Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bad Name, Great Recipe - Mud Hen Bars, Great for Super Bowl Sunday

This my friends is a Mud Hen Bar.  A What?  A Mud Hen Bar.  A what?  You read that correctly.  What exactly is a Mud Hen and why would anyone name something so delicious such an awful name?  I wish I knew.  Truly.  This is something you will want to make in the very near future.  They would be excellent for Super Bowl Sunday!  They are easy to make and so, so good.

I tried to do some research on why they would be named Mud Hen Bars, but with no luck.  Seems there are many people on the world wide web asking the same question.  Evidently the recipe has been around for years and years with no information about how the name came to be.  This is what I did find.  There is a Mud Hen, New Jersey, a minor league baseball team in Toledo, Ohio, named the Mud Hens, and a Mud Hen is a bird that lives in the marshes, is very round with long legs and has trouble launching itself into flight.  Now, I see no connection to any of these other than the fact that the original recipe could possibly have come from Mud Hen, New Jersey.  Even then, I think I would have come up with a better name.  Seriously, Mud Hen does NOT sound inviting in any way and they are really, really good!

I found this recipe on one of my favorite sites, Plain Chicken.  I read over the ingredients and knew these would be good because I have been making a cookie bar called Chinese Chews for years and they are somewhat similar. (I'll share that one some day).   Now there's another name - Chinese Chews.  Where did that name come from?  Makes you wonder and they are just as good as Mud Hen Bars.

Here is what you need to make these delectable treats:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 whole egg
2 eggs separated
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

First, beat the white sugar and butter together until creamy.  Beat in 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks, keeping the whites for later.  Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Spread cookie batter into a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle the marshmallows and chocolate chips on top of the unbaked cookie crust.
(Are you thinking s'mores yet?  That's what I thought, but kind of yes and no.)

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  A stiff peak must stand on it's own.
Now, fold in the brown sugar.  This is your meringue.  Folding means stirring from the bottom up and over the top, not just mixing.  Be gentle.
Spread the meringue mixture over the marshmallows and chocolate chips.  Bake for 30 minutes.
It looks kind of flat when you first spread it on, but looks like this after it is baked.
That lovely merengue gets nice and puffy and brown and kind of crunchy.  Oh my.

Let cool in the pan and cut into squares.  Serve.  Try to keep from eating them all in one sitting.

These bars are sweet, I am warning you now.  But, holy cow they are good.  My only idea would be to add chopped nuts and maybe even some coconut if you like either or both.  Wowsa.  That would make them over the top good.

You have a nice layer of cookie base, just a hint of chocolate chip cookie, but not quite because of the melted marshmallows in the middle with the chocolate chips.  The texture of the meringue is heavenly with all that brown sugar in it.  They are chewy bars that you will just have to make to understand how good they are.

Yeah, you need to make these.  They would be a real hit for Super Bowl Sunday.  Dan LOVES them. If you're like me and don't really care about the game, but do love the good eats, these are for you!  They will make your day.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Even though the name is not particularly appealing for a recipe, don't pass it by.  Names can be deceiving.  ; )

Monday, January 28, 2013

Parmesan Chicken Sticks - Perfect For Super Bowl Sunday

Iiiiiitttttttt's Monday!  Again!  Hope your weekend was spectacular.  We spent ours at grandsons' (plural) basketball games on Saturday and helped our other daughter pack her house for their big move this week.  Have you ever packed to move with two little ones running around?  I have, and all the help you can wrangle is a major bonus.  Some to pack and some to chase children.  They are moving to a new house all on one level.  She is so excited.  No more flights of stairs to navigate with two little boys.   Talk about a workout.  Wow.

On Friday night, I felt ambitious and wanted to fix something different for dinner.  Don't you get tired of the same things all the time?  I sure do.  Well, that huge package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts  in the fridge looked like they were it whether they wanted to be or not.  I hunted around the net to see what I could find as far as recipes using chicken breasts.  One of the first places I always look is Foodnetwork.com.  Lots and lots of good recipes on there and Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa, always has awesome recipes that are not hard, but always flavorful and delicious.  What did I spy, but a recipe for parmesan chicken sticks.  Sounded good to me!  I mean, who doesn't love chicken parmesan?   And, what to go with them?  Why my 3 cheese mac and cheese of course (made from scratch) and a recipe for zucchini cakes that I found on Pinterest a while back.  They are like potato pancakes made with zucchini and a tzatziki sauce to go with them.  Yum.  Yum.  Yum.

I put our youngest son to work grating zucchini while I prepared the parmesan chicken sticks.  They are really easy and oh my goodness delicious.  These would be perfect for Super Bowl serving!!  For Super Bowl you want some finger type food that guys will love and these certainly fit the bill.  Here is what you need:

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (3 to 4 - I used 4 and had a mound of chicken sticks)
1 cup flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 extra large eggs
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Bamboo skewers 6-10 inches long, optional


Lay the chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice each diagonally into 4 or 5 large strips.  (The chicken breasts I had were very large so I got 6-7 strips per breast).  I also ended up doubling the breading recipe.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Beat the eggs with 1 TBSP of water in a second shallow bowl.  Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a third shallow bowl.  Dredge the chicken breasts on both sides in the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and roll in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly to coat.

Heat 1 TBSP of butter and 1 TBSP of olive Oil in a large saute pan and cook the chicken sticks on medium low heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until just cooked through.  Don't crowd the pan.  (I used my non stick electric skillet so I could cook more at a time).  Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken sticks.  Serve each stick on a skewer if you want.  (We didn't bother, but could be good for the Super Bowl).

You can keep the chicken breasts warm for about 15 minutes on a sheet pan in a preheated 200 degree F oven until you finish all the chicken sticks.

