I ripped this recipe for cheese straws out of a Southern Living magazine way back in 1994!

vintage aluminum cups

No, I am not going on a KonMari kick and throwing away recipes! (at least not this one) The reason I saved this recipe to begin with was it brought me joy!! I was probably initially attracted to the vintage aluminum cups!

Cheese straws are a classic Southern snack. They can be fancy and served with wine or casual and served with football! You can buy them at the store, but they are so easy to make! I made cheese straws to give away as gifts this past Christmas.

snowflake package

I was in a hurry and didn’t even fancy up the cellophane baggies! How sad! At least they were cute baggies.

cheese straws

The cheese straws were very fragile. I had to be careful putting them in the bags. They made a great non-sweet snack to give as a gift! Everyone loved them!

Parmesan Cheese Straws

2/3 cup refrigerated pre-shredded Parmesan cheese or use fresh cheese plus 1/4 cup of flour

1/2 butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup milk

*Put the cheese and butter in a food processor fitted with the knife blade. Whir it around until blended.

*Add the flour, salt and red pepper. Process about 30 seconds or until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape down the sides from time to time.

*Divide the dough in half. Roll each portion into a 1/8 inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 2″ x 1/2″ strips. (You can also shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls; flatten to about 1/8 inch; brush with milk and top with a pecan half.) Place on a baking sheet; (I used parchment for easy cleanup!) brush with milk.

*Bake at 350˚ for 7 minutes for strips (10 minutes for rounds) or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

**Makes about 5 dozen cheese straws! I put about 25-30 in each baggie.

**When cutting out the straws, you can use a regular knife, pizza wheel, pastry cutter…whatever you want to make it fancy! You can also use a cookie press if you have one.

So, we had a few cheese straws leftover. After Christmas we were all tired of eating Christmas food! I decided experiment with (and disguise) the leftover straws. I crushed up the cheese straws (This was very easy since they were fragile to begin with!) and made Chicken Parmesan!

Chicken Parm

I dipped the chicken in a little melted butter, then the crushed up cheese straws, then into the oven. (again, parchment paper makes clean up a breeze!) Sorry, I don’t remember how long I baked it. I’m thinking 425˚ for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. Once baked, add a little marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese! Back in the oven for another 5 minutes-until the cheese melts. YUM! The red pepper that is in the cheese straws was really yummy in the Chicken Parm! It was yummy in the cheese straws, too!

When we lived in Indiana, my husband had a meeting in the northern part of the state in a little town called Whiting, IN. Whiting sits right on Lake Michigan. Chicago is a stone’s throw away. The part of the meeting he remembers the most was the potluck, or as they say in Indiana, pitch in. The tables and tables of delicious casseroles and desserts were breath-taking. It wasn’t until a fella brought out four huge pans of mostaccioli that my husband thought he had died and gone to heaven! The man had a heavy Chicago accent, so it wasn’t mostaccioli, it was MAStaccioli.

In case you were unaware, the Chicago Cubs won the world series!!!!


We are Cubs fans here at our house–not bandwagon fans. We have loved the Cubbies for a long time!

When they made it to Game 7 I figured I needed to make something Chicago-ish for dinner. I thought about deep-dish pizza. I thought about brats. Then I remembered the Whiting experience and decided to make mostaccioli!

I didn’t, however, make four huge pans of mostaccioli. One huge pan was plenty!!

Cheesy Mostaccioli

This recipe comes from an old Pampered Chef fundraiser cookbook. My sister bought it for me when she was in college. (By the way, The Pampered Chef company is based in the Chicago area–Bonus points!)

Pampered Chef cookbook

We barely made a dent in that pan!

Hooray! Leftovers!

Easy Weeknight Dinner


Cheesy Mostaccioli

1 package mostaccioli pasta (16 ounces) cooked according to package directions

1 1/2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained

1 jar (28 ounces) of your favorite  spaghetti sauce

1 can condensed cheddar soup (11 ounces)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella, divided

***cook’s note***You could replace some of the ground beef with some ground Italian sausage. I’m not a fan, so I stuck with the ground beef. I think next time I will add just a little more Italian seasoning-not too much more though.

