Monday, December 30, 2013

My Mother's Gift

As we all celebrate the holidays this year, please take a few minutes to think about those who have nothing to celebrate. Those that are less fortunate and have no place to call home.

I know you have heard this time and time again and you always intend to help...but someone else's sorrow is not always on the forefront of our minds. If you truly want to change your life this coming year, then make it a point to help others who have nothing.

Look for opportunities everyday and everywhere you go. I mean really set a goal to help one person anyway you can at least once a week. Your life will change for the better. The joy that comes from helping others is unlike any other emotion. All my young life I was taught to give and I am a better person because of it. I thank my Mom for that. It is one of the greatest lessons of my life.

My Mother's Gift

My first lesson came when I was only 7 years old and a drunk driver going 80 miles an hour on a local street struck and killed my Dad in front of me as I ran to greet him. It was pretty traumatic for a little girl. It was devastating to a young mother of two children who was left alone without any way of supporting us until she met my Step father three years later. But she managed on her own and we had food on the table, a roof over our heads and she made all our clothes.

One night, just a few days after my Dad's death, we went to visit the wife of the man who killed him. I can remember walking a short way to this old house and my Mom telling me to hold on to the hem of her skirt as her arms were carrying a big heavy box. With my other hand I was pulling my old red wagon behind us which had another box. When we reached the house, my Mom sat the box down and knocked on the door as I hid behind her still holding on tight to her skirt.

A woman answered the door and instantly buried her face in her hands and began to sob. My Mom reached in and hugged her and told her not to cry and asked if we could come in. She then struggled to pick up the heavy boxes and we went inside. The woman told my Mom that she was so ashamed of what her drunken husband had done and wished she could do anything to change the circumstances. She apologized for having nothing to offer us to drink and for the house being so cold that February night.

Even at 7 years old I knew that these people were poor....there was an infant with just a diaper on and the house was so cold you could see your breath. There were homemade beds made of old rags and worn blankets on the floor where the bedrooms were. There was a little girl about my age, hiding behind the curtains, her face was dirty and her clothes were ragged and torn.

I stayed right next to my Mom as she opened the box and told the woman that we wanted to give her a token of love and friendship. She reached into the box that was filled with my old baby clothes and clothes that might fit the little girl my age. She had packed some of her things too for the woman to wear. In the other box she had packed canned food and blankets and household goods. She even thought to pack a hair brush and some ribbons for the little girl's hair.

And the woman cried. Her little girl came from behind the curtains and tears also rolled down her cheeks as she saw a doll my Mom had packed in the box. She picked up the brush and asked her mom if she would brush her hair. Then she went into the other room and she brought out a small toy from a box of Cracker Jacks and handed it to me. My Mom reminded me to say thank you and I hugged the little girl.

Now keep in mind we didn't have much when my father was alive and now we were facing even less, but I watched my Mom's face as she handed this woman our things and I could see the joy that it brought. I knew it made my Mother so happy. Later, when I was old enough to understand the message that night, I knew that I wanted to feel that same joy of giving and to this day I have never stopped.

Oh what a wonderful and generous human being my Mother was. Instead of feeling hatred and anger for these people who took her husband away from our family, she reached out to them to ease their pain. In my mind there has never been or never will be a woman like my Mom and I thank God she was the Mother he chose for me. I strive everyday to be just like her.

Please make a pledge to help those that have no one and very little of their own. And tell yourself that from this day forward you will try to make a difference. It will make a difference in your life. I promise.

My Prayer

"Oh, God, when I have food
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me
to remember the jobless;

While I am in my warm home,
help me to remember the cold and the homeless;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer.

And in remembering,
please help me to destroy my complacency;
please stir my compassion,
so that I am concerned enough to help;
By word and by deed,
those who cry out for the very things I might
take for granted.

By the way, for those of you who are new to my page, I always choose a pink rose when I write about my Mom. Pink roses were her favorite.

