Cashew Chicken…Homemade

Cashew ChickenI am always up for trying to replicate meals at home.  Eating out not only adds up on the pocket book, but many times, isn’t worth the price.  Nothing is more disappointing when we eat out and are unimpressed with our food.

One food I don’t cook often home  is Oriental.  It’s almost easier to eat out then trying to buy all the ingredients you need to make some specific meals…Oriental food is one of those meals for me. However,  I had a basic recipe a friend gave me many years ago for cashew sauce and I have perfected a delicious Homemade Cashew Chicken recipe using this basic recipe that is simple and tasty!

The best part of this meal – it’s pretty quick and makes incredible leftovers, which means less cooking during the work week for you!

I usually fry up a little more chicken because I love using the leftover fried chicken for salads or in a tortilla roll up with lettuce, ranch dressing and cheese.

Homemade Cashew Chicken

4 chicken breasts, thawed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 ½ cups flour
½ c milk
2 egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dried Parsley
½ tsp. Paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
Oil, for frying

To the flour add salt, pepper, parsley, paprika and garlic powder. Coat chicken in the flour mixture and let sit for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a large skillet (Med High). Mix the milk and eggs together in a small bowl. Dip the pieces of chicken in the milk mixture and then back into the flour. Place chicken in one layer in the skillet and fry until browned. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and lightly salt. Continue until all the chicken is fried.

2 cups of water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
¼ tsp. ginger powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
Dash salt
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed in 1/4 c of cold water

Bring the water, bouillon, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and salt to a light boil. Add cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat.

To serve: Serve over a bed of rice and top the chicken with the sauce, some diced green onions or chives and cashews.

Healthy Zucchini Muffins


2-IMG_0824.jpgLooking for ways to use up all those zucchini from your garden or maybe your neighbors?  These zucchini muffins are just the trick!  They also freeze well and make a quick and easy breakfast for those little ones that will starting back to school soon!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt

Next stir in :
2 cups grated zucchini
1 apple peeled, cored and grated

In another bowl, beat:

3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Stir into flour mixture until batter is just combined. Spoon into well greased muffin cups, filling to the top. (Note: If you are using muffin liners you may need to spray with cooking spray to prevent the muffins from sticking to the paper.) Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

Lost Valley- Arkansas Adventures

Looking for a great day trip for some exercise and adventures with the littles?  Lost Valley Park in Arkansas is one of our favorites.  Not only is a beautiful hike, but you might even see the elk near Ponca will you are there.

Ham, Bean and Cornbread Meal

ham and beans

If there is one meal that I remember as a child on the farm it was ham and beans! It was a meal my mother would cook-up on cold wintry days that would keep us fed for days. It seemed as though this meal took all day for my mother to make, plus she would whip up a batch of her famous Jan Baldwin cornbread. (I’m not kidding about the “famous” part in her cornbread either, just ask ANYONE that has ever enjoyed it.)

During Christmas our family was “flooded-in” at the farm, as we saw massive amounts of rainfall throughout Southern Missouri. So, my niece Sydnee and I helped out in feeding our large crowd with a huge pot of ham and beans and four batches of cornbread. With the help of mom, I wrote down instructions and measurements for both recipes. Here are our instructions for making a traditional ham and bean dinner with cornbread for your family.

Traditional Ham and Beans
3 cups of washed beans, pinto or Great Northern

*Soak the beans overnight in water, skim off the “spoiled parts” that float to the top. If you don’t soak the beans overnight, you will have additional cooking time.

1 large onion, chopped
4 celery sticks and tops, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 T. parsley
1 tsp. Cavenders seasonings
1 T. sugar
Chicken bouillon cubes
Diced cooked ham

In a large stockpot, add a couple tablespoons of bacon grease and sauté the onion, celery and garlic for 5 minutes. Add all the seasonings, except for the salt and bouillon cubes, and stir. The salt isn’t added until the beans are soft. Continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the beans and four cups of water and two chicken bouillon cubes and place lid on pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

After an hour of cooking add the diced ham. Continue cooking the beans, stirring occasionally and adding water when needed.

If you soaked the beans overnight the beans are done in three hours, if you did not soak the beans overnight then the beans will take 5 hours.

Add one washed and skinned potato at the beginning of cooking the beans to thicken your broth. Add enough water to have a good stock in your beans to soak up that great cornbread!

Jan’s Famous Cornbread
In cast iron skillet- heat 1/2 cup oil

In a small bowl add:
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder
1 T sugar

Mix well. Then add:
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs

Mix well, then add half of the hot oil from the skillet to the mixture and stir well. Keep a little oil in skillet and add the mixture to the skillet. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Homemade Pancakes

Have you ever served up homemade pancakes?  I mean real, made-from-scratch pancakes.  There is nothing like them in my opinion…light, fluffy and delicious.

I am sharing  my grandmother’s recipe for pancakes, which has been used forever in our family.  To me nothing says morning like good old homemade pancakes. Many people think that the out-of-the-box pancakes are easier, but this recipe is as easy as it gets and you should have all the ingredients in your pantry.

