Mention Cake First

img_20170115_190955410

 

It’s as vital as the air I breathe:  CAKE.  Very early in life, I internalized the message that cake was equivalent to joy, happiness, satisfaction, togetherness.  Maybe it was the time my cousin’s Rancher Wife friend rescued me from the terrifying scene of watching Mr. Bird saw down the bull’s horn before it blinded him.  My other cousin, Patricia, was there to help Mr. Bird take care of the bull.  They left Pete and me (ages 6 and 8) in the farm truck (the “anchor”) and tied the bull to it and began sawing.  I began screaming hysterically immediately, so Mrs. Bird came and got me and took me inside to the warm kitchen.  She wiped my tears and opened her deep freezer (what a fascinating box of frozen surprises it was!) and pulled out a slice of carefully wrapped homemade coconut cake.  We sat in her small but cozy kitchen in the warmth and slowly the cake soothed the trauma of thrashing around in a truck tied to an angry and uncooperative bull with my cousin, Pete!  Mrs. Bird taught me that day that I was better suited for the kitchen than the ranch!

So, today, I am sharing with ya’ll one of my favorite Southern Cake recipes, Apple Dapple Cake.  The photo does not do it justice – it should be covered in brown sugar-iced fresh pecans, but where was I going to get fresh pecans during an ice storm this weekend? Give yourself and your family a big treat today and grab some delicious apples, peel and dice them and create the world’s most delicious cake.  And if it is work you must today, sweeten the evening with my favorite solution to any and all things intolerable:  CAKE.

Recipe courtesy of My Momma, Miss Rhetta

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 3 cups tart apples, chopped
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

FROSTING

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat eggs and mix with sugar, oil and vanilla.
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda and add to egg mixture.
  3. Fold in apples and pecans.  Pour into greased and floured tube cake pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  5. For frosting:  Bring brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil.  Boil only 2 1/2 minutes.  Cool and spread on cake.

Eat it, You’ll Love It, and it will DRIVE AWAY any thoughts of ANGRY BULLS GETTING THEIR HORNS TRIMMED!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches

This recipe is an adaptation from The Pioneer Woman.  The sandwiches are SO delicious and so easy to make, my family has asked for them twice this week!  Here ya go:

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 3 lb chuck roast
  • 1 envelope of Good Season’s Zesty Italian Salad dressing mix
  • 8-oz Giardiniera (Chicago-Style Italian Sandwich Mix)
  • 14.5-oz can of beef consumme
  • provolone cheese slices
  • hoagie buns

Directions

  1.  Place chuck roast into the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot then sprinkle with salad dressing mix.  Add the Giardiniera and beef broth.  Place the lid on the crock pot then cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork.
  2. Split buns in half then scoop the meat mixture on top and add provolone cheese slices.  Serve warm.

DELISH!!!!!

 

 

When The Going Gets Tough, Cheeky Street Heads For Comfort

October was ROCKY on Cheeky Street, friends!  My husband and I have been experiencing unexpected stress and pressure in every area of our lives.  Lots of “fight or flight” hormones are flying around between us, and that is never good on a sustained level.  How do I cope?

Some may find solace in the comfort of one good friend.  For me, when my life starts getting out of whack, especially since I had to learn healthy self-care, I always go back to my “solids”:  Family, Friends, Faith and Food.  

At age 50, I  have had to learn the difference between positive self-care (the kind that nourishes your spirit to move forward ) and numbing (exacerbating fear and anxiety by temporarily dulling natural impulses to react).  I have spent long hours reading about addiction and the brain and the impact that repetitive behaviors and thoughts have on the actual wiring of our brains.  And our ability to re-wire the brain by forging new ways of thinking – reinforced by repeating the new, changed, healthy behavior.

I believe, as neuroscience is starting to discover through research, that humans have the innate ability to literally change the pathways of our brain to become healthier, happier beings.

This means that some old behaviors have to be modified.  Overindulging, which has always been my go-to coping mechanism during stressful times, usually leads to regrets, unhappiness and failures.  In Recovery, my challenge has been to fine-tune my self-care regimen by scaling back on positive behaviors and eliminating negative behaviors.