*Once your meat is cooked and drained, add spaghetti sauce, soup, pepper and seasoning.

*Stir in pasta and 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese.

*Transfer everything to a  4 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

*Sprinkle last cup of cheese over the top.

*Bake in a 350˚ oven for about 40 minutes.

Critics’ Corner

Chip-I LOVE this dish. I once enjoyed it at a “pitch in” (Indiana for “pot luck”) at Whiting Baptist Church in Whiting, Indiana. It was so good I almost made myself sick. This batch is like being “back home again in Indiana.”

Katie- I thought that it was sooo tasty! The soft cheesy noodles at the bottom were my favorite. I felt so “Chicago” eating it! Go Cubs! 🙂 

Megan-off at college



Peaches were on sale the other day. I couldn’t resist bringing some home!

bowll of peaches

Can’t you just almost smell them?

fresh peaches

Truth be known, I’m not that big of a peach fan. Sorry. I’ve always wanted to like peaches. I don’t just HATE them, but they are not my first choice. However, there are other people who live in this house who LOVE peaches. So, I bought them.

I didn’t really have a plan for the peaches when I bought them. I thought the kids might munch on them. Then I thought about making something like peach cobbler. Finally, I decided to go with Peach Melbas.

A Peach Melba is basically peaches, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce/jam. Wouldn’t you know it–we were out of raspberry jam! Hrumph! So, we substituted strawberry jam. It was tasty but not as tasty as raspberry.

The first order of business was to peel the peaches.

Here is a simple method for removing the skin while keeping the fruit.

First, bring a pot of water to a simmer on the stove. How much water? You only need  just enough water to cover the peaches.

pan of simmering water

While you are waiting for the water to simmer, score the fruit. Just a simple “X” will do.

score the fruit

Into the water with the peaches. Be careful, you don’t want to bruise them.

add peach to boiling water

It doesn’t take long for the skin to start to let go of the fruit. When you see it starting to happen, go ahead and remove the peaches.

loosening skin

Like magic, the skin is easy to remove.

peeling peaches

You can see how my thumb is starting to push the skin off effortlessly.

removing peach skin

Cut up the peaches however you like–halves, slices, bite-sized pieces. We chose the latter.

Place the peaches in a serving dish. Top with a big scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

Our ice cream of choice…

ice cream

Heat your raspberry jam in the microwave or on the stove. Drizzle the jam over the peaches and ice cream.

Peach Melba

I’m sure you can get all fancy and make an actual raspberry sauce. We were going for easy and yummy!

Even with the strawberry jam, it was a fabulous summertime treat!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Peach, good. Ice cream, good. Jam, GOOD!

Megan: Words cannot describe the deliciousness. It might just be the sugar rush at 9:00! (Yes, I gave my kids Peach Melbas at 9:00 PM.)

Katie: This is by far the best, y’all. (Katie had us all rollin’ in the floor laughing at her Paula Deen impressions! Granted, we do say “y’all” at our house.)

When having lunch this summer, the girls and I would plop ourselves down in the den to watch the News at Noon while dining on our PB&Js. Yes, I know it is not exactly the thing to do. So, please, no lectures on eating in front of the TV.

After we had seen the weather report (which was usually the same 0% chance of rain, 110˚) we would flip over to the Food Network or the Martha Stewart Show. If neither one of those was too interesting there was always Bugs Bunny!

This particular day we watched 10 Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian. To be quite honest, I had never watched her show before. I always kinda’ thought, ” $10?! What’s the big deal? I do that every night!” We watched anyway.

She was making Cannellini Beans. I had heard of them before but had never had them. They are pretty much white, Italian kidney beans. You can find out all in the world you ever wanted to know about cannellini beans on this website. That’s right, they have their own website!

