Saturday, January 10, 2015

Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup

Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup

It's cold here in Indiana and has been cold for the last week.  The wind chill has been in the negative digits and today we had a whopping high of 22 degrees.  Last night, Bill went with me to pick up 18 chickens and 3 ducks from a couple that needed to find them a new home.  I offered to take them, but didn't tell Bill about the ducks until we got there.  Long story short, Bill didn't make a fuss over bringing home the ducks, so I thought I'd make him some homemade broccoli soup tonight as a peace offering.  There is nothing like some warm soup to make the cold outside melt away.  Even though this is homemade soup, and not out of a can, it is simple to make.  Serve with a grilled cheese and it's a meal fit for a king!

I used my Pampered Chef Rockcrok Dutch Oven to make this soup.  If you don't have one, you should consider adding this item to you kitchen collection.  I had a party and got my for 60% off.  It's amazing!


  • 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups fresh/or thawed broccoli, chopped to the consistency you prefer for the soup 
  • 2 cans (10 3/4 oz) Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Saute the onion in 1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter and set aside.
    In your Rockcrok, or a large pot, whisk together the melted butter and flour over medium heat for about about 4 minutes.
  2. Next, slowly whisk in the half and half and chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the broccoli and onions. Let them simmer on medium heat for about 25 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with sharp cheddar cheese. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Joy Jars

A very simple Joy Jar for 2015

I admit that I am not a crafty person.  I enjoy crafts, but just to come up with stuff on my way!  My friend Ginger, who is also the Pastor's wife, is extremely creative and came up with these Joy Jars for 2015.  Last Sunday, she passed out a jar to each family.  We are to take these jars and write good things that happen to our family (or personally) on little pieces of paper throughout 2015.  Then on New Year's Eve (December 31, 2015) we will meet back at the church, share a meal, and then share our joy's with each other over the past year.

Examples of items that you can put in your Joy Jar:
  • Surprise gifts
  • Accomplished goals
  • Laugh Out Loud moments
  • Daily blessings
  • It was a God thing
  • The beauty of nature
  • Memories worth saving
  • Answered prayers
  • AND MORE!!!
She even created a Facebook page for it!  Instead of focusing on the negative, which we all do so often, let's make it a point to write down our joy's and fill our jar!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Memorial Ornaments

Hanging of the Memorial Ornaments at my church.

Many years ago, long before I started attending church here, someone at the foresight to create memorial ornaments in memory of a loved one, who had passed away during the year, and hang them during church on the Christmas trees.

We are a small country church, but it means the world to have these ornaments each year to help us reflect on those who have gone on before us.  I print the bulletin for church and run the projector on Sunday's, so on Saturday I found my ornament  for my brother and went ahead and hung it.  I have to admit, even though he has been gone for six years, I can still break down and ball at the drop of a hat.

This one ornament, in memory of my brother L.T. Wilkinson means more to me than any other ornament that I hang.  Plus, I love that it is hung in church. 

Bill has ornaments that he hangs as well in memory of his family members.
This is the one for his mom, Sue...

For his grandma, Pauline...

And for his grandpa, Randolph...

If you've lost a loved one this year or in the past, I know how heavy your heart is.  Take the time to make, or buy, a simple ornament for that person and make it a Christmas tradition to hang it on your tree every year.  Better yet, start it in your church like we did, and have everyone participate.  It is truly a blessing.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So Very Thankful!

Each year seems to go by quicker and quicker.  I don't remember time passing as quickly when I was in high school sitting in class after class.  I mean it wasn't that long ago we were getting ready for Y2K...oh, wait - that was 14 years ago.  Where does the time go?

Bill has a meeting tonight, so it's just the me and the fur babies.  I enjoy quiet time at home, especially since it doesn't seem to happen all that often.  I was thinking today about our holiday plans and that led me to thinking about things I am thankful for.  My list is fairly long as I tend to ponder on the positives rather than the negatives. 

So here it goes (and in no particular order the condensed version):

1) I am thankful that I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  There have been many events in my life that I would not have made it through if I had not had faith. 

2) I am thankful for my husband.  He comes across mean and gruff, but he is a teddy bear.  Honestly, all he has ever wanted is for everyone to get along.  I remember his sister crying one day and he wanted to know who made her cry.  Although she was a grown woman, he loved her and wanted to protect her. I am also going to put my fur babies here: Sadie, Libby, Harley and Dusty.

Sadie with snow on her nose: 11-17-14.

2) I am thankful for the 22 years that we had to spend with my brother LT.  Even after 6 years, his death is still vivid in my mind and I miss him more than words can say. 

3) I am thankful for parents that disciplined me and loved me.

4) I am thankful for my church, the congregation and the fellowship that we have each week.

5) I am thankful for all the children out there that call us Uncle Bill and Aunt Lis, even though we aren't really related.  We love each one of them with all of our hearts.

6) Finally, I am thankful for all of you.  I don't write all the time, but I have enjoyed blogging.  The recipes that I put on here are ones that I actually serve and eat and not just ones that I've tried and would never make again.  Cooking is one of my passions and I am fortunate that I get to cook often.

Here's to you this 2014 holiday season!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Totally Addictive Hawaiian Sweet Roll Appetizer

Totally Addictive Hawaiian Sweet Roll Appetizer     

Warning! These are very addictive and will be gone in minutes.  If you're looking for a good appetizer to make for a party or take to a tailgate - this is it!  I would encourage you to double the recipe as it won't take long for these to be gone!  It's sure to be a hit, I promise.

