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1. All my posts are written for myself first (with my followers in mind of course). If I make money from a post due to third party advertising such as Google or Foodbuzz, then so much the better.
2. If I write about a product, cookbook or restaurant, chances are that I received the product, cookbook or meal for FREE.
3. If I write a review about a product, cookbook or restaurant that was not FREE, I will disclose that in my post. I will always write about local establishments and businesses (non-chain) gratis- I support local businesses and hope you will too.
4. FREE product does not guarantee a positive review.
5. If you are interested in sending me a book or product to review, or want me to review a restaurant, please know that I make every effort to post reviews within 4 weeks of receiving a book, within 2 weeks of receiving a product, and within 1 week of dining at a restaurant.
6. I write for several websites and print publications in addition to my blog and my writing interests are strictly food or cooking-related, so please make sure that your book or product is food-related in some way.
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookbook Giveaway Winner!

Sorry for the delay in the giveaway winner announcement ironic as this sounds, I was baking Christmas cookies today! Anyway, without further delay, I am pleased to announce that the winner of 400 Sensational Cookies is "Chilly"! Congratulations Chilly...enjoy the cookbook!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

$2 Dinners- Eggs are Economical Any Time of Day

This week's $2 Dinners takes a look at one of the best and most economical sources of protein available- the egg. At a cost of only about $1.16 per dozen, eggs are a budget-friendly way to put protein on your family's table, and because they are so incredibly versatile, you can prepare them in many different ways!

So grab another cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and check out this week's $2 Dinners to find out how eggs can save you money (and time) in the kitchen. This time of year we can all use more of both!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cookbook Review: 400 Sensational Cookies

Just in time for the upcoming flurry of Christmas cookie baking, I received a review copy of award-winning cookbook author Linda Amendt's new book, 400 Sensational Cookies.

This fantastic book is chock-full of wonderful recipes for every kind of cookie imaginable, including hand-shaped, drop, rolled cutout, slice and bake, and special fancy cookies. There is even an entire section dedicated to America's favorite cookie, the chocolate chip, with several delicious variations! Ms. Amendt also includes valuable information on cookie baking and tools, choosing the right ingredients, and tips for baking the perfect cookie.

Just like Ms. Amendt's previous two cookbooks, Blue Ribbon Preserves: Secrets to Award-Winning Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and More, and 175 Best Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Other Soft Spreads, her newest cookbook is a nicely-executed and extremely thorough volume with well-written recipes suitable for home cooks of all skill levels. If you love to bake cookies and want a great new cook book, "400 Sensational Cookies" is the book for you.

As a thank you to all my readers, I am giving away my review copy of 400 Sensational Cookies just in time for Christmas cookie baking! The contest begins (Dec. 9th) and runs through Wednesday, December 16th at 5:00 pm. The winner will be chosen by me (using random and will be announced Thursday, December 17th. You can enter up to 6 times- here's how:
  • Blog about the giveaway, proving a link back to this article, then e-mail me a link to your post.
  • Tweet about the contest (DM me so I will know you did) and don't forget to follow me on Twitter (plhawkins247).
  • Leave a comment and your contact info. on my blog
  • Sign up to follow my blog.
  • Post a comment and your contact info. on my Examiner page
  • Subscribe to my Examiner page.

* Bonus entry- If you are a member of Half Hour, send me a "shout". My user name is plhawkins247. Not a member? Sign up today- it's free!

Have Fun and Good Luck!

Review copy of 400 Sensational Cookies courtesy of Linda J. Amendt and Robert Rose publishing, September 2009, Softcover/$24.95. This is not a paid product endorsement.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

$2 Dinners- With Dessert, A Little Cash Goes a Long Way

In this week's $2 Dinners column, I'll show you how you can make delicious, homemade, treats for your family for less than $2 per serving! My Chocolate Chip Peanutbutter Bars and Mudpie Chocolate Cake are sure to satisfy your family's cravings for a little something sweet. Chocolate dessert? For less than $2 per serving? What's not to love? Get out the mixing bowls and preheat your're gonna want to make these treats!
Thursday, November 19, 2009