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Cuisipro Herb Keeper

Are you a kitchen gadget lover like me? I am always finding neat gadgets that make my life easier. I decided to share some of them with you.

How often do you buy fresh herbs or even pick them from your garden and... have them wilt quickly before you use them? With this little gadget that has only two simple parts you can store herbs that will last for weeks.

The Cuisipro Herb Keeper Keeps herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill and so many other herbs fresh longer than just storing in the fridge. And it's great for keeping vegetables like asparagus and celery fresh and crisp. Slots in the removable tray hold and hydrate herb stems while keeping leaves above the water. Sized for storing large quantities of herbs; designed to fit in most refrigerator door shelves. Measures 4-3/4 inches in diameter and 9-1/2 inches tall.

Simply place herbs in tray and drop herb stems in water. Your leftover herbs will last for weeks. Two simple parts make this quick and easy. The tray suspends at midpoint of unit to load or take out herbs. The tray holds herb bunches together for easy access with no need to take the tray out of the container. The tray has holes so the water hydrates the herbs. Suspend the tray and holes are there for drainage making the Cuisipro herb keeper mess free.

No other herb keeper has a suspended tray that makes it easy to access herbs. The removable feature is also unique to refill with water or simply refresh water. There is no need to unscrew from the bottom to refill as other herb keepers do. This is difficult when your hands are wet and you need to juggle the herbs to keep them in the container. Other units require you to take container out of water then open to access herbs, dripping water as you collect more herbs.   

Watch the video to see how it works!

This price is only $20.99 while supplies last. And remember whenever you purchase anything from Welcome Home proceeds go to support NO KILL which is a group that is working hard to save the lives of dogs and cats in this country who are killed unnecessarily while waiting for a home.

Click on the link below to find it. 

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Fast Cut Herb Tool, by Zyliss

What is that thing you ask? Well, it is just about the coolest kitchen gadget there is. With all the cooking I do, I got tired of chopping and snipping and cutting up herbs. So last summer I bought this herb cutter....and my life has changed! LOL!

The Fast Cut Herb Tool, by Zyliss, is designed to effectively cut herbs with a minimal amount of effort and mess. It features sharp, high grade steel cutting blades. The soft touch ergonomic handle provides comfortable use. The blades on the tool rotate 90 degrees to offer the versatility of palm and grip use. Blade cover protects blade as well as hands. Top comes off for easy cleaning; top-rack dishwasher safe. 

Click on this blue link and watch this video to see this little gadget in action. You won't believe it. If you're like me, you'll wonder where it's been all your life!   I have given you a link to click on to see this little gadget in action and you will see what I mean. It has been such a time saver for me and I love it!

 This price is only $14.99 while supplies last. And remember whenever you purchase anything from Welcome Home at Amazon, proceeds go to support NO KILL which is a group that is working hard to save the lives of dogs and cats in this country who are killed unnecessarily while waiting for a home. Click on this link to find it.
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Pickle Container

I love Kitchen Gadgets!  So I have decided to share some of my favorites with you today....

 This is a pickle container that I have owned for about 5 years and love it. So much so that I bought two of them. Put your pickles or olives or chopped celery or whatever is contained in liquid and it will keep them air tight and fresh. But it's true claim to fame is that you don't have to into a messy jar of juice to dig out what you want! A great gadget!

This price is only $5.99 while supplies last. And remember whenever you purchase anything from Welcome Home at Amazon, proceeds go to support NO KILL which is a group that is working hard to save the lives of dogs and cats in this country who are killed unnecessarily while waiting for a home. Click on this link to find it. More photos and a video in the comment section below.

There are four reviews for this product on Amazon and two are good and the other two complain about it being too small. It is small. It holds a small jar of olives, or bread and butter pickles or small gherkins like I keep in mind. So I bought too! Simple solution. I love this gadget and highly recommend it. Can't beat the price! Click on the blue link below to review and purchase.
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♥ Roast Prime Rib

The star of my Christmas dinner every year is the Prime Rib roast. It all starts with knowing how to pick the perfect roast to prepping it and cooking it. There's is no better roast then the standing rib roast for tenderness and flavor. And there is nothing to making one...just season it well and put it in the oven.

