I make this week- and we will see how I d0- let the challenge begin.

Note: I did not include the prices of milk, butter, or spices since I typically have them all the time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cream of Tomato Soup

On Christmas Eve the Stauffer family attends church, eats dinner, and open presents. Mom always prepares a meal that can be served shortly after church, since the young and old seem to be ready to eat. This year, as we have done before, we are having soups and sandwiches. This soup is a recipe that mom found in 2006 on I am not sure how this particular recipe would be considered light, but it is tasty. I was not able to find the recipe online now, but luckily she had printed it out. She is going to serve it with the Potato Leek Soup (

  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2 cans of V8 Juice
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

In a food processor or blender, combine stewed tomatoes and cream cheese; cover and process until smooth. Set aside. In a large saucepan saute onion and garlic in butter. Whisk in tomato soup and V8 until blended. Gradually stir in cream cheese mixture, cream, and basil. Cook and stir until heated through (do not boil). Serve and enjoy!

Birthday Party

The girls turn five and seven tomorrow, yes they have the same birthday. Every year we have party for them in Fort Smith with all of the great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. . .basically all the fam. Clay and I cook a big dinner and we have cake and ice cream. Since we have been doing it for six years you have to stop and think about what to have, and what will not break the bank. The girls decided to have chicken spaghetti for their birthday this year. I decided to put green beans, fruit salad, and bread. Then of course, cake and ice cream. Tracie and I made the chicken spaghetti today (with store bought rotisserie chickens). I am posting the link to all of the recipes we used on this meal, since they all go well together and can feed a big crowd.

Green Beans

Chicken Spaghetti

Fruit Salad

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stauffer Family Chaos

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time in 2009. My mom seemed to enjoy handing it over. One thing my grandmother and mom both do is make a meal timeline. My sister, Tracie, the engineer, took great notes for us. I am posting ours from Thanksgiving. One thing I messed up with on Thanksgiving is having too many things to put in the oven. Next time I will do green beans on the stove to help out the oven a bit. So, let me warn you before you make the same mistake as I did.

So, here is our list to serve the meal at 1

Cranberry Relish- 9 am- (made from fresh cranberries)
Sweet Potatoes- 9:00 for 1 hour (took longer :o)
Corn- in the crockpot at 10:00
Dressing - 10:00 for 30 minutes (then into the microwave to keep warm)
Ham/ Glaze- 10:15- 135 minutes in the roaster (in laundry room)
Fried Turkey - oil on a 10:30- turkey in at 11:15 (all depends on the size of the turkey)
Twice baked potatoes 10:30 for 45 minutes (then into the warming drawer)
Baked Asparagus-10:30 for 45 minutes (then to warming drawer)
Green Bean Bundles- in at 12:00 for 20 minutes
Salad- Fresh greens with vinaigrette- tossed about 12
Rolls - in the oven at 12:30 for 10 minutes(set to rise at 11:00)

Pumpkin Pie- crust night before/ pies baked first thing in the morning
Chocolate Pie- night before

Cheese Ball/ Crackers/ Relish/ Celery/ Carrots

Set at 12

'90s set the table for a decade of good eats

--> By J.M. HIRSCH Associated PressPublished: 12/20/2009 2:30 AMLast Modified: 12/20/2009

Want an easy way to sum up how Americans ate during the first 10 years of the new century? Three words should do it.

Sushi at 7-Eleven.

For this was the decade of the gourmeting of America, an era when cola wars and burger battles made way for artisanal sodas and grass fed beef, when coffee went from a cup of joe to a double shot-half-caff-soy-latte, ethnic was de rigueur and local became the new global.

It was a fine time to be a foodie.

Not that everything exactly whet the appetite. Contaminated produce and soaring food prices turned our stomachs. And we lost some of the luminaries and institutions — Julia Child and Gourmet magazine — that had worked so diligently to brighten our meals.

More than ever before, issues long treated as the mushy peas on the collective American dinner plate — organics, local and sustainable agriculture, animal welfare — were getting sirloin-style treatment, sometimes in the least likely of places.

Walmart embraced organics — a $21 billion industry, up from $3.6 billion in 1997 — a decision that broadened access, but that critics feared would dilute the industry's standards. And the home of the Egg McMuffin said it would study how to raise chickens without cramped cages.