$2 Dinners- Use Versatile and Economical Chicken for Many Meals

Happy Thursday! The new $2 Dinners column came out yesterday...sorry I am late posting it!
I don't know about you, but I am always on the lookout for new chicken recipes, so this week in $2 Dinners, I explore ways you can create delicious, economical meals using chicken. If you have any thrifty chicken recipes you want to share, please post a comment so I can get in touch with you (or if you're on Twitter, send me a DM). If I test and use your recipe, I'll be sure to give you credit (and a big "thank-you") in my column.
Click on the paper to read this week's column.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You for My Freedom

Today's post is not about cooking or food, it's about being grateful for our freedom and thanking the people responsible for defending it. In honor of Veteran's Day, I thought it was important to remember all the men and women who are currently serving in the Armed Forces, as well as those who have served in the past. We owe each and every one of them a debt of gratitude for our freedom and unfortunately we sometimes forget that.

My husband is one of those people, having served in the United States Navy, for 4 years on active duty, and 9 years in the active reserves. We are fortunate that he did not serve in wartime, however like everyone else who serves during peaceful times, his service was no less important than those who serve during war. Armed Services personnel who serve during peacetime can still be stationed far from home, making sacrifices, enduring fatigue, hostility and hardships, the same as their counterparts who serve during war. Theirs is a thankless splashy headlines and no recognition for the part they each play as defenders of the United States and protectors of the peace. Their service ensures the continued peace and freedom that so many have fought and died for, and we need to remember them.

I think Ronald Reagan put it best when he said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

So, on this Veteran's Day, I want to say thank you to each and every member of the Armed Services, no matter when or where you served. I appreciate what you have done for me and my family. And to my husband Daryl....thank you honey....I am so proud of you!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

$2 Dinners- Soups and Stews Help Save you Bucks

Happy Wednesday! The new $2 Dinners column is out, and this week I focus on budget-friendly soups and stews. I need to mention that the Chicken and Cheesy Ravioli Soup had a name change and three other ingredients that somehow did not make it to press (there was a mix-up). In addition to the other ingredients, I added 3-4 small sage leaves, chopped, and 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/4 tsp. dried crushed rosemary), and a splash of white wine (optional). These were added when the chicken, parsley and garlic powder went into the soup. The final name of this dish is supposed to be Tuscan Chicken "Noodle" Soup.
I would also like to note that this recipe was inspired by one that was developed by my foodie friend and fellow food-writer, Anne Coleman for Disney's To see more of Anne's fabulous recipes, please visit her website, or on her blog for Disney at
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

$2 Dinners

My new column, $2 Dinners just started in the Burlington Times-News today!! I'll be posting each column as it comes out, so don't forget to check back every other Wednesday for another new $2 Dinners article!

(Click on the newpaper and scroll down.....I am on the second half of the page)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cooking with Carnation Evaporated Milk

I must confess that until recently, I have not used Carnation Evaporated Milk as much as I could in my everyday cooking. Oh sure, I use it for my holiday baking, I mean what would pumpkin pie be without the evaporated milk? But other than that, my cans of evaporated milk have languished in the cupboard, waiting for me to run out of creamer for my coffee so they can save the day. Poor things!

I found myself wondering why in the world I don't use it more often. What's not to like? It's economical, has a long shelf-life (when unopened), and it adds a richness of flavor to both sweet and savory recipes. In short, it truly is the right milk for cooking. I don't know how I could have forgotten that this wonderful "can of possibilities" has been in my cupboard all along! Here are two savory recipes I made recently using Carnation Evaporated Milk.

The first recipe, Sunrise Sausage Bake, comes from the Carnation
"Holiday Houseful" cook booklet. You can download it for free here: The recipe was quite easy to make and the breakfast casserole was creamy, fluffy, and savory. I liked the fact that unlike many other bread and egg breakfast casseroles, this one did not have to sit overnight before baking, making it perfect for last-minute preparation when you have unexpected company.

The second recipe I tried using Carnation Evaporated Milk was my mother's recipe for Stuffed Gravy-Smothered Pork Chops. The gravy that resulted from using the evaporated milk had a much richer taste and more satiny texture than it ever has when I use regular milk.