We ate these with some Trader Joe's marinara sauce (warmed) for dipping.  Mm, mm, mm, mm, mmm.  Dan and Tyler declared these fantastic and we certainly will be making them again!  We had a huge plate of chicken sticks and enjoyed them for two more meals.

If you have children, I guarantee they will love these scrumptious pieces of chicken.  So will anyone at a Super Bowl gathering.  They were so tender and tasty we could not stop commenting on how delicious they were.  Tyler, who is somewhat of a foodie, TRULY liked them if you want a good testimonial from someone with rather discriminating taste.  Dan declared the meal better than most restaurant meals which made the effort more than worthwhile.

Thanks Ina for a great recipe!  Hope you all give it a try.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

I predict that one of the teams will win the Super Bowl.  ; )

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sinfully Good Red Velvet Cookies - 21 Days Til Valentine's Day

Greetings friends and neighbors.  I have been absent for a couple of days due to an AT&T issue that shut our internet and cable down.  Seems there was a server problem in Atlanta and it caused outages all throughout the southeastern United States.  If you think you are not dependent on the internet, think again.  I look up so many things in a day's time its unbelievable.  Then again, perhaps I spend way too much time on the world wide web.  How did I discover this?  By all of the things I accomplished here at home during the two days without service.  Perhaps it's time to reevaluate my minor addiction.

We are now 21 days away from Valentine's Day.  It is rolling up in a hurry don't you think?  Do you make things for your sweetheart, family or friends?  Or, do you just run out and grab some run of the mill manufactured card and maybe some candy or flowers?  I am not knocking your choice whatever it may be.  Thoughtfulness is the name of the game when it comes to the big red heart day.  If you start planning now, you can do something original or hand made which shows you put in just a little more thought or effort into expressing your love and appreciation for your special someones.  Perhaps you can make a special dinner, hand made card, or gift.

How about baking some lovely cookies that are devilishly delicious?  How about some sinfully good red velvet cookies?  Huh?  How about it?  These are divine and so easy to make.  This recipe came from Food.com.  Here is what you need:

1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 18 ounce box red velvet cake mix
confectioner's sugar for rolling and dusting


In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Beat in the egg.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Add the cake mix and beat until thoroughly incorporated.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm up the mix so that you can roll the batter into balls.  

After the batter has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12 minutes.  The cookies should remain soft and gooey.  Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar.

My thought was to add some white chocolate chips to the batter for a little extra something something.  Doesn't that sound just fine?   Either way, these cookies are sooooooo good and the beautiful red and white is perfect for Valentine's day.

(A little FYI, your hands will be very red from the food coloring in the batter after rolling all the balls.  Don't be alarmed, just scrub them really well with a good soap or dishwashing liquid.  It does come off and does not leave your hands stained.)

Now is the time to start your plans.  Aldi's still had some of their seasonal red velvet cake mixes today and I am partial to theirs, but there are other brands available.  You might want to make a test batch before the big day so you will get to eat some of them.   I'm just sayin'.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."
-- Maya Angelou

Monday, January 21, 2013

Valentine Candles

 Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and Inauguration Day!  What a momentous occasion today has been with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and celebrating the life of a true hero of the American Civil Rights movement.  Reverend Dr. King did so much for the rights of everyone to be free and equal.  He laid down his life for his beliefs and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude.  Celebrating his birthday is one way we can remember him and all of his contributions to mankind.

Watching all the ceremony and pomp of Inauguration Day certainly makes one grateful to be an  American and know that we are free to elect whomever we choose to be the best candidate to lead our country.  We still have a way to go in making everyone in our country equal in enjoying rights given to some, but not all.  This is a part of President Obama's speech today.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.  President Barack Obama, January 21, 2012.

It makes me proud to know we have a President leading our country who truly believes in equality for all.  Hopefully, the day will soon arrive when the tenets of our Constitution will apply to everyone.

Time to get down off my soapbox now and proceed with today's blog post.  Yes, it's more Valentine's Day ideas and yes, these are really cute and really inexpensive.

Perhaps you may need a few small gifts for Valentine's Day, or you just want something to decorate your home.  You may need centerpieces for a Valentine party or a romantic dinner.  These devotional candles are quick and easy.  You may remember my post before Christmas where I made Santa's bellies and burlap angels using these candles.  Because they come in clear glass, the possibilities for decorating them are endless.  Everything came from the Dollar Tree except the piece of red felt which came from Michael's and was only $.35.

Here is what you need:

Devotional candles - $1.00 each  - however many you want to make
1 package of white paper heart doilies - 20 for $1.00
1 spool white cotton twine - $1.00
1 piece of red felt 9x12 - Michael's $.35

First, I cut out some small red felt hearts that would fit inside the center of the paper heart doilies.
Run some hot glue around the edge and center of the felt hearts.  Press them on the paper heart doilies in the center
When the glue is set, place a dot of hot glue in the back of the paper heart doily and place on the devotional candle where you want it.  Put a small dab of hot glue on the top edge of each heart (both sides) and press it to the glass until it holds.

Now, cut a piece of twine about 1.5 - 2 feet long.   Wrap the twine around the heart however you desire.  Make whatever design you want.  I made mine 3 different ways.
Tie the twine in a knot on the back of the candle and cut the string close to the knot.  That's it.  Done.  Easy peasy.  You have a gift that cost you peanuts about $1.10 each.  Look how adorable they are!  If you wanted to use red card stock instead of felt, you could put a message in the center of each heart.  Just an idea!  Now, you have a Valentine card/gift all in one.  Pretty.  Handmade.  Thoughtful.  Original.

I put mine on the sofa table in our living room.  They look so pretty there and brighten up the gray, cold days we have been experiencing.  
The antique blocks on the left are the initials for our 6 grandsons with the number 6 on top.  I have been looking for a set of these blocks for years and found them right before Christmas at a wonderful shop in East Nashville called Wonders on Woodland.  A few of the blocks are missing, but I was so excited to find them.  You see them used in decor in magazines all the time and they are one of those items I kept asking myself where I could find them?  Lucky me, they were right on the counter when I walked in the door and they were calling my name.  Needless to say, they did come home to live with me.  

