Sweet Potato Casserole

19 Nov


Sometimes you can tell how beloved a recipe is by noting the condition of the card it’s written on.

When the ink is running and butter splotches dot the surface, you know it’s a keeper.  I’m very happy to share this one with you….again.  I’m pretty sure I shared this exact recipe on my blog last Thanksgiving.  So yes, here it is again.  It’s just that good.

Let me state right here that this is not something you want to make on any regular basis.  It’s great for special meals and holidays.  Why?  Because it’s FULL of butter and sugar.  Not even kidding.  It’s like candy.

Start with canned sweet taters.  For a 9×13 pan, you’ll need three large (29 oz) cans.  If you’re really ambitious, you can cook your own sweet potatoes.  I have never made this recipe with actual taters because canned ones are super easy and taste amazing.

Dump them all into a strainer to remove liquid.

Then use your potato masher to mash them up all nice and soft.  If you’re a dork like me, you will think ‘Hey, why not mash them right in the strainer?’ and you will end up with this.

Another sign of a true, genuine dork:  Assume you have all necessary ingredients when, in fact, you have only one.  Quick run to the grocery store…..

Butter.  LOTS of butter.  2 and 1/3 cups of butter (including the topping).  My arteries hurt.

Couldn’t be simpler, though.  You mix all the ingredients in your mixer (did I mention there are six eggs? OHH, the cholesterol!)….

….and you are rewarded with a pan of casserole that looks like this.

But don’t slide it into the oven just yet.

The best part is next – the topping.

That’s right – more butter.

I like to use the pastry blender to blend the brown sugar, flour (gluten-free, in my case), butter and chopped walnuts.

Now spread the topping on and git ‘er done!

You’ll see a photo of the finished product in my next blog post.  Tomorrow is our early Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s house.  Weeeeeee!!!!  I will be trying VERY hard to keep myself g-free.  Shouldn’t be too difficult – most of the things I love are naturally g-free: turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes….  Will be hard to pass up the gravy and the rolls, but I shall overcome.

Here’s the recipe.  Enjoy!


9 c cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1 1/2 c sugar

1 c butter, melted

6 eggs

Mix and put in buttered dish.  If saving til next day, put in fridge til ready to add topping and bake.


1 1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c flour

1 1/2 c chopped nuts (I use walnuts…pecans are good too)

1/3 c cold butter, cut into small cubes

Mix, crumble and put on top of sweet potatoes.  Bake at 350.  If potatoes are cold, bake 1 hour.  If they are room temperature, bake 45 minutes.

While I was going through some of the recipes in my box, I found this caramel corn recipe that I also thought I’d share with you. Again, only once in awhile.  It is such a delectable treat!  My hubby can vouch for the yumminess.  He has requested that I make it again soon.🙂

So this came today….

…. and this cornball is here.  So I must bid you adieu.

Have a wonderful evening and thank you for stopping by!❤

Wendy’s Chili (Literally!)

10 Nov


Does this look familiar?

I’m not big on fast food, but if I’m going to run through a drive-thru or grab a quick meal when I’m out, this is usually my first choice.  I love Wendy’s chili.  It’s got just the right amount of spice, it’s naturally gluten-free, it’s full of healthy beans and veggies, and it’s delicious!

As my hubby and I sat at Wendy’s enjoying our cups of chili last weekend, I thought, ‘I really need to try to make this at home.  I wonder if it can be done.’  That night I looked for a copycat recipe online and up popped this web page:

Wendy’s Copycat Chili Recipe

Bingo!  Bought the ingredients a few days ago and gave it my best shot today.

All done!  Tossing everything together in a giant pot was a piece o’ cake.  Simmering it for three hours was a piece o’ cake.  It was the stirring every 15 minutes that was a tiny  bit tedious (I set a timer to go off every 15 minutes because I was not willing to risk this precious chili getting burned to the bottom of the pan!).

Topped it with shredded cheese and sour cream.

It.  Was.  PERFECT.

Tasted exactly like Wendy’s.

Maybe it’s the name.  ;-)

I’m not kidding you.  It was as good as it looks and it was the perfect thing for this cold fall evening.  If you share my fondness for Wendy’s chili, you will want to try this recipe.  Just make sure you make it on a day that you’re going to be home to…well, stir.  It might be easily adapted to the crock pot.  I’ll probably try that next time.


