Friday, March 28, 2014

A Simple Act Of Kindness


Good morning friends. It is a dark and dreary day here in Maryland with lots of rain in the forecast for the entire weekend. Actually we have a lot of rain coming our way for the next 10 days...April Showers bring May flowers. Isn't that wh...at they say? At least the temperatures are finally climbing up to where they need to be for this time of year. Anything is better than snow!

My Dad told me a wonderful story this morning that really touched my heart and reinforced the fact that there are some good people in this world. I thought I would share it with you in hopes that you will get that same overall warm feeling it gave me.

My Dad is very much alone now that my Mom moved to Heaven a few years ago. They used to do everything together and it was a very hard adjustment for him to make. But he is an incredible man who found ways to move forward and to be at peace with his life after she left. One of the things he likes to do is to go to Costco and buy his favorite lunch to go and then park over under some shade trees, eat his lunch and watch planes fly over as they are landing at Martins Air Force Base. After he has his lunch, he takes out his bible and sits quietly, reading the scripture and saying his daily prayers. My Dad just enjoys life and is a devout Christian who loves God more than anyone I have ever met in my lifetime.

The other day, we had a cold Spring day with winds gusting up to 40 miles an hour. That doesn't interfere with my Dad's routine. There he was sitting in his new pickup truck, enjoying his lunch and reading his bible. All of a sudden he sees a car coming right at him at full speed. Before he could do anything the car took a sharp turn and pulled in right next to him slamming on his breaks. My Dad said there was a loud sharp crashing BOOM! He then saw the driver unbuckle his seat belt and slowly get out of his vehicle.

My Dad got out of his truck and went over to see a shopping cart laying on it's side with all its contents strewn over the parking lot and a young man in his early twenties examining a big ugly dent on the drivers door. The young man stood up and shook my Dad's hand and said, "I hope I didn't scare you too much sir."

My Dad was puzzled and asked what had just happened. The young man said, "I had just come out of the store and got in my car and started it. Someone had left their cart to go get their car and a huge gust of wind got behind it. Next thing I saw was a run-a-way cart plowing straight ahead and aiming right for your new pickup truck. You were totally unaware of what was about to happen. So I stepped on the gas, knowing if I timed it just right, I could get between that speeding cart and your new truck and take the full blunt force of the shopping cart hitting my vehicle first."

My Dad just stood there in total amazement and asked, "Why would you do that? Why would you damage your own vehicle to save mine?"

The young man responded, "I don't know why. It was just something that happened so quickly and I didn't have much time to think about it. I just knew you were sitting there so peacefully and would have been startled and frightened because you had no idea it was coming right at you. I wanted to do the right thing and I'm so happy that I was at the right place at the right time."

My Dad, shook this young man's hand and thanked him. He offered to pay for the damage to his car and buy him some lunch. The young man smiled and shook his head.

"Sir, that's not necessary. You can't imagine how good I feel right now and I can't wait to go tell my Mom what I just did. She will be so proud that I found an opportunity today to "pay it forward....something she has instilled in all us kids." He smiled and tipped his baseball cap, and got back into this car and drove away.

This story touched me. Not a big life rescue story Not a huge heroic story. But a pay it forward story that brought tears to my eyes. This young man is a true hero in my eyes and especially in my dads eyes. It doesn't always take some heroic act. Sometimes a simple act of kindness says it all. I always say, "While the world outside my window goes insane, there's always someone who reminds me, that a few good things remain.

Have a good day my friends. Pay it forward today. Stay warm. Stay safe and stay tuned for some good recipes coming your way.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Country Corn Bread
























Sometimes I can still close my eyes and still see my Mom pouring that cornbread batter into that hot sizzling cast iron skillet. That was a sure sign that dinner was going to be on the table soon. She usually had two big skillets going at the same time. One would be in the oven with cornbread and the other would be on top of the stove with fried chicken. fried potatoes, smothered pork chops or whatever she decided to make that night. I still have that old skillet and I cherish it as if it were a fine piece of china. So did she.

Country Corn Bread

1 cup self rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self rising flour
3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bacon grease or oil for batter
2 tablespoons bacon grease for skillet
small can of Sweet Nib-lets Crisp corn or 1/2 cup sweet frozen corn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour the 2 tablespoons bacon drippings (oil if you don't have bacon grease) in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven to heat. You want it sizzling hot when you are ready to pour in your batter.

Combine cornmeal, flour, buttermilk and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Stir in the 1/4 cup of bacon grease (or vegetable oil) and the corn kernels. Carefully remove hot skillet from oven and turn temperature down to 350 degrees. Pour your batter into the hot sizzling cast iron skillet. Bake for about 20 or until golden brown. Invert the cornbread pan over a plate.

*** Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Batter Dispenser


Batters can be messy with drips all over the papers and tins. I used to use a ice cream scoop or a big spoon before I bought this handy gadget. Now I get precisely the same amount of batter in each cup so that all my cupcakes and muffins and cakes are all uniform in size. I love this gadget! I use it for cakes and cupcakes and muffins too. I use it for my pancake batter too so that I get all the same size.

And there's no more mess! It has a quick and easy, soft grip, pull handle to dispense batter. It has a big 4 cup/1-liter capacity container with measure marks. So you get consistently sized cupcakes and muffing that will bake evenly. There's easy to read measurements on the side and it's easy to clean and store.

Remember, anything you buy through Welcome Home supports NO KILL Advocacy groups to save the lives of dogs and cats who are killed unnecessarily while they wait for their forever homes. So any purchase through my page goes to support a good cause.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FHMMTB4/ref=as_li_ss_sm_fb_us_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=399837&creativeASIN=B00FHMMTB4&linkCode=shr&tag=welchome08-20&refRID=09J0D08S92AZ92Z5EXK3

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cream Filled French Crullers

























French Crullers are probably my favorite doughnut...well, second to a Krispy Kreme glazed that is just out of the oven and still warm. Warm doughnuts are so much better...so I started making them at home and they are unbelievably easy. I found this recipe and made them and they turned out so light and airy. But something was missing...and since I was making them at home, I could do what I want, right? So I filled them with Bavarian Cream! And topped with a Star Fine Foods cherry! Now that's what I call a doughnut! Top that Krispy K! 
     

    Cream Filled French Crullers 

    1 cup water 
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
    2 teaspoons sugar 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 
    3 large eggs 
    2 egg whites, slightly beaten 
    vegetable oil for frying 

Combine butter, sugar, salt and water in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan. Place over medium high heat and bring to a rapid boil. Stir in the flour all at once and continue stirring until the flour is completely mixed. Keep stirring over medium-high heat. When you see a thin film start to coat the bottom of the pan, the batter is ready. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to stir the dough for a minute to help it cool. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add one egg. Don’t add the next egg until the previous has been completely incorporated into the dough. Then add the egg whites a little bit at a time until the dough becomes smooth and glossy and holds a little shape (not much). Don't add to much egg white or the crullers will be heavy. 

Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip. Fry the crullers in 2-inches (or more) of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. The oil should register 370°F. While the oil is heating, cut a dozen 3-x3-inch squares of parchment. Lightly grease the squares with vegetable oil on one side and pipe a ring of dough onto each of the squares. When the oil has reached temperature, carefully place a cruller, paper-side up, into the hot oil. Do this one at a time unless you like the idea of hot oil burns and other disasters. After a minute or so, I would use tongs and a sharp knife tip to gently peel the parchment off the cruller. When the cruller turns golden (about 2 minutes), flip it over and let it fry for another couple of minutes before removing it to drain on a cooling rack or paper towels. 

Bavarian Cream 

2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin 
1/2 cup cold water 
4 egg yolks 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 pinch salt 
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 cups heavy cream 

In a small bowl, stir together the gelatin and cold water. Set aside to soften. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until smooth. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour the custard through a strainer. 




























Stir in the softened gelatin and vanilla and stir to melt the gelatin. Allow to cool. When the mixture has cooled almost to room temperature, whip the heavy cream to medium stiffness and fold it into the custard. Split your puffs and fill with filling. Refrigerate for about an hour to set 

NOTE: Crullers can also be baked. Preheat oven to 450°F. Pipe crullers onto a parchment-lined baking sheet at least 2-inches apart. Bake for five minutes then reduce oven to 350°F and bake another 15 minutes. Turn off heat, open the oven door a crack, and let crullers sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Makes about a dozen. 

Photographs are copyrighted and the property of Welcome Home. 

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products! 

Classic Cream Puff























You remember...when we were all little, it was always so much fun to get a dessert with lots of whipped cream and that cherry on top. Well who says we've outgrown that? But not just any cherry...so many today are so artificial and almost bitter. That's why I only use Star Fine Foods Cherries for my desserts. Here is a classic cream puff filled with decadent whipped cream and dusted ever so lightly with powdered sugar...and the perfect ending...a cherry on top!

Classic Cream Puff

1-cup water
1/2-cup butter
1-cup all-purpose flour
1/4-teaspoon salt
4 eggs

powdered sugar for dusting

In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful about 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove puffs to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. Cool. Split puffs and add filling.

Cream Filling

1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream and sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill cream puff as much as you want!




Photographs are copyrighted and the property of Welcome Home
 


Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

This Child Is Different

This Child Is Different
She is beautiful. She isn't white. She isn't black. She isn't Asian or Hispanic. She is of all these nationalities. She is different. I choose this picture to make a point and to support my efforts to stop racism and bigotry in this country.

Her mother is a black woman born in Ohio. Her father is white man born in California. Her grandmother on her mother's side is a native American Indian born in Wyoming.