Our two year old grandsons, who are cousins, think they are the bomb.  All the fancy toys in the world today and they want to play with these blocks.  Go figure.  The carved "R" block is missing, so I had to use one of the printed sides for our NYC grandson whose name starts with R.  There are 7 more blocks in the set and I will be using them a lot in the future.

These are one of those simple things that make my heart smile.  On the right side are some pictures of three of our precious little men.  Being a grandparent is such a joy!

A friend of mine tried to find some of these candles before Christmas and had no luck.  They are always in the candle/vase department at the Dollar Tree.  Our Kroger also sells them.  I have not checked any other dollar stores for availability.  I do know that Dollar Tree will order items for you if they do not have them.  They have a catalog and you can order in quantity and have it shipped to the store so you don't have to pay shipping.  Then, you can pick the items up there.  I used to do it when I worked as the floral designer at the casino back home.  They are usually very helpful about ordering items for you.  

 Your Valentines will love receiving such a thoughtful gift from you.  Even if you don't consider yourself a crafty person, these are quick, easy, and thrifty!  Remember, these would be great for teachers, friends, or to use as a centerpiece for a Valentine party or romantic dinner.  Have fun with this project and be creative!  You can do it!!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where our father's died,
Land of the pilgrim's pride,
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring.

America, written by Samuel Francis Smith

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hanging Paper Hearts

Hello!  Sorry to have missed posting yesterday, but it was another gray, gloomy day and we spent it helping our oldest daughter with our grandsons.  Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done, but that's okay because we had a lot of fun with the boys.  Any day with the grandsons is a good day!

Thought I would continue with some Valentine ideas that you might be interested in trying.  These paper hearts are hanging from out dining room light fixture.  They are so adorable.  Not only are they festive and colorful, but they help complete the Valentine theme going on in the little yellow cottage right now.

I used scrap book paper to make these and it was not Valentine paper, but Christmas paper.  Red, pink - it all works and it didn't cost me anything.  I just used stuff from my stash.  That's my favorite price for a project - nothing.  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.   Just took a little digging and some ingenuity.  

I don't have a Cricut or any fancy cutting machine, so my hearts are not perfectly even because they were cut with scissors.  Good old fashioned Fiskars and a little steady cutting.  Throw in a little glue, some 20 gauge silver wire, a few beads and voila, we have ourselves a Valentine mobile of sorts.

Feel free to use any kind of paper that you like.  There are so many beautiful scrap book papers available these days.  I just wanted to save a little money and a trip to the store by using what I had on hand.

To make each heart, I used two pieces of the same kind of paper, 2 pieces with dots, 2 pieces with stripes, and 2 pieces of solid pink.  Depending on the size heart you make, you can get many from a 12 x 12 piece of scrapbook paper.  Here is what you do.

Lay two pieces of paper wrong sides together (that means with the design facing out).  Make yourself a heart to use as a template.  My heart is 4 inches x 4 inches and I simply cut it out of a scrap piece of felt.  Lay your template on the paper(s) and trace as many as you would like to make.  It takes two heart complete heart shapes (4 pieces) to make one actual hanging heart.
I pulled the bottom piece of paper up so that the wrong side shows in this picture to remind you to put wrong sides together.  The heart template is laying at an angle because I wanted the stripes to be diagonal.  I cut all my heart pieces out and began to glue them together by putting two heart shapes of the same pattern wrong sides together.  Using a glue stick, I traced the outside edge of the heart on the wrong size of the paper.   Then, I put a strip of glue down the middle of the heart.  Next, I pressed two hearts together.  Once I had two complete hearts, I folded them in half like this.
If you are confused, please forgive me.  I forgot to take a picture of the stripes and did polka dots instead.  Oops.  Then I ran a bead of hot glue down the folded edge of one heart and pressed the two hearts together.  You now have a heart with 4 sides.

Open the 4 sides up and use a darning needle to pierce a hole through the heart.  I used 20 gauge silver wire because I liked the way it looked.  You could use twine or ribbon or anything you like.  I threaded the wire through the hole and brought the end up and twisted it around the long piece of wire to make the heart hang level.  Next, I put a few beads on the long wire and then wrapped the long wire around the arm of the light fixture.  I made a curlicue in the middle just for interest.  Just simply wrap the wire around a pencil to make the curlicue.
When I was making the pink hearts, I decided they looked really plain next to the patterned hearts so I used the X and O stamps from an little alphabet set I have to make "hugs and kisses" all over the hearts.  Love the way they look.

Is there anything cuter or happier than polka dots?  Gotta love em.

This is out table set for Valentine's with some silver place mats I found at Old Tyme Pottery.  The napkins have pearl napkin rings around them and I simply put a red doily in the corner for some color and to tie in with the Valentine theme.  Have I told you I have a thing for paper doilies?  I do.  It goes back to childhood.  Don't ask me why, I just love them.

The candle holders and votive holders in the center of the table are mercury glass which is another love.

These adorable hanging hearts could be made any size and hung any place you would like.  They just happen to be perfect over our table.  You could made a real mobile if you were so inclined.

Well, the days are counting down and it will be Valentine's Day before you know it.  Time to get started if you haven't already.  This project would be fun to share with your children or grandchildren.  Perhaps you have a crafting circle or friends looking for an inexpensive project to share.   This would be a good one.  Have fun and let me see what you make!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Only do what your heart tells you.    Princess Diana

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ruffled Crepe Paper Heart

Rain, rain, rain, sleet, more rain and sleet.  That is the weather we have been experiencing the last two days.  Ugh.   The only thing this weather is good for is to keep us inside.  When I am inside, I accomplish things.  Crafting and cooking would be two of the things accomplished.  So, I guess it's really not so bad that the weather is ugly.  But, I am ready for some sunshine.  Just sayin'.