Stuffed Gravy-Smothered Pork Chops

4 (1-inch thick) bone-in Pork Chops
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon shortening or vegetable oil
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup (cream of celery works well too)
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup prepared herb-seasoned stuffing, prepared according to package directions (note: you will want stuffing a bit on the dry side so gravy doesn't make it mushy)

1. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper.
2. Using a small, sharp knife, make a slit in the side of each chop, cutting deep enough to create a pocket for the stuffing.
3. Using a small spoon, fill each pocket with approx. 1/4 cup stuffing.
4. Melt shortening in 10 inch skillet; brown chops in hot shortening, turning carefully so stuffing does not squeeze out.
5. In a small bowl, combine evaporated milk and soup using a wire whisk to remove lumps.
6. Spray a 2 qt. baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or grease with additional shortening; place chops in prepared baking dish.
7. Pour soup mixture over and around chops.
8. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until chops are tender.

If you're interested in finding out more about Carnation Evaporated Milk, or trying some new recipes using Carnation, you can find product information, nutrition information, plus lots of great recipes here:

Just for fun, send all your foodie friends one of these recipe e-cards from Carnation:

Coupons for product and stipend for recipe ingredients graciously provided by Carnation and Cassie Boorn of the One2One Network. This is not a paid product endorsement.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

World Bread Day

As you may or may not know, October 16th is World Bread Day. According to the UIB's world bread day website: "All over the world bread bears a highly symbolic power: It stands for solidarity as well as the ability to share. As a universal product, found in every civilisation, made out of various types of grain, characterised by the manifold fermentation processes and the different ways of baking, bread - even now in the third millennium - accompanies every meal. Staple food for some, luxury or modern dietary food for others - bread in itself means so much that it deserves a World Day in its honour! The World Bread Day wants to provide an opportunity to talk about bread and bakers, to find out about their history, their importance as well as their future."

In celebration of World Bread Day, I thought it fitting to share with you a recipe for homemade bread. This recipe, for sourdough bread made with a Herman starter, was given to me by my friend Shelby. She had given me a loaf of this incredible bread a few days ago and I loved it so much that I begged her for the recipe. My begging paid off because not only did I get the recipe, she even gave me a jar of the Herman starter so I could get baking!

I hope you are inspired to try making a loaf of this flavorful bread for yourself and your family (or make several and give some to friends!). There is just something so gratifying about preparing this most basic and soul-satisfying of foods, that I can't imagine anyone not having the joy of baking bread. I don't think there is anything better in the whole world than a beautiful, fragrant loaf of warm bread fresh out of the oven!

Shelby's Sour Dough Bread
In large bowl make a stiff batter using:
¼ cup sugar ½ cup oil
1 Tablespoon salt 1 cup starter
1 ½ cup warm water 6 cups bread flour

Grease large bowl and put dough in. Turn dough over to put oil on side and top. Cover lightly with foil and let stand overnight. Next morning punch down and knead a little. Divide dough into 2 or 3 parts. Knead each part on floured board about 8-12 times. Put into greased pan and brush with oil (or butter). Cover with wax paper. Let rise 4-5 hours (all day is ok). Bake at 350 degrees in middle of oven for about 30-35 minutes. (Check bread as it cooks as your oven may cook at a higher or lower temp than mine does. Normally mine takes about a good 30 minutes.) If making a bigger loaf, cooking time will need to be lengthened.

Herman Starter for Sour Dough Bread
Put initial starter in refrigerator for 3-5 days. Take out and feed with the following:
¾ cup sugar 1 cup warm water 3 Tablespoons instant potatoes
Mix well and add to starter. Let stand out of refrigerator all day (8-12 hours). This does not rise, only bubbles. Take out 1 cup to use in making bread and return remaining starter to refrigerator. Keep in refrigerator 3-5 days, feed again. If not making bread, pour off 1 cup and give to buddy to get them started making bread or discard. Original starter must be fed every 3-5 days.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

A Fall BBQ in the Mountains

We have been fortunate enough to be invited to stay at the lovely North Carolina mountain home of our friends Richard and Blair on several occasions. Having been there at different times of the year, I can say without reservation that my favorite time to go is in the early Fall when the leaves are just beginning to show their incredible colors and there is a bit of a chill in the air.