Her grandfather on her father's side is Japanese, born in Hawaii. Her great grandmother is Jewish, an immigrant from Germany. Her great grandfather is a Roman Catholic from South America.

So does that mean no one hates her because she is a part of every race? Or does it mean all races hate her because she doesn't belong to any specific one. Would it be hard to find the right hate group for this little girl? Because she is different and not like any of the rest of us.

We need to end bigotry and racism in America....because God made us in many different colors. We are all his children regardless of what color our skin or our beliefs or who we love.
~Marty

Motherless Daughters

“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between responses to grief lengthen over time, but the longing never disappears. It always hovers right at the edge of awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, and in the leastexpected ways.”

"I am fooling only myself when I say that my mother exists now only in the photographs on my desk or in my albums, or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives on in everything I say and do. Her presence influences who I was and her absence influences who I am."

“There is an emptiness inside of me -- a void that will never be filled. No one in my life will ever love me as my mother did. There is no love as pure, unconditional and strong as a mother's love. And I will never be loved that way again.”

“I truly believe that the death of my mother has made me the way I am today. I am a survivor, mentally strong, determined, strong willed, self-reliant, and independent. But I also keep most of my pain and anger inside because I refuse to be vulnerable to anyone."

Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman

Monday, March 24, 2014

♥ Ham Salad



























What's for lunch today? Well I see some leftover ham...not enough to make a whole meal but perfect for just a ham sandwich...maybe a ham salad sandwich for a change. Yum!

Ham Salad

2 cups diced ham, (remove any hard rind)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Dukes or Hellmann's)
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 hard boil eggs, chopped (optional)

Pulse ham in bowl of food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten one second pulses. If you don't have a food processor, you will want to finely chop your ham. Combine mayonnaise, relish, mustard, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add ham and mix. Serve chilled with crackers or on a sandwich roll with lettuce. 




Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bacon Turkey Wrap








 Who doesn't love a good wrap now and then? Wonderful pinwheels stuffed with whatever you decide to create. This one is unique in that I added a surprise instead of mayonnaise and it turned out delicious!

Bacon Turkey Wrap

1 Tortilla wrap
Romaine lettuce or baby spinach leaves
Ripe tomato
Thick sliced turkey Breast;
slice or two of Swiss or Monterrey Jack Cheese
2 slices cooked bacon
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons strawberry cream cheese

Mix together the mayonnaise and cream cheese until well blended. 


















Lay out tortilla on parchment paper spread on mayo mixture. Then layer the lettuce first, followed by bacon slices, then turkey, then cheese and finally your tomato slices. Roll into log and slice in half or in pieces and serve.





Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

 

Monday, March 17, 2014

People see God everyday.



"People see God everyday. They just don't recognize Him."

~Pearl Bailey








Photo Source: Galina Jacyna  http://500px.com/photo/21325739
http://4himglory.tumblr.com/post/67754348110

♥ Lobster Ravioli in a Lobster Cream Sauce


























You ask where I've been this afternoon? I started craving pasta as I was posting them earlier today so I decided to go make some. This will be my dinner tonight with a nice salad and a loaf of crusty Italian bread. Keep in mind, you can buy frozen ravioli and make this recipe, but I felt adventurous today and made my own. Once you realize how easy it is to make your own ravioli, you will keep on making them. This one's a keeper my friends!

Lobster Ravioli in a Lobster Cream Sauce

Homemade Ravioli (or frozen 15 ounce bag of Lobster Ravioli)

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 whole eggs (beaten)
2 egg yolks (save the whites for another recipe)

Place the flour in a mound on a smooth work area and make a well in the center. Pour the 2 beaten eggs and the two egg yolks in the middle of the well. Then slowly bring the flour into your eggs until every thing is mixed well. Next knead the dough by hand, and add more flour if you need in order to get a smooth consistency. Cut the dough in half and roll out each half very thin. Continue to roll out as many sheets as you can get from your dough.

Lay out the first piece of pasta dough on the table and place 1/4-ounce mounds of stuffing 2 inches apart. Using a pastry brush, brush egg white around each bit of stuffing, making the dough damp but not wet. Take the second piece of dough and lay on top of stuffing. Press around each ravioli being careful not to squeeze the stuffing out. Using a round ravioli cutter with jagged edges, cut each ravioli round and lay on a sheet of parchment paper until ready to boil. Gently place ravioli in boiling water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Lobster Ravioli Filling (again you can buy frozen lobster ravioli)

2 ounces unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
2 cups cooked and finely chopped lobster meat (I get mine at Costco)
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of fine bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped chives
one large whole egg, slightly beaten

In a large sauté pan, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté until golden brown. Add lobster meat, breadcrumbs, and chives and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes or until room temperature. Follow directions above to fill and cook your ravioli.

