Category Archives: General

Whole Wheat White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies & Giveaway

Tis the season for cookies right? Platters of cookies have forever adorned my holiday table and I love wrapping a plate of cookies up for my neighbors. The holidays wouldn’t be complete without these things.

Cookies and Christmas…. well it’s kind of like peanut butter and jelly! They are just meant to be together.

Hodgson Mill  asked me to participate in their “Have a Grain Holiday” contest by utilizing their fine line of whole wheat products to bake a new and exciting, yet more healthy, holiday treat!

I thought for a moment about what I might want to create…. I had to go with cookies, it’s what I love most about baking for the holidays. My kids and I enjoy gathering around the kitchen island and rolling out cookies, then delivering them to friends and neighbors.

Also, if any of you participate in Cookie Swaps, wouldn’t it be great to pass out cookies that were out of this world delicious and yet so much better for you than cookies made with white processed flours?

So that’s what I set out to create!

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Split Pea Soup

The best part about making a ham….. why EATING it of course!

The second best thing about making a ham… Split Pea Soup

I don’t believe I’ve ever made a ham without this delicious, belly warming soup following close on its heels. Nothing in my kitchen gets thrown away until it serves absolutely NO purpose. Ham bones have a very tasty purpose….as do veggie scraps! (You’ll see)

You might have seen the Cola Glazed Holiday Ham I posted a week or two ago…I used the flavorful leftovers in this recipe. If you didn’t see it, here’s a link.

Cola Glazed Ham

We eat the spiral sliced part of the ham the first night, then I’m left with a glorious “chunk” for soup. WIN WIN

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Maple Pecan Cheesecake and a Giveaway!

Let that sink in…..Maple    Pecan    Cheesecake!

With a side order of chocolate and salted caramel- ya know…for good measure!

I’ve made a gazillion cheesecakes in my life and this batter is by far my favorite. It’s dense and creamy and easy to play with for different flavor creations. No drooping on the plate from this one…This stands up and demands attention.

Eat your heart out Cheesecake Factory

So this maple pecan thingy I made, it’s perfect for the holiday season with notes of maple and ginger. However, if gingersnaps aren’t really your thing, I would recommend pecan sandies as a substitute or possibly plain ole’ graham cracker crumbs. I really LOVE the punch that the gingersnap provides though. It’s a perfect contrast for the other flavors at play here.

Once you’ve made this, feel free to play around with certain ingredients. Exchange the cookies, substitute different extracts, add in peppermint candies or chocolate chips….the sky is the limit.

Now…just in case this cheesecake wasn’t enough to suck ya in

THIS POST IS ALSO A GIVEAWAY!!!

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The Importance of Traditions…and Mothers

This is a rare NON-recipe post and a little glimpse into my life. I know you didn’t ask for that glimpse….but it’s important I promise!

{Take a walk down my memory lane}

I was a lucky girl….a girl raised in a loving home without a care in the world.

I was a little tom-boy, curly-headed rug rat that ran around making mud pies and reading Wildlife Treasury cards, often times in the beautifully sewn clothes that came from my mother’s machine. Complete with the tag inside that said “Made from Mom with Love”….funny how I remember those little tags all these years later!

My mother was the queen of casseroles and penny-pinching and I owe my old-fashioned homemaking skills to her. You see….when I was young,  I thought she made all those casseroles because she WANTED to, and that all the coupon clipping and penny-pinching just happened because she was semi-neurotic about saving money.

Now that I’m grown, I understand that that time in my parent’s life was a time of financial struggle. That they knew that guy named Peter and they were robbing him OFTEN to pay some guy named Paul. {If I ever meet this man Paul, I swear I’ll give him a piece of my mind….greedy turkey}

As I reflect over my childhood, I praise my mother most highly for the simple fact that we kids never KNEW we were broke! I never had the slightest inclination of what my parents did to keep our family afloat. I know now just how ridiculously difficult that can be. There’s always another pair of shoes to buy, or another field trip to pay for. It never ends…but their hard work paid off and helped make me the way I am now!

Around the holidays, my mother’s talents made her sparkle like a glittery sugar-plum fairy! I grew up helping her shape popcorn balls for trick or treaters, watched her painstakingly place each ornament on the Christmas tree with lights clipped to the end of each branch, and watched her rush in to save the day when my school’s Christmas Program was in need of a last-minute brick castle.

Somethings you just DO, and she ALWAYS did them!

It’s become clear to me that sometimes you aren’t even aware of certain things being traditions until they are all of a sudden removed. These are things you just simply know will happen year after year and you don’t stop and think about them being a glorious TRADITION!

As I’ve gotten older, my mother and I have become two peas in an amazing pod. We laugh, we cry, and we Black Friday Shop! Oh boy do we ever shop! But that’s where this story changes a bit…..

You see, my husband and I decided to move our family to Texas this summer. We have been oh so pleased with our move, but with the holidays approaching, I can’t help but to feel the reality of 5,000 miles of separation from my mother. I won’t have my shopping partner, my sidekick holiday baker, or my fellow Chirstmas carol belter! I’m like a wrapped package without a bow.

This is where the importance of traditions comes in!!

Because of all the things SHE did and taught me…I can have a little touch of my mother here with me this holiday season! I can pin those little lights right at the tip of my branches while listening to those classic carols. I can make Christmas special for OTHER people, as she so often does! I will bake a large heavenly batch of apple crisp and maybe just maybe be able to create a vision of her hustling through my kitchen to help prepare the Christmas meal.