Meanwhile, books and movies that tore into big industry food and would have been relegated to the granola set a decade earlier — Morgan Spurlock's 2004 film "Super Size Me" and Michael Pollan's 2006 tome "The Omnivore's Dilemma" — pervaded the popular consciousness. Eating became a political act.

Whether prompted by concerns about the quality of school lunches, climate change or worker conditions in the Third World, more Americans started to vote with their stomachs. Suddenly, the carbon footprint of your carrots was an issue.

Slow Food, a highly politicized Italian-born movement dedicated to preserving artisanal and sustainable foods, made its first major foray into the U.S. in 2008. It sputtered shortly after, but that such a Euro-centric group even made it on the American scene is remarkable.

Speaking of votingIt says something about our appetite for good food when the most-watched kitchen is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Following the ketchup-as-vegetable Reagan years, the no-broccoli-allowed Bush Sr. years, eight years of Bubba's burger fixation, and finally the fake turkey faux pas of Bush Jr., America put a Foodie-in-Chief in the White House. Everything from the peach cobbler President Barack Obama ate in Chicago to the arugula harvested from the South Lawn garden planted by Michelle Obama suddenly became sought-after news.

Food also had a lighter side. We were primed by the Food Network (whose viewership jumped 392 percent from 1999 to 2009) and other channels to treat what we eat as entertainment. The era of Child's behind-the-stove television was fading, replaced by an army of reality programs with screaming chefs, cooking throw downs and towering cake creations.

Good luck if you just wanted to learn how to make beef bourguignon. For that, you'd have been better off tuning out and logging on. The Web exploded with food-driven content, much of it fed from social networks and blogs. Even Martha Stewart got in on it, using Twitter to send 140-character recipes.

By J.M. HIRSCH Associated Press

One-Pan Chicken and Potato Bake

I found this in a Kraft Food and Family Magazine from 2006 that my friend Sandra had given me. I tried to find the link, but Kraft no longer has it up- so here it is. This is great for working moms- and can even be done on low heat in the crockpot.

4 bone-in chicken pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese (if doing in crock-pot wait and add this at the end)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place chicken and potatoes in 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Pour dressing over chicken and potatoes; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through (180 degrees). Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Substitute: replace potatoes with sweet potatoes or acorn squash

Paula Deen's Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

I am not typically a fan of sweet potatoes at the holidays, but I have had some great ones lately. This is one of the recipes I have had. I made these on Thanksgiving for the Stauffer Family Thanksgiving. I will say they took longer to cook than the recipe said. Next time I make it I might boil the potatoes for a short while before making the casserole. I'll let you know how that works. Now, I will say even though they took longer to make- they were amazing! If you are going to make it for a smaller family (not a holiday meal) I would cut everything in half.

3 T butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
6 large sweet potatoes, very thinly slices (about 14 cups)
2 cups of shredded Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of heavy whipping cream

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions; cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until onions are very tender. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, starring frequently, or until onions are caramel colored. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Layer potato slices over bottom of baking dish to cover. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of cream. Pour remaining 1 1/2 cups cream over top of layers. Sprinkle evenly with 1 1/2 cups of cheese and top with caramelized onions. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Post by Amy Jordan, recipe from Sarah-Cathrine Orahood

Mmmmmm - looking for a delicious recipe for Christmas morning? (Or any morning, for that matter?) Try this! It's delicious:

2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. Press one can of the crescent rolls into the bottom of the prepared pan. Mix together the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread over the crescent layer. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and lay them on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down. Pour the melted margarine over the entire pan. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden. Enjoy!

*The original recipe calls for 2 packages of cream cheese....I have made it both ways and I prefer using just one package of cream cheese; however, it's good both ways.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookies

So my friend Devon sent me a great recipe book called "Beat This" by Ann Hodgman. So far I have only made the chocolate chip cookies. I have gotten really good reviews so you must try them! Now I must warn you, this is not a quick recipe to make, but if you have the time, it is well worth it. It is also a large you could cut it in half if you wanted.

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
24 ounces chocolate chips
3 cups chopped nuts (optional)

I've made some of my own comments throughout the recipe...they are in BLUE.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line four large cookie sheets with parchment paper (you should actually use the parchment makes a difference).

In a food processor, grind the oats until they turn into a fine powder. (You can also do this in a blender, working in small batches.) Coarsely chop the chocolate and add to the oats, processing until the pieces, too, become as fine as possible. This may take a long time, but the finer the mixture becomes, the better the cookies will be. Set the oat-chocolate mixture aside.