Roast Prime Rib

1 bone-in Prime Rib roast (4-5 lb)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon course sea salt
1 tablespoon course ground pepper
1 tablespoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning

Mix seasonings together in a small bowl. Place beef, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Rub the meat with olive oil to make sure it is well coated. Then rub all sides and underneath beef generously with mixed seasonings. Let the roast sit at room temperature at least an hour before roasting.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Roast beef uncovered 15 minutes. Then cover entire pan with heavy aluminum foil and roast at a reduced oven temperature of 325 degrees; continue to roast 1 hour. Uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into center of beef reads 135°F (for medium).

Tent with foil and let beef stand 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. Keep in mind the temperature of your roast will continue to cook even after you take it out of the oven so if you like your prime rib medium to medium rare, take it out at 130 degrees. 

 Cooking times:

Make sure your roast is well marbled and that it has a nice strip of tenderloin along the edge. See the strip of meat along the upper edge? That’s the tenderloin and the most tender part of your roast.
For rare:  30-32 minutes per pound.

For medium: 34-37 miutes per pound.

For well done: 39-42 minutes per pound.

How Should Your Roast Look?                                                    

Rare: temperature should be 120 to 125 degrees
center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion 

Medium Rare: Temperature should be 130 to 135 degrees; center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion

Medium: Temperature should be 140 to 145 degrees
center is light pink, outer portion is brown

Medium Well: Temperature should be 150 to 155 degrees
not pink

Well Done: Temperature should be 160 degrees and above
steak is uniformly brown throughout.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

♥ Cream Cheese Brownies with Chocolate Ganache

 I did a lot of baking this past weekend for a church bake sale that was raising money for the homeless living here on the streets of Maryland. I wanted to make sure I made some real eye catchers so they would be sure to sell. Now let me ask you....if you saw these sitting on a table for sale, would you buy them? They are as delicious as they look! 

Cream Cheese Brownies with Chocolate Ganache 

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan with parchment paper. Or you can double the recipe and make a 9 x 13 pan of brownies.

Melt butter and chocolate in microwave on medium. Stir once melted. Remove and set aside to cool. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar. Once combined, add the vanilla and salt. Then slowly add in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture. Next add the flour a little at a time until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until set. Allow brownies to cool completely before going to the next step.

Cheesecake Filling

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

In a large bowl that has been chilled, beat the heavy cream until you see soft peaks. Add the sugar and blend well. In another large bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth then fold in the whipped cream you just made. Spread on top of cooled brownies. Chill in the refrigerator while making your Ganache topping.


6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter

Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and cream over medium heat, stirring constantly. When mixture is almost boiling, pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds. Then, stir until smooth. Pour ganache over cooled brownies and spread evenly. Allow ganache to get firm before cutting brownies. I usually put mine in the refrigerator to firm it up quickly.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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♥ Slow Cooked Pot Roast: 3 WAYS

My Mom made a country pot roast about every other week and it was one of our favorite family meals. I can still remember the aromas that met me at the front door when I came home from school. And her roasts was always so tender you could cut it with a fork. But we didn't use a fork...we used spoons so we never missed a drop of that thick rich gravy! I make three versions of Pot Roast. My Mom's Slow cooked Crock Pot recipe, My Mom's Oven Pot Roast and then a shortcut stove top recipe she taught me to make when I might be pressed for time. All three are fantastic!

Mom's Slow Cooked Pot Roast (pictured here)

1 boneless beef chuck roast, about 3-4 pounds
4 slices bacon
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
4 carrots, peeled, cut into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme, divided
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Place uncooked bacon across the bottom of the empty crock pot. Arrange potatoes and carrots over the bacon. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and half of the thyme. Place the pot roast on top of the vegetables, then add the onions all over and around the roast. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and the remaining thyme.

