Saturday, May 11, 2013


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Friday, May 10, 2013

Sometimes The Strongest People

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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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♥ Strawberry Hand Pies

My Mom made these with every kind of fruit you can imagine. Sometimes we had blueberry, raspberry, or peach... but my favorite was always strawberry. That's what I am featuring today but feel free to change them to what you have on hand.

Strawberry Hand Pies

For the dough:

 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 oz cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

 4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar (or more, to taste)

Baking and Glazing:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk

Pies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream them together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine, then add the cream cheese and vanilla. Beat until everything is incorporated, then scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of cling wrap and wrap it tightly into a flat disc. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. (Can be made several days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.)

Filling: When you’re almost ready to assemble the pies, place the sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch and sugar over them and stir. Let them sit and get juicy.

When the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour your work surface, then roll the dough out until it is about 1/8” thick. Make sure to lift and rotate it occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking on the bottom. Use a round cutter between 5-6” across to cut out large circles. (You can also trace around a bowl using a paring knife if you don't have a cutter large enough.)

Transfer the circles to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place several spoonfuls of strawberry mixture in the middle of each pie. Fold the dough in half and crimp the edges with a fork to seal them together. If your dough starts to get too soft, refrigerate it briefly until you can work with it again.

Brush the tops of the pies with egg white and a sprinkling of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut a few holes in the top to allow air to escape. Bake the pies at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until they're golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

Glaze: While the pies are cooling, mix together the powdered sugar and milk until you have a glaze that flows but holds its body. Drizzle the cooled pies with the glaze.

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

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♥ Three Ingredient Chicken

Three Ingredient Chicken

1 whole chicken cut up
2 packets Good Seasonings Dry Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix the Italian Seasoning packet and the brown sugar. Coat the chicken in the mix on all sides. Next line a baking pan with foil (the sugar mix will caramelize and be sticky). Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and skin is golden brown and crispy.
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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

♥ Peach and Blueberry Torte

I love this recipe and it makes such a pretty presentation when company comes. It is the perfect summer desert with fresh peaches and blueberries!

Peach and Blueberry Tart

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground unblanched almonds


1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey, 

1/2 cup fresh blueberries
about 5 medium ripe peaches, unpeeled and sliced
1 tablespoon superfine flour, such as Wondra
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

NOTE: I have also used fresh apricots and cherries.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and the sugar, and using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered pan. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The pastry will be quite thin.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake unit the dough is slightly puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the bottom of the crust. (This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.)

In a medium-size bowl, combine the crème fraîche, egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the flour.

Pour the filling evenly over the pastry. Starting just inside the edge of the pan, neatly overlap the sliced peaches, cut side up, at an angle. Arrange in two or three concentric circles, working toward the center. Fill in the center with the remaining peaches. Add some blueberries to fill in.

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes. The peaches will shrivel slightly. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Place the tart on a rack to cool. Sprinkle again with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.
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Tuesday, May 07, 2013



I chopped up a lot of fruit this weekend so I could share my fruit dips with you. Here are two of my favorites. Sometimes during the hot summer months, I like nothing better than a bowl of cold fruit and one of these wonderful dips.....

♥♥♥ Orange Cream Fruit Dip ♥♥♥♥

4 ounces cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup whipping cream

Add cream cheese, vanilla extract and orange zest to a medium bowl then beat on medium speed with a hand mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) until smooth. Add powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing after each addition. Add orange juice then beat until smooth. Add cream then continue to beat with mixer until thick and creamy, about 1 minute.

♥♥♥♥ Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip ♥♥♥♥♥

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1- 6 oz container (any brand) strawberry yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped frozen strawberries
1/2 cup marshmallow cream or marshmallow fluff
Finely chop/blend frozen (thawed) strawberries in a food processor or food chopper. If you choose to chop them by hand, do it while they are still partly frozen. Using a stand mixer, or hand mixer, beat cream cheese until fully smooth. Add strawberry yogurt and blend until smooth. Add chopped strawberries (with juice). Add marshmallow cream. Blend until fully combined.

Put dip in the refrigerator to set up for at least 30 minutes. Serve with fresh fruit of your choice. Dip will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Copyright: Recipe and Photography Welcome Home
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Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Lilac Bush

The Lilac Bush

When I was about 7 years old, I remember my Mom chatting with a neighbor over the fence about a bush she was admiring in her yard. The neighbor handed my Mother a tiny stem from the base of that bush and wished her luck.