There are so many things I love about the area (near West Jefferson) and so many things we love to do when we are there: antiquing (Blair calls it "junking"), going to the Ashe County cheese shop, kayaking, walking, or just sitting around with a good book. Our cell phones don't work there and there is no cable or satellite, so it's a great place to unplug and unwind. You don't realize how stressed you are until you get away from it all, and being there always does us a world of good!

On our most recent trip to "the cabin", we had a BBQ with R & B and some of their friends, David and Virginia. Richard, who is quite a talented cook, made some incredible ribs with a spicy rub that were truly worthy of much finger-licking. Blair, who is also accomplished in the kitchen, made some beautifully caramelised green beans, and (good German girl that she is) some roasted red potatoes that were crispy and golden brown on the outside, and creamy and warm on the inside. They were potato perfection! Virginia, another foodie and fantastic cook, brought some awesome heirloom tomatoes, and an absolutely gorgeous salad with organic greens and edible flowers from her garden. The nasturtium and chive blossoms she used made the salad almost too pretty to eat, but we all gave in to temptation and emptied the bowl!
We ate out on the deck in the cool evening air, with the sounds of vintage James Taylor tunes wafting out from the living room. Between the excellent food, good wine, and great company, we had a wonderful time. I don't think there is a restaurant in the world that can beat a simple meal, expertly prepared, and enjoyed among the company of friends. As always, thanks to Richard and Blair for sharing their mountain retreat with us, and thanks to all the cooks whose hands contributed to another memorable meal!

Here is the rub recipe Richard used for the ribs, which he says was adapted from Cook's Illustrated:
Finger-Licking Spicy Rib Rub
1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Coat each rack of ribs with 1-2 tbsp rub and pat to adhere; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Cooking time is 4 - 6 hours over low (250 F) indirect heat. Notes: Use a mortar and pestle to grind any large spices to a powder, or use a spice grinder. If using kosher salt, increase the measurement by 1 tsp and then grind it fine. Can use more cayenne if desired. Can use dark brown sugar if a little Molasses flavor is desired.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Pumpkin Time

Fall is here and that means it's pumpkin time! At our house that means pumpkin pie, pumpkin-raisin muffins, and pumpkin-apple soup, among other things. My family, especially my husband and son-in-law, are pumpkin freaks, so, needless to say, we go through a lot of pumpkin around here. As you can probably guess, I usually have several cans of puree in the cupboard at all times.

However, in spite of the fact that I am surrounded by pumpkin maniacs, I have never tried to make my own pumpkin puree before. It just seemed like too much trouble, and I was not convinced that it would taste any better than the stuff in a can I have used for years. Added to that (confession time) was the fact that I was not really sure how to cook the pumpkin! But a funny thing happened last week; a foodie friend and colleague posted an article about making her own puree and it was like a light went on for me (thanks Anne!). Not only did she make it look easy, she made it look delicious and her puree was beautiful! I was hooked! I decided I had to try it for myself! So, this past weekend, I bought a pumpkin and went to work.

This is Anne's method for making pumpkin puree:
  • The first step is to pick a small pumpkin. "Sugar pumpkins" or pumpkins marked for pie work best. The giant pumpkins are not good for pie because they have stringy, bland insides and their flesh is not nearly as firm. You want to choose one that is 2 to 3 pounds with less-pronounced grooves and skin with a dull appearance.
  • Once you get your pumpkin home, wash and dry it thoroughly. Next, cut it in half vertically through the stem end, and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Note: roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious, so don't throw them away!
  • Lay the pumpkin, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin yields to slight pressure. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 20 minutes.
  • Once your pumpkin is cooled, scoop the flesh from inside the shell with a spoon, and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Store puree in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Use within 3 or 4 days if refrigerated, or within 6 months if frozen.
  • Use your puree as you would the canned variety. Note: My 2 lb. pumpkin made about 2 cups of puree.