Combine beef broth and tomato paste; pour over the pot roast. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Once the roast is fork tender, remove to a warm platter. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and arrange around the roast. Cover with foil to keep warm while making your gravy.

Skim fat off the top of the broth; discard fat. Put the broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. In a cup of small bowl, whisk flour with water until smooth. Whisk the flour mixture into the broth until thickened and bubbly. Serve gravy with the meat and vegetables.

Mom's Oven Cooked Pot Roast with Cream Gravy

3- to 4-pound Chuck roast
flour for dredging
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 cup hot water
1 onion sliced
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Coat both sides of pot roast with flour. In a Dutch oven, melt butter and brown all sides of the roast. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Dissolve bouillon cube in hot water; pour over meat. Cover and place in a preheated 350 degree oven; cook 2 hours or until meat is fork tender. Add onions and carrots; cook another 20 minutes. Add potatoes; sprinkle with a little more salt. Cook about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove meat and vegetables to a warm platter; keep warm while you make your gravy.

Pour drippings from pot roast into saucepan to make 1 1/3 cup. If it comes up short you can add a little beef broth. Blend together flour and water. Heat drippings to boiling; gradually stir in flour and water mixture and cook, stirring constantly until gravy is thickened. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and slowly stir in sour cream. Heat through, but do not boil.

Mom's Quick And Easy Stove Top Pot Roast
1 3-4 pound chuck roast
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of mushroom soup, (undiluted)
1 envelope Lipton dry onion soup mix
1 cup water, divided
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 carrots, sliced in bite size pieces
2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch Oven or Soup Pot, brown roast on all sides in oil. Remove and set aside. Pour off any excess oil. In the same pot, combine mushroom soup, Lipton onion soup mix, and 1 cup water. Heat to boiling. Return roast to pot and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is fork tender. Turn roast occasionally to keep from drying out. Add potatoes, onions, and carrots. Cover and cook for another hour or until vegetables are fork tender. Remove meat and vegetables to serving platter.

Gradually whisk in the flour and water mixture into the drippings in pot, stirring until gravy boils and thickens. Serve thickened gravy over roast and vegetables.

Photographs are copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

♥ White Chocolate Cheesecake With Chocolate and Coconut Topping

Okay so I told you that I made 3 cheesecakes on Sunday. We started off on Monday with my rich and decadent Caramel Cheesecake. Then on Tuesday I posted my White Chocolate Cheesecake with Peanut Butter Cup topping. And now the final presentation and one of my favorites....A chocolate and coconut covered cheesecake that is to die for! Tastes like a Mounds Candy Bar!

White Chocolate Cheesecake With Chocolate and Coconut Topping

10 ounces graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter

Cheesecake Filling:
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Ghirardelli or any premium white chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
boiling water

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and press into the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the side of a 10 inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees while crust is cooling and you make your batter. Place the chopped white chocolate into a heat safe bowl and set aside. Bring the 1/2 cup of cream to a simmer over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate, and allow to stand for one minute. Stir the chocolate gently until melted completely.

In your mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Add the sugar and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On medium speed, slowly add the white chocolate mixture. Once combined you can add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed until each egg is incorporated. Once you've added all the eggs, mix in the vanilla and salt and pour into your prepared crust that has cooled in your spring form pan.

Set the pan onto a couple of heavy duty, large sheets of aluminum foil and smooth them up the sides of the pan to waterproof. Set the cheesecake into a large roasting pan and then place in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, filling to about one inch. Bake at only 325 for the first hour and then reduce heat again down to only 300 degrees and bake for another hour or so or until the center is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool chill in freezer for at least an hour before adding topping.