It was time to decorate my "shutter" and cabinet top for Valentine's Day since the mantel was complete.   A heart.  That's what I wanted because what could be more representative of Valentines' Day?  I had some things that I could use to make decorations with, or I could use last years decorations.  With time on my hands, I opted for making something new.

It was very hard to get the pictures to not look like the heart had been irradiated by something nuclear.  Some colors are very difficult to photograph and pink and red together happen to be two of those colors.

I tried taking pictures with the lights on, with the lights off, with some lights on, and every combination I could think of.  No luck.  The heart looked like it glowed from within and you could not see any of the detail.  It looked like a big glowing orange flame ball.  So, the next best thing was to show a close up which is not perfect, but is somewhat better.

Now, you can see some of the detail which is really quite adorable in actuality.  All the ruffles make the heart look like the lid of a Valentine candy box or a big ruffled pillow.

Once again, I started with no particular plan other than knowing I wanted a heart to hang on the shutter.

Did you know you can sew on crepe paper? When I was in first grade in 1953 (don't faint), I was in a production at school produced by one of the first grade teachers.  Students were chosen to be in the production which was about the months of the year.  Everyone had a costume and sang a song that represented their month.  I was one of 4 little girls who represented the month of February as Valentines.  We wore white pinafores made from crepe paper decorated with red hearts and a red crown of hearts.  Our mothers made our pinafores by sewing the crepe paper.  They were so adorable with ruffles and a full skirt tied at the waist.  This production is one of my most treasured memories from school and I loved the costume.  Loved it.

That story was to say that I had a couple rolls of crepe paper in pink and red.  I put them together, red on top of pink, and ran a gathering stitch down the center all the way to the end of the roll.  If you put your stitch length on the longest stitch (gathering stitch), the crepe paper will just ruffle as you stitch it.  I used clear nylon thread to sew it with.
Okay, so I now had a lot of ruffled crepe paper.  Now what?  I had a piece of poster board, so I cut out a big heart by folding the poster board in half and cutting a large heart shape with scissors.  The heart measured 19 x 16.  I got the glue gun and plugged it in.  I started at the bottom point of the heart and began running a bead of glue in sections and then pressed the center of the ruffle over the glue a section at a time, pink side down.  I kept this up all the way around the heart and then continued another row with the edges of the ruffles touching.  What next?  It looked flat.
As I finished a row, I decided to separate the red crepe paper from the pink, like you do when you are making tissue paper flowers.  I gently pulled the red crepe paper up on each side of the gathering stitch and let the pink lay flat.  Around and around I went until I got to the center.  How to finish?  Hmmmm. I rolled the crepe paper close together and glued it down to make the center look like a flower.

 After separating all the paper, it looked like the picture at the very top.   I loved the way it looked, but it was kind of bendable.  It would not be hanging flat against a wall.  Time for a remedy.

I had a 14 inch wreath from the Dollar Tree, so I wrapped some red crepe paper around it and attached it at the beginning and the end with hot glue.
After covering the entire wreath, I glued some remaining ruffle around the outside edge of the wreath.
Next, I laid the heart on the wreath, centering it so the heart would be stable.  I lifted sections of the heart and put hot glue on the wreath and then pressed the poster board onto the hot glue. It didn't take long to go around the entire wreath.  This gave the heart stability so it didn't bend or collapse on itself.

I had some red satin ribbon that I placed around the wreath and through a little opening I left between the poster board and the wreath and tied a bow for a hanger.  Then I marched it right over to my shutter and hung it up.  LOVE it.  Total cost, $3.00.  Yes, you read that right.  $3.00.  Each package of crepe paper with two rolls per package were $1.00 each at the Dollar Tree and the wreath was another $1.00.  How's that for a super bargain?

I finished the cabinet top with some pretty white doves my mom gave me for Christmas and some red deco mesh.  Next, I tossed in some silk flowers I had in my stash and made a couple of candle decorations from dollar candles from you know where.
This was one of several projects I worked on today.  Doesn't it look pretty?  Romantic?  Valentine-ish?  (Is that a word?  Guess it is now).  It also added some glam to this super gloomy day.

This was a fun project that didn't take a whole lot of time or money.  Perhaps this will give you some ideas for projects of your own.  We are now under one month until Valentine's Day.  Time to get busy!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

I claim there ain't
Another Saint
As great as Valentine.
~Ogden Nash

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Page Valentine Banner

Happy Monday!  Hope your weekend was spectacular.  We enjoyed 70 degree weather on Saturday,  Sunday started out at 70 and it poured rain all day, and today it's 30 with sleeting rain.  Welcome to winter in Nashville.  The poor birds were so confused, they were just singing their little hearts out on Saturday.  I wanted to tell them not to fall for it, it isn't spring yet - just one of those cruel tricks that the weather gods play on us sometime.  I am sure they realized it by last night.  Poor little birds.

Now for a reminder - Valentine's Day is one month from today.  That's right ladies and gents, one month from today.  So I guess you know what I spent time doing over the weekend.  You guessed right!  It was time to make some Valentine decorations.

There is still a huge pile of book pages from my wreath making project so it was natural to use some of those.  I had 4 sheets of Valentine scrapbook paper that I bought last year and never used, and there was the $1.00 felt heart garland I found at the Dollar Tree last week.
This garland is really cute with lots of felt heart hooked together with little rings that allow you to slip the hearts right off if needed.  The only problem is the hearts all hang sideways because of the way the garland is made.   I know, what does one expect for a dollar?  But, they are nice and uniform in size, the garland is 9 feet long and I didn't have to cut out any red felt hearts!  I did have an idea in mind for these hearts.

