Shrimp Scampi

I’ve always said I’d love to live on the coast where I could have access to fresh seafood any time. It’s one of my favorite things to eat, but here in the Midwest it can be expensive, so we usually only have it as a treat on special occasions. While Kevin and the boys would probably choose crab or lobster as their first seafood choice, mine would definitely be shrimp. I love shrimp however it’s prepared, and shrimp scampi is one of my favorite ways to prepare it at home.



shrimp scampi


Shrimp Scampi

2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 stick butter
Half a small onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Hot noodles or rice

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Cook the diced onions for about 2 minutes, and add the minced garlic. Cook a few minutes more until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the chopped parsley and white wine, stirring to combine.

Add the peeled and deveined shrimp to the skillet, and cook just until all the shrimp have turned pink — no longer or they will turn tough.

Serve shrimp and sauce over hot cooked noodles or rice, and garnish each serving with grated Parmesan cheese.

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

I love to eat just about any kind of pie, but I don’t often make them, mostly because I hate making pie crust. I can do it, but it’s not my speciality. Ask me to make a pie filling (or cake or cheesecake), and I can do that no problem. My husband and our oldest son are whizzes at making pie crusts, so when I can sweet talk them into making the crust, I’ll do the filling.

Today we wanted pie, and I cheated and used store-bought crust. It’s okay – really. It just won’t have the nice flaky outcome like Grandma makes. I won’t even say crust like my mom makes, because she has the same pie crust problem I have (sorry Mom!). She’s a great cook and baker, but pie crust just isn’t her thing either.

One of our favorites is sour cream raisin pie, so I thought I’d share our recipe with you. You can top the pie with meringue if you wish, but I like this raisin pie with fresh whipped cream on top. This makes a 10-inch pie. I have large glass pie pans, and this may be too much filling for a normal-sized 9-inch pan.
raisin cream pie (1)


raisin cream pie slice (1)

If you promise not to laugh too hard at this picture, which shows the obvious store-bought pie crust, here’s what it looks like just out of the oven. It’s not the prettiest pie, but boy does it taste good πŸ™‚
sour cream raisin pie

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Pastry for 1 pie crust, chilled
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups raisins

Place chilled pastry in a 10-inch pie pan. Beat eggs lightly, then stir in sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in vanilla, sour cream and raisins, and mix until well combined.

Pour mixture into the chilled pastry shell. Bake in a 450 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the pie tests clean in the center.

Let cool to room temperature, or chill for a few hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Nothing is better on a chilly fall weekend morning than pancakes. They’re one of my sons’ favorite things to eat, and they often make them when they’ve got time to cook on the weekend.

I’ve tried lots of different pancake recipes over the years, but this one is probably my favorite.

Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon good vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
Butter for griddle or skillet

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and canola oil, and stir to combine. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.

Heat the griddle or skillet over medium-low heat, and coat the griddle with butter. Pour 1/3 cup pancake batter onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form along the edge of the pancake, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancake, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from the griddle and keep warm in a 200 degrees Fahrenheit oven until all the pancakes are made.

Cheddar Cheese Beer Soup with Sour Cream, Cheese and Garlic Drop Biscuits

I love cheese soup, and although I’ve eaten a lot of it in restaurants over the years, I’ve never made it at home. I decided it was high time I did, so that’s what we had for dinner tonight along with some sour cream, cheddar cheese and garlic drop biscuits. The boys said they both were great, and I could make both again any time.


Cheddar Cheese Beer Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken stock
12 ounces of your favorite beer
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the diced onion. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent but not browned.

Add in the dry mustard and flour, and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes to form a roux.

Add the milk, chicken stock and beer. Add the cayenne pepper, Worchestershire sauce, salt and black pepper, and stir to combine. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the shredded cheddar cheese. Cook over medium heat, and stir frequently until the cheese is completely melted. Adjust salt and black pepper as needed.


Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese and Garlic Drop Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons frozen butter, grated
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Farhenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder, salt and black pepper./ Cut in the grated butter, and combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the shredded cheddar cheese, and toss to combine.

Stir in the milk and the sour cream. Stir until just combined; don’t overmix.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees Farhenheit for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.

Chicken Pot Pie in a Crock-Pot

I was busy working away today when I looked at the clock and saw it was nearly the middle of the afternoon. And I hadn’t started anything for dinner yet. Technically I had – I got out some frozen chicken breasts in the morning to thaw, but I hadn’t decided what I was going to do with them.