Dark Chocolate Ganache and Coconut Topping

1 cup chocolate chips (use dark chocolate or milk chocolate)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 bag of Bakers Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut
Hershey's chocolate Shell

Add water to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Place a heatproof glass bowl over the pot and add the chocolate and heavy cream. Slowly stir with a spoon until the chocolate has melted, careful not to incorporate too much air. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Pour chocolate ganache over frozen cheese cake and allow to drip down sides. Top generously with coconut and then drizzle or dot chocolate Shell on top.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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♥ She Is My Friend

I might not be the most important person in your life, but I hope that whenever you see or hear my name, you'll smile and say, "she is my friend."
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♥ Strawberries and Cream Yule Log

It's a holiday tradition to make a yule log but I'm not that crazy about traditional chocolate logs as the are so heavy and laden with too much filling. So a few years ago I decided to make a light and airy one and it has been a big hit ever since.

Strawberries and Cream Yule Log

5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ cup flour
Powdered Sugar
1 quart strawberries, sliced
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups whipping/heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
2-3 Tablespoon powdered sugar
Whole strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with sides with wax paper and spray with cooking spray.

Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Stir in vanilla. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, beating until stiff. Fold in ¾ cup powdered sugar. Fold in egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour. Spread batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (do not let cake brown).

Using a fine mesh strainer, sift a small amount of powdered sugar on a linen towel. Turn hot cake out onto towel. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar; let sit for 5 minutes. Beat whipping cream until foamy. Add 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Unroll cake. Spread cake with berries, then half of the whipped cream. Reroll cake. Place on a serving plate. Frost with remaining whipped cream.

Garnish with whole chocolate covered strawberries. Chill until serving time.

♥ Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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♥ When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator door,
and it made me want to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray dog,
and it made me want to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake,
and I realized it was the little
things that made others feel special.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and it made me believe there's a God
I can always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and it made me feel that I was loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes,
and it made me realize that when things hurt,
it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw how proud you were of me,
and I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I was....and I just want to thank you for
all the things I saw... when you thought I
wasn't looking.

~Author Unknown~
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♥ I Created You

People always ask me why I work so hard to write and self publish cookbooks so I can bring them here to share with you.

 Maybe it's time to tell you why I spend 16 hours a day working hard to entertain you with my stories and my recipes and other things that might inspire you and touch your heart. I write cookbooks so that I can donate proceeds from the sale to save the lives of dogs and cats in America. Let me explain....

About 12 years ago, I read this quote somewhere on the Internet. It said...

"I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal and I was angry. "God," I said, "This is terrible! Why don't you do something?" God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly. "I have done something," he replied. "I created you."

It was on that very day, I walked into the local animal shelter in my county and asked if I could volunteer. I asked if there was anything I could do that day until I might be assigned something to do that might make a difference. It was a day that changed my life forever.

The woman at the desk said there was so much work to be done but if I really wanted to do something right away that would make a difference in my life and the life of another, then I needed to listen carefully. So many people volunteer and then can't handle it and walk away. She said if I needed something to give me the conviction and the strength to follow through with my commitment, then I should come with her.

I followed her back to the area where they kept the dogs. She took me to a pen that was large enough to hold 10 huge dogs and pointed to the far back corner where a little dog weighing every bit of 15 pounds was curled up in a little ball, shaking on the cold concrete floor. The little dog looked up at me and wagged her tail for a second and then laid her head back down.

The lady grabbed a folding chair and opened the cage. She said that this would be the last day that this little one would be spending time there at the shelter and it would be wonderful if she could feel some human love and comfort one last time. She had been there for 5 days and no one had come to claim her and so her time had come. I went over and picked up the little dog and held her close to me as I held back tears. The woman began to tell me stories of how people just drop off their pets and walk away. I am going to share something she said to me that day ...a view from the inside, if you will.