The recipe looked yummy so we tried it.

The recipe calls for herbes de provence. I had never had that either. You buy a bottle of it over on the spice aisle. I’ll tell you now, so you don’t freak out at the store, it is not an inexpensive item. It makes this dish so delish though!

The white wine is also a key ingredient, I think. We don’t keep wine around, so I used cooking wine. It was still very yummy–just in case you prefer to go that route as well.


  • 1/2 sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans
  • 1/2 baguette, sliced and toasted, for serving


In a medium saute pan, cook the bell peppers and onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and allow to boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock, herbs de provence, and beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour into shallow bowls and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Serve with bread slices.

I brushed my toast with olive oil then rubbed a garlic clove on each piece before toasting.

This was absolutely one of the most delicious meals I have ever made or eaten! I just felt so fancy eating it! Weird, I know. It had a very complex, yet light, flavor. I loved it! Be sure to see what the Critics had to say.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: A taste of Tuscany–on toast.

Megan: This is better than pizza! (high praise from a teenager)

Katie: I love, love, love, LOVE these beans!

I just learned that today is National S’mores Day!

Apparently the Girl Scouts of America are the ones to thank for this fabulous snack! The earliest record of a s’more recipe is from a 1927 Girl Scout handbook.

Wow! Who knew?

Oh, to have one of those delicious treats right now.

I’m a bit of a s’more snob. To me, s’mores are meant to be eaten around a campfire. Yes, if you are desperate, you can make them in the microwave.

Yes, I have been desperate.

I am also particular about my chocolate. Only Hershey’s will do! I don’t like to use the individually wrapped treats. The chocolate is too thick and doesn’t melt enough. Chocolate must come from a large bar that has been broken.

I came across a recipe for S’more Cups on Pinterest a while back. So, I went to the Texas Cottage blog to investigate.

These were going to be easy and yummy!

Katie helped make these late one night after a shower.

Make your graham cracker crust. Put it in a mini muffin tin. Bake for a few minutes.

Put a half of a marshmallow in each baked cup. Back into the oven for a couple of more minutes.

Once cooled, spread melted chocolate on top or dip tops into chocolate!

Now, if you don’t have a campfire, this is the way to have a s’more!

I don’t think I took comments from the Critics for some reason. I may just have to make them again, so they can comment.

Deet a deet deet…deet a deet deet…

We interrupt this blog series to bring you a seasonal recipe…

These are easy and yummy!

Cake Mix Cookies

1 box of cake mix

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix. Scoop. Bake.

350˚ for 8-11 minutes


I bought this cake mix and frosting on an after the holiday sale. Surprised, I’m sure. Sorry to say, but I think it may have been a little past it’s “best by” date. If you don’t hear from me in a while, you’ll know to always adhere to those dates!

I never make a patriotic cake. So, I can’t really explain my purchase. Guess I am a compulsive clearance shopper!

Wanting to rid these items from my pantry, I decided to make cake mix cookies. I’ve made them before, but it has been a while.

They were pretty tasty without the frosting. Since I had the frosting, complete with sprinkle pouch, I decided to use it.

I tried to make my back ground all fancy-ha!

The cake mix had sprinkles in it too!

I hope you are all enjoying your hot dogs and potato salad on our country’s birthday!

Head out tomorrow and find you some cake mix on sale. You’ll have the makings for some yummy cookies next year!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: It was like a taste explosion.

Megan: It’s a firework in your mouth!

Katie: It’s awesome-ly  4th of July-licious!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts.

Deet a deet deet…deet a deet deet…

My grandmother had a love of cookbooks! She always liked to buy those little ones at the checkout stand. She had a gazillion!

She also had quite a collection of pamphlets from the county extension office. You can still get info from your local agency. However, with computers these days, getting little pamphlets is kinda “old school”.