Here are the oats and chocolate in the food processor. It'll take a while to grind everything down. Have patience.

Here's what it should look like when you are done processing the oats and chocolate.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

If you're using a heavy-duty standing mixer, add the oat mixture and beat it in. If you're using a hand-held or lightweight mixer, work the oat mixture in with your hands. Mix thoroughly.
(this is a very thick mixture that was tough for even my Kitchenaid, but it could handle it)

No matter what kind of mixer you have, do the next step with your hands. Work the chocolate chips (and nuts if you are using them) into the dough.

This recipe will make 48 large cookies. Make balls of dough about twice the size of golf balls (yes this is big, but it's okay) and place 12 balls on each cookie sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake one cookie sheet at a time in the middle rack in the oven. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes, reversing the sheet halfway through the baking. When you've baked them for 11 minutes, remove the cookies from the oven. The cookies will not appear done at that point, but take them out anyway. (The surfaces of the cookies will be covered with small cracks, but inside the cracks, the cookies will still look wet.) If the bottoms are brown, you've baked the cookies too long.

Let the cookies cool right on the parchment-covered cookie sheet rather than transferring to racks; if you transfer while they're still hot, they will fall apart.

Once the cookies are cool, put them into plastic bags and store them in the freezer. Kept at room temperature, they dry out too fast. (I skipped this step and it was fine.)

Final product--

Now I have made 2 batches of this recipe. The first time I made it I made the dough ahead of time and refrigerated the dough. If you do this, I recommend that you do not try and work with the dough when it is too cold. This is a really thick dough and when it is too cold it is very hard. The good thing about refrigerated dough is that the cookie did not flatten out too much in the oven, so if you like a thick cookie you might want to try this. Either way, the texture of the cookie is very stable, but soft, not crunchy.

The cookie on the left was refrigerated, the one on the right was not.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Green Bean Bundles

A standard veggie, in a holiday dressing!

10 slices bacon
1 pound fresh green beans
1 cube beef bouillon
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until partially cooked. Drain, cut each piece in half, and set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the green beans on a rack or special steamer basket over the boiling water. Cover with a lid so that the steam does not escape. Steam for a few minutes until the green beans are done. Set the green beans aside. Reserve about 2 cups of the water and dissolve the bouillon cube in it.
  4. Take a bundle of green beans (4 or 5) and wrap them with a piece of bacon. Secure with a toothpick if necessary. Place the bundles in a shallow baking dish.
  5. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved stock with the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, butter, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Pour the sauce over the bundles and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes or until the bacon is done.

*The website I found this on suggested letting the beans marinate for a while before baking.

Chicken (or turkey) and Dressing Cassrole

Hey, everyone! Well, if you are like me, you are sitting at home very full at the end of the day. I am also sitting wondering what to do with all of the left-overs. Well, this recipe was from a friends at school. She made it for our 6th grade potluck. It was fabulous! It will use a lot of the leftovers sitting around right now, and will be something different in the days to come. It is a favorite for another reason too, it is a dump casserole. Mix, bake, and serve! Can't get much better than that! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

2 boxes of Stove Top cornbread dressing mix (I usually use Wal-Mart brand or whatever one is cheapest)
2 large cans of chicken (drained) or 3 cups of chopped turkey
2 sticks of butter
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of chicken broth
1 can of pet milk

Mix butter, soup, chicken broth, and pet milk together. Add chicken and then dressing mix. Bake at 350 for 30 min. I usually make this up ahead of time and let it sit for awhile. If you mix it up the night before and refrigerate, it may take a little longer to bake. Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Phish Food Recipe

Okay, so here's the Phish Food Ice cream recipe. The chocolate ice cream recipe is from the Ben and Jerry's Ice cream Dessert Book. The rest is stuff that I thought to put in it to make it taste like the Ben and Jerry's brand Phish Food.

Jerry's Chocolate Ice cream Recipe--

2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling water. Gradually whisk in the cocoa and heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. (The chocolate may "seize" or clump together, Don't worry, the milk will dissolve it.) Whisk in the milk, a little at a time, and heat until completely blended. Remove from the heat and let cool.
2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and vanilla and whisk to blend.
3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cream mixture and blend. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 to 3 hours, depending on your refrigerator.
4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Ingredients for Phish Food--
1 cup chocolate pieces (of your choice)
1 jar Marshmallow Fluff (marshmallow cream might work too)
Caramel Ice cream topper

1 to 2 minutes before the ice cream is finished mixing, add the chocolate pieces, marshmallow fluff and caramel. Don't mix too much so that the ingredients don't all go to the bottom of the ice cream. Freeze and enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beer Bread

This will be the final homemade mix in the basket. I am going to make the bread, and attach the recipe to the loaf of bread. This goes great with the homemade pickles I will have in the basket.