She said, maybe if some of these people could see the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, they would change their mind about "dropping" their dog off at the local shelter. Maybe people might think twice about buying from a breeder or from a pet shop and adopt a dog from a shelter before it's too late. She went on to say that there is a 95% chance that a dog will never walk out of the shelter he or she was dropped off at. The most common excuses people give are: "We're moving and we can't take our dog." Or, "he got bigger than we thought he would." And then the classic: "We just don't have time for her." They usually say, “We just don't want to face the stress about finding a home for her. We know she'll get adopted - she’s a good dog. Some nice family will adopt her."

She told me the odds are against that dog ever getting adopted. She asked if I could imagine how stressful it is for a dog in a shelter until she dies? She said the dog has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment a person drops her off. Sometimes she can live a little longer if the shelter isn't full and the dog manages to stay completely healthy. If she even starts to sniffle, she will be killed sooner than 72 hours.

She will be confined to a cage and have to hear the loud noise of other barking or crying animals. She will be so frightened and lonely and depressed because the family she loves with all her heart is missing. She will have no other choice but to relieve herself where she eats and sleeps. She will cry constantly for the family that abandoned her. It doesn't matter if she is a 90 pound German Shepard or a tiny 5 pound Chihuahua, they all cry for their family.

She will stay there for those long hours and no one will talk to her because no one wants to get involved or attached before the inevitable happens. She won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of her pen with a high-powered hose. If she is a big black dog or any of the “bully” breeds (Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman, etc) her life was pretty much over when she walked through the front door.

If she shows any signs of aggression she will be destroyed sooner. She said that even the sweetest dogs show aggression after a day or two in this place because they are so confused and frightened. If she makes it over all of the hurdles, there is still a strong chance that she will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed right away. And then she stood up and looked me in the eye and said...

"And when that horrible day comes and they open that cage, she will go willingly...all excited... with her tail wagging and her body wiggling because someone is finally coming to play with her or maybe they have brought her family back. She will then be led to her death never knowing what was about to happen."

And with that she walked away. I held that little dog and cried for a solid hour and begged God to let her live just one more day until I could find someone to love her. I prayed that God would help me by touching someone's heart before it was too late. I didn't want to let go of her and was trying to figure out a way to bring in another dog when I was only allowed one where I lived at the time. I thought of everyone I knew and decided to go call them and tell them where I was and how they had to help.

And then it happened. Someone came. He was a tall gentleman maybe in his late 30's and he wore a jacket with the words NO KILL written on the back. I looked up at him and he told me I could stop crying and let her go now and that she would be okay. He took her from my arms and wrapped her in a soft blanket and whispered in her ear that no one was going to hurt her. She looked up at him and licked his face. He then told me the story about a group that he belonged to and how they randomly come to county shelters to save the lives of dogs and cats that are killed unnecessarily while waiting for their forever home. He said she was about to go to temporary loving home until her forever family came along.

As I watched him take her that day, I knew that I had found my calling. I knew I had to do something to save these lost souls. In that cage that day, I found the strength and courage to never give up and to do whatever I could to help this wonderful group of people across the country who work so hard to save these lives.

As he drove away with that little dog that day, I closed my eyes thanked God for answering my prayer ......

"Dear God, if I could do one great thing in my life, it would be to rescue every dog that someone has left on the side of the road to starve and die.

If I could have power for one day, I would use it to make it as illegal and punishable to abandon a dog as it would be to abandon a child.

If I could have one wish, I would use it to find a home for every abandoned dog and cat in the world.

If I were rich, I would fund every animal shelter in the nation so they wouldn't have to end the lives of healthy dogs and cats.

If I could hope for anything in my lifetime, I would hope that all people can see a dog or cat as a living soul that has the ability to love unconditionally for a lifetime.

And God, if you are listening right now, I pray that you will touch the heart of someone out there right now, and motivate them to go look and find this tiny soul that needs them so badly before it is too late. And I pray that you will bring them together for a lifetime."