Just one more thing.  I’m envisioning something in this space:

Picture a pot rack hanging from the ceiling above the counter.  Lots of hooks for lots of pots and pans.  Wouldn’t that be fab?!  The inspiration for this little daydream came right from Susan Branch, of course.  Wow, would it be nice to free up my messy pots and pans cupboard!  Hmmm.  Maybe someday!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Operation Cake Pops

6 Nov


When you’re going to be spending a significant part of the day in the kitchen you need some background sounds.  I know it’s early November, so forgive me.  These are my two favorite Christmas CDs I’ve ever owned and from now until December 25 they will be played pretty much every time I’m planning to spend a significant part of the day in the kitchen.

Mom gave me a cake pop maker for my birthday and since we stayed home today with stuffy noses and coughs (and I didn’t even get out of my jammies!), it seemed like a cake pop kind of day.  I’d heard mixed reviews on this particular model and was anxious to try it firsthand.

I used a yellow cake mix and added extra flour in an effort to make the cake balls a bit more dense.

As you can see, the reservoirs were filled with a little too much batter for batch number 1.  For this batch I used a large melon baller to put the batter in, and it was somewhat difficult to fill them neatly; hence, the spillover/messy rims on the balls.

The pop maker comes with a cooling tray that doubles as a cake pop stick holder when you’re done.  Pretty nifty.  Now, pay close attention to this batch because….

…. between batches 1 and 2, I found this little Tupperware doohickey:

You pour batter in the bottom – and it holds more than you would think – put the tip on and squeeze neat little blobs into the reservoirs.  Observe:

See?  Batch number 2 looks a lot better!

You will notice, too, that they are not perfectly round and that there is a little ridge in the middle.  My advice:  Don’t sweat it.   This has very little impact on the finished product once it’s covered in icing.

A friend advised me to put the cake balls in the freezer for two hours to make icing them easier.  She was right.  This helped a LOT.

While we’re waiting for our balls to freeze (really?!), please allow me to share with you two pictures of the two cutest kids in Volo.  Jacob and Blondie-butt had so much fun playing in the leaves this afternoon.  Doesn’t Jacob look just tickled pink that I’m taking another picture?  ;-)

He’ll thank me someday.

Originally, I was planning to just frost the pops with regular ol’ white frosting.  That didn’t work too well.  It would’ve taken forever and looked less than appetizing.  Found a giant bar of semisweet chocolate in the baking supplies cupboard, so I melted it in the microwave and dipped away.

I’m sure that candy melts (the little discs that melt beautifully into perfect-consistency icing) would have been the best thing to use.  This chocolate was pretty thick and gloppy, but it did the job well enough.

I would consider Operation Cake Pops a success.

Last year I attempted making the non-machine cake pops (the ones where you add frosting to the cake and roll into balls), and the balls were just too heavy and slid right down the sticks.  I was pleasantly surprised that these guys I made today stayed on the tippy top of the sticks.  Yes, that is success!  Woot!

So I will be making them again.  Next time, I will make sure to have some candy melts.  Maybe pink ones.  Ooooh, so cute!

I would give this cake pop maker an A-.  It was easy to use, fun, and the pops turned out very well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Warm Kitchen, Warm Heart

4 Nov

Have you been craving nice, warm comfort food now that the really chilly days of fall are here?  I definitely have.

But before we go there, would you look at this glorious SKY that God painted last night?!

He is the best artist I know.  By far.

I noticed the amazing sky just after my two beautiful photo subjects left yesterday evening.  Oh wait.  There were three beautiful photo subjects.  If the camera’s in Mom’s hand, this girl simply has to ham it up.

Though her sweater clashed wickedly with the earth tones of the rug, she still looks extremely adorable.  ;-)

My official models were my friend Amy’s girls, Hannah and Ava.  Took lots of great shots and wanted to show ya my very favorite.  What I love about this one:  they girls look so natural and the green and red trees behind them serve as an extraordinary backdrop.

Okay.  Comfort food.  Truly, when the cold days come raging in my belly wants warm, savory num-nums in vast quantities.  Why does the onset of brisk, blustery weather make us hungier?  This week I have been talking to my food: “GIT IN MAH BELLY!!!!!!”