Lobster Cream Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic (smashed or crushed)
1 tablespoon shallots, chopped fine
1/2 cup cooked lobster meat, chopped
1/2 cup good quality dry white wine (or use chicken broth)
1 pint heavy cream
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. salt

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for three minutes until soft. Add the wine or chicken broth and heavy cream. Cook for 12 minutes over medium low heat. Add the salt and parsley and stir. Add the cooked ravioli to the sauce and let cook together for about 1 minute before serving.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookies


What is better than a chocolate chip cookie? A chocolate Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated.

Chill the dough in the refrigerate for 2 hours. Scoop out a 1/4 cup size of dough and roll it into a ball. Roll it around in some Chocolate Chips and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place 6 cookies on a sheet since they will spread due to their size. Bake for 12-14 minutes until just slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet. They might look a little under baked in the middle but they will continue to bake when removed from the oven.

Chocolate Dip

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons shortening

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted; stir until smooth. Dip half of each cooled cookie into melted chocolate. Place on waxed paper until chocolate is set.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home. Please feel free to share by ONLY using the Share button that Facebook has provided. Do not download my photo and recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Macadamia Nut Cookies

So what's your idea of the perfect cookie? I like my cookies thick and chewy. Soft on the inside with just the slightest bit of crisp all around the outside rim. I like them warm...just out of the oven....with a cold glass of milk that you sip between each bite of cookie. I likes lots of extras...nuts, and raisins, and chips, oh my!

Oatmeal Raisin Macadamia Nut Cookies

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats (quick oats will work)
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

Whisk the flour baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Then slowly add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins, and nuts and mix until well combined.

Drop scoops of dough on your baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be brown and slightly crispy around the edges. Let the cookies sit for a minute or two before transferring them to your cooling rack.





  Photographs are copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Deep Fried Shrimp

I love shrimp baskets when I order carryout. I like making my own at home even more because I can choose my bread coating and of course you always get more when you make them yourself! Tender succulent shrimp with a light crispy breading makes the perfect bite! I like to butterfly my shrimp first so that they lay flat and don't curl up when you fry them. Here's how you do that.

First rinse and drain your shrimp. Then peel them but leave the tails on. To butterfly a shrimp you simply make an incision on the back of the shrimp following the curve of the back. Remove the vein that runs along side and then gently lay out the shrimp out flat on a baking sheet. It's just that simple.

Deep Fried Shrimp

1 lb large shrimp, shelled and butterflied
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
3 cups vegetable or Peanut oil

Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning. Heat the oil on medium high heat in a deep and heavy pot or skillet until the oil sizzles. Dredge the shrimp in flour and then dip in the egg mixture. Then dredge in flour a second time and shake off the excess. Then dip the floured shrimp back in the egg mixture a second time and dredge in Panko bread crumbs. I usually put my Panko in a Ziplock and then add my shrimp and shake it to coat evenly.

Carefully fry the shrimp for about 3 minute or until it turns golden brown. Don't crowd your pot or skillet. Fry in batches for best results. Drain golden brown shrimp on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Serve hot with cocktail sauce.
Chunky Cocktail Sauce

1 (14-1/2 ounce can) diced tomatoes with onions, undrained
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home. Please feel free to share by ONLY using the Share button that Facebook has provided. Do not download my photo and recipe.

Corned Beef and Cabbage



















Monday is St. Paddy's Day. I'm not Irish...I don't even see any of that nationality in my mostly Native American ancestry....but just like my Mom, I make my corned beef and cabbage every year to celebrate the Irish on St. Patricks Day. You might have your own special way of making it, but I follow her simple recipe using a bottle of beer and my CrockPot (she used a dutch oven) and it comes out amazing!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 (4 pound) corned beef with season packet
1 (12 ounce) bottle Stout Beer
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 medium head of cabbage, cut into wedges
6 small potatoes, or larger potatoes halved
1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 large bay leaf
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper corns

Place onions and potatoes in the bottom of your Crockpot. Add in bay leaves, pepper corns, and Dijon mustard. Pour beer and chicken stock in.

Use paper towels, pat the corned beef and absorb any moisture. Then with your hands, rub the corned beef with the brown sugar and 1/2 of the seasoning packet that came with it.

Cover and cook on low setting 6 hours. Add cabbage wedges and remaining seasoning from packet and continue cooking another 2 hours, or until beef and cabbage are tender. Remove beef, potatoes, and vegetables to a platter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

NOTE: If you would prefer not to use beer, follow the same recipe but substitute 4 cups of apple juice.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Homemade Deep Fried Mozzarella Sticks

I saw a recipe for mozzarella sticks on the food channel a few years ago and decided to make home made versus buying those frozen kind in a bag or box. Now I will never make them any other way. The trick is to freeze your cheese before frying it and to get your oil the right temperature. Nothing like the frozen ones you buy...these are so much better!