I don’t know where she got this little cookbook. (As you can see, it is a Riceland Rice cookbook. There is no date or publication information on it. My guess is late 1950s-early 1960s.) Since my grandparents had rice on their farm, maybe they sold to Riceland and they sent her a cookbook. Maybe she got it at the Extension office. Who knows! Stuttgart, AR, the home of Riceland Foods, is not far from here.

One day I was thumbing through it and came across this recipe.

Riceland Rice Porcupines

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup uncooked Riceland Rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Dash of chili powder

1 tablespoon fat

1/2 medium onion, sliced thin

1/2 green pepper, sliced thin

2 1/2 cups tomato juice

Mix ground beef and uncooked Riceland Rice, the salt and pepper together. Add  dash of chili powder and mix well. Form into small balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in a covered baking dish

In a skillet, melt the 1 tablespoon of fat (or drippings). Saute in this the onion and green pepper. Pour the onion, green pepper, tomato juice over the porcupines-to-be and place in a 350˚F oven. Cook from 1 to 1 1/4 hours. They’re done when the visible rice is tender. Serve with additional tomato sauce if desired. This recipe makes 8 Riceland Rice porcupines.

I have made these before, but it has been a while.

Mine were a little smaller that 1 1/2 inches. I ended up with 17! They were not too small though.

I don’t put the whole 1/2 of a green pepper in my version. The Critics are not too in to peppers. I did buy some green peppers not too long ago. They were 3/$1, so I thought I’d chopped them up and freeze them for when I needed them. Life got in the way. When I was making my meatballs, I noticed I had some withered RED peppers! I salvaged what I could. Most of it was put in the freezer. I put just a tiny amount in the meatballs.

I sautéed my peppers and onions in bacon fat. Duh!

I was missing a key ingredient…tomato juice. Ugh! There was no time to go to the store. I had to improvise! I had some canned tomatoes in juice. I drained off the juice. It was a little more than 1 cup. I chopped up the tomatoes even finer and added them in there too. I also added a little tomato paste and water.

Since the meatballs weren’t the size called for in the recipe, I cut the cooking time to about an hour, I think.


Critics’ Corner

Chip: Who knew porcupines tasted so good?

Megan: I prefer the other kind, but these are very tasty! (I imagine she is referring to the time I made them with actual tomato juice.)

Katie: Porcupine Meatballs are one of my favorite things to eat, and this  batch was no exception. Delicious! I enjoyed them to the last bite!

Ice Cream Bread that is!

I’ve been wanting to try this one out for a while. I tore the page out of a Southern Living then I couldn’t find it. After searching through my piles of recipes, it occurred to me that it might be in a cookbook. Sure enough! I found it on page 252  in the 2005 edition of the Southern Living Annual Recipes.

A recipe sure sounds easy when it only has TWO ingredients! I’ve tried some of those 2 ingredient recipes you might have seen floating around Pinterest. My family gave those attempts bad reviews, so I was skeptical.

I thought this one delivered! The Critics, however, had mixed reviews.

Ice Cream Bread

1 pint (2 cups) ice cream, softened

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

  • Stir together ice cream and flour, stirring just until flour is moistened.
  • Spoon batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.
  • Bake at 350˚ for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

I think my self-rising flour was a little too old. It didn’t rise quite like I thought it should.

Nothing’ wrong with the way it sliced…

…or tasted!

A little butter on that warm bread sure was yummy! A moist, dense bread with just a touch of sweetness.

I think I would like to try something like Butter Pecan or Strawberry. I also would like to try a premium brand of ice cream. I had just plain old generic Walmart vanilla ice cream in a blue box. May have to splurge next time.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Pretty good! I’d like to try it à la mode.

Megan: ¡Es muy bueno!

Katie: Um…it was just okay. I didn’t care for it much.

I’m finally back to blogging. After receiving a nasty comment about my absence, I figured I better get in gear. Okay, it wasn’t really nasty. It just made me realize “my people need me!” “I’m ready for my close up!” blah, blah, blah, ha, ha, ha!