One major trick to the perfect pancake that I have learned over the year is don’t over-mix the batter.  You want some lumps in the batter.  If you over-mix the batter you will have a pancake that isn’t as light and fluffy.

Pancakes by Grandma Pat
2 c. ap flour
1 tsp. salt
5 tsp. baking powder
3 T. sugar
2 eggs
2 C. milk
1/3 C. oil

Sift dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and milk well. Pour in shortening. Add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until smooth.

Keep a small amount of oil in the skillet, before pouring pancake mixture. This makes a lot of pancakes, you can freeze what you don’t use and have them for another day.

I also like to add things like fresh fruit or chocolate chips every once in awhile.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

wild rice soup

I’ve been working on a new soup recipe for a few weeks now, as I had to get the recipe perfect before posting it to you all!  Chicken & Wild Rice Soup has always been a favorite on mine that I typically order at tea rooms and bakeries and I thought it was time I developed my own classic recipe this winter.

I have to admit, I cheat a little on the recipe with the help of boxed wild rice (I like the Roasted Chicken flavored kind), but it does make the recipe easy to whip up for your family for a great weeknight meal.

Be sure to choose good-quality chicken for this recipe from your local farmers market or health food store, plus I add homemade chicken stock or chicken bone broth for an added health benefit for my family.  It isn’t hard to make your own stock, I save all bones from chickens that I have roasted and cook them a second time with carrots, onions, celery and garlic, plus I will add in some chicken feet for added gelatin.  You can also buy chicken from local farmers that includes all the giblets that help make a delicious and healthy stock.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
cups homemade chicken broth
cooked chicken breasts, diced
4-5 cooked chicken thighs, diced
 package long grain and wild rice blend
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
12 T. butter
cup carrot, diced
cup celery, diced
cup onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
cups half and half
Seasoning packet with rice
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine the pepper and flour in a small bowl, set aside. In a large stock pot or Dutch Oven combine broth and chicken over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then stir in the rice. Cover and cook to instructions on the rice box.

In a medium pan melt butter then add veggies and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the seasoning packet of the rice and continue to cook until the veggies are soft, about 6 minutes. Next add the flour gradually to the veggies and continue to stir to form a roux. Sauté the roux mixture for 4 minutes to cook out the raw flour. Add a little half and half, a little at a time, until smooth. Cook until thickened completely, 5 minutes.

Slowly add the cream mixture into the broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through and rice is done, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Festive Cranberry Cookies

100_2402If there is one cookie that you MUST make this Christmas, it’s Cranberry Noels.  A buttery shortbread cookie with the perfect amount of cranberries and pecans and a sprinkle of raw sugar make this cookie a crowd favorite.

These are icebox cookies that are easily made ahead, which make your holiday baking even easier this year.  I sprinkle raw sugar on top of each cookie before baking or roll the edges of the cookie in red or green sprinkles, this gives the cookies an added touch of sweetness and crunch.

Cranberry Noel Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Raw sugar

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour, salt, cranberries, and pecans and mix on low until combined.

Divide dough into 2 dough balls and place the dough on plastic wrap.  Shape each ball into an 8-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (Or you can freeze the dough until ready to use.)

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with raw sugar.  Bake until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Remove from oven, and transfer cookies to a wirerack to cool completely.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red-Velvet-Crinkle-CookiesEach holiday I have my list of go-to goodie recipes that are family favorites, but I also add some new recipes to the mix.  I bake quite a large amount of goodies every year for friends, family and business professionals I work  with.  Gifts from the heart and kitchen are ones that always touch the soul!

This year I experimented with a few new cookie recipes, including one for Red Velvet cookies.  This recipe uses a red velvet cake mix with  pudding in the mix and is similar to gooey butter cake- which you just can’t go wrong with.  It’s become our 2015 holiday favorite cookie, hope your family enjoys it just as much.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
1 package Red Velvet Cake Mix
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined, then add the cake mix and continue mixing until a dough forms.  The dough will be very thick.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Place powdered sugar in a bowl.  Form one inch dough balls and roll the dough in the powdered sugar to coat throughly.  Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11 minutes, until the centers are set.  Cool on a wire rack then dust with powdered sugar.

Thanksgiving Blessings

_MG_0061As I wash up my kitchen from another day of Thanksgiving baking, I am surrounded by my two favorite smells: Pumpkin and Pecan Pie.  Both smells resinate the holiday season for me and bring back so many good memories.

This year I am thankful for my FAMILY and FRIENDS. My husband and I  have watched our Caston turn into a big 6 year old who’s spirit for life is invigorating, and our little Cora has become quite the charmer, bringing a smile to everyone she meets.  As I opened my third farmers market this year, it was my family that supported me and provided me with love, patience and encouragement.  We have also made many new friendships this year, both within our community and professionally, that have made profound impacts on our lives.  I am thankful for true, genuine friendships that are based on trust and love.

Give thanks to your family  & friends this holiday and let them know how much they are appreciated and loved!

If you are looking for a special pie to share with your loved ones this Thanksgiving, I highly suggest my family’s Pecan Pie. It’s a staple around the holidays for me and isn’t as sugary sweet as most pecan pies.  Check out this previous post above with the recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!


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