Tuesday, April 16, 2013

♥ Cheddar Bacon Pull Apart Bread

Cheddar Bacon Pull Apart Bread

1 large round loaf of soft bread

2 cups Sargento Chef Blends Shredded 4 State Cheddar Cheese
8 oz. diced sliced bacon, cooked crisp
1/2 cup melted butter
1 Tablespoon dry Ranch dressing mix

Cut bread in 3/4-inch intervals, being careful to not cut all the way through. Cut again, crosswise, not cutting all the way through.

Place cheese in between all cuts: sprinkle with bacon. Blend melted butter and Ranch mix and drizzle over top of bread evenly.

Wrap in foil and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes; uncover and bake 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Photo was provided Courtesy of

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He always knows. No matter how quietly you get out the leashes or how you smuggle the show gear out to the car, he knows you're going to a dog show. He sits beside the cabinet where the gear is stowed as you bustle about attending to the last minute details. His ears flat, a hopeful gleam in his eyes, he looks at you. It is as close as he will come to begging. You pause for a mom
ent to rub behind his ears, guilty at leaving him again and then you think back.....

You remember it was not so terribly long ago, when it was just the two of you, striking out in the early morning before the sun came up. Everything was bright and new and life was simple. He was the most beautiful dog in the world, and your goal back then was to win that ribbon...maybe a blue one. But those years have passed and now you're off to show younger, more beautiful dogs.

You move on - its nearly time to go. He gets up to follow you from room to room - old age and arthritis narrowing his limits. You tell him that he will have to stay home, and you turn away before his tail droops slowly to the floor. And so you leave. You see his head at the window as you drive away.
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Here's a way to always have fresh herbs on hand when you need them. Put fresh herbs in ice cube trays with olive oil and freeze. In the summer months I grow my little herb garden on my deck so I can have fresh herbs when I need them. At the end of summer I simply cut and chop them and then freeze them and use them all winter long. Anytime I need rosemary, thyme, oregano, or any other herb I have them!
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♥ Old Fashioned Coca Cola Cake


Old Fashioned Coca Cola Cake

1 cup Coca-cola
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick Margarine
3 tablespoon cocoa
2 cup sugar
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

In saucepan, combine Coca-Cola, oil, margarine, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour and salt. Add mixture from saucepan and beat well. Add eggs, buttermilk, soda, and vanilla and beat well. Pour into a greased and floured sheet cake pan. Bake at 350┬║ for 20-25 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine
3 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup pecans – chopped
1 lb. confectioners sugar (1 box)

In a saucepan, combine the margarine, cocoa, and milk until the margarine melts. Add the renaming ingredients and beat until well blended. Spread on the cooled cake.

To Print recipe click: http://cocacolacakerecipe.com/
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My mother woke up in heaven today. She has lived there for 8 years now. And I wonder what she is doing. You see, today is her birthday and I can't help wondering what it's like for her. And then the memories came flooding in.

I've been fighting back the tears and trying hard to swallow this big lump in my throat as I always do on both the day of her birth and the day of her death...which falls in the same month. So it's been hard for me today. This day always brings back memories of good times past and traditions that are no longer.

When I was a teenager I can remember making a decision one day to take my allowance and spend it on my mother for MY birthday. I loved her so much that I wanted to make sure she knew how glad I was that God gave me to her on that day 14 years earlier. I wanted her to know that I wouldn't have wanted any other mother but her. I wanted to thank her for giving me life and for being the best mom ever. I wanted her to know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much I loved her and that it wasn't about me that day...it was all about her.

So I went out and bought her flowers....not just any flowers. I bought her pink roses...her favorite. And that day when there was cake and ice cream and presents for me.... I felt sheer delight when I handed her that bouquet of pink roses. And she cried. And she hugged me for the longest time and told me how good it made her feel. And I remember her taking one of the dried roses when they died and putting in the family album and writing under, "from my baby girl."