My Mom was so thrilled and told me that the stem was from a Lilac bush, her mother's favorite of all flowering bushes and that we had to run and find the perfect place for it. So, we got our garden gloves and our diggers and we went to a spot in the front yard where she imagined seeing it one day when she sat on her front porch swing.

We dug the hole carefully and put in the seedling and she carefully put some rocks all around it to protect it from weeds growing close and from my Dad cutting it down with the lawn mower. Then she stood back to admire that little stick in the ground. She said it would be something that we could watch grow together and it would symbolize our love for one another. And it rooted and it began to grow.

And so began the love affair between my Mom and the Lilac Bush. It was slow growing and she tended to it daily. I can remember how excited she was to see the first flower and she cut it and put it on the kitchen table to admire. As years went by, the bush got bigger and she would go out and cut it's sweet, fragrant flowers and make an entire arrangement that would make the house smell so beautiful. She would sit out on her front porch swing and stare at that Lilac bush with such love that you could actually feel it.

It continued to grow. And grow. And grow. That Lilac got to be 20 feet tall and my Dad's biggest nemesis. Many times I would watch him get slapped with branches as he tried to mow the grass around it. He hated that bush and he would come in with scratches and welts where it looked like it had literally attacked him. He was having his own little affair with it and I can assure you it wasn't one of affection. He would threaten to cut it down every time he mowed the grass. My Mom would stand her ground and dare him to touch it. So there were some heated arguments over the Lilac Bush.

Over the next 10 years, it continued to grow to a point where you could not see above it or around it. It was huge and out of place. It had even invaded the neighbors yard and the bottom of the overgrown bush had become scraggly and unsightly with only sticks and branches. But the top half was just abundant with beautiful flowers and the fragrance filled the air to the point of taking your breath away when you first came in the yard. It was beautiful and she loved that bush and the memories of us planting it and what it stood for. We spent many days sitting on that front porch swing admiring the Lilac Bush. All the while my Dad continued to hate it and fight with it and swear that one day it would come down.

Another 10 years or so passed and I went over to visit my Mom one morning. I pulled up to the house and saw her crying on the front porch. Not just teary eyed and shedding a few tears. She had her face in her hands and was sobbing uncontrollably. I had never seen my Mother so heartbroken. I tried to console her but nothing helped. She could only point in the direction of her beloved Lilac bush.

He had finally done it. My Dad, in a fit of anger while mowing the lawn and getting slapped one too many times, took a chainsaw and cut it down all the way to the ground. To him it was just a bush and an eyesore that my Mother was being unreasonable about. I was furious that he could hurt her that way and confronted him head on.

He was in the house, with his head down and with tears in his eyes he tried to explain his wrong doing. He just saw it as a bush and thought she might get a little angry with him, but then she would get over it. He never in a million years thought he would break her heart and it was killing him that he had made her cry. He was sorry he had done what he's done and feared she would never forgive him.

Time went on and she did get over it and he was forgiven. The place where that symbol of my Mother's love for me stood was now bare and the wonderful fragrance was gone. But life goes on.

It really does...because you see, the following Spring, that bush came back. And it came back with a fury. That spring it was 5 foot tall with beautiful leaves and flowers twice the size. The fragrance of Lilacs was back too and my Mother was convinced that it was a symbol of her love for me and that no matter what, it would never die. For three more years we would sit on that front porch swing and laugh about how that old bush probably needed some trimming anyway!

Four years later my Mom moved to heaven. It was in March just before the Lilacs bloomed, so she never got to see how her beautiful her 15 foot Lilac bush had grown and how even more lush and fragrant it was that year.

Well, I take that back. I'm sure she has watched from above every Spring as my Dad goes out each and every morning with tears in his eyes and cuts those flowers, then carries them to the cemetery and painstakingly arranges them on her grave. I am certain she is watching.

It has now become a ritual. Every spring when that bush is in full bloom he takes those fresh Lilac flowers to her daily. He kneels at the grave and cries as he tells her how sorry he was for breaking her heart that day and isn't sure she ever really forgave him. I went with him once and I thought my heart would break as he tries to get out the words about the one time in their 60 years together that he broke her heart.