On Tuesday I whipped up a meat loaf in the crock pot.  I talk to my crock pot sometimes, too: “Crock pot, you make me swoon.  I love you quite a lot.”  It is so wonderful when you can toss some things in there in the morning, your house smells better and better as the day goes on, and by six o’clock dinner is READY!

Okay, in all fairness, I did have to make a couple of other things to have as sides.  This little bundle of Brussels sprouts had been patiently waiting in the veggie drawer for a few days and it was time to roast them up.

These guys have a pretty bad rap but if you toss them in some olive oil, sea salt, pepper and garlic powder they are DELICIOSO!

And, of course, it’s pretty much a rule that if you’re having meatloaf it must be accompanied by mashed potatoes.  Talk about warming the tummy!  This time I decided to try the skin-on variety.  If you use thin-skinned taters like yellow ones, the skin breaks into pieces that blend nicely with the rest of the mash.

They were perfect!

The very next evening was all about comfort food again.  I pulled out one of my favorite cookbooks by Susan Branch and got busy with cheeeeeeeese!

Since my tummy does not like gluten, I modified the recipe simply by using gluten-free noodles.

A whole pound of sharp cheddar!  That’s a lotta cheese!

Served it with some fresh steamed broccoli and loved every warm, comforting bite, as did Blondie-butt, who asked for seconds and thirds!

So that’s a little piece of the last couple of days in my little corner of the world.  Now it’s almost time to pick up the girly from school and get ready to make Chicken Caprese for tonight’s dinner.  I LOOOOOOVE the combination of mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil!

Thank you so much for reading.  Stay warm and cozy and….comfortable!  :-)

Feed the Birdies…. and Alvin, too?

2 Nov

Filling the bird feeder is not a daunting task.  I honestly can’t tell you why I wait so long.

Every time I fill the feeder, the back yard turns into a wildlife observatory.  Every day is a little adventure because you never know which critters you’re going to see and what kind of mayhem they’re going to be up to.

It took the sweet chickadees about a day and a half to discover that they could again feast upon the seed mix just outside our back window.  Have you ever had the simple pleasure of hearing a chickadee’s cheerful song?  It’s absolutely delightful!

But birds aren’t the only ones who want to feast.  See this little hole?  It’s right on the edge of the patio and if you were to guess who it belonged to, you would probably be right.

Yep.  Chipmunks.  Their music is not so delightful.  The loud, incessant CHIRP-CHIRP-CHIRPing is quite irritating.  But they’re so darn CUTE!

This afternoon my two eager companions and I spent some time waiting and watching, and sure enough….

….”nom nom nom nom nom”

There are several layers of pepper (regular black pepper because I didn’t have cayenne) in there, so maybe when he gets to that he’ll run for his underground haven and never venture up to the feeder again.  Until then, though, his cuteness wins out and I will let him feast.

I know.  Sucker!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

QUESTION FOR YOU: What is your favorite back yard critter?

October Afternoon

30 Oct

Do you remember my previous blog – the one that was 99% FOOD and 1% other miscellaneous subjects?  If you do – and if you liked it – then you might really enjoy this post.

My parents came up to spend the afternoon with us and I made a pretty decent lunch, which included Susan Branch’s “Nutty Carrots.”  Her cookbooks are so unique and adorable.

You will never, ever find me buying non-organic baby carrots.  Conventional baby carrots are soaked in bleach to make removing the skin easier.  I’ll have my carrots with NO bleach, thankyouverymuch.

The recipe calls for chopped walnuts (that you can pop in the oven for a few minutes to toast them), butter, honey, lemon juice and just a light sprinkling of pepper.

They were very tasty, indeed!

We also had ham-brie-apple sandwiches on fresh kaiser rolls from the bakery.  Okay, just the bakery inside the grocery store…. but they look purty, don’t they?🙂

This was the first time I’d ever purchased brie cheese.  It’s very, very soft and very, very mild.  Probably wouldn’t use it on sandwiches again but it would be perfect to spread on crackers.

Sharp-cheddar kettle chips rounded out the meal and (shhhhhhh) they were my favorite part.  Omggggg.

I even pulled out the good tablecloth.

There’s something so cozy about sharing a special meal on a chilly autumn afternoon, don’t you think?  It’s like we all know that Jack Frost is just around the corner, ready to swoop in and cover everything in white.  But he’s not here just yet, and for now we look out the window at the gray, chilly day and thank God for the light and warmth that surround us inside.