Homemade Deep Fried Mozzarella Sticks
1 cup Italian-style dried breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (16-ounce) blocks pasteurized mozzarella cut into 4 by 1/2-inch sticks
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or peanut oil
4 cups Marinara Sauce, recipe follows

Stir together the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan and the salt. Dip the cheese sticks in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Roll the cheese in the bread crumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Then repeat the process a second time for each stick. Cover and place in freezer for about 2 hours or until frozen.

Take cheese sticks out of the freezer and repeat last coating of egg and bread crumb mixture. Do not thaw cheese first. Put back in the freezer for about an hour.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat to at least 325 degrees. If you oil is not hot enough, it will not bubble and sizzle when you drop the sticks in. If it is too hot the cheese will ooze out before they have fried on the outside. So keep your oil hot by frying only a few sticks at a time...maybe 8 or so.

Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve with the Marinara Sauce.

Marinara Sauce (recipe from The Food Network)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Lodge Cast Iron Ccookware

NOTICE: Every time I have featured this special price on this beautiful Red Lodge Dutch Oven it sells out immediately. It comes in several colors at various prices but this is the one I use and it is gorgeous and the perfect cast iron dutch oven! So this is a first come, first served basis. Better hurry or it will be gone before you finish reading the post.

Who says Lodge Cast iron cookware only comes in black? Lodge is now releasing their full line of colors that are all the rage. This particular Dutch Oven was America's Test Kitchen choice. They have endorsed this as one of the best to buy and says it is as good if not better than those $300 Dutch ovens. And it's on sale at Amazon today for only $49.99 while supplies last.
That's a $68 savings when you use the code provided below.

Lodge Color is one of the newest lines from this respected American cast iron cookware company. Traditionally shaped and more affordable than some European brands, Lodge Color enameled cast iron is just as durable, requires no seasoning, and attractively serves at the table. Lodge infuses this 6-quart Dutch oven with two coats of hard-as-nails porcelain enamel, in a choice of several bright colors on the exterior, and which are nicely set off by a cream interior.

Oven-safe to 400 degrees so you can start a stew or casserole on the stove top and finish by baking it in the oven. Lodge enameled cast iron makes a smart choice due to its versatility-you can marinate raw meats in it, since it won't absorb odors or flavors, and you can braise, sauté, simmer, and bake in it. All Lodge enameled ware is covered by a lifetime warranty against defects.

This 6 Qt enamel Dutch oven is great for cooking on gas, electric, ceramic and induction cook tops, as well as in the oven. The porcelain surface eliminates the need to season cast iron. The cast iron has superior heat distribution and retention, evenly heating bottom sidewalls and even the lid. Tightly fitting lid seals in moisture. The excellent heat retention reduces the amount of energy needed for cooking. Two layers of very hard, glossy porcelain enamel are chip resistant and easy to clean.

Remember everything you purchase here at Welcome Home helps support NO KILL and Animal Rights groups in their efforts to save the lives of dogs and cats in this country who are killed unnecessarily while waiting for a new home. Here's your link to read more about this wonderful Lodge Cast iron Dutch Oven....

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000N501BK/ref=as_li_ss_sm_fb_us_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=399837&creativeASIN=B000N501BK&linkCode=shr&tag=welchome08-20&qid=1387482617&sr=8-1&keywords=lodge+cast+iron+dutch+oven+enameled
 
 
 
 

Make Ahead Lasagna

Make Ahead Lasagna

1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 can (15 ounces) pizza sauce
1 jar (14 ounces) marinara sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 no-cook lasagna noodles
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef and sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in pizza and marinara sauces. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, parsley and pepper.
Spread 1 cup meat sauce into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Layer with four noodles, half of the cheese mixture, 1 cup meat sauce and 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, meat sauce and mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, covered, at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/make-ahead-lasagna

Salisbury Steak



My Mom use to call these Hamburger steaks but most people call them Salisbury steaks. All cooks have their specialty dish...a signature dish so to speak.... that we know will always get rave reviews from friends and family. This is good old fashioned comfort food my friends. Tender meat patties full of robust flavor served with mashed potatoes and green beans or corn. Now of course she made her own beef gravy but I found one that tastes identical and I use it to get the same wonderful recipe. You will love this recipe.

 
Salisbury Steak

2 lbs ground beef
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs or more as needed
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 - package Lipton’s Onion Soup with Mushrooms Mix
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 jars of Heinz Home Style Savory Beef Gravy (with or without mushrooms)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl along with a half cup of the beef gravy from one jar. Add more breadcrumbs as needed for the right consistency. Shape into oblong or thick round patties and set aside.