And so started a tradition. For the rest of her days with me here on earth, I bought her pink roses on my birthday. And later when I had the miserable task of sorting out her things and going through it all...I found each and every pink rose that she had saved for all those years....all 37 of them...each taped carefully to those pages with the same message underneath and the year it was given. And I cried and cried because I miss her so much.

Even though I miss her terribly, I know it's selfish of me to wish she was here because I know she is in a far better place than what this world could ever offer. I know that she is celebrating eternal life with no sorrow or tears or pain.

I'm not sure what my mother is doing today in Heaven. I guess I won't know until I go there and find out myself. But here’s what I do know, whatever she’s doing, she’s home. That’s what Heaven is... Home. ~Marty

If tears could build a stairway,
and memories were a lane,
I would walk right up to heaven
to bring you home again.
No farewell words were spoken
no time to say goodbye
you were gone before I knew it,
and only God knows why.
My heart still aches in sadness
and secret tears still flow,
what it meant to lose you,
no one will ever know.

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♥ Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup saltine cracker crumbs, finely crushed or use bread crumbs finely processed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. Press the brown sugar in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and spread the ketchup over the sugar.

In a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients and shape into a loaf. Place on top of the ketchup. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear.
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My Mother's Garden...

My Mom taught me to cook when I was old enough to learn...but she taught me to garden when I was just knee high. I can remember following behind her as she would show me how to plant seeds and pull weeds. And when I got older and moved away I was so grateful that she had taught me so much.
I have always had a beautiful garden and I am so excited about sharing it with you. This photo is of the beautiful Fuschia, one my all time favorites.

Fuchsias are prolific bloomers and heavy feeders. To maintain growth and flowering, continuous availability of fertilizer is a must. There are various strategies to accomplish this. Most grow them in containers and feed the plants with every watering. You should use 1 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water and water once a week.

To have the huge fluffy plants, you should always grow in shade. The more light the fuchsias are given, the shorter the blooms will last. Plants in bright conditions will be tight bushes as opposed to the long flowing plants that are grown in the shade.

The problem with fuchsias is that they do not like to have their roots get hot and dry out. Always plant fuchsia in a clay or ceramic pot to keep the roots cool. Plastic gets too hot. Also, Fuchsias don't like their roots to dry out. So water when the soil feels slightly dry.
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 The Other Woman

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman who also loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my Mother, who has been a widow for 19 years and lived alone. I knew she was probably lonely at times and wanted me to visit more, but demands of my work and my three children had made our visits scarce lately. Other than holidays once a year or on her birthday, I rarely got to see her. But that night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.

And she asked, “What’s wrong, are you ill?” My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. "No", I said. "I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you..... “just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. We had never done this before. She waited in the doorway with her coat on and I wondered how long she had been watching for me to drive up. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s and I thought to myself, how beautiful she looked that night.

“I told all my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were so impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They just can't wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady of the United States. She was just beaming with pride and joy. After we sat down, I had to read the menu for her. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me with a nostalgic smile.

“It was I who used to have to read the menu to you when you were a little boy,” she said. And I replied, “then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor.”

During the dinner, we had a nice conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each others' life. We talked so much that we completely missed the movie. But we were both okay with that because the conversation was far more important.

As we arrived at her house later and I walked her to the door, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you next time.” I agreed and gave her a hug and a kiss and left.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered. Four days later, my mother died. It happened unexpectedly and so suddenly that I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye. But one week later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from that same restaurant we had shared our date. There was a note attached that said:

“I paid for this meal in advance of our next date because I wasn't sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, just in case I can't be, I paid for two plates –one for you and the other for your sweet, sweet wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you so much my son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. While we are so busy growing up in life, we forget to remember that our parents are growing old.

Nothing in life is more important than taking care of and nourishing the relationship with your parents. Give them the time they deserve, because some things cannot be put off until “some other time.”
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"He Speaketh not and yet there lies a conversation in his eyes."
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My Mother's Garden....

My garden is full of Peonies in every color as they might just be my favorite of all flowers. They are showy and smell like a sweet rose and make an exceptional cut flower. But be careful to remove the ants that are always attracted to the sweet natural secretions, before you bring them in. They do little, if any, harm to the plants themselves... they just like them as mu...ch as I do.