Oh and guess what?  A monumental event took place.  Something that happens once in a blue moon.

I filled the birdie feeder.

And Dad talked me into a suet feeder during a quick run to Menard’s.  We weren’t sure where to hang it…. and finally decided to secure it with wire to the backyard swing.  Hoping to see some woodpeckers, chickadees, sparrows and cardinals feast upon the bounty very soon!  I looooooooove birds.  Cannot get enough of their sweet, musical cuteness.  Come soon, birdies!

Please pardon the poor pictures of the feeders.  I took them through raindrop-y windows.  The rain made it feel even cozier inside, because how can you not feel cozy with a blazing fire (in the fake fireplace – ha!)….

…. and a giant cat who loves to lay on the couch right behind you?

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Hope you and your little ones enjoy trick or treating tomorrow.  Have fun and be safe!

QUESTION FOR YOU:  What would you like to see more of in my blog?  Any suggestions?

This is the Day

29 Oct IMG_9398

Ya know how you sometimes wake up with a specific song in your head?  I love it when it’s this one:

This is the day, this is the day 
That the Lord hath made, that the Lord hath made 
We will rejoice, we will rejoice 
And be glad in it, and be glad in it 
This is the day that the Lord hath made 
We will rejoice and be glad in it 
This is the day, this is the day 
That the Lord hath made!

And sometimes you say a prayer right when you get up, thanking Him for another new day and all that it will hold.  This beautiful autumn Saturday held…. a lot!

But first, please allow me to show you our favorite neighbors.  On the left is Jacob and on the right is Simon.  I love Halloween!

Now on to our busy day.  It actually started out on a sad note.  Some new friends were supposed to come over for dinner tonight but had to cancel because my sweet friend Dana came down with the sickies.  Really hope she feels better soon!   So with a whole Saturday spread before us, we decided it would be the perfect day to go to the storage unit and bring truckloads of its contents back home.  Doesn’t that sound like a hoot?  You know you’re jealous.

Why did we choose to carry out this oodles-of-fun task today?  Well, a couple reasons.  First, we want to eliminate all monthly payments that are not completely necessary to our survival.  Seriously.  In this economy we have been learning to live with less.  And to be completely honest, we’re loving it.  Also, today we had two trucks – the Durango and a Dodge Ram, which is a loaner vehicle from the dealership while the Charger is in for repairs.  Several weeks ago, an 89-year-old woman rear-ended me so the repairs are pretty extensive.  89 years old.  Don’t get me started.

But I digress.

This is what things looked like by the time we got everything from the storage unit loaded into the garage.

Nothing like organized chaos, right?

With some help from a couple of eager cul-de-sac friends, we got the job done in record time.

The “after” picture (everything stacked on one side of the garage so that one vehicle will still fit):

One of the great things about going through long-neglected “stuff” is unearthing things that you’re delighted to have found again!

…. Like this stack of colorful placemats that shall have new life in my dining room….
…. and this cheerful little guy who’s saying “Happy Fall!”
Scotty and I shared several “pound-its” after the job was finished.  Woot!!
After a job well-done (if’n I do say so), I got in a killer workout and introduced a new iPad game to the kitties.  Yes, there are apps especially for cats.  They were intrigued.
Made a crustless quiche for dinner and we pretty much ate only the top layer because the bottom was too dough-ey.  The top, however, was fab.
Looking forward to tomorrow – Gwama and Papa are coming and I’m going to make a deeeelicious lunch.  Maybe I’ll blog about it.  ;-)
Thank you so much for visiting.  I hope you’ll come back often.
Oh wait, wait!  I wanted to tell you real quickly about two blogs that I LOVE.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  This first one inspired me to start blogging again.  Susan Branch is an artist (maybe you’ve seen her greeting cards, stationery, calendars, stickers, etc…) and a sweet, friendly woman who is great at chronicling her life in Martha’s Vineyard.  Her life is enchanting.  Fairy tale-like.  I’m so glad she shares it with us.  Visit her blog by clicking here!
And just today I stumbled upon Tammy’s Photography Spot.  What drew me in was a photo she took of a little chickadee eating right out of her hand!  And it just gets better from there.  She is a truly talented photographer and I can’t wait to follow her blog every day.
QUESTION FOR YOU:  What’s the funnest thing you did today?