This morning I went to visit my Mom and there were Lilacs on her grave. And just like old times, I'm sure we were sharing them together. Her love for me has never died and my love for her has grown even stronger.
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Friday, May 03, 2013

♥ Homemade Caramel Pie with Toasted Coconut

My Mom's old fashioned homemade Caramel pie was to die for. And now that I'm older and times have changed, I can take some great short cuts and get the same incredible taste.

Homemade Caramel Pie with Toasted Coconut

1 refrigerated pie crust (I use Marie Callender's buttery ready made pie crust), thawed. 

You can also use your own homemade pie crust if you prefer.
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

Bake pie crust as directed on package and set aside to cool.

Next make your own homemade caramel: Preheat over to 425 degrees. Pour 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk in an 8 x 8 pan and cover with foil. Place that pan inside a larger pan and fill with hot water so that it is half way up the side of the 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 90 minutes. Cool for about 30 minutes.

Pour the caramel into the pie crust and spread evenly. The mixture may be a little clumpy but it tends to even out when you cool it. Add in a little coconut to your caramel if you'd like.

Garnish pie with whipped cream (I use canned whipped cream) and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Allow pie to cool for a few minutes on the counter and then place in the refrigerator for a few hours until completely chilled.

Two other methods of making homemade caramel....I use the crockpot mostly because I like to make them up ahead of time and store them in the pantry to make pies and cakes just by opening the cans and pouring in the filling!

CROCKPOT: Use two cans of sweetened condensed milk. Wash the cans and removed the labels. Place a sheet of parchment a place both cans inside to fit. Fill the crockpot with water until the cans are submerged completely. Cover the crockpot and cook for 8 hours on low. Carefully remove cans and allow to completely cool for about 3 hours before opening.

STOVE TOP: On the stove, boil a large pot of water. Make sure the pot is big enough to completely cover the cans of condensed milk with water. You can lay them on their sides if you want. Remove the label on the cans of milk and add to the boiling water. Boil the cans for 2-2 1/2 hours making sure the cans stay completely submerged in water. The cans can bust and make a huge mess if they aren't covered the whole time. Remove the the cans gently from the water. They will be very hot. Let cans cool for at least 2 hours before opening as the hot caramel will squirt out and burn you if you open while hot.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

♥ Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
6 oz button mushrooms, quartered
¼ cup white wine
1/2 cup flour
1 carton CAMPBELL'S® low Sodium Chicken broth
1 can CAMPBELL'S® Condensed Cream of Celery soup
¼ cup fresh tarragon, chopped
¼ cup sour cream
1 medium leek, cleaned and chopped (white and light green parts only)

Brown chicken well in heated oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, about 4-5 minutes. Do not crowd the pan, you may have to work in batches. Transfer cooked browned chicken to slow cooker.

Add leeks and mushrooms to pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add flour and stir to combine and transfer to slow cooker. Add soup and broth, cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Before serving, stir in sour cream and tarragon. Serve over cooked egg noodles.
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One late cold and rainy night back in 1965, a black woman in her late 60's stood on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure the downpour of cold rain and strong gusts of wind. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she tried to flag down cars that repeatedly sped by her. Just when she had begun to lose hope, a young white man stopped to help her. Now this was 1965 and in those racially charged years, it just never happened. However this particular young man helped her to his car and then walked in the rain to a phone booth to call her a taxi cab that would take her where she was in a hurry to go. The woman seemed very upset and in a hurry to get to her destination. She thanked him for his help and asked him for his name and address. She wrote it down and quickly left his car to run to the waiting taxi.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the young man's door. To his surprise, a brand new giant console color TV and stereo record player with a box of albums were delivered to his home. There was a thank you card attached that read:

"Dear Mr. James, Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but also my spirits. You see, I knew it would be a long shot that anyone would pick up a black woman on the street that night and I had nearly given up hope of getting home. Then you came along and because you found compassion in your heart to help me that night, I was able to make it home in time to my dying husband's bedside to say goodbye and tell him how much I loved him just moments before he passed away. Had it not been for you I would have surely missed his last 'I love you' that he whispered in my ear before he closed his eyes that last time."

"God bless you my friend for helping me and unselfishly serving others. Please enjoy these songs that my husband so often used to sing to me during our years together. They are original copies and no doubt will be very valuable one day."