  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
  • 3 cups self-rising flour (* or 3 cups all purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of your favorite herb (Oregano is great)
1. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Batter will be sticky.

2. Pour into a 9 x 5 inch greased loaf pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides will be soft. Serve topped with butter or a cheese spread.


Another good mix to give. This one requires only two ingredients. I will divide out the directions like I did on on the shortbread cookies.

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder

How to make Scones:

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Using a pastry blender or your hands, blend butter into dry ingredients until mixture is consistence of course meal.

3. Add cream; stir until blended.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until a smooth dough is formed. Pat until about 1 inch thick. Cut dough with a biscuit cutter into circles. Repeat until all dough is used.

5. Arrange 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Cool and serve with the mix berry preserves on the side.

Shortbread Recipe

The holidays are coming up, and it is one of my favorite times of year! I love to cook, share recipes, and give homemade gifts. Most of my gifts will be homemade this year. My first run of things will be at the church Merry Mission Fair next week. Every year the church hosts the event to raise money for mission projects in the coming year. I am putting together a basket of homemade goodies to auction off. I started listing my things tonight. Over the next week, as I put it together, I will post the recipes for things on the website. My first one is a mix for shortbread cookies. This simple cookie is great with preserves (blueberry to be exact). It also includes very simple ingredients. I am packaging it as a mix, so the person who purchases the basket can make them at home. So, I will break it down into at home mix and then directions for the person who makes it.

Prepackaging Mix:
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Directions to Make:

Add 1/2 cup of butter

1. Combine dry mix with butter. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Form mixture into a ball; knead until smooth.

2. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a 8 X 6- inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

3. Using a knife, cut into twenty-four 2 x 1 inch strips. Place 1 inch apart on a ungreased cooking sheet.

4. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until bottom just starts to brown and center is set.

5. Allow to cool completely before serving. Serve with warm blueberry preserves.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Green Tomato Relish

Everyone's garden is wrapping up this time of year, so I thought I would share a recipe that I love. My grandmother used to make this when I was younger, but I didn't care for it then. However, I really enjoy it now. I had a friend, Debbie bring me a bag of green tomatoes from her garden because I had mentioned making green tomato relish this fall. It is a great way to use all of the green tomatoes that won't ripen before the first freezes of the season. This was really a quick recipe that is very tasty. You don't have to can it, but is great for canning. I made half of the recipe today, so you can make adjustments as needed.

*This recipe is a sweet green tomato relish, decrease the sugar if you want more bite to it.


  • 24 large green tomatoes

  • 3 red bell peppers, halved and seeded

  • 3 green bell peppers, halved and seeded

  • 12 large onions

  • 3 tablespoons celery seed

  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 5 cups white sugar

  • 2 cups cider vinegar

    1. In a grinder or food processor, coarsely grind tomatoes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and onions. (You may need to do this in batches.) Line a large colander with cheesecloth, place in sink or in a large bowl, and pour in tomato mixture to drain for 1 hour.
    2. In a large, non-aluminum stockpot, combine tomato mixture, celery seed, mustard seed, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
    3. Sterilize enough jars and lids to hold relish (12 one-pint jars, or 6 one-quart jars). Pack relish into sterilized jars, making sure there are no spaces or air pockets. Fill jars all the way to top. Screw on lids.
    4. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with boiling water. Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes.
    5. Remove jars from pot and place on cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid does not move up or down at all). Relish can be stored for up to a year.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little Doozies

I was looking for a quick dessert to take to church last week, so I made cookies (from the tub). Then, I decided to be a bit creative with the cookies and made them like they do at the Great American Cookie Company. My children were ecstatic and I didn't bring any of them home after the church dinner. So- here is the easy "recipe". This will definitely be a kid favorite!