In large skillet, melt olive oil and then add butter. Brown patties over medium heat. Once browned, remove from skillet and drain off excess fat but do not wash or clean skillet. Add remaining beef gravy to the skillet making sure to blend the pieces of beef and onion and garlic left on the bottom. Add patties back in the skillet and cover simmering on low heat for about 40 minutes. Serve with gravy over rice, mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Absolutely divine!

If you prefer to make your own homemade gravy for your steaks, follow these instructions....

Homemade beef gravy

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of beef broth or beef stock
1 tablespoon of butter for finish

Melt butter in your same skillet that you browned the patties in. Stir bottom to gather the bits from the bottom of the skillet. Then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk the flour for about 1-2 minutes until the flour is cooked. Slowly add the beef broth and whisk often for about 8-10 minutes. Whisking is the key to lump less gravy. Next whish in the cream which will thicken it slightly and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, add a tablespoon of butter and whisk in well. This will give your gravy that beautiful gloss. Add this instead of store bought gravy to your dish. 








 Photographs are copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Easy Homemade White Bread

I can't remember my Mom ever buying store bought bread. She would make her own. We always seemed to have homemade bread baking in the oven and the house smelled so good!

Easy Homemade White Bread

1-1/2 cups warm water, (temperature 110 degrees)
2-1/4 teaspoon or 1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1/2 cup dry milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup canola oil
4-1/2 cups bread flour (more or less)

In large bowl, mix warm water and yeast. Add dry milk, sugar, salt, and canola oil. Stir. Add in enough bread flour to make a dough that follows the spoon around the bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding more bread flour as needed until the dough is firm and smooth to the touch. Place dough in medium greased bowl and then turn it upside down so that the top side is also lightly greased. Cover with clean cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.

Punch down dough and then dump the dough out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 5 minutes or until the bubbles are out of the bread. Shape dough into a round loaf and place in greased 1.5 quart round casserole dish. Cover it again and allow it to rise in warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. With sharp knife, slash top of bread. Brush a little egg white on top of the loaf if you want.

Bake bread at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden in color and sounds hollow when top is tapped. Remove bread from the casserole dish and let cool on rack.
Serve warm out of the oven.

HINT: Use an electric knife to slice warm bread evenly without tearing while it is still warm.
 
Photograph is copyrighted and the property of Welcome Home.

Beefy Mac and Cheese

I love simple casseroles that spell out comfort food. Don't you? Here's an old recipe from my Mom's collection and you probably one you will remember it when you were little. I used to come home for lunch and my Mom would have a big bowl of beefy mac and cheese waiting for me. She used to say this is "stick to your ribs good!" This is comfort food at it's best and your kids will love it! Sometimes I add crisp sweet corn and pinto beans!

Beefy Mac and Cheese

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni or any similar tube pasta
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 lb lean ground beef
1 (15 ounce) can tomatoes, drained and crushed or chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste








Cook the macaroni according to directions; drain well and set aside. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet and add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the ground beef, breaking it up into pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula and sauté until browned. Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended. Next add your crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and the thyme and oregano. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, whisk together flour and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil and then turn down heat to simmer and cook for about another minute. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup cheddar cheese until melted. Add ground beef mixture. Then add in drained pasta and stir to combine. Pour in baking dish and top with remaining cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

















Photography is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Italian Meatballs

























I make a big batch of these and freeze them so I can have them for whatever pasta dish I choose to make. If I decide to make Spaghetti and meatballs I can take out just what I need and allow them to simmer in my pasta sauce until heated through. Sometimes I serve them all alone or with rice. They are great to have on hand for quick meatball subs too.

Italian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef...
1 pound ground pork
1 cup bread crumbs, fresh or dried
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients by hand, but do not pack down meat mixture. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter. Arrange meatball onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 16 meatballs.

Basic Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.

NOTE: This recipe makes 2 quarts of homemade sauce. The above recipe calls for just two cups. I freeze mine in Ziploc freezer bags for up to 3 months and use as needed for many recipes.

*** Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Glazed Blueberry Muffins























Another great recipe from The English Kitchen. I made this recipe on Sunday and they are wonderful. Then again, all Marie's recipes are delicious!

Glazed Blueberry Muffins

finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup super fine sugar...
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of sunflower or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

For the glaze:

3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
the juice of half a lemon
hot water as needed

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a medium size muffin tin, or line with paper liners. This recipe makes 12 muffins. Set aside.

Combine both sugars in a large bowl. Rub in the lemon zest with your fingertips until it is quite fragrant. Drop in the butter and cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla and beat well together.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Combine all well together. Fold in the blueberries. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan while you make the glaze.

Whisk together all of the glaze ingredients until smooth, adding only enough hot water as needed to get the right consistency. Dip the warm muffins into the glaze one at a time, glazing the tops and letting any excess drip off. Place onto a wire rack and allow the topping to set. Serve warm or cool. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and use within two days.

http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/glazed-blueberry-muffins.html

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not Just An Ordinary Day

Today is not going to be just another day for me. I want it to be, but that won't happen. I will try to make it through as if nothing is out of the ordinary and carry on my tasks at hand, but my heart is making sure that I know it's bruise...d and not ready to ever forget this day.

