Thursday, May 23, 2013


The first picture of my Clematis are in full bloom and have wrapped themselves completely around my banister leading up to my back deck. I love this flower! I will be bringing you more glorious photos of God's work soon....stay tuned!
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Coconut Cream Lemon Cookies

A light lemony cookie filled with wonderful creamy butter cream frosting and coconut! Yum!

Coconut Cream Lemon Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
 (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
zest of 3 lemons
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and kosher salt. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and lemon juice and beat until well-combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Gradually add dry ingredients and beat on low or stir with spatula until just combined. Press plastic wrap over dough in bowl, cover bowl with another piece of wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place about 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a bowl or plate. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake large cookies for 10 to 11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking time.

Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then place cookies on wire rack to cool completely. When cookies are completely cool, place a spoonful of coconut cream (recipe below) on the bottom/flat side of one cookie and top with the flat side of a similar-sized lemon cookie. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

White Chocolate Filling with Coconut

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (3.4 oz) Lindt White Chocolate Coconut bar, melted and cooled
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In large bowl, beat butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate until well combined, about 2 minutes. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and beat on low until combined. Beat on medium-high until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.
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Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler

Made a peach cobbler on Sunday and it turned out just like my Mom's. It was just old fashioned goodness in a bowl! Here...let me share it with you.

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler
1 cup flour (self rising)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 stick of butter
1 large can (20+ ounces) of sliced peaches.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, sugar, and milk then set aside. Melt the butter, then pour it into a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking dish and tilt so that it is evenly coated. Next pour in peaches at the center of dish, and try to distribute the peaches evenly. Make sure you add all the juice from the can with the peaches. Sprinkle cinnamon all over top of batter.

Pour the batter in at the center. the batter will even out when you bake this, and yes, it’ll be enough, though it may not look like it.

Now place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the top should be golden brown when the cobbler is done. Serve warm with Vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!

©Welcome Home photo and recipe
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Do Not Regret Growing Older

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

♥ Chocolate-Strawberry Cake

Chocolate-Strawberry Cake

1 box milk chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Greek Fat Free strawberry yogurt
1 container whipped fluffy white frosting
3/4 cup frozen Cool Whip, thawed
10 fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Generously grease or spray two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. In large bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes. Pour into pans.

Bake as directed on box for 8- or 9-inch rounds. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In medium bowl, add frosting; fold in whipped topping.
On serving plate, place 1 cake, rounded side down. Spread with 1/3 cup frosting almost to edge. Cut about 5 strawberries into 1/4-inch slices; arrange on frosted cake. Top with second cake, rounded side up. Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with about 5 halved strawberries in center of cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips around outside edge of top of cake. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.
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♥ Homemade Caramel (Dulce De Leche)

Homemade Caramel (Dulce De Leche)

I love making my own homemade caramel and wouldn't think about using those little candies for any recipe when it is so easy to make your own and it tastes so much better. It's like magic watching a can of... sweetened condensed milk turn into the best caramel you have ever tasted in your life! I will show you three ways to make it...


2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
Oven method: Safest way to make it. 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. The mixture may be a little clumpy but it will even out as it cools. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Crockpot method: Line Crockpot bottom with foil so that the aluminum can doesn't rust and stain your interior. Remove the paper from the can of milk. Set the can of milk on the plate or foil and cover completely with water and cover with Crockpot lid. On HIGH: Cook 6 hours. On LOW cook for 8 hours. CAUTION: Make sure that the can remains covered AT ALL TIMES. Allowing the water to boil off could cause the can to explode. Allow can to come to room temperature before opening. The caramel tends to squirt out and will cause serious burns. Store in air tight container up to a week in the refrigerator.

Stove Top Method:   Remove label from can. Place the can on it's side in a large sauce pan and cover with water at least 2 inches above the can. Bring to a full boil and then turn down the heat. Allow the can to come to a light boil for 2 /2 hours, topping up with water as needed. Be careful and don’t let the water dry out or the can could explode.
Remove from heat and let cool thoroughly before opening can. Don’t open the can while its still hot as it will squirt and burn your skin. The condensed milk will be thick and a nice caramel color.
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It's hard to forget

"It's hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember."
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

♥ Healthier Lemon Blueberry Bread

Healthier Lemon Blueberry Bread

1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat together canola oil, sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk. Fold in lemon zest and blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar in a small bowl. Remove bread from pan and drizzle with glaze. Cool on a wire rack.


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Monday, May 13, 2013

♥ Crispy Potato Bites

I love these! So easy to make and they go with anything. Kids love them too.

Crispy Potato Bites
1 Package Ore-Ida® Steam n' Mash Cut Russet Potatoes
3 Cups Vegetable Oil
2/3 Cup Evaporated Milk
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese Shredded
1 Cup Romano or parmesan Cheese Shredded
1 Cup Flour
1 Egg Lightly Beaten

Microwave Potatoes according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, preheat oil in a 3 qt. heavy saucepan over medium high heat to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together hot Potatoes, milk and butter, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. For a smoother consistency, mix with an electric mixer to desired consistency. Stir in cheddar cheese, Romano cheese, flour and egg, and mix well.

Drop 2 tablespoons of batter into hot oil for each and fry for 1-1/2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Fry 6 to 8 at a time to avoid overcrowding the oil. Drain on paper towels. Garnish with grated Romano or parmesan cheese.

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♥ Buttery Garlic & Onion Mashed Potatoes

Buttery Garlic & Onion Mashed Potatoes

1 pound Russet baking potatoes
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
8 cloves roasted garlic (see below)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Dice potatoes into cubes and place in a saucepan with cold water. Bring to low boil until potatoes are tender. Drain cooked potatoes in a colander and return to saucepan with heat turned off.