  • 1 or 2 dozen baked Chocolate Chip Cookies or M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 tub of white "fluffy" ice (yes, it says fluffy on the outside of the tub)

Bake the cookies approximately the same size. Let them cool completely. (In fact, I baked the cookies a few days before and put them in the freezer until I was ready) Put a thin layer of icing on one cookie bottom. Place the other cookie to it- creating a "sandwich". Wipe the icing off of the sides and enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quicker Chicken 'n' Dumplins

I made this for the girls tonight. I was a bit skeptical, because for a while it did not look good. However, after following the directions (imagine that) it turned out really tasty. I also liked this one in particular because these are all ingredients I keep around. It would be a great second night meal to do with left-over chicken.

6 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of sliced celery
1 cup of sliced carrots
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried parsley (divided)

2 cups of biscuit/ baking mix
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
dash ground nutmeg
2/3 cup of milk

3 cups of cooked chicken breast (I did not use that much)

  1. In a Dutch oven or kettle, combine the broth, celery, carrots, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon of parsley. Bring to a boil.
  2. For dumplings, combine the biscuit mix, thyme, and nutmeg in a bowl; stir in milk and remaining parsley just until moistened. Drop the biscuit mix by tablespoon onto the boiling broth. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes; cove rand cook 10 minutes longer.
  3. With a slotted spoon, remove dumplings to a serving dish; keep warm. Bring broth to a boil; reduce heat.
  4. Add chicken; heat through. Discard the bay leaf. Spoon the remaining sauce over the dumplings and serve.
*Cook's note: Putting the dumplings in the broth seems really messy, but they stay together pretty well. It ends up looking like a layer of biscuits on top of the broth. However, it works well!

Cabbage Rolls

Before you totally ignore this recipe, think mini-meatloaf. That is what I told the hubby and girls. . . and they went for it. This was a recipe I found in my mother-in-law's old Presbyterian Cookbook. It can be cooked in the oven, but I made it the night before and cooked it in the crock-pot. Nothing like coming home to a meal that is ready to serve.

1 medium head of cabbage

Meat Filling
1 pound of ground chuck
½ cup of onion
½ cup of celery
½ cup uncooked rice
½ cup ketchup
1 egg


2 small cans of tomato sauce
½ cup of water
1 tsp of cinnamon
2 T of brown sugar

The night before (can do the day of):

Boil about 10 leaves of cabbage until translucent

Mix the beef, onion, celery, rice, ketchup, and egg in a bowl. Make about six to eight balls of the mixture, depending on the serving size you want. Place the round beef mixture into a cabbage leaf, roll, tuck, and fasten with a toothpick. Place in the fridge overnight.

Morning of:

Mix the wet ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pour about a cup of the mix into bottom of the crock-pot. Remove the toothpicks from the cabbage/ beef rolls, and place in a single layer on the bottom of the crock-pot. Pour the rest of the mixture on top.

Place in crock-pot on low for 6 hours, or in the oven for 275 degrees for 2 to 3 hours.

Cooks Note: Clay does not care for the sweetness of the sauce, so next time I will half the cinnamon and brown sugar.

Basmati Rice Pilaf with Apricots

Last night we had 4 different Indian dishes. I made the Daag Curry Recipe that was posted a few months ago, from Lee Anna Finney Darji, with chicken, potatoes, celery and carrots. It was almost like a stew. Another friend found this recipe on Food Network and brought this rice dish. It was fabulous! She had never had Indian food before, so this was all new-she even made her own garam masala, since it is a bit hard to find in Conway. You never would have known it was her first experience with Indian food- this dish was AMAZING! Everyone should try it sometime!

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
2 wide strips
lemon zest
2 cups cold water
3 tablespoons unsalted
1 teaspoon garam masala (an Indian spice blend)
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup basmati
rice, lightly rinsed and drained
ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted unsalted pistachios
or cashews

Put the apricots and lemon zest in the 2 cups of cold water. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garam masala, and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the water along with the apricots, lemon zest, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, wrap a clean dish towel around the saucepan lid, and cover saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes, set aside for 5 minutes undisturbed, then remove lid and fluff with a fork. Mound the pilaf on a serving platter or in a shallow bowl, tear the mint over, and top with the nuts.

Game Plan: Toast the nuts while the rice cooks.

Cook's Note: Wrapping the lid with a dish towel keeps the steam in the pot, encourages the rice grains to stay separate, and absorbs condensation that would otherwise collect on the lid and drip back into the pan.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

We had a fabulous Indian dinner last night with friends that included lamb, beef, chicken, apricot rice. All the meats were marinated with vegetables with scrumptious Indian spices. Cucumber Yogurt Sauce is often used to tone down spicy flavors in dishes like this. It is easy to make and should be added to your dishes when you create spicy curry dishes. It can also be served in a gyro in pita bread with tomatoes and lettuce.