I often wonder if I can ever put this date completely out of my mind and just move on as if it never happened, but already I know I can't and I won't. I already know how difficult it will be for me to contain my emotions and not completely fall apart. For you see, today's date marks the anniversary of the darkest day of my life...the day my Mother took her last breath and the day I feel she took mine with her.

Today marks the twelve years that have passed since my Mom moved to Heaven and my heart feels like it's somewhere between a light rain shower and a full blown hurricane. I think I have it under control and I can shut those memories out from that day, but they continue to creep in. It's like a battle between my heart and my mind and it's my very soul that feels the aftermath of all this tugging and fighting.

My mind keeps bringing up memories of hospitals, doctors and life support and my sweet, beautiful Mother being in the middle of that awful mess. It is my mind that makes this day so difficult as it keeps reminding me how empty I am without her. The mind is powerful and no matter how hard you try, it contains a lot of hurtful data that can just come out of nowhere. There are times that it can play tricks on you and almost take your breath away and break your heart. A simple recipe that I remember we made together. A favorite song that she loved or her favorite lilacs in bloom. Even her favorite color can even trigger it when you least expect it.

It's my heart that sings out the memory of her warmth and her laughter and our one-of-a-kind relationship that we shared. It sings out the story of her life and brings me comfort in knowing that she is still right beside me. It's my heart that makes sense of it all and let's me miss her with a smile and the joy in knowing she's here and has been all along. It is my heart that tells me she is so happy that I went on with my life and chose to honor her memory by creating this place called Welcome Home. And my heart reassures me that she is calling all of you to cross my path and find comfort here too.

It just feels right to share my feelings with you today...because you have been there all along for me. I always fear that my grief shared openly might make others feel that I am asking for pity. That could be further from the truth...I do a great job of that all on my own so I really am not looking for anyone's sympathy. If anyone knows how to throw a great Pity Party, it's me...so I am not asking you for your sympathy or pity. I am just sharing my feelings and asking you to feel free to share yours too.

Today, just like the past 11 years, my inner child comes out and I long to lay my head in her Mother's lap and feel her hands stroking my hair ...telling me it will be alright. I am that little girl who is lost and scared without her mother and not sure of how I can make it without her. But I do. And next year I will go through these same feelings all over again. Her absence will still be felt every single day, but on this day it will somehow intensify.

I am opening my heart today and sharing my feelings because I know so many of you out there feel the same way. From the beginning I have always followed my heart when I write on this page...because Welcome Home belongs to my Mom. And I feel certain that she is the force behind it all. She is leading me and guiding me in bringing all your broken hearts together so that they might find some comfort here. My Mom lives in Heaven now ....but I am certain she is there with your Mom and other loved ones and there is this big rally in getting a message to you all by bringing you here. They want you to know that they are right next to you and have never left your side. They just love you from a different place.

I have a box tucked away in my closet and it is full of things from my Mom's funeral service. I do not look in that box because it is a reminder of the pain and sorrow from that dreadful day. But I did look in it yesterday and I found some bows and ribbons and hundreds of cards from friends and family that attended the service. There are a few pressed flowers in the Guest Book they gave me and so much outpouring of love for a great woman who left this world to find happiness with God. But there was one unsigned card....a blank card in an envelope that just says my Mom's name on the outside. And the card reads....

Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars at night
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.


Thank you Mom. This is just one of the many signs you send me to let me know you are still here with me. It is the very sign I needed to get me through this day.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookie Cups

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookie Cups

1 package (16 ounces) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Ultimates™ Refrigerated Chocolate Peanut Butter Deluxe Cookie Dough

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 can (14 oun...ces) Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Morsels

PREHEAT oven to 325° F. Paper-line 24 muffin cups. Cut each square in half. Place one piece of dough in each muffin cup.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookie has spread to edge of cup.

BEAT cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth. Spoon about 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each cookie in cup.

BAKE for additional 15 to 18 minutes or until set. Remove from oven to wire rack. While still warm, top cheesecakes with morsels. Morsels will soften but will retain shape. Cool completely. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/145381/Peanut-Butter--Chocolate-Chip-Cheesecake-Cookie-Cups/detail.aspx

Remembering

My Mother's Lap

I have so many wonderful memories of the loving relationship I had with my Mom when I was growing up. I am always reluctant to allow myself to get too deep in remembering them all as it hurts far too much.

But of all the memories I cherish, it is the memory of always laying my head in her lap whenever I needed her. It was the safest place to be when my heart was broken. It was a place to go to when I needed to feel comfort and cherished and loved. There was no other place like it when I was scared or hurt or feeling lonely. I can still feel her soft hands stroking my hair and the sweet sound of her voice telling me how much she loved me and her promise that everything would be okay. And it just was. Everything was okay and all was well in the world when I heard those words and felt her warm touch.