And that my friends is why I write books and do other things to raise money for the NO KILL Advocacy Group. Over 6 million dogs and cats are killed unnecessarily each year in this country. We can make a difference. We can stand up for animal rights and bring change. When you buy one of my e-books for just $4.99-$7.99, or any of my print books, you help support this great cause that means so much to me. I like to think you are donating your money to this worthwhile cause and getting a free book as a bonus!

Please give. If you can't give, at least donate a bag of dog or cat food and some blankets and treats and toys to your local No Kill Shelter. If you can foster a dog or cat until they these volunteers can find them a new home, that would be wonderful. And if you have the courage, go hold and comfort a dog at your county shelter. It will change your life forever.

For those of you who would like purchase any of my e-cookbooks click on the links in the comment section below. Or you can help by buying any of the featured items from Amazon by clicking on the links provided for that item.

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♥ The IPrep

For all you out there that have purchased my Cookbook in ebook for your Tablets and iPads....this is gift to give with it!

It works with Kindles, iPad and Tablets are ideal companions in the kitchen because they make it easy to follow a recipe online, watch a cooking show, plan a meal or view images of finished dishes. The challenge is keeping your tablet safe and clean while you slice, dice, mix, measure and stir.

The iPrep was designed to securely bring your tablet into the kitchen and fits all popular tablets: iPad, iPad Mini, Kindle, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy and more. It's an adjustable stand that will hold your tablet upright in portrait or landscape position, for easy viewing.

The base is weighted for stability and the back is adjustable and offers four usable viewing angles. The back features a non-slip rubber grip to hold the tablet in place. An integrated stylus pen fits neatly into the base and is ideal for keeping the screen clean from messy hands. When not in use, the iPrep folds flat and for convenient storage. Only $29.99 while supplies last.

And the best part is that it is from Amazon through Welcome Home where the proceeds go to support NO KILL Advocacy Group who are out there everyday saving the lives of dogs and cats who are killed unnecessarily while waiting in shelters for a new forever home. What a great gift that will support a great cause. 

  If you TRY PRIME for just 2 week, you will get free two day shipping to anywhere in the US so you will have it there in time for Christmas. Then if you choose not to keep Prime, just cancel it and you won't be charged for trying it. A great way to shop online and get free 2 day express shipping! 

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♥ Shrimp Fried Rice

I love making Chinese Food at home. I don't know how authentic it would taste if I were serving Chinese guests but all my American friends love it. I think it tastes exactly like what I order at my favorite much so that I don't order out anymore. Try it and let me know what you think. I am betting you'll love it! 

Shrimp Fried Rice

1 cup of cooked rice
1/2 pound large shrimp, cleaned and chopped to bite sized pieces
2 eggs
2 green onions (scallions) green part chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of carrots, diced small
1/2 cup of peas
1 red onion, chopped or sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons Olive Oil or peanut oil for frying

Beat eggs and set aside. Using a Wok or large Skillet, put heat up to high. When pan is very hot, Add peanut oil or olive oil and when it reaches a very hot temperature add your shrimp and cook and stir constantly until it just turns pink. Remove the shrimp to a plate and drain most of the oil, leaving just a small amount. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add petite mixed vegetables and keep stirring. Next add oyster sauce and stir again. Then add in beaten eggs and rice, stirring until eggs are cooked. Add soy sauce, and sesame oil and stir well while cooking. Finally, add the chopped green onion and stir for about a minute. Serve warm. 

 Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home
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♥ I'm Standing Right Next To You

I'm Standing Right Next To You

You can't see me or touch me or hear me, but I'm standing right next to you. 
 It's sad to see you cry for me. I wish you only knew.
That even though you think I'm gone, I've never left your side. You see, I've been right here all along, and watched you as you cried.