1/2 med. cucumber peeled, seeded & chopped fine
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground pepper

Stir all ingredients together. Chill until served.

Chicken Salad

One of my dear friends in Conway, Sandra, has been telling me about this chicken salad she recently made for her women's group at church. The girls and I are going to make it this week with some left-over chicken. These are ingredients we usually have around, so I think it will be a great meal.

"This was an old recipe my mom had, and it was a hit at our Women's Meeting."- from Sandra
Chicken Salad

4 c. cut - up chicken
2 c. white grapes, I used purple for color
1 c. sweet pickles
1 c. apples
1 c. celery
1 c. nuts- pecans or walnuts

Mix together and add enough mayo to moisten. I used Miracle whip

Have fun!

Stuffed mushrooms

This recipe came from a friend from Fort Smith, Belinda Ancheta. We played in orchestra together from junior high through college. We have reconnected through facebook in recent months. She sent me this great recipe. It is a great for an appetizer. Thanks, Belinda!

1 pkg. Cream Cheese
1 Onion
1 stick of butter
4 pieces of Bacon
a couple dashes of Italian Seasoning
Swiss Cheese

Leave cream cheese out to soften
Caramelize dice onions with 1/2 stick of butter.
Cook Bacon- While all this is being done, use a pairing knife to scoop out the cap so that more of the filling can be added.
Dice up the stem and the caps excess.
Add to the onion that is being caramelized as well as the rest of the butter.
Add a couple dashes of Italian Seasoning
Crush bacon and add to mix.
Mix in the Package of Cream Cheese
Fill caps with the Filling, top it off with a small slice of swiss cheese. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees. Wait till the cheese is mooooshy and melted.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Angel Berry Trifle

Okay, so this recipe is a win-win-win-win.

1) It looks beautiful.
2) It's easy to make.
3) It's really, really yummy. Really.
4) It's lowfat (for a dessert), but you can't at all.

So the next time you go to a party whip it up and serve!

Angel Berry Trifle


1-1/2 cups cold fat-free milk

1 package (1 ounce) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup (8 ounces) fat-free vanilla yogurt

6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 carton (12 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed, divided

1 prepared angel food cake (18 inches), cut into 1-inch cubes (Walmart has a great sugar-free Angel Food cake)

1 pint each blackberries, raspberries and blueberries (I couldn't find blackberries, so I used strawberries and it was delicous!)


In a small bowl, whisk the milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes or until soft-set. In a large bowl, beat the yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. Fold in pudding mixture and 1 cup whipped topping.
Place a third of the cake cubes in a 4-qt. trifle bowl. Top with a third of the pudding mixture, a third of the berries and half of the remaining whipped topping. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining cake, pudding and berries. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Yield: 14 servings.

Nutrition Facts

One serving: (3/4 cup)

Calories: 209

Fat: 6 g

Saturated Fat: 5 g

Cholesterol: 10 mg

Sodium: 330 mg

Carbohydrate: 32 g

Fiber: 3 g

Protein: 5 g

Diabetic Exchange: 1 starch, 1 fat, 1/2 fruit, 1/2 reduced-fat milk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Last month we read a classic, with a new twist. I tried to think of something very British and dainty to make, but I had to go for the gore with this one. Jessica, a fellow bookclub member, and hostess, actually made these into cupcakes. They were great! So, if you read this new book, bake a red velvet cake to go with it!


1 1/2 c. Wesson oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. sugar

2 1/2 c. plain flour

1 tsp. soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. buttermilk

1 oz. red food coloring

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 stick butter

1 box powdered sugar

Mix oil, add sugar and eggs. Add milk, vanilla, and food coloring. Then add dry ingredients. Bake in 9x13 inch pan for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mix the icing and add to the cake when cool.

Patty Melt

Sometimes after a long day of work, comfort food is the best thing. So, tonight we had patty melts. I used my grain-fed beef patties, and I didn't have rye bread, but we made due with wheat. Enjoy!