While I won’t be Black Friday shopping this year, I will still be pouring over the sale ads and making lists, just like we do every year.

So the message is simple folks: Grab the people you love and make traditions! Show them what you want THEM to carry on, for you never know when they’ll need those memories!

To my mother: I love you more than butterfinger blizzards and miss you dearly. You’re here with me no matter how far away you are and I couldn’t be more thankful for you than I am right at this moment…as I sit here and have myself a good ole’ girly cry.

Signing Off,

My mother’s daughter

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Cola Glazed Holiday Ham

I must say that there are certain times that I just adore being a food blogger! Having an excuse to make a gorgeous holiday ham BEFORE the holidays is just ONE of those times.

I mean, I can’t cook one on Christmas and then post it….nobody would see it beforehand and that just simply won’t work!

As such, gosh darn if a gorgeous spiral cut ham didn’t make its way into my cart the other day. Spiral cut is a must for this recipe, as it allows the glaze to ooze all the way down into every nook and cranny of the ham. You WANT that to happen, you really do!

Now with all the flavor I put on this ham, I don’t feel the need to spend the money on the best brand out there. I just purchase my store brand and call it good.

A lot of cola glazes are, in my opinion, too sweet and ruin my chance to use the leftovers in a variety of ways. I want to be able to use it for lunchmeat, stratas, frittatas, chowders….you get the picture. And of course the bone will be in a bubbling pot of split pea soup. (I’ll be posting that recipe soon)

My glaze is sweet, but since it stays somewhat thin, it doesn’t encrust the ham with sugar….just gives it a slightly sweet note with a ton of flavor.

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Undercover Chicken Chili

Undercover???

No this dish isn’t top-secret and has no hidden agenda! This chili is UNDER COVER though….and it’s a cover this lady loves!

The cover is a glorious cornbread, packed full of flavor, and baked in cast iron. That’s a cover I’d love to curl up underneath any day.

So here’s the deal….traditional chili can punish a cast iron pan that hasn’t developed a well-established patina. The reason? Acid in the tomatoes!! Acid is no friend of cast iron pans and I try to avoid it as much as possible.

For my cast iron, I make a ridiculously delish chicken chili that fends off the tomatoes and utilizes broth and white beans instead. The addition of lime zest works as the only source of acid and is not enough to cause your pans any worry!

Please know, this chili is spectacular all on its own….but the addition of the cornbread top just sends it right over the edge of sinful. It’s a gorgeous dish to present, right in the skillet, at a dinner gathering…and the iron helps hold the heat.

Winner Winner Chicken Chili Dinner!

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Shrimp Cocktail…Elegance At Home!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten shrimp cocktail at a restaurant…..It’s screams at me from the menu

“Pick Me…Pick Me”

If I can get over the sticker shock, then I order them. If not, then I just crave them and move on.

There are several menu items that drive me right over the edge of…. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME”! This is one of them.

I understand that prep and labor and all that jazz goes into the price of food on a menu, I truly do! But dining out should feel like a treat, not a procedure that you walk away sore from!

So let me show ya how easy it is to create restaurant quality shrimp cocktail:

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Let me start by saying…THESE stuffed mushrooms are probably the quickest way to make me weak at the knees. I love so many kinds of stuffed mushrooms, and despite several past flops at restaurants…I’m always tempted to order them again. I’m a glutton for punishment I guess!

Most of the ones I’ve been served at restaurants fall into one of these categories:

1.) Lukewarm

2.) Just barely stuffed

3.) Soggy

I don’t like ANY of those categories!

So…..

I make my own

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Frito Boats

These delicious little goodies go by many names, depending on what part of the country you’re in. You might know them as Frito Pie or Walking Tacos.

Whatever you call them….just know they’re GOOD!

Versions of these Frito dishes have been made for years and years. The most popular way, before the creation of the small snack size bags, was to layer Fritos, Chili, and Cheese in a casserole and bake it. That was the dawn of Frito Pie….we all need to pay homage to the casserole ladies of old!

Now, everybody has their own version of chili that adorns their Fritos, and most people are as dedicated to THEIR chili as they are their Turkey Dressing/Stuffing.

If you DON’T already have your own chili….take a look-see at mine and give it a try. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s kid approved. That works well in my world!

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Stuffed Tex O Lanterns

So here it is for public viewing……PROOF that Modern Mrs. Cleaver still plays with her food!

The proof is in the pepper

I LOVE stuffed peppers, but why not make them something unique and kid friendly for Halloween? This is super cinchy to do and they turn out amazing. I grab orange bell peppers because they look like mini pumpkins when they are on the plate, but you can carve any color ya like.

Stuff em’ with your favorite pepper stuffing, or use my Mexican Rice recipe with the link posted below.

~Mexican Rice Recipe~

The Mexican Rice is enough to stuff 6-8 large peppers, or have some for leftovers!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

So grab a pepper and slice around the top to create a circle and pop the lid off. Cut the seeds and membrane away to flatten the bottom of the lid.

Carefully remove seeds and white membrane from inside the pepper.

With a sharp paring knife, cut faces into your peppers. Make them happy, scary, or even include teeth. Get creative 🙂


Place the peppers into a baking dish and stuff with your choice of stuffing.

Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the peppers are nice and soft. Allow them to cool for a few moments, then plate and serve. I like to put a dollop of sour cream on top of my Mexican Rice and sprinkle with cilantro.

Here they are….aren’t they awesome???

So go ahead and play with your food….I won’t tell!

Signing Off,

Modern Mrs. Cleaver

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