"I will miss hearing his voice but his songs will forever live in my heart. I hope they will live forever in yours.

Mrs. Nat King Cole
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mind Games To Play With Humans

Mind Games To Play With Humans

After your humans give you a bath, don't let them towel you dry! Instead, jump up on their bed and dry yourself on the sheets. This is especially good if it's right before your human's bedtime.

Act like a convicted criminal. When your humans come home, put your ears back, with tail between your legs and chin down, and act as if you have done something really bad. Then, watch as the humans frantically search the house for the damage they think you have caused. Note: this works best when you have done absolutely nothing wrong.

Let the humans teach you a brand new trick. Learn it perfectly, then, when the humans try to demonstrate to someone else how well you do it, stare blankly back at them. Pretend you have no idea what they're talking about.

Make your own rules. Don't always bring back the ball when playing fetch with the humans. Make them go and chase it once in a while.

Help your humans learn patience. When you go outside to pee, sniff around the entire yard as your humans wait. Act as if the spot you choose to pee will ultimately decide the fate of the earth.

When out for a walk on the leash, alternate between choking and coughing every time a stranger walks by.

When your human is grooming you, you can really speed things up by passing a little gas and acting like you have no idea where it came from.

When begging for food, never look directly at the human eating. Always put your head down between your paws and look up at them with your sad face. Works every time.

From my book, "If Dogs Could Laugh Out Loud." Now available at iTunes....
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♥ Stove Top Tamale Pie

Stove Top Tamale Pie

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 packages McCormick® Taco Seasoning Mix
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, undrained
1 package (8 ounces) Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup water

Brown ground beef in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat. Stir in Seasoning Mix, tomato sauce and beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare corn muffin mix as directed on package. Drop small spoonfuls of batter over meat mixture. Cover.

Cook on medium-low heat 15 minutes or until corn bread is cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Cover. Cook on low heat until cheese is melted.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Smile At A Stranger Today

Smile at a stranger today. It doesn't take much and you have no idea how powerful that little gesture may be at that precise moment. My mom used to say, "Sometimes you might say or do something very small that might just fit perfectly in the empty space of someone's heart."

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

♥ Lemon Drop Cake

I love lemon desserts. I have been making this cake for years using a Betty Crocker Cake mix. However I use my own lemon butter cream frosting when I make it. So, I gave you the option of using either one in this recipe.

Lemon Drop Cake

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® lemon cake mix Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1 container Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy lemon frosting
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Line two 8-inch square pans with foil, letting foil hang 2 inches over 2 opposite sides of pans. Grease or spray bottoms and sides of foil.
Make cake batter as directed on box. Pour into pans. Bake 25 to 32 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes.

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice. Poke top of warm cake every 1/2 inch with long-tined fork, wiping fork occasionally to reduce sticking. Drizzle and spread lemon mixture over top of cake. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Remove cakes from pans by lifting with foil; peel away foil.

In small microwave-safe bowl, microwave frosting uncovered on High 15 seconds. On serving plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down; trim if necessary so layer rests flat. Spread with half of frosting. Top with second cake, rounded side up. Frost top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with lemon drop candies. Store loosely covered.

On serving plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down; trim if necessary so layer rests flat. Spread with half of frosting. Top with second cake, rounded side up. Frost top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with lemon drop candies. Store loosely covered.

Fluffy Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioners
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) softened
1/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix the butter, lemon zest and vanilla together, making sure all the lumps are gone. Add the milk, and quickly cream it into the butter mixture by the 1/2 cup, mix in the sugar.
Once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for two minutes and then mix in lemon juice.
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Hersey's Kisses Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hersey's Kisses Chocolate Chip Cookies

A Sweet Surprise Inside a Cookie!

48 HERSHEY'S Kisses or Kisses with Almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Chocolate Drizzle (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add flour to butter mixture; blend until smooth. Stir in small chocolate chips. Mold scant tablespoon dough around each chocolate piece, covering completely. Shape into balls; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Prepare Chocolate Drizzle (below) and drizzle over each cookie. About 4 dozen cookies.