1 slice American cheese
1 slice
Swiss cheese
1/4 lb
ground beef
1/4 cup
onion, sliced or onion, diced
3 tablespoons
butter, divided
2 slices rye bread

1. Saute onions until golden in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent and lightly golden.
2. Remove from the pan.
3. Form the meat patty so it will fit the bread.
4. Grill to desired doneness.
5. Butter bread on one side; put buttered side down on hot griddle, put 1 slice cheese followed by onions then cooked patty, followed by cheese.
6. Butter one side of the other slice of bread and place on top buttered side out.
7. Fry until bread is crisp but not burned (I have trouble with this part), turn over and do the same thing on the other side. Cheese should be well melted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Banana Cupcakes and Chocolate Ganache Icing

So I was listening to Martha Stewart radio and they had a guest on that was talking about Banana Cupcakes. For some reason that sounded sooo good! So I looked up a recipe and decided to try it out. They did turn out very well. You can eat these plain as a breakfast muffin if you want. I iced mine though. I iced half of them with a cream cheese icing (bought, but there are some easy recipes out there) and the other half with chocolate ganache. I also posted this recipe below. This was a good and fun treat!!

Banana Cupcakes

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. soda
4 tbsp. sour cream
1 c. mashed bananas
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs. Dissolve soda in sour cream, add to creamed mixture and beat well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Put into cupcake papers. Bake at 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are cooked through. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Chocolate Ganache

· 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

· 1 cup heavy cream

· 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired.

Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Vegetable Ratatouille

Summer is coming to an end, but the veggies are still fresh and abundant. This recipe is great for a crowd and delicious to boot!

2 onion, sliced into thin rings
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium eggplant, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
2 medium yellow squash, cubed
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cubed
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 chopped red bell pepper
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the zucchini in batches until slightly browned on all sides. Remove the zucchini and place in the pot with the onions and garlic.

  • Saute all the remaining vegetables one batch at a time, adding 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet each time you add a new set of vegetables. Once each batch has been sauteed add them to the large pot as was done in step 2.

  • Season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme and cover the pot. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley to the large pot, cook another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

  • Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cooking As A Spectator Sport

My mom told me about this piece on NPR- and I had to share. I have to admit, I am guilty of participating in these shows- in fact Dad and I did Friday night when we watched Chef vs. City. I enjoyed it, however I truly doubt I need to know how to split a wheel of cheese.

For full pod cast go to:

Michael Pollan On Cooking As A Spectator Sport
August 3, 2009

The Food Network draws more viewers than any of the cable news channels, but Americans are actually cooking less than ever.

Michael Pollan's recent cover story in The New York Times Magazine explores America's obsession with cooking as a spectator sport — and why the rise of cooking shows has coincided with the rise of fast food and prepackaged meals.

As Pollan points out, the time it takes the average American to prepare dinner has dropped to less than half the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Top Chef.

In a conversation with Fresh Air guest host Dave Davies, Pollan fondly remembers Julia Child, the woman credited with upgrading the meals coming out of American kitchens. Child, he says, spawned the cooking-show genre, now a TV mainstay.

But Pollan says today's cooking shows are much different than those of the 1960s. Shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef America, and the Next Food Network Star are "more like sports than cooking. They're competitive, they're very macho."

"The Food Network has made the kitchen a safe place for men by ramping up the testosterone," Pollan says. But "you certainly don't learn anything about cooking" from watching these shows; "they go by way too fast, they don't offer the recipes ... and the food they're making is so spectacular that it's really unlikely, I think, that anybody is trying this at home."

Then there are the shows — like the Rachael Ray Show and Semi-Homecooking with Sandra Lee — that stress expediency and convenience over quality of food.

"They're called dump and stir shows," Pollan says. "In a way, they're very much the children of Julia, although I think their style is different, and their cooking is different. It's all about the shortcut. ... I don't think they have the kind of conviction Julia had, even though I think they're probably useful to some people."

Pollan is a Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley and the author of several books, including In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire.

Crockpot Cabbage Soup

Okay, school is back in session, and I am on a mission to plan meals again. I have realized I cook more during the school year- part of it necessity, part of it release. Tomorrow night we have dance class at 5, so I want something that will be ready when we get home at 6. I have all of the ingredients in the pantry/ fridge, so we are going to give it a try. I feel excited to get back into blogging again- so I will be looking for some new recipes to try. Wish us luck!

Cook Time: 9 hours

1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
3 to 4 tablespoons rice
2 ribs celery, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 cups beef broth (can make from bouillon or base and hot water)
1 pound of ground beef
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) tomatoes, diced
coarsely ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker/Crock Pot. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low. Taste before serving; add salt and more pepper if necessary.Serve with biscuits or crusty bread.