1 package of 12 count Hawaiian Dinner Rolls
1 lb Black Forest Ham (really any kind works)
12 slices of Provolone cheese
1 (8-oz) tub of Philadelphia Chive and Onion Cream Cheese Spread

1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 T dried minced onions

1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Cut the rolls in half.  Place the bottoms of the rolls in a 9x13" pan.  Next please equal amounts of ham on each roll and then top with the Provolone cheese.  Spread the tops with a good portion of the Chive and Onion cream cheese spread and place the tops on top of the cheese making them into sandwiches.

In a small bowl, melt the butter.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, minced onion and Parmesan cheese over the tops of the sandwiches and let them sit for about 15 minutes.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Dry Onions from the Garden

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer time is onions and tomatoes.  I remember when I was young, my grandpa would pull a green onion out of the ground, clean it and then let me eat it.  Awww, those were the days...

In my garden this year, I went big.  Go big or stay home right?  I planted 5 rows of onions, several varieties, and I dried them out and hung them in my pantry to store for winter use.

Drying onions is very simple.  When the green stems start to die off, or when the onion has outgrown the hole you put it in, pull the onions and let them dry for about two days out in the sun so that the skins can harden up.  Air needs to reach the entire onion, so if you don't have something to put them on that has good ventilation, you might want to rotate your onions every other day.

I had my onions laying on our flatbed trailer, but Bill needed the trailer, so I had to move them.  I laid them out on the front porch where they would be in the shade most of the day, but where it would still be warm and breezy for them.  You can see that some of the onions still have very green stems while the others are starting to turn brown and shrivel up.  This entire process can take between 2 and 4 weeks.

The onions are finished drying, or "curing" once the stems have all turned brown and are completely dried up.  Additionally, the skin on the onions should have a withered look around the stem.  Once the onions were to this point, I clipped the stems/tops off the onions leaving about 1/4" - 1/2" from the bulb.  If you don't leave at least that much space, the neck of the onions won't dry out and could possibly rot when you store it.

The next thing you will want to do is have several pair of pantyhose, yes pantyhose on hand so that you can store your onion in them.  To store your onions in pantyhose, simply cut off legs of each hose, and drop an onion in one of the legs.  Make a not at the top of where the onion is and repeat until the leg of the pantyhose is full.  This is a very cheap way to store onions and still allow them to breathe.

After you have the onions in the pantyhose, you are ready to store them.  You should choose a dark, cool area that stays between 40-50 degrees year round.  For some people, this might be your basement or a root cellar.  We simply shut off the heat vent in one of our rooms and block out the light from the window through the winter time.  If the area that you store your onions in becomes to hot, the onions will begin to sprout, if it's too cold the onion will begin to rot.  

When the times comes that you need to use them, simply cut them off the pantyhose!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Use a Pressure Canner

If you have never used a pressure canner, let me assure you that it's not as scary, or as hard, as you might be led to believe.  In fact, it is so user friendly that you'll be kicking yourself for not trying it sooner.  I have a Presto 01781 Pressure Canner and I love it.  You can get a good Pressure Canner for around $75.  Some may be a little cheaper, but most of them will cost between $50-$100.  My Presto will hold 7 quarts at once.  I also have an older Pressure Canner that I bought off of my friend Ruth.  They are both wonderful!  The picture below is of the newer Pressure Canner.

Ok, so let's learn how to use this canner in what I would like to say is simple terms...

The first thing you want to do is READ the directions.  Yes, read them.  I don't like to do it either, and I didn't understand them when I was done, but I read them so at least I had a working knowledge of what parts and pieces my canner had.  Next, follow the instructions and clean it before using it.  Get familiar with it.

Once you are ready to start canning, you will need right at 3 quarts of water in the canner.  You want the water to be around 3" deep.  The first time I used my canner, there was an indention on the inside that showed me how far to fill the water up to.  However, after I used it 2 or 3 times, I could no longer tell where the indention was, so using the 3 quarts of water works about perfect for my canner.  

After you have filled your canner with water, I suggest putting it on the stove and turning it on the lowest setting, until you're ready to put the jars in.  Once you put the jars in the canner, twist and lock the lid in place on the pressure canner. Turn the stove onto the highest heat setting and wait for a steady steam to start coming out of the vent pipe.  When this happens, set a timer for 10 minutes and let it vent.  After the 10 minutes, put the pressure weight onto the vent pipe.  The pressure in the canner will now start to slowly rise.

This is the pressure weight on top of the vent pipe.


As the pressure begins to rise, the safety valve will pop up.  The lid is now fully locked.  You may notice that some water or steam might escape through the safety valve as the pressure inside the canner goes up.  This is perfectly normal and is an excellent safety feature of the pressure canner.

Safety valve

Once the pressure gauge is at the pressure you need it at...let's say 10 pounds of pressure for green beans...I would let it go over a pound to 11 just to be safe, you will want to adjust the heat on the stove to keep it at that constant pressure.  The processing time begins when the pressure gauge reaches the correct pressure.  When this happens, you will want to set your timer at this point for however long your items are to cook - for green beans it would be 25 minutes.  You will need to watch the pressure gauge the entire time and make adjustments to the heat accordingly.

Pressure Gage

When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and remove the canner from the stove.  Let the canner depressurize at room temperature.  Again, DO NOT TAKE THE PRESSURE WEIGHT OFF FOR ANY REASON.  You will notice that the dial will slowly come back down to 0.  Once the dial is back to zero, I usually weight another 10 minutes before removing the lid.  At this point, you can remove the pressure weight.  Be careful when removing the lid, as the steam will be hot and can cause burns. Lift the lid away and set to the side (I usually set mine on pot holders because it is so hot).  Again, I wait another 10 minutes before removing the jars and placing them on a clean towel on my counter.

What do you think?  Not that hard, but it takes a lot of patience.  I had pressure canned with my mother-in-law at one point, but wasn't comfortable doing it myself until a friend showed me.  Hopefully these instructions and pictures will help.  Happy canning!