I’ll start with Family.  As the youngest of 7, my role has pretty much been to entertain the family with my foibles.  If I could make everybody laugh, that would relieve family tension and boost my self-confidence.  And prevent me from ever being responsible – for anything!  I have had to learn new ways of relating to my family – especially when I need their comfort and reassurance – by being honest about my feelings and willing to accept natural consequences of what I receive in return (not just going for the easy laugh).  The result?  While families are almost always complicated, I am learning it is so much richer to connect authentically with siblings and other relatives – instead of going for laughter, I am trying to just be real and say things like, “I really don’t know how to do this – what do you think?” instead of glossing things over with humor.  I have spent 50 years avoiding emotional pain, for whatever reason.  One of the great gifts in Recovery is freedom from the weight of any expectations:  when you commit to just be yourself, be real, get hurt, feel anger or rejection – you find that the Universe manages to nourish you just enough to cope with real life and your relationships move out of the darkness. Family may not always be the first place I look for comfort – because honesty sometimes hurts – but I have learned that my family will never lie to me, and it is up to me to accept the truth or not.

Now about Friends:  this is a complicated part of my life because I have spent so many years trying to please others.  The friends I have are the friends that accept me and have no expectations whatsoever.  I have stopped pursuing “friends en masse” – especially when my heart stings after seeing another “happy girls trip” featured on someone’s Facebook post!  I am a one-on-one kind of girl, and my friends are diverse.  My friends don’t get alot of “tending to” from me because I always put my children first.  So the friends I have are self-confident, tough and resilient.  Not needy.  I don’t have a lot of time or interest to “fuss about” with shallow relationships, so I prefer a few deep friendships.  Some of my friendships have lasted decades!  In any event, in times of deep need, like this past month, the friends I have are thoroughly “on board” with me, even though I am not my light-hearted self.  That is so comforting.

Faith.  That anchor, that sense of believing things are happening for the best, even though you are in the midst of the dark unknown:  it is STILL with me.  Spirit has never abandoned me, not once, never will.  Yes, I get terribly frightened and confused.  Yes, I do and say regrettable things.  Yet I am confident that Spirit will guide me and my family to the right circumstances at the right time.  I try not to let FEAR drown out the voice of CALM.

My faith is a distance runner built for marathons and fear is just a puny little sprinter.  Fear may be fast and furious but Faith is ready for the long-haul.  That’s the kind of faith I am experiencing these days.

Finally, my favorite old friend in times of distress:  FOOD!

img_20161101_082615303

In particular, COOKIES!  How I wish I could be strong like so many of the gorgeous women I see on Facebook, and go for that extra workout during times of stress.  But Madam Cheeky heads for her staples:  Butter and Sugar.  Food is still my weakest link and I am really striving to move toward a healthier body in Recovery.  For now, though, oh my GOD, the cookies are delicious!  This week I baked a batch of – are you ready – Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies – and friends, they did not disappoint.  Here is the recipe for you, courtesy of The New York Times:

[/recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups four
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon alt
  • Pinch of clove
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely ground pecans
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt and clove.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Add the pecans and mix just until combined.
  3. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Cover with another sheet of plastic and shape into a square (I was too lazy for this step).  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll the dough between the plastic to 1/4-inch thick, and into a 9 1/2 x 11-inch rectangle.  Refrigerate for a t least 1 1/2 hours, or up to 2 days.
  4. Position two oven racks so they divide the oven into thirds.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Discard the plastic sheets from the dough.  Trim the edges to form a 9 x 10.5/2-inch rectangle, then cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares.  Place the squares on the baking sheets, then, with a fork, pierce each cookie twice all the way through.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 9 minutes.  If desired, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while still hot.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Adapted from “Baking:  From My Home to Yours,” by Dorie Greenspan

Dinner for a Droopy Day!

I’ve been feeling “droopy” (a “Miss Rhetta-ism” – my Momma’s signature speaking style) lately.  The heat and humidity of summer persist, fall schedules and allergies are pressing down on me, and I have a serious case of the “I don’t Wanna’s”!  Weighing heavily on my mind is the fact that it is my beautiful daughter’s SENIOR year of High School.  I am overloaded with scheduling ACT tests and tutors, college visits and organizing volunteers and resources for all her Drill Team fundraisers this year.  This girl needs some delicious, cream-based sauce and crusty bread for dipping!!!!