Here is one of our favorite pumpkin recipes, Pumpkin-Raisin Muffins, from Country Cupboard restaurant in Lewisburg, PA. They bring you a basket of these warm from the oven when you dine there, and I have to say that the first time I tasted one, I though I had died and gone to heaven! I can't think of a better use for homemade pumpkin puree than these fragrant, spicy muffins!

Pumpkin-Raisin Muffins

2 cups pumpkin puree
3 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups four
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup raisins, tossed in 1 tbsp. flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, water and oil on low speed about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, except raisins. Mix well on low speed. Scrape bowl and continue mixing on medium speed about 2-3 minutes. Stir in raisins. Fill paper-lined muffin tins 1/2-3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 23-28 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a pick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
Note: If you want your muffins to peak, bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Taste of Home Christmas 2009

The other night when we got home from work, we found a package laying on the front porch. My husband, the accountant, immediately asked, "what did you order now?"(He suspected a cookbook purchase). Ok, so maybe I have a teeny little weakness (well...ok....giant weakness) for cookbooks, and he-who-knows-me-well was right to suspect a covert amazon purchase. However, as I informed him with self-righteous indignation, I had not purchased anything (that I could remember). Plausible deniability is a wonderful thing!

So the mystery package lay on the counter for a while as we both went about the usual home-from-work puttering that is part of our nightly routine. Feed the dogs and bird, take out trash, pack lunches, etc. An hour later, I opened the box, determined to send back whatever boon the cookbook gods had sent my way. This was bad. Real Bad. Inside the box was one of my particular weaknesses...a Christmas cookbook! I told myself I would just flip though it and then send it back. I told myself that if it wasn't too expensive, maybe I would consider keeping it. I told get the picture. My husband groaned when he saw the book. He knew right then our checking account would take a hit because, after all, it was "a Christmas cookbook honey"!

In a last-ditch attempt to save myself from temptation, I decided to open the envelope attached to the box. You know, just to see how much the cookbook cost so I could talk myself out of becoming too attached to it. Inside there was a letter. "Dear Mrs. Hawkins, You are receiving this complimentary copy of Taste of Home's Christmas 2009 cookbook as our thanks for your contribution. Your recipe/craft can be found on page 88". What's this? A FREE cookbook? And I'M IN IT?? Suffice it to say that I got a little excited. Ok...a lot. I'm pretty sure our neighbors heard me yell, and I know I scared our chihuahua because she avoided me for the rest of the night.

I had no idea what recipe it could be, mostly because I enter so many contests. I didn't want to waste time checking my contesting notebook, so, risking multiple paper-cuts, I quickly flipped to page 88 and there it was in all it's glory: my recipe for Tuscan Pork Stew! Like a proud parent at kindergarten graduation, I got a bit misty seeing my baby there in print. It was beautiful!

So all's well that ends well. I got a new Christmas cookbook plus bragging rights, our checkbook escaped unscathed, and you, my dear readers, get the Tuscan Pork Stew recipe! By the way...the book is terrific and full of wonderful recipes with full-color photos. Buy yours today at Taste of Home.

Tuscan Pork Stew
1 boneless whole pork loin roast ( 1-1 1/2 lbs.) cut into cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups frozen pepper and onions stir-fry (or fajita) blend, thawed
1/2 cup dry red wine or additional reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
Hot cooked fettuccine (optional)
  • In a large skillet, brown pork in oil until no longer pink; drain. Place pork in a 5-qt. slow cooker.
  • In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, broth, vegetable blend, wine, marmalade, garlic, oregano, fennel seed, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes (if desired); pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is tender.
  • Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into stew. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until gravy is thickened. Serve over hot cooked fettuccine (if desired).

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Time for Comfort Food!

It’s the time of year when the days are getting shorter and the evenings turning cooler, and I start craving “comfort food” again. I just love comfort foods because they include some of America’s best dishes such as chowders, stews and casseroles. Whether it’s grandma’s beef stew or mom’s chicken and dumplings, there is something special about these recipes that satisfies more than just my hunger.