So I turned to Pinterest, as I often do, for a little inspiration on what to do with this chicken. I saw a post about chicken pot pie done in the Crock-Pot, and I had my answer. Rummaging through my cupboards and freezer for the veggies, I had everything I needed to put together a quick yet tasty meal for my family. I just dumped everything in the Crock-Pot and went back to work. Easy peasy πŸ™‚



Chicken Pot Pie in a Crock-Pot

5 to 6 frozen chicken breasts
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
5 to 6 red potatoes, diced (peeled or unpeeled – your choice)
4 cups frozen peas and carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
Hot biscuits (homemade, store bought or out of a can)

Layer the frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the Crock-Pot. Add potatoes, frozen veggies, soups, seasonings and mix well.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until the chicken is fully cooked. Be sure to break up the chicken into bite-sized pieces after it has cooked.

Serve over hot biscuits.


When I pulled up my usual biscuit recipe, I realized I was out of milk. That sent me on an online search for a no-milk biscuit recipe. I found one on, and they turned out great.

No-Milk Biscuits

2 cups flour (all-purpose or bread flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons canola oil or soft shortening
3/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients together. Add additional flour to knead easily. Knead dough on a floured surface for about 30 seconds. Roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness, and cut with a small cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown.

Yield: 12 biscuits

Canning 101: Easy Applesauce

It’s apple season here in eastern Iowa, and I’ve already made some caramel apple pie filling, but I have scads of apples yet to work with. I haven’t made applesauce in years, so I thought it was high time I did. Our sons love it, as do our granddaughters, so I know I won’t have any problem getting rid of it.:)



20 pounds apples, cored and sliced
2 cups apple juice, apple cider or water
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Place cored and sliced apples and the 2 cups of liquid in a large stockpot, and cook the apples until they’re soft and mushy, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Using a food processor or stick blender, blend the apples until you reach the consistency you want. I like smooth applesauce, so I blended for approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir the apple mixture until everything is well combined.

Pour hot applesauce into sterilized, hot pint jars. Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Yield: 13 pints

CrockPot Pulled Pork, Onion Strings and Dipping Sauce

After finding a nice buy at the grocery store on some pork shoulders, I decided to make some pulled pork in the Crock-Pot. When we have time, Kevin likes to smoke these on the smoker, but when we don’t have a lot of time, the Crock-Pot is a great way to get the same flavors without having to stand guard while it cooks.

I decided to use a dry rub on this pork shoulder and let the meat simmer in some apple cider vinegar. You can pass your favorite barbecue sauce at the table if you wish, but it’s great just as is.

Along with the pulled pork, I fixed a broccoli coleslaw and onion strings with a spicy dipping sauce similar to what you’d get in a steakhouse. I’ve listed the recipes separately, but my sons informed me you have to pile everything together on the pulled pork sandwich to make the perfect bite.

My sandwich:


Crock-Pot Pulled Pork

4- to 6-pound pork shoulder
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Trim off any excess fat from the pork shoulder. Mix together all dry ingredients, and rub onto all sides of the pork shoulder.

Pour the apple cider vinegar and water into the Crock-Pot, and add the pork shoulder. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the meat easily comes off the bone.

Shred the meat. Serve on buns with barbecue sauce if desired.

We recently got a new counter-sized deep fryer, and we’ve been trying all sorts of delicious recipes. When Kevin came home from work with some huge Vidalia onions (thanks Jeff!), I decided we needed to try Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman) recipe forΒ Onion Strings. You can fry up as many onions as you wish – just adjust the ingredients to make sure you have enough flour mixture to coat all your onions. We love onion rings and strings in all shapes and forms, and this recipe is a definite keeper.


Onion Strings

1 whole large onion
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Oil for frying, between 1 to 2 quarts depending on the equipment in which you’re frying the onions
Salt and black pepper to taste

Slice onions very thin. Place in a baking dish, and cover with buttermilk. Soak onions for at least an hour.

Combine dry ingredients, and set aside.

Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the onions in the seasoned flour mixture, and coat completely. Shake off any excess flour. Add the onions to the hot oil. Fry for a few minutes, and remove from the oil as they turn golden brown. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.


For the onion dipping sauce, I combined a couple recipes I’d seen to get the taste I was looking for. It has just enough spice so you can taste it, but it doesn’t overpower the taste of the onion strings. You can halve this recipe if just using it to dip onion rings, but the boys wanted sauce to use on their pulled pork sandwiches, so this makes quite a bit of dipping sauce.

Onion Dipping Sauce

2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry together.