To make my garland, I figured I needed 10 of the book pages.  I put all ten pages together, folded them in half without creasing them and "dovetailed" them with a pair of scissors. (That means to cut at an angle from the corner to the middle of the page.  I do it with ribbon mostly).  Dovetailing will make the pages look like this one on the bottom.  By doing them all at the same time, they will all be cut exactly alike.
Next, I cut out hearts from the scrap book paper in two different sizes.  I decided which ones I wanted on which pages, mixed and matched the designs, glued the hearts together, and then glued the hearts on each page.

Using a piece of sisal twine the length of the mantel with just a little allowance for some "swag", I hot glued the tops of the pages to the twine, spacing the pages out so there would be room for some of the red felt hearts between each page in the banner.

I took the garland apart in groups of 3's and 2's and hooked the rings over the sisal twine so that the hearts would hang down instead of sideways.  Ta dah.  Done.  How easy was that?

The two glittered hearts on the mantel came in a package of 5 hearts of different sizes from guess where?  Yep, the Dollar Tree.  Lots of glitter and no cutting.  I just leaned them against two votive cups on the mantel.  Done!

I love easy projects that are colorful, did not cost much and make me happy.  Perhaps this will give you an idea for a Valentine project for your home, school room or Sunday school room.  You can buy an entire used book if you need pages for next to nothing at a used book store, or perhaps you have one at home that you can use.  Some colored paper, sisal twine, felt hearts, and you can have an entire banner for just a few dollars.  That is my kind of price!

Tomorrow, I will share some other projects with you that are fun and easy.  After spending years working in a flower shop, Valentine's Day was NOT my favorite holiday for years and years due to the stress of meeting everyone's expectations.  Now, Valentine's is fun again and everyone needs to know they are loved.  Don't forget!  One month.  Go.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.   Margaret Atwood

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Filling - Kicked Up Another Notch

Have you started thinking about Valentine's Day yet?  I know, we just took down the Christmas decorations and survived New Years Eve.  But, it's time.  Really, it is.  It will be here before you know it.  I started working on decorations this week, but have been sidelined by a few things that came up along the way.  Things like going to see Les Miserables today.  I have no words.  It was beautiful and beyond moving.  I will be thinking about it for days and days.  Probably forever.

Back to the subject.  Last night I had the urge to bake.  That happens to me sometimes, actually a lot of the time.  I had seen these Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cupcakes on Pinterest and thought they looked like just the thing to bake, so I printed out the recipe from LickTheBowlGood.blogspot.com.  When I read through the recipe I realized it only made 8 cupcakes.  Eight?  Dan could eat eight by himself in one evening.  So, I used a bit of her recipe and bit of my own idea and came up with these.  Are they good?  Heck yah!  Fabulous in fact.  I will give you her recipe (which I have NOT baked), and will tell you how I made mine.

Aldi's has a red velvet cake mix that is seasonal and it is fabulous.  I like it better than making red velvet from scratch if truth be told.  I bought 6 cake mixes at Christmas time so that I would have a few on hand when they were no longer available.  Then, I discovered this recipe and I am going to head up there tomorrow and see if they still have some in stock.  I will be making these again, plus I have a great cookie recipe to share with you later that is made from this same cake mix.  They would both be perfect for Valentine's Day.

Here is the recipe from LickTheBowlGood.

1 cup + 2 TBSP all purpose flour
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 large egg
1 TBSP red food coloring
3/4 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP sour cream


4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix all the ingredients for the cupcakes together.  Make the filling in a separate bowl.  Put paper liners in 8 muffin cups.  Put 1 Tbsp batter in each cupcake paper.  Add 1 Tbsp filling to each cupcake paper.  Put another Tbsp batter on top of filling.  Bake cupcakes for 20-23 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Now, here is what I did to make my version of this fabulous cupcake with the cream cheese filling.  I kicked it up a notch.  Shhhh, don't tell.

Make the red velvet cake mix according to package directions.  This cake mix made 24 cupcakes.  See the difference?  There are other brands of red velvet cake mixes available, I just really, really like Aldi's.

To make the filling I used 8 ounces of cream cheese softened, 4 Tbsp sugar, 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix all together until it is smooth.  Then, (yes, then) I added 2/3 cup of chocolate chips to the cream cheese mixture.  Red velvet cake with cream cheese and chocolate chips?  Yes, please!

Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake papers.  Add 1 Tbsp batter to each cupcake paper.  Add a scant 1 TBSP cream cheese filling to each cupcake paper, dropping it over the cake batter.  Again, add 1 Tbsp cake batter to each cupcake paper to cover the cream cheese.  Bake at 350 for 19-22 minutes, according to directions on the box.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center cupcake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Now, (yes, now) I made a little icing glaze to go over the cupcakes.  I think they are plenty rich without a lot of icing, so this is what I did.

2 Tbsp butter, melted in saucepan
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
1 or 2 TBSPS milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the white chips and stir until they melt.  Add the powdered sugar and 1 TBSP milk.  If glaze appears to thick to drizzle, add a little more milk.  You don't want it too runny.

When cupcakes are cool, use a spoon and drizzle the icing over the cupcakes.  This will set in just a few minutes and they are ready to dive into.  Wow!  They are sooooooooo good.  Dan ate 3 in a row.
Here is how they look on the inside.
You have cream cheese and chocolate chips in the middle of red velvet cake.  Wowsa, they are awesome.  The glaze adds just a nice hint of icing.  Perfect.

Wouldn't these be beautiful for Valentine's Day?  You know any Valentine would love to receive some of these!  The great thing about using the cake mix is you don't have to mess with the red food coloring.  I have been known to splash it everywhere when mixing.  It can be a mess.