Place 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate and 1 teaspoon shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

Recipe courtesy Hersheys
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Meat Loaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes

Meat Loaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potatoes

1 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 (3/4-ounce) slices Land O Lakes® Deli 4 Cheese Italian Blend cheese
Potato Topping
1 1/4 cups water
6 (3/4-ounce) slices Land O Lakes 4 Cheese Italian Blend, cut into quarters
2 cups mashed potatoes whipped with butter and milk
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 450°F. Spray 12 cup muffin pan with no-stick cooking spray. Place muffin pan onto 9 x 13 inch baking pan; set aside.

Combine all meatloaf ingredients except cheese slices in large bowl; mix well. Stack 6 cheese slices. Cut into 4 even strips; then cut across into thirds to create 12 small square stacks of cheese.

Shape about 1/3 cupfuls meatloaf mixture into 12 (2 1/2-inch) balls. Press 1 stack cheese into center of each ball, covering evenly with meat mixture so cheese is in center. Place stuffed meatloaf mixture into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 165°F and meat is no longer pink.

Meanwhile, combine left over mashed potatoes and 6 cheese quarters and cook over medium-high heat until cheese is melted. Top each cupcake with about 3 tablespoons potato mixture over each meatloaf; sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Serve immediately.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Just A Dog

Just A Dog

From time to time I hear this phrase. "It's just a dog." or I hear, "Why do you worry so much, she's just a dog."

To all those people out there who may have said this to me over the years, I want you to know that some of my... proudest moments have come about with what you refer to as "just a dog."

Many hours have passed happily when my only company was with what you refer to as "just a dog." When people have let me down and I've felt so alone, it was what you refer to as, "just a dog" that reminded me of her unconditional love and everlasting friendship.

In those days of darkness, it was the gentle touch of what you refer to as "just a dog" that gave me comfort and support to overcome the hardest days. And what you refer to as "just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

You see, for me, she's not just a dog, but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past and the pure joy of the moment. This dog brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the very thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being, "Just a person."

From my book, "Forever Friends" ~Marty
Photo shown is of my little dog Katie, my best friend and canine soul mate.
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

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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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Your First Love

Your First Love
Your mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street. She's the smell of certain foods you remember, the flowers you pick, the fragrance of life itself.

She's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well. She's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow.

She is Christmas morning. You mother lives inside your laughter. She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take.

She's was your first breath, your first love, your first friend, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time. Not space...not even death.

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You Are One Of A Kind

God made you just the way he wanted for his very own.

You weren't an accident. You weren't mass produced. You aren't an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.

He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning and he gives you the moon at night. He thinks you are wonderful and beautiful and he made no one else in this world like you. 

Remember that the next time you feel you are not good enough...thin enough...pretty enough.... You are enough.  You are one of a kind.
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Dog's Greatest Fear

The greatest fear dogs the fear that you will not come back after you go out the door without them.

~Stanley Cohen
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Life's Lessons: What God Would Have Wanted Me To Learn By Now

As I get older each year, I find myself reflecting on past moments of my life that I can't get back. I often wonder if I've truly learned lessons from the experiences in my life. I decided to ask God what are some of life's lessons that he would have wanted me to learn by now. This book gives me the chance to share these lessons with you.

My book is now available in soft cover, hard back, PDF for your computers and lap tops and also in ebook format for your readers, IPads, Tablets and cell phones.

You can preview my book by clicking on this link:
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One of my favorite things to do in the mornings is to sit at my kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee and watch the bird activity just outside my window. I have hung different bird feeders from the old tree in the backyard, but nothing gets as much activity as this simple little idea I found not too long ago. This my friends is a Slinky....the old fashioned toy we played with years ago....filled with peanuts! I simply formed a circle with thick wire, leaving ends straight. Insert one end of wire into slinky. Secure ends of slinky with wire, leaving a gap for access. Fill it with whole unshelled peanuts and watch the birds work to get them out of the shell! You'll get Blue Jays, Titmice, woodpeckers, and tons of other birds who love nuts.
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Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter saying their goodbyes in their last moments together at the airport. The daughter's flight departure was announced and they hugged.

The mother said: "I love you and I wish you enough."
The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.

The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she was about to cry. She looked at me and asked, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?"

"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead. The reality is that her next trip home will be for my funeral," she said.

When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?"

She began to smile. "That's a saying that has been handed down in my family for generations. My parents used to say it to all of us when we were growing up. When we say it, we are saying, "I wish you a life filled with just enough good things to sustain you."

Then turning toward me, with tears in her eyes, she recited this from memory....