Peonies prefer cooler climate zones but they will actually grow anywhere they experience a cold winter, even as far south as northern Florida and Texas as long as there are at least a few cold weeks of weather.

Peonies require a great deal of sunshine, so plant them in full sun for a bounty of blooms. In areas where summer temperatures reach extreme levels, a light shade canopy during the hottest time of the day will benefit the plants.

The area must be free of standing water, as peonies rot quickly. They prefer a rich, heavy soil, so the key is to make sure that it is exceptionally well drained.

The best time to plant peonies is in the fall. A spring time planting may prevent the plant from blooming for a season or two. Choose a location carefully. Peonies don’t like to be moved, so you should consider your new peonies to be permanent residents and space them accordingly. Be ready to stake Peonies each season because their heavy blooms tend to make them lean over.

When the first flower buds appear, remove the side buds from each stem, leaving the end bud in place. This encourages show-stopping blooms. When plants grow heavy with blooms, stake behind the plant and secure plants with loops of coated wire.

Remove fading blooms to prevent seed development. Cut no more than ½ of the flowers for vases or display, and leave as much foliage on the plant as possible.
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♥ Homemade Bisquick Baking Mix

Homemade Bisquick Baking Mix

5 cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Cup Shortening (I use Crisco)

n a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening. You can use a pastry blender, however, I find it easier to just use my hands to get it mixed in really well. Store in an airtight container and Use the same as you would use Bisquick in a recipe.

You can also make this with cold butter instead of Crisco. Just use the same amount. If you use butter, you will need to keep your jar of homemade mix in the refrigerator. If you just use Crisco or any other shortening, you won't have to.

Recipe courtesy of The Make Your Own Zone

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♥ Chocolate Coca Cola Cake

Chocolate Coca Cola Cake

A deliciously moist chocolate cake with a chocolate cola butter cream icing. Serve with a tasty chocolate sauce and some mini marshmallows for an extra special treat.

For the cake:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter

1 3/4 cup of self rising flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder, sifted
generous pinch of baking soda
3/4 cup coke (slightly more than 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the butter cream icing:

4 1/2 tablespoons of butter, softened

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons of coke

For the sauce:

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
pinch salt
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda together in a large bowl. Melt the butter and cola together. Add to the dry ingredients along with the milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix gently bur thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Beat together all the ingredients together for the icing until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake.

To make the sauce, melt the butter and sugars together until they no longer feel grainy. Whisk in the cream and heat through. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.

Cut the cake into slices to serve. Sprinkle with some marshmallows and spoon some of the chocolate sauce over top.

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The firefighter in this picture saved this dog from her burning home. The house was in full blaze when he heard her crying and without a second thought, he ran back into the fire to save her. He found her scared and trembling in a corner with flames all around her and he grabbed her up and carried her out of the burning house and onto her front yard and sat her down on the grass. He... then returned to fight the fire.

A news photographer noticed that after the firefighter first brought the dog out and sat her on the grass, she never moved a muscle and he wondered if she was okay. He continued watching her and then noticed the firefighter, finished with his job of putting out the fire, came out and sat down to catch his breath and rest. And as he came out of the burning house, he watched the dog as she stood up and watched the firefighter's every move.

Now keep in mind, there were many other firefighters on the scene that day, but she was watching only him....his every movement... she didn't once take her eyes off him. The photographer then watched the dog stand up and slowly walk toward the man and wondered what she was going to do.

As he raised his camera to take a photo, he watched the dog slowly walk to the tired firefighter and put her face close to his and kiss him gently, as if to say thank you for saving my life.

The photographer snapped this photograph of the two of them.
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Mike Savad

Okay. I confess....I've been holding out on you! This is my favorite of all the Mike Savad pieces...I own this one and it is even more vibrant then in this photo. I also used it as my cover photo last fall when I first started. This is the best of the best...I think. It is the work that introduced me to Mike Savad. A simple photo, enhanced to bring out details and lighting and shadows that make it come alive. Okay...I'm going to play nice and share! 