We had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s with family and friends. However, all that fantastic celebration required a little recovery time.

There was laundry recovery.

There was take down the Christmas decorations recovery.

There was update the checkbook and budget recovery.

Somehow, none of that made me feel very recovered.

Anyway, we are starting to get back into a routine around here. I so miss Christmas though. It always makes me a little sad to put my fancy decorations away.

I haven’t really been cooking that much. We have still been trying to eat up leftovers.

ham sandwiches…

ham salad…

ham in potatoes au gratin…

In the style of Frances…What I am, is tired of ham.

Last night we had chicken finger salad. Throw some frozen chicken fingers in the oven. When they are done, chop them up, and add them to a salad. Whew! I was really steppin’ out on that one!

Since we had eaten up all the desserts in the house, I thought I’d try something simple.

I saw a recipe for 2 Ingredient Lemon Bars here.

It sounded yummy and easy.

All you need is a box of Angel Food Cake mix and a can of Lemon Pie Filling.

Mix them together.

Bake in a 9 x 13 pan for 25ish minutes at 350˚.

Katie was off working on some homework. I gave Megan the option of doing dishes or making the dessert. She chose the dessert. Of course, she still had to was her baking dishes! Ha, ha! I got her!

She thought the pie filling looked like “alien snot”. She was very insistent that I put that in my blog post.

The batter was very thick. The recipe didn’t say to grease the pan or not, so we didn’t. It also didn’t specify the amount of baking time-thus the -ish. We just baked it until it didn’t jiggle any more, and a cake tester came out clean.

It did puff up nicely…

at first. This is the same cake. The picture is from the same angle. Can you tell how deflated it is?

A little powdered sugar on top might help hide the flatness. (Take a look at those napkins. Yes, Chip was for Alabama last night.)

Well, the simplicity of this cake was wonderful. HOWEVER, I didn’t care for it. I LOVE lemon bars. Lemon bars is one of my favorite desserts. This recipe tried to pass itself off as lemon bars. FRAUD!

See what the critics had to say.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Could have used more bacon! Maybe he will comment and tell us what he REALLY thought of it.

Megan: The flavor was alright, but it had an odd consistency. Overall, the cake was only pretty good.

Katie: I’m very disappointed in how this cake turned out. I would have eaten it if it were regular old angel food cake, or plain old lemon bars for that matter! Her’s ended up in the trash.

I have been making this recipe for a long time. It is one of my summertime favorites! I don’t remember where I got it. I don’t have it written down anywhere. It has to be easy if I can remember it all these years!

I see this recipe, or at least something similar,  from time to time in various magazines.

Lemonade Pie


Either use a rolled pie crust or a graham cracker crust. They are both yummy. I think I prefer the graham cracker crust though.  I have also seen in magazines where they don’t use a crust at all. They just scoop the filling into a hollowed out lemon and serve it with graham sticks or berries! Very cute presentation!

To make a Graham Cracker Crust mix together the following ingredients:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

Pat in pie pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375˚. Allow crust to cool before filling.


6 ounces of frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (I haven’t seen the 6 ounce size in a long time. I don’t think they make them any more. I get the 12 ounce and use half. Or you could use it all and make two pies! Stay tuned to see how we used our leftovers.)

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (aka the nectar of the gods!)

8 ounce container of whipped topping, thawed

Mix lemonade, as it comes from the container, and condensed milk. Fold in whipped topping. Dump it in your prepared crust.

It cuts best if it has had time to chill in the refrigerator. Sometimes I can’t wait that long! It’s just so yummy!!!!!

It is nice to make it fancy with a lemon slice or mint leaves. Fancy is always good! But the taste is what is most important-it’s just so yummy!!!!

Do you get that I like this recipe? I am not the only one. Check out Critics’ Corner.

Critics’ Corner

Chip:  Awesomeness (with 3, count ‘em 3, exclamation points)!!!

Megan:  It was delicious (and fancy besides)!

Katie:  It was superb. I love the lemonade pie!