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you just enough pain so that the smallest joys in life will be so much bigger."

"I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you have.
I wish you enough hellos in life to get you through the
final good-bye."

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.

I will never forget her for the rest of my life.
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Baked Parmesan Coated Pork Chops

Baked Parmesan Coated Pork Chops

I like to buy pork tenderloin rather than pork chops, but sometimes because they are such a great deal that I can't pass them up. So I buy them and slice them into pork cutlets myself and save a ton of money over buying those that are already pre-cut and pre-packaged at the grocery store.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Cutlets

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread without crust
1 cup freshly grated Kraft Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 boneless pork loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and lemon peel in pie dish. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Place flour on plate; season generously with salt and pepper. Coat pork chops on both sides with flour; shake off excess. Dip chops into eggs, then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture.

Melt butter with oil in heavy large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet with pork to oven. Bake until pork chops are crisp on the outside and meat thermometer inserted into pork registers 150°F, about 20 minutes

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How many dog lovers out there? Last year I wrote and published two books which clearly show my love for dogs. Both books are free to read online by clicking on the Title of the book below. Be sure and click on the full screen so they are easier to read.

I didn't write these print and ebooks to sell them for profit. I purposely wrote them to raise money for something that I believe in. Every single penny from those sales went to support No Kill shelters across the United States.

"Forever Friends" is a compilation of inspiring and thought-provoking quotes,sayings and poems about dogs. Many of these are meant to inspire, some are meant to bring a smile and others are simply thoughts to ponder. If you enjoy photographs of dogs with both funny and uplifting words, then this book is for you!

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the NO KILL Advocacy Center. A No Kill nation is within our reach….“If every animal shelter in the United States embraced the No Kill philosophy and the programs and services that make it possible, we would save nearly four million dogs and cats that are scheduled to die in shelters this year. It is not an impossible dream.”   Click on the link below for your free preview....
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Easy Garlic Chicken

Easy Garlic Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional herbs and spices, as desired

Preheat oven to 450°F Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.

In small pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired. Place chicken breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 15-30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.

photo credit:
Garlic & Brown Sugar Chicken via 

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"At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have receive, how much money we have or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by how many souls would say "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you gave me shelter."

 ~Mother Teresa
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Citrus Potpourri

I love to mix different things to make my own potpourri and simmer it in my slow cooker or on the stove all day. There is nothing that smells more fresh and clean. I make winter potpourris from apples and maybe coves and cinnamon sticks. But in the Spring and summer months, I love citrus.

2 whole oranges, cut into pieces
4 sticks of cinnamon, broken into 3 pieces each
1 tablespoon whole cloves
water to cover

Add orange, cinnamon, and cloves to pot to simmer on top of the stove or in your slow cooker. Then add water until pot is almost full. Monitor water level frequently, adding more water as needed. Store in the refrigerator each night and it will last you for about a week.

You can add other things to the brew as well. Sometimes, I throw in a couple of slices of lemon. You could also add cranberries, nutmeg, pine needles, or whatever you like. Experiment with it and let me know what you try!
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Bacon Cheddar Puffs

Bacon Cheddar Puffs

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup (4 oz.) Sargento® Fine Cut Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
1/2 tsp. onion salt or powder
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine milk and butter in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is simmering. Add flour all at once; continue to cook, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.

Beat in 1 egg until mixture is smooth. Repeat with remaining eggs, adding just 1 egg at a time, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop heaping teaspoons of mixture onto greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350°F oven 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Crispy Cheddar Chicken

Crispy Cheddar Chicken


4 large chicken breasts
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup milk
3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried parsley


1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup

2 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoon butter

Cut each chicken breast into 3 large chunks. In a small food processor grind up the Ritz crackers.

Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate small pans. Toss the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine.

Dip each piece of chicken into the milk then the cheese. Press the cheese into the chicken with your fingers. Some of it will fall off when you add it to the cracker crumbs, don’t worry about it.

Press the cheesy chicken into the cracker crumbs and press it in. By the time you are coating the last piece of chicken, the dish you are using for the crumbs will be full of cheese. Don't let it get you down. Once the cheese melts in the oven it will adhere nicely to the crumbs and the crackers.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan. Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken.

Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove the tin foil, bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy.

Into a medium sized sauce pan combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk. Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot. Serve over the chicken. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

 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.

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