In the meantime, while potatoes are cooking. Saute onions in small fry pan until they are browned and caramelized. In large mixing bowl, add potatoes, butter, milk and salt and pepper and beat until potatoes are light and fluffy. Add more or less milk for the consistency you want. Add both the roasted garlic and onions to the potatoes and mix with spoon until well blended.

How to Roast Garlic Cloves

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Separate a head of garlic into cloves. Choose the larger cloves and rub any excess loose, papery skin off of each clove, but do not peel the cloves. Cut both ends off each clove, leaving part of the clove exposed through the skin on each end. Put the trimmed garlic cloves into a glass baking dish.

Pour olive oil into the dish until the oil comes at least 1/4 of the way up the cloves of garlic. The amount of oil you will need to do this varies greatly depending on the size of your baking dish, the number of cloves you are roasting and the size of the cloves. Stir the mixture to coat the cloves in oil.

Put the baking dish of oil and garlic into your preheated oven. Roast until even the largest cloves in the dish are soft and slightly browned. This should take 20 to 30 minutes, but start checking the cloves after 10 minutes to make sure you do not burn them. Allow the cloves to cool, then squeeze the garlic out of the skins and use as desired.

Recipe courtesy of Pro-Health Smart Potatoes
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

I'm Standing Next To You

I'm Standing Next To You
You can't see me or touch me
but I'm standing next to you.
It's sad to see you cry for me
I wish you only knew.
I'm standing next to you.
Even though you think I'm gone,
I've really never left your side
I've been here all along.

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

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Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter - room temp
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs - room temp
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats - not instant
1 1/2 cup grated carrots - about 3 large carrots
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 - 4 minutes in a stand mixer). Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium until well combined.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; whisk to combine. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. Do not over mix.

Mix in oats, carrots, and walnuts. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until browned and crisp around the edges, 11 to 15 minutes rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting filling.

8 ounces cream cheese - room temp
1 stick unsalted butter - room temp
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add butter and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar and cinnamon and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Then put frosting/filling into a large Ziploc bag and snip the lower corner. Lay out 1/2 of the cookies upside down and put some of the filling on the cookies. Put on the tops and press down a little and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar and some sliced almonds and enjoy!
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♥ Banana Pudding Trifle

We all can remember that favorite dish our Mom's used to make...for me it was my Mom's Chicken and Dumplings for dinner and her wonderful Banana Pudding for dessert. I can still taste this banana pudding as if it was yesterday....unbelievably good!

Banana Pudding Trifle

4 tablespoons of flour
½ cup of sugar
4 cups of milk
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
7 Bananas (not overly ripe, no brown spots)
A box Nabisco vanilla wafers

Place the flour, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and butter in a large saucepan on high heat. Add each of the egg yolks one at a time into the saucepan and stir until mix well. Bring to a boil. After the ingredients thicken, simmer the ingredients on low heat until the mixture combines into a thick pudding texture. Cool for 2 minutes.

Cut slices of the bananas, place in bowl and set aside. In a clean baking pan, place a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom. Then add a layer of sliced bananas on top of the vanilla wafers followed by the pudding mixture on top. Repeat this step until everything are used.

Whipped Cream Topping: Whipped Topping: Whip together 1 cup chilled heavy cream, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Spread over cooled banana pudding.

If you want to make this in a regular 9 x 13 baking dish or 2 quart round oven proof casserole, you can use various
Various Toppings: My Mom used to take the whites from those eggs she used in the custard and whip them up to make the best Meringue. These two are not to be made in your Trifle dish.....

Marshmallow Topping: Top off the pudding with closely-spaced marshmallows and bake at 350 for 5 minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown. Cool and serve.

Meringue topping: Beat 3 egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form, then spread onto top of pudding mixture. Broil with the oven door open so you can keep an eye on it, until golden brown.
Photo by Kar
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"Because You Loved Me"

For my Mom who I miss every single day...

Because You Loved Me
For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth you made me see
... For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right.
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you.
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me.
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'cause you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand so I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach.
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all.
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark, shining your love into my life.
You were my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world was a better place because of you
I was blessed to be loved by you

I'm everything I am today Mom,
because you loved me.

"Because You Loved Me" is a song sung by Céline Dion. It was written by Diane Warren as a tribute to her father. It was produced by David Foster, it was released as a single on February 19, 1996
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Missing my Mom today

Missing my Mom today, as probably many of you are who's mothers moved to heaven.

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, and I will miss her everyday for the rest of my life.

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♥ Parmesan Crusted Chicken a la Cordon Bleu

This is really rather good for a quick fix casserole using some store bought ingredients mixed with homemade.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken a la Cordon Bleu

1 1/3 cups hot water
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 box Chicken Helper® Parmesan crusted chicken
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In 2-quart nonstick saucepan, stir hot water, 1 1/2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and the sauce mix and uncooked pasta (from Chicken Helper box). Heat just to boiling, stirring frequently. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender. Remove from heat; stir in ham. Cover to keep warm. Sauce will thicken as it stands.

Meanwhile, cut each chicken breast into 3 to 5 slices, holding knife at an angle. Slices should be about 1/2 inch thick. Reserve 2 tablespoons seasoned crumbs (from Chicken Helper box). Place chicken in medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon milk to moisten. Add remaining crumbs to coat chicken.

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and the oil over medium heat until butter is melted. Carefully add chicken to hot butter mixture; cook 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce heat to medium-low. Turn chicken; cook 4 to 6 minutes longer or until golden brown and centers are no longer pink.

Meanwhile, in 7-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter; stir in reserved 2 tablespoons crumbs. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until crumbs are brown. Remove from heat.
Place pasta in serving dish; top with chicken and sprinkle with buttered crumbs and cheese.
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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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