And later...when I was a grown woman and life had dealt me a broken heart or presented me with an ultimatum I couldn't handle, I would run to her for those comforting moments, time and time again. It was where I needed to be, and no matter how grown up I really was, for those moments I was her baby again and she was my angel and my refuge and my safe haven. No matter how much pain or what it was that was hurting me, I knew I could get through it with her reassurance that I would be okay.

Of all the memories in my lifetime, those will forever be the most precious to me. Those times are what I long for and yearn for so often. Those times are gone now and the void is so overwhelming at times, it takes my breath away. Life still throws some curve balls and gives me some tough challenges and I still need so much to hear her tell me it will be okay. Sometimes, if I close my eyes tight and drown out the world, I can get lost in my memories of her and I can almost feel her hands stroking my hair.

Oh how ironic this journey of life can be... for little did I know that one day I would be comforting her and stroking her hair as she lay dying. And I would whisper those same words for the last time. "I love you Mom... more than life itself and I cannot bear the thought of going on without you. But I will be okay and I'll see you again. You can go now to a better place. I promise you everything will be okay."

~Marty

Photo by Andrzej Laskowski
http://fotouczniak.deviantart.com/art/Red-hair-110817137

Buttermilk Cornbread

My Mom made the best buttermilk cornbread and I have always used the same recipe when I make mine. It is so fast and so easy to make. I usually make mine in my cast iron skillet but this time I wanted to make it simple for those who don't ...have one. I also make mine without sugar so I give you the option to make it the way you like it. Either way, you'll love it!

Buttermilk Cornbread

1 cup corn meal
2 eggs
1 cup melted butter
2/3 cup sugar (or less if you don't like sweet cornbread)
1 cup buttermilk (see note on how to make your own)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9 with non-stick cooking spray and put it in the oven to get hot.

Next, combine your eggs, butter, sugar (if using), buttermilk, and baking soda. Mix well by hand. Then add in the corn meal, flour, and salt and continue to mix well under all our combined.

Remove hot pan from oven and melt in 2 tablespoons of butter. Carefully swirl around pan until bottom is coated. Pour your batter in hot pan and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

NOTE: To make your own buttermilk, pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a one cup measure. Then add whole milk to the one cup line. Let it sit on your counter for 5 minutes and then stir. You just made buttermilk! 
 





 Photographs are copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MOM'S RECIPES

Most of the recipes I share here at Welcome Home came from my Mom's little recipe boxes which are so precious to me.

I look through those little cards and almost every single one has a heart drawn on it or a little loving phrase or an "I love you" written on the back. It's as if she knew that one day I would still need to see those words when I didn't have her here to say them anymore. Mixed throughout the recipe cards are little notes to herself about what she wanted to teach me next.

She loved me so much and so loved raising me...I was her last child and she loved teaching me to cook and to garden. She especially loved teaching me about life. Her mission was to raise a daughter who valued every minute of her life and shared as much love as she could with the rest of the world. I hope I'm making her proud.

Welcome Home is dedicated to my Mom who passed away suddenly 12 years ago. I loved my Mother with all my heart. She was the love of my life. She believed I could do anything and she was the truest friend I've ever had. I always say that God sent me to the arms of an angel and her arms were always open when I needed a hug. Her heart always understood when I needed a friend. Her gentle eyes were stern when I needed a lesson. Her strength and love guided me and gave me wings to fly. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my Mom.

No one has ever loved me as much as she did. Never in my lifetime will I find a love so profoundly pure and so deep and unconditional. I cannot remember a moment in my life, before she left, that I didn't feel loved by her. It was a love like no other and I felt the same about her. It's been 12 years. today and I have never recovered from the loss. I doubt I ever will. To face life without that security and that promise of undying love is hard at times. But you move on and just accept what you've lost and realize that you will never fill that void.

Oh, I know she's still here. Like the sound of the bell ringing on a tiny little wind chime I have hanging here at my window. The window is closed and there is nothing to explain why it rings but it does. Just a single bell sounds out of nowhere sometimes. Or the times that I get the strong whiff of her perfume as I sit here at my desk or just before I go to sleep at night. There's no source from where it comes and no explanation....but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is my Mom that has come to say she loves me and that I am not alone. Then there are those unmistakable moments that I get a clear sign that she is here and speaks through my writing at Welcome Home. Words that I sometimes read and know they did not come from me alone.

I am certain there are those that think it's wishful thinking or they might not think I have all my faculties and need help....but those of you who have suffered a loss of this magnitude fully understand and can relate.

She is here. She does come..... and for those few moments, I feel that same undeniable love again and all is well with my life.

~Marty