Feel free to try the recipe from Pinterest, I am sure it is very good.  I just took the easier road last night.  Sometimes it is just the thing to do - the easier road.  As it turned out, it was the right road.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

To love another person is to see the face of God.  Victor Hugo.  Les Miserables  (I will never stop thinking about this movie.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Please Get Your Eyes Checked

This is your reminder to get your eyes checked to maintain your vision health!  There are many eye diseases that are "silent" with no symptoms.  Unfortunately, when the damage is done, it is irreversible. When your vision is gone, it is gone.  No one wants that to happen.  When vision is lost, our lives would be forever changed.

Today was my 6 month check up where I have my eye pressures tested.  I was diagnosed with glaucoma 29 years ago, when I was 35.  Medication has been necessary since that time to keep the pressures down in my eyes so that no further damage would occur to my optic nerves.  Once a year I undergo a visual field test and have computer images done of my optic nerves to make sure no further damage has been done from the increased ocular pressure in my eyes.  Twice a year, I get my pressures tested to make sure they are within "normal" range.

Next week, I will be evaluated for laser surgery.  Using lasers, they try to break up tissue behind your corneas to allow the eyes to drain more naturally and hopefully reduce some of the medication that I use.  I have been on 4 medications, twice a day, in each eye for years.  This is considered the optimum treatment and I cannot add any further medications.  My pressures are not staying down where they would like them to be.  I DO NOT EVER FORGET MY MEDICATION which is vitally important to maintaining eye pressures that do not rise and further damage my optic nerves.  So, I am extremely happy to know there is new option available to treat glaucoma.  If I could reduce my medications, that would make me even happier.

We think of getting our eyes checked when we are having trouble seeing clearly.  There are many other reasons to get your eyes examined.  You may have unknown problems that are showing no symptoms, but will be too late to reverse if they go undiagnosed.  Glaucoma tends to run in families.  Guess what?  NO one in my family has ever been diagnosed with glaucoma.  It was found during a routine eye examination.  I have worn glasses since I was 21 and I have been forever grateful to the doctor who found this eye disease.  If it had not been discovered when it was, I could have lost my vision at a very early age.  My optic nerves had already suffered significant damage.  Due to my diligence in using medication, my optic nerves have stayed stable.  Now, hopefully, this new treatment will make things somewhat better by reducing the medications I have to use.

As you age, there are many visual problems and diseases that can develop such as cataracts and macular degeneration.  The list of diseases fills an entire wall poster in the examination room.  There are 13 million people suffering from macular degeneration and 1/2 of those over 80 have cataracts.  Yes, I have early cataracts too.

Good visual health starts with what is on your plate - what you eat.  Maintaining good nutrition helps maintain your vision.  We all know about carrots being good for your eyes, but here is a list of other foods that help maintain your vision health.

1.  Carrots
2.  Bell peppers
3.  Broccoli
4.  Brussel sprouts
5.  Ostrich
6.  Turkey
7.  Sweet potatoes
8.  Spinach
9.  Wild salmon
10.  Sardines

These foods contain antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxathin, plus zinc and omega 3 fats which all help maintain good visual health.  Lucky for me, I like them all!  How about you?

It is also important to protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sun glasses or UV coating on your prescription lenses.  The sun can cause a lot of damage to your eyes.

If you haven't seen your eye doctor in a while, make an appointment to start the new year with a good eye examination.  Remember, once your vision is damaged, there is no replacement or way to repair it.  We all want to continue being able to see the beautiful world around us and all those we love as long as we possibly can.

Do it.  Make the appointment.  Don't forget.  It's important.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

The eye is the mirror of the soul.
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Bake Cheesecake With Gluten Free Option

Cheesecake.  Have you ever made one from scratch?  Do you find the thought of baking one intimidating?  There is the water bath and all that to be considered.  It does take some time and trouble.   Do you like cheesecake?  I mean, asking that question seems redundant.  The question should probably be is there anyone who doesn't like cheesecake?

Today, I have a simple solution to the dilemma of cheesecake being difficult to make.  This is a no bake cheesecake from the great and powerful Martha.  Stewart that is.  As for the cheesecake, it's amazing.  Our son in love called it superb.  That's pretty good, right?

This cheesecake is gluten free because I used crushed rice Chex instead of graham crackers for the crust.  Just thought I'd throw that in in case you eat gluten free like our other son in love.  Otherwise, it is a creamy, flavorful, easy confection to make.  No baking!  Yes!!!!

You will need a springform pan which is necessary for all cheesecakes.  So if you don't have one, make a trip and purchase a 9 inch springform pan.  You will find many uses for it once you have one in your pantry.  I do use mine frequently.

Martha's cheesecake recipe is for a plain cheesecake.  I felt the need to doctor mine up a bit because I asked Dan what he would like for dessert and he said anything with some chocolate.  Okay, I can do that.  Guess you can tell by the picture this is not a plain cheese cake.

Just look at that.  Don't you want a piece?  I know you do, so here is what you do to make this amazing dessert.


2 packages (20 sheets) graham crackers, crushed  (I used 4 cups rice Chex, crushed)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I added these to my crust) - optional (not in Martha's recipe)
11 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 14 ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put graham crackers (or rice Chex) in a large resealable plastic bag, crush with a rolling pin until very fine crumbs form.

Pour crumbs in a medium bowl, stir in sugar.  Add melted butter and chopped pecans and stir until well combined.

Press the crumb mixture into a 9 inch springform pan, spreading it 1 1/2 to 2 inches up the sides of the pan.  Press flat.  Chill crust in freezer at least 20 minutes.

While crust is chilling, make the filling.  Using an electric mixer set at medium high speed, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.  Beat in the condensed milk a little at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.  Try not to eat it all before you put it in the crust.

Pour the filling into the crust (after removing from the freezer), smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Unclasp sides of pan and remove cheesecake.

Now, how easy is that?  No baking, no water bath, no big crack in the top of the cake when it doesn't bake evenly.  It is not as tall as the cheesecake I normally bake, but who cares?  It is every bit as good and twice as easy to make.