Canning 101: Caramel Apple Pie Filling

Fall is apple season on our little homestead, and when we’re blessed with an overabundance of apples like this year, I make apple pie filling. I decided to change up my usual pie filling recipe by substituting brown sugar for half of the sugar in my normal recipe. This makes a delicious caramel filling that goes great with apples.



Caramel Apple Pie Filling

6 to 7 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Fruit Fresh or lemon juice to treat apples
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup ClearJel
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
10 cups water

Peel, core and slice apples. Treat with Fruit Fresh or lemon juice to prevent browning.

In a large stockpot, combine both sugars, ClearJel, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vinegar and water. Stir until combined. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture thickens slightly.

Pack apples into hot quart jars, and pour the hot syrup over the apples, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Yield: 7 quarts

Canning 101: Mushrooms

Today my husband decided to take a little stroll in the timber, and he came back with a really nice hen of the woods mushroom. We forage both in the spring and in the fall for wild mushrooms, and hen of the woods can be found in late fall, usually right before frost, providing the conditions are right.

The one he found today is a really nice one at 10 pounds. Not the biggest he’s ever found, but also not the smallest. It will take a few jars to get this sucker canned. πŸ™‚


These mushrooms are pretty much solid all the way through. You do need to trim off the bottom where it sits on the ground, and check for bugs and other critters as you cut it up and clean it. If you find them fresh like this one is, there’s a lot of good eating.

While I realize that the current edition of Ball Blue Book doesn’t condone canning wild mushrooms, older versions of this publication had no warnings against it, which is when I learned how to can what we would find. You have to know what you’re foraging for, as there are mushrooms out there that may look similar but are deadly, not so much the hen of the woods but especially other types of fall mushrooms that we like to look for. My husband and I have hunted wild mushrooms for decades, so we know what is good to eat and what will kill you, and we’ve researched all kinds of mushrooms in various publications. That said, if you’re going to hunt for wild mushrooms, if you’re a newbie take someone with you who has experience and knows what the good ones look like.

Mushrooms must be pressure canned because mushrooms are a low-acid food, and these aren’t being pickled (pickled mushrooms can be water bathed). A water bath canner doesn’t get the temperature high enough to kill off any potential bacteria (botulism). Again, this isn’t an approved Ball Blue Book recipe, so proceed at your own risk, but I’ve pressure canned mushrooms this way for over 20 years, and I’m still here. I found these instructions in my Mirro canner manual, which I purchased over 20 years ago. Use half-pints or pint jars only, as using quarts isn’t recommended.

For this 10-pound mushroom, I ended up with 25 half-pints of canned mushrooms. Nice return for a stroll in the woods. πŸ™‚

Canning Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms
Canning salt

Trim mushrooms of any debris, and soak in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse mushrooms. For hen of the woods mushrooms, dice mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.

In a large stockpot, cook mushrooms gently for 15 minutes.

Pack hot mushrooms into prepared hot jars, and cover with boiling water, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add canning salt to each jar (1/4 teaspoon for half-pints, 1/2 teaspoon for pints). Adjust lids and rings.

Process jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes (same time for both half pints and pints).

After processing, remove jars from canner, and let sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours before moving.

To use: You can use these mushrooms in any recipe that you would normally use store-bought canned mushrooms.

Venison Chili

The beauty about canning your own garden vegetables, making your own chili beans and canned black beans, and having men in the house who hunt means that I almost always have the ingredients in my cupboard to make venison chili. My husband and sons hunt deer, and when they are successful, we often can deer meat. It’s a great addition to chili. We always grow tomatoes, both slicers and cherry tomatoes, and I can these as well. I’ve recently been canning my own chili beans and black beans, which I’ve always added to my version of chili, so it makes sense for me to have a bunch of these in my cupboard too.

When I make venison chili, it’s simply a “dump” recipe. Grab the quarts and pints needed off the shelves, and dump everything together in a large stockpot. Heat and serve – easy peasy!

If you don’t have canned venison, you can always substitute your favorite protein – beef, chicken or pork. However you make it, when you have canned items in your pantry, dinner is on the table in a flash.



Venison Chili

1 quart canned venison
1 quart canned tomatoes (whole or cherry tomatoes)
2 pints canned chili beans
1 pint canned black beans
Additional chili powder (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for serving (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, combine the canned venison (or other protein – browned and drained). Add the tomatoes, chili beans and black beans. Heat over medium-high heat until everything is heated through. Taste and add additional chili powder, salt and pepper as desired.

To serve, sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over each bowl of chili, and top with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

1 2