That’s when I go to the kitchen for comfort.  Sometimes, it is a tried and true recipe that comforts me, other times, it is a new one I’ve had my eye on that I will try.  Of course, leave it to me  to take a Cooking Light recipe and make it unhealthy and delicious!   I am ready for crisp weather and my French Girl dipping sauces made with scrapings of lovely browned bits from my saucepan.  I am at least 1/8 French (Grandmother’s maiden name is De Lisle, my legal Middle name), so craving delicious sauces is natural for me!

Here is the FREAKING OUT OF THIS WORLD pan chicken recipe I modified from the January/February 2016 Cooking Light magazine for my family last night – prepare to drool.

img_20160906_164141258

Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots 

(Cooking Light Magazine, January/February 2016)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • 8 ounces small, red potatoes, halved (*I did not include this in my recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (*How I wish I had an herb garden!  I used dried).
  • 8 thin lemon slices, seeds removed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided (*I went for it and substituted one pint of heavy cream)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock (*all I had on hand was vergetable stock)
  • 1/3  cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (*I never have this so I don’t use it)

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees;
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil, swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden brown (*I always cook a few minutes longer because I am scared to death of food poisoning); Turn and cook 2 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan.  Place carrots and potatoes (*I just used carrots), cut side down, in pan; sprinkle with thyme.  Place pan in oven; bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Return chicken to pan; top with lemon slices.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 12 minutes.  Remove pan from oven.  Place chicken and vegetables on a plate.
  3. Combine 1/2 cup milk (*remember heavy cream is WAY yummier – lol!), flour, and the rind in a bowl.  Return pan to medium-high heat (do not wipe out pan).  Add flour mixture, remaining 1 cup milk, and stock to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits (this is where your heavenly taste will come from); cook 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add chicken and vegetables to pan.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Razzle Dazzle Your Diners With This Simple French-Inspired Dish

Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

The Cake for EVERY Occasion

Today, friends, I am sharing a very special family recipe with you.  It’s my Mom’s “Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake.”  Throughout my childhood, the aroma of this deliciously moist cake baking in the oven meant 1 of 3 things:

  • Somebody needed cheering up
  • We were celebrating something
  • Just because

My sister baked it the morning our Dad passed away – it was his favorite and her’s, particularly so.  This afternoon I baked one to celebrate my 20th Wedding Anniversary with my husband and our 2 teenagers.  We will probably eat this for dinner!

This cake has never lasted more than 24 hours in my family’s home.  Give it a try and see if it becomes a tradition for your family!

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix together 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar in a large bowl;
  2. Heat to boil the following:  2 sticks of butter, 3 tablespoons of cocoa and 1 cup of Coca-Cola;
  3. Stir the boiled liquid over the dry mixture;
  4. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows.
  5. Bake in a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

ICING

Combine and heat the following

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons Coca-Cola
  • 3 tablespoons of buttermilk

Pour over 1 box of powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth and pour over warm cake.

 

 

 

Classic Chocolate Mousse Recipe

A couple of months ago, my son went to Homecoming and enjoyed some of Kansas City’s finest dining before the dance.  I decided to try to  recreate his exquisite chocolate mousse dessert for him yesterday.  His response was “What’s IN this?”!!  Perhaps it will take a few more tries.  Here’s the recipe:

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS

6 servings

  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (60-72% taco), chopped
  • 2 large egg whites

PREPARATION

  • Beat 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.
  • Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl.  Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water).
  • Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume, about 1 minute.
  • Remove bowl from pan.  Add chocolate, whisk until melted and smooth.  Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat egg white in another medium bowl on medium speed until foamy.  With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 tbsp. sugar, increase speed to high and beat until peaks form.
  • Fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; fold whipped dream into mixture just to blend.
  • Divide mousse among six teacups or 4-oz ramekins.  Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  • Before serving, whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form; dollop over mousse.

 

 

A Go-To Favorite Chicken Soup Recipe

IMG_1302

 

Alas, my favorite time of year has arrived:  bone-chilling winter is upon us, time for me to get yummy soups going on my stove.  This is a particularly favorite recipe that I keep coming back to, so I wanted to share it with you – It takes only about 20 minutes to prepare and then you are feasting (hopefully by a cozy fire) on heart-and-soul-warming goodness.  Enjoy!

Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup Low-Fat and My Way

Ingredients:

  • 48 ounces fat free chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped (*I purchase a baked chicken and de-skin and shred)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, frozen
  • 1 (4 1/2 ounce) can green chilies, chopped, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in rice and cumin.
  2. Return to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes until rice is tender.
  4. Stir in chicken and next 3 ingredients into rice mixture.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Remove mixture from heat, add salt.
  7. Serve with fresh cornbread and green salad.
  8. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How About Some Sunday “I Need Cheering Up” Lemon Tea Cakes?

Moist Lemon Tea Cakes .... make life a little easier to swallow!
Moist Lemon Tea Cakes …. make life a little easier to swallow!

There are many days when I just need “a little cheering up.”  And…..I will often head to the kitchen and start a very messy baking project as my antidote.  In her infinite wisdom, my Mom made sure I had my own little “kitchen” in a closet playroom growing up along with my very own Easy Bake Oven.  I am sure we ordered and re-ordered those cake batter packets hundreds of times, but the preoccupation with my Easy Bake kept me out of Mom’s way in the real kitchen!!!

Mom was not much of a gardener, either, though we lived on 3 acres surrounded by beautiful farmland.  So, I took it upon myself to begin my education in plant life by purchasing an Encyclopedia of Gardening through some mail-order offer.  I remember sending in my money and thanking the Publisher for helping me to enjoy “gardening through the mail”!

The succulent is consistently reliable in its beauty and health....great addition to any happy place1
The succulent is consistently reliable in its beauty and health….great addition to any happy place1

All this to say, a little something sweet baking in the kitchen and something pretty and green in a pot usually go a long way towards cheering me up whenever I feel down.  And I am “feeling” the back-to-school furor and dread that many parents do this time of year.  A new beginning marks an ending too soon forgotten – and a day closer to our babies leaving the nest.   I have many friends who dropped their beautiful children off at college this weekend for the first time – the day they never thought would happen arrived.  And so, in the spirit of “cheering everyone up,” I offer this post with a new yummy lemon recipe to enjoy.

Moist Lemon Tea Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk

2 teaspoons lemon extract

Directions

  1.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the lemon juice, extracts and lemon peel.  Add flour; beat until just moistened.
  2.   Fill 2-dozen greased miniature muffin cups two-thirds full.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3.   In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients.  Dip tops of cakes into glaze; place on waxed paper to dry.

Daffodils and Divan

0324151824 Spring is finally here – and my family is looking for lighter fare for dinner.  So, today, when I picked up our first bunch of daffodils I also researched this deliciously trimmed down version of the old favorite, Chicken Divan, on the great website, Eating Well [http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chicken_divan.html].  Coming up later this week, I will share with you a family favorite salad recipe from the St. Louis Mayfair Hotel (now “The Magnolia”), Mayfair Salad Dressing.

348s

Chicken Divan

[servings = 6  total time= 1 hour]

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups diced leek, white and light green parts only (about 1 large)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli crowns, chopped
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 7 x 11 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place chicken in a medium skillet or saucepan and add water to cover.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 12 minutes.  Drain and slice into bite-size pieces.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add leek and salt and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 4 minutes.  Add flour, stir to coat.  Add broth, milk, sherry, thyme and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.  Add broccoli; return to a simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, mayonnaise and mustard.
  4. Spread half the broccoli mixture in the prepared baking dish.  Top with the chicken, then the remaining broccoli mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.  Bake until bubbling.  25 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

The Only Beef Stroganoff Recipe You’ll Ever Need

0302151607

My Mom was the Quintessential Homemaker and homemade beef stroganoff was “standard fare” on our dinner table growing up.  That’s why it is exactly what I wanted to have for dinner tonight for my 49th birthday celebration!

0302151746

Here is there recipe, straight out of the 1961 New York Times Cook Book, off Rhetta Greenwell Killion’s kitchen shelf:

[“Beef Stroganoff” servings = “About 6 servings” }

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef filet, sirloin or porterhouse steak
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup beef broth or canned consume
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
  1. Remove all the fat and gristle from the meat.  Cut into narrow strips about two inches long