So please be brave and dry the tears,  don't let your grief show through.  I love you from a different place, and I'm standing right next to you.
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♥ Creamy Sausage and White Bean Soup

I love rich and creamy soups that start with a cream base and then come alive with herbs and vegetables and seasonings. I have looked at a couple of cans of white beans in my pantry for months now not knowing how I wanted to use them. So Saturday I came up with a homemade soup that I made up as I went along. That's what's so good about can add what you think you want it to taste like. This one was out of this world delicious. Thick and creamy with just the right spices. You didn't have to add too many because the sausage had plenty. I added a Cajun apple sausage for spice and an Italian sausage for a hearty texture and it came out perfect. You can add whatever sausage you like best. This is a keeper my friends. You will make this often. 

Creamy Sausage and White Bean Soup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large carrot, shredded and finely chopped                                 
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup of heavy cream (full cream)
1/2 cup half and half or milk as needed
1 can (14.5 fluid ounces) chicken broth
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained
1/2 pound sliced Johnsonville Chicken Sausage Cajun Style (or any other link sausage you prefer, sliced into bite sized pieces)
1 (15.5 oz.) can of un-drained Cannellini beans (White Kidney Beans)
Salt and pepper to taste

In medium Skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onion and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until onion is tender. Add the carrot and sauté for another minute. Add the sliced link sausage and the Italian sausage and break up with wooden spoon as it cooks. Continue cooking until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Next transfer mixture to Dutch oven or soup pot making sure to scrap bottom of skillet for all bits and pieces of sausage. Turn heat to medium high and whisk in flour. Cook for 2 minutes to make sure flour has browned lightly. Gradually stir in heavy cream and broth stirring or whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a low boil. Turn heat to a simmer and add beans. Cover with the lid and let the soup simmer for 2 hours.
If you want to make your soup thinner as it cooks, stir in a little half and half or milk to thin it out. I like my soup creamy and thick, so I do not add the additional milk and I use an immersion blender to mash and blend in most of the beans. You can also use a wooden spoon to mash the beans into the soup if you do not have an immersion blender. Or you can leave your beans whole. Add more salt and pepper to taste and ladle into bowls.
Note: You can also use Jimmy Dean regular pork sausage for this soup and got an entirely different flavor that was delicious. You can use chicken or turkey sausage too. 

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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♥ Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Who doesn't love chocolate and peanut butter?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder...
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard cupcake pans with liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the butter and the sugar. Stir to combine, until the butter is melted and remove from heat.

Transfer to the bowl of mixer and beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 -1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
peanut butter cups or miniatures chopped small
peanut butter morsels and chocolate chips

With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add peanut butter. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. Decorate with peanut butter and chocolate chip morsels and candy if desired.

NOTE: Allergic to Peanut butter? Use this wonderful chocolate frosting...

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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♥ Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

I made quite a few cookies, cupcakes and brownies for the Church bake sale this past weekend and I have already posted some photos and shared a few recipes here at Welcome Home. But of all the things I made these cupcakes sold the fastest ...and brought in the most money for the homeless. Maybe because all of us know how good they are! 

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup boiling water
⅓ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup sugar
½ cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Whisk water, cocoa, and chocolate chips in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out with few dry crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream

Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in batches, alternating after each addition. Beat in the marshmallow creme; set aside or refrigerate.

Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tablespoon butter until just boiling, then pour over the chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla; let stand until cool but still glossy and liquid.

White drizzle for top:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoons milk (or more if necessary)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Using a mixer, beat the remaining 1 stick butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, the milk and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Spoon into a pastry bag with a small tip to pipe your decorations on the cupcakes.


Spoon the filling into a pastry bag with a medium star tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake top; fill until the cupcake is heavier. Smooth out any cream that is left on top with a spatula. Don't be afraid to overfill if you like the rich creamy center. I usally fill them until the cream starts to run out of the top. Chill cupcakes for about 10 minutes.

Next dip the tops of the cupcakes into the chocolate ganache and give them a little twirl to cover them completely. I usually tap my dipped cupcake on the tray or work surface and it will smooth out any bubbles. Chill for at least 20 minutes or until ganache is set.

Finally with your piping bag add your decorations on top. You can go with the traditional curly line or you can write what you'd like.
Store in the refrigerator.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home
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