Beef Cabbage Soup Recipe serves 4

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Baked Camembert Cheese

I saw Baked Camembert Cheese mentioned on an old episode of Martha Stewart and it looked like a good and easy appetizer. Well I tried serving it last night and it was! Camembert Cheese can be bought in the nicer cheese section of a grocery store (I saw it at Walmart & HEB and I'm sure other chains carry it). It comes in a round box. To bake it I followed the directions in this video. The ingredients are:

-1 box Camembert Cheese

-a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme

-olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F. To prepare cheese, cut the thin layer of wax off of the top of the cheese. Place the cheese back in the wooden box. Sprinkle fresh thyme on the top of the cheese. Pour a bit of olive oil on top of the cheese. Place cheese (while still in the wooden box, but with no lid) in a baking pan. Cook at 400F for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is soft. Watch the video for a better explanation.

Serve with French bread. I sliced french bread into thin pieces and toasted some and left some untoasted. Your guests can spread the cheese on the bread! It is delicious!!

Frozen Watermelon Margarita

This is a recipe that I found on the Food Network website. I decided to try it out when we had some friends over for dinner. It was really really good! The great thing is that you don't add any extra sugar to the recipe...the sweetness comes from the fruit.

Frozen Watermelon Margarita

2 1/2 cups seedless (or seeded) watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes, rind discarded before measuring

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (don't skimp on this)

4 ounces tequila

2 ounces orange flavored liqueur (I used orange flavored vodka)

1 1/2 cups ice

Lime wheel or watermelon wedge, for garnish


Put cut watermelon in a plastic bag and place in freezer for a minimum of 2 hours. (If time does not permit this step, add a few extra ice cubes when blending, the difference is not that significant.)

Stuff all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Garnish rim of glass with a lime wheel or a watermelon wedge and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Delicious and Easy Snack

So this isn't exactly a recipe, but roll with it. My new favorite snack to munch on at work is this:

dipped with this:

and this:

It is delicious and healthy! The light cheese has only 35 calories per wedge and it is a great way to make you eat your veggies. The little bit of cheese is enough to make you feel like you got a treat and since it's in an individual serving, you won't eat too much. I've tried the cheese in Original, French Onion, and Garlic & Herb. They are all great. So next time you are at the store, pick some up and give it a try.

(PS- No one is paying me to advertise this, but I wish they were)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Julie and Julia

In the summer I become an avid reader. I read all of my fun summer novels, my book club selections, and some for school. This summer has been no different, except I have been doing it only the last few weeks (or since I got out of summer school). On our trip this weekend, I read the book Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell. It is a fun summer read for someone who loves to cook. I even book marked pages to find recipes to try. I am attaching the book synopsis from Amazon. You will probably also recognize it as the title of an upcoming movie of the same name. Yes, it stars Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Should be a winning combination. *Just so you are aware- Julie is not the most polished and uses quite a bit of language in her writing. It is not something that bothers me, but I wanted others to be warned. :)
Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell's attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 days. The result is a masterful medley of Bridget Jones' Diary meets Like Water for Chocolate, mixed with a healthy dose of original wit, warmth, and inspiration that sets this memoir apart from most tales of personal redemption.
When we first meet Julie, she's a frustrated temp-to-perm secretary who slaves away at a thankless job, only to return to an equally demoralizing apartment in the outer boroughs of Manhattan each evening. At the urging of Eric, her devoted and slightly geeky husband, she decides to start a blog that will chronicle what she dubs the "Julie/Julia Project." What follows is a year of butter-drenched meals that will both necessitate the wearing of an unbearably uncomfortable girdle on the hottest night of the year, as well as the realization that life is what you make of it and joy is not as impossible a quest as it may seem, even when it's -10 degrees out and your pipes are frozen.
Powell is a natural when it comes to connecting with her readers, which is probably why her blog generated so much buzz, both from readers and media alike. And while her self-deprecating sense of humor can sometimes dissolve into whininess, she never really loses her edge, or her sense of purpose. Even on day 365, she's working her way through Mayonnaise Collee and ending the evening "back exactly where we started--just Eric and me, three cats and Buffy...sitting on a couch in the outer boroughs, eating, with Julia chortling alongside us...."
Inspired and encouraging, Julie and Julia is a unique opportunity to join one woman's attempt to change her life, and have a laugh, or ten, along the way. --Gisele Toueg