At our house we LOVE comfort food and look forward to the arrival of the cooler weather that gives us an excuse to eat some of our favorites. The following recipes are for two of my family’s best-loved comfort foods. The first recipe, Mimi’s Famous Meatloaf, is moist and delicious and great for sandwiches the next day. Serve it with the sauce included in the recipe or covered in brown gravy. Either way, I promise your family will love this meatloaf! The second recipe, Mom’s Easy Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. Tender elbow macaroni is baked in a gooey, tangy cheese sauce and topped with a golden-brown layer of even more cheese. It doesn’t get any better than that! It’s so easy to make that I often prepare two at a time and freeze one (baked or unbaked) for our next comfort food craving!

Both these recipes are super-easy, use ingredients you probably have on-hand right now, and are perfect for making ahead and freezing (baked or unbaked). The next time a comfort food craving hits you, try out these delicious recipes and satisfy more than just their hunger. Your family will be glad you did!

Mimi’s Famous Meat Loaf
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or ground chuck
1 egg
1 5 oz. can evaporated milk
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
6 Tbsp. onion -- chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
Place meat in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, use a wire whisk or a fork to lightly beat egg and milk.
Add dry soup mix and continue to whisk until combined. Pour egg mixture on top of meat.
Pour bread crumbs and oats on top of meat.
Using a fork, gently mix meat, egg mixture and dry ingredients together until well-mixed. Do not squish or squeeze the meat as overworking it compacts the meat and results in a dry meatloaf.
Place meat mixture into a loaf pan, using your hands to flatten and shape the meat into a smooth loaf.
Bake at 350 for approx. one hour.
While meatloaf is baking, prepare sauce.
Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Pour 1/2 of sauce over meat last 30 minutes of baking; warm remaining sauce and serve on the side.

Note: If you plan to freeze the meatloaf (baked or unbaked), don’t make the sauce until the day you plan to serve it. Thaw frozen unbaked meatloaf in refrigerator for 24 hours, then bake and follow directions for sauce as usual. Thaw baked meatloaf overnight in refrigerator. Prepare sauce and pour over thawed meatloaf before re-heating in oven or microwave.

Mom’s Easy Macaroni and Cheese
2 tsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup onion -- chopped
1 10 3/4 oz. can Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (your choice mild or sharp)
1 cup shredded Colby-jack cheese
3 cups cooked elbow macaroni, prepared according to package directions (1 1/2 cups dry macaroni = 3 cups cooked)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.
Add onion and cook, stirring often until tender, 2-5 minutes.
Whisk in soup, milk, hot sauce (if using), and 1/2 cup each of shredded cheeses, stirring until cheese is melted.
Add macaroni, stirring well to coat with cheese mixture. Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish.
Top with remaining 1/2 cup each of the shredded cheeses and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned on top.

Note: Thaw frozen baked or unbaked macaroni and cheese overnight in refrigerator. If freezing unbaked macaroni and cheese, put cheeses for topping (1/2 cup each cheddar and co-jack) in a zippered freezer bag and tape to the wrapped macaroni and cheese. Frozen baked macaroni and cheese should be thawed as directed above and then reheated in the microwave or covered with foil in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.

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Look Out World!

I have been serious about food-writing for over a year, but have never started a blog up until now. I'm not really sure why, except I guess that I've just been so busy writing for other people, I forgot to write for me. No deadlines, no assigned topics, just me and whatever I want to say. I find the idea of a blog both liberating and intimidating. In spite of the creative freedom it offers, the prospect of filling up all this blank space is freaking me out! Much like when I started the first chapter of my yet-to-be-completed cookbook, I am full of doubt. All that space! What if I have nothing to say? What if nobody reads it?

I relayed these feelings on Twitter the other day to a food writer and cookbook author I admire very much, Crescent Dragonwagon (yes, that IS her name...go ahead and Google it). She told me, "self-doubt is also part of the process. Have those feelings, don't deny 'em; but don't believe 'em, either". Thanks Crescent for your kind advice and the oh-so-gentle kick in the pants that I needed! of today, no more excuses....look out world here I come!

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Food for Thought:

"In the childhood memories of every good cook, there's a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom."

- Barbara Costikyan


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