After I poured the filling in the crust and smoothed it, I sprinkled several hands full of sliced almonds all over the top.  You could use any chopped nut you preferred, but the almonds rocked.  Then, I put about 5 squares of semi sweet baking chocolate in a bowl and melted it over simmering water (a double boiler).  I used a spoon and drizzled the chocolate all over the top of the cake.  It looked fabulous, and I put it in the fridge to chill.

When I opened the fridge, there was a box of strawberries looking right at me and they said, "hey, we would make a beautiful topping for the cheesecake."  Yep, I did it.  I took the tops off, put them in a pan, added about 2/3 cup of sugar, mashed some of them with a potato masher to make some juice and simmered them until the juice thickened.  Just let me say, that was a very good decision.  When it was dessert time, we sliced that cake up and spread some strawberry happiness over it.  Wowsa!  Wonderful goodness is all I can say.

Now I really wish I had a piece with some coffee.  You want one too don't you?

Well, get busy.  Make one.  Share it - or don't.  Eat it all yourself if you want.  It's worth it.  Believe me.   Just ask Todd, he said it was top notch.  Todd knows his desserts.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Because you don't live near a bakery doesn't mean you have to go without cheesecake.  Hedy LaMar

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas - Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

This my friends is a whole 9 x 13 baking dish of goodness.  Yes it is.  Oven baked chicken fajitas that are so good, they knocked my other recipes from the weekend right off the docket.  How is that for a Monday?  You know what the song says, Monday, Monday, can't trust that day.  That is not always true.  This Monday worked out quite well.  By the way, hope you had a wonderful, restful weekend.

There were 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the fridge that needed to be turned into something.  On my recipe pin board on Pinterest was a recipe for oven baked chicken fajitas that I had been meaning to try for quite some time.  It is from a blog called Life As a Lofthouse@blogspot.com.  I made a few tweaks, but let me tell you this is a super hit!  A winner!  A keeper!  A we will be making these again recipe.  Some recipes I try from Pinterest are winners, others not so much.  Guess you can tell how I feel about this one.  They are as good as restaurant fajitas.

Tex-Mex is my favorite food.  I like Vietnamese, Thai, and Mediterranean a lot, but Tex-Mex is my first choice every time if I get a choice.  You know when you are sitting in a Mexican restaurant and they come out of the kitchen with a sizzling hot pan of fajitas and the smell of the onions and peppers waft through the air and you wish you had ordered that instead of enchiladas?  That's how your house will smell when you make this recipe.  Yeppers.  A winner.

This took only about 45 minutes to prepare which is awesome.  It's quick, easy and deeeeee-licious.
Here is what you need:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder (I used two cloves garlic minced)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 large onion sliced (I cut mine in half, then sliced in half moons)
1/2 red bell pepper sliced in thin strips
1/2 green bell pepper sliced in thin strips (my peppers were huge, if yours are small use the whole pepper)
12 small flour tortillas

Toppings (your choice, use what you like)

grated cheese
shredded lettuce
chopped cilantro
salsa/diced fresh tomatoes
sour cream
diced avocados/guacamole
I added hot sauce to mine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray.

Put chicken strips into dish along with onions, peppers and tomatoes with chilies.  Mix the olive oil and spices in a bowl  Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken/peppers mix in the baking dish.  Toss to coat everything in the dish.

Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  I took ours out at 30 minutes while the peppers were still crunchy. (That's the way I like them) Bake 5 minutes more if you want yours softer.

Heat your tortillas and start filling them up!  Here is a picture of one of our filled tortillas.

Doesn't that look delicious?  So colorful.  Yumalicious!  Makes my mouth water looking at it.  We enjoyed ours with black beans and tortilla chips with queso dip.  Just like a restaurant only better!

This recipe makes a huge pan of fajitas.  It really was way too much for the two of us.  We will be eating left overs tomorrow and maybe Wednesday which is quite okay.  It would be simple to cut this recipe in half and still have plenty to feed 2/3 people.  My calculations say you could easily get 12 or more fajitas from this recipe.

Remember this recipe when the Superbowl comes around.  It's easy and so good.  Everyone will love it.  Remember this recipe when you want something for a crowd, or your family, or just because you want fajitas.  Yeah, Monday definitely won this round.  I love when that happens.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:


Friday, January 4, 2013

Hash Browns, Regular, Smothered, Covered, Chunked, and Diced

It's Friday.  Hooray!  It's dinner time.  Boo!  What should we have?  I didn't want to go to a lot of trouble, but we were hungry.  For what?  It's always my decision somehow.  If I ask Dan what he wants, he always says "What do you want?"  So, I just may as well make a decision.  What do I want?  Something easy, but tasty.  Hmmmmmm.

Do you know what was on my mind?  Waffle House fried potatoes!  Have you ever eaten at a Waffle House?  We stop there often when traveling because the food is consistent, inexpensive and you can be in and out in nothing flat - not lots of waiting like there is at so many sit down restaurants.  They cook the food right in front of you, and they serve breakfast 24/7.  Yum.

Now,  you know,  I have never met a potato I didn't like.  Seriously.  But, there is only one thing better than fried potatoes and that is fried potatoes with onions.  The Waffle House goes a little further with their hash brown potatoes.  This is how they list it on their menu.  You can get them: Regular, Large or Triple,  All the Way, or:

smothered - sauteed onions
covered - melted cheese
chunked - grilled hickory smoked ham
diced - grilled tomatoes
peppered - jalapeno peppers (or you could use bell peppers)
capped - grilled mushrooms
topped - Bert's chili
country - sausage gravy

When you place your order, they yell to the person on the grill:  "one order regular, smothered, covered, chunked and diced" if that's the way you order them.  That is the way I fixed them tonight!
Can I tell you how good they were?  Well, I will.  They were amazingly good - and easy to fix.  It took me a total of 20 minutes to have this wonderful dinner on the table.