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Their joys are simple. A soft bed. A scrap fallen from the table that the younger dogs missed. The memory of a treed squirrel. A stormless night.

White whiskered faces and legs crooked as question marks.

Old Dogs…their sweet Buddha bellies hang over crossed legs as they fall asleep in a coveted patch of sun. Dreaming of out-racing their shadows down long, shady lanes.

Once they danced by your side. The very definition of joy unleashed. A perfect poem caught in shining eyes and wagging tails. They have followed you faithfully for years. And would plunge into fires, untamed wildernesses, raging waters if you asked.

Now, they struggle to catch up. Their pace slow but their hearts still valiant. Their cloudy eyes are starting to dim and go distant, tuning in to some invisible world. Just beyond your reach.

Don’t go you say, as you scratch the tender part between their ears. Stay longer. I can’t imagine a world without your fur pressed close to my cheek. There are still so many roads we haven’t explored.

And they look up at you with a wisdom that just slays you.

Their backs are bent, not from the weight of years, but from the invisible wings they are growing that will soon take them to a place where once more they are warriors of speed. Drunk with the sights and scents of a thousand meadows. Able to leap high enough to touch the wing of the tiniest butterfly.

A place where they will now wait for you to catch up.

The piece comes from Emmy-winning soap opera writer (and dog-lover, dog rescuer) Donna Swajeski.
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"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
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My Mom's Garden...
It's almost magical when bearded irises (also known as Flags) unfurl their pencil-slim buds to reveal a kaleidoscope of color in spring. They come in every imaginable color including solids and mixed colors. The Iris is ...a perennial that comes back year after year and multiplies. They make a beautiful and fragrant cut flower. When I look at the intricate and beautiful details, and the gracefulness of the Iris, I always think, "how could there not be a God."

Anyone can grow the Iris. The photo is of the Tall Bearded Iris called "Circus Circus." Here are a few tips.

Plant them in a sunny spot in late summer. I usually plant mine in late August or early September. The plants need well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight per day. A full day of sun is even better to keep the rhizomes dry. (The rhizomes are the fleshy root-like structures at the base of the plant.)

Give them room to breathe. Bearded iris require good air circulation. Plant them a minimum of 16 to 18 inches apart.

Do not mulch. Mulching retains moisture, and too much moisture will cause soft rot of the rhizomes.

Break off seedpods that form after the blooms have faded. This prevents seedlings from choking the surrounding soil. Seed formation also saps energy needed by the rhizomes, roots, and leaves.

Prune back the foliage in the fall. This will reduce the chances of over wintering pests and diseases.

Make dividing a habit. Divide clumps of bearded iris every three to four years in the late summer. Simply dig them up, cut the root ball in half or quarters and replant.
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"When someone is rude, keep a smile on your face. When you stay on the high road and keep your joy, you take away their power."
~Joel Osteen
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My Mother's Garden...

One of my favorite of all flowers in my garden is called the Allium or the Giant Onion. It is a perennial and will bloom every year and comes in beautiful colors. Although alliums are mostly regarded as a vegetable o...r a herb crop, there are species grown for large bright colored flowers too.

Plant the bulbs around late fall or early spring. Prepare flower beds by digging deep and apply peat moss to the hole. Make sure you choose a sunny spot or at least one that receives 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday. Plant the bulbs 4 inches deep in grouping of 4-5 bulbs spacing them about six inches apart, leaving the tip lightly covered in soil. Mulch heavily and water adequately. They will flower mid summer through late summer and in certain conditions even in early fall.

These bulbs do not need much feeding, a single application when the flower buds begin to appear should suffice. There aren't many pests that attack onion, the pungent smell of onion bulb mostly keeps away trouble makers. It is recommended that the bulbs be left undistributed in the ground, and divided every 3-4 years.

Good quality Allium bulbs will result in healthy plants and flowers. I get mine at Costco or at any local nursery. Grow them and enjoy these lovely species of the onion flowers in your garden or as cut flowers.
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