You could put any toppings you like on hash brown potatoes.  Yes, anything your little heart desires.  Here is how I made these for our dinner tonight.

First, I chopped a medium onion, diced about 10 cherry tomatoes (they're hard to see in the red bowl), diced some deli ham, and grated about 1/3 block of cheddar cheese.  Whatever you are going to add, have it prepared beforehand, because the cooking part goes pretty quickly.

I used 1/2 a bag (about 15 ounces) of frozen hash brown potatoes.  I try to keep frozen hash browns in the freezer at all times.  They are great when you want a meal in a hurry.  No peeling and chopping, which is what I usually do.

Using a large skillet, put in a good amount of vegetable oil and let it get really hot, until it starts to ripple.  I would say 1/4 cup, depending on how many potatoes you are going to fry.  Start with 1/4 cup, you can always add more if needed.  Add the potatoes and spread out in the skillet.  Add the onions at this time because they take the longest to cook.  If you are going to use chopped bell pepper, add it also.  These two items take the longest to cook.

Let the potatoes brown on the bottom before you stir.  Once they start to brown, stir them so that you bring the brown potatoes to the top and the uncooked potatoes are on the bottom.  Stir as needed with a spatula so that you scrape all that brown goodness off the bottom of the pan.  You know that crispy, crunch part?  mmmmmm  When the onions become translucent and the potatoes are getting good and brown, add the ham and tomatoes.  Stir thoroughly so they will get good and hot.  Salt and pepper to taste.  The last think to add is the cheese.  Sprinkle it over the top and let it melt.  Remove the pan from the stove and you are ready to serve!
You now have Regular, smothered, covered, chunked and diced potatoes.  This is a complete meal and we have left overs for breakfast.  I simply added some fresh fruit and a nice piece of buttered toast.  Just like the Waffle House only better because we didn't have to leave the house.   If you don't want meat, don't add it.  Add any ingredients you think would be tasty.  I would use red bell pepper, but they don't agree with Dan.  Needless to say, we didn't miss them.

Anytime you need a quick and scrumptious meal, think about trying a meal like this.  You could add eggs on the side if you wanted and make a complete breakfast for dinner.  These potatoes would also be great for breakfast or brunch.  They are so easy to make and so good to eat.  Yum. Yum. Yum.

Next time you want a fast, easy, tasty meal, give these a try.  You will make them again.  Yes, you will.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

You can fix this meal faster than you can drive to a fast food restaurant and go through the drive through.  Fixing food at home does not have to be a chore.  It can be quick and delicious.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Zucchini Cranberry Bread or Muffins

Oh, the post holiday catch up as I like to call it.  Restocking the pantry, doing grocery shopping and other necessary errands.  It is nice to be back in a routine, don't you think?  Today was beautiful and sunny with a temperature that was not too cold.  A light coat and scarf was all that was needed to enjoy the out of doors.  I was SO glad to see the sun.

My goal and motto for this year is to "simplify".  Yes.  It's time to pare down some more, lead a kinder, gentler life.   Why do we all have so much "stuff"?  When we moved here two years ago this month (where does the time go?) we got rid of so much "stuff."  Many, many trips to the Goodwill and Salvation Army, things given to those who could use them, even putting things out on the curb for people to take.  And where are we now?  Full to overflowing again.  How does this happen?  So, it's time to simplify, pare down, share what we have, organize and get rid of the unnecessary.  This is a process that we must stay on top of!  It is not only necessary, but quite enjoyable.

One of my chores yesterday was to clean out all the left overs and odd things that accumulate in the refrigerator.  You know that stuff I'm talking about right?  You have to get rid of the old, to make room for the new in your life.  In the drawer was one lonely, huge zucchini.  It was perfectly good and I wanted to use it in some way.  So, I decided to make some wonderful zucchini cranberry bread.  This is an easy recipe and is soooooo good.

Did you know that zucchini is really a fruit?  We tend to use it in savory dishes most of the time and think of it as a vegetable.  It's not.  It is delicious grilled, sauteed or steamed.  There are so many uses for zucchini and it is super nutritious.  Zucchini also makes a super sweet, delicious bread.

To add to the flavor, I added some dried cranberries.  Do you like cranberries?  I happen to love them - that combination of tart and sweetness from the berries is very appealing and yummy to me.  Did you know that cranberries are white until they ripen?  Most people know they grow in acidic bogs in the Northern part of our country and they are harvested by flooding the bogs which causes the fruit to float to the top so they can be captured.  But, did you know they are considered one of the super fruits?  Yes they are, absolutely full of anti oxidants.  Even better.  The more color something has, the better it is for you.

Cranberries are mostly associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they are available all through cool weather and dried cranberries are available year round.  They are a wonderful snack and can be an alternative to raisins.  If you don't like them, you don't have to add them to the bread.

Here is what you need to make this bread.

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2.5 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini  (I used a box grater, grated very fine)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 TBSP vanilla (yes, a tablespoon)
1 cup cranberries - if using fresh, chop the cranberries - I used dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix all the ingredients using a whisk or spoon.  Try not to over mix or bread could be tough.
Grease and flour 2 9x5 loaf pans or spray two muffin tins with cooking spray.

Fill each loaf pan 3/4 full.  Same for muffin tins if making muffins.

Bake bread for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

If making muffins, bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center muffin comes out clean.

This bread is easy to make and is extra good with a cup of coffee or hot tea.  Even the grandsons ate it (just don't tell them it has zucchini in it).  After working at the homeless shelter, I feel bad about throwing any usable food away knowing there are so many people who are "food insecure".   So, if you find yourself with one large zucchini and don't know what to do with it, try this recipe.  It is worth the time and effort!  Better yet, share a loaf with a friend, family member or neighbor.  They will love you for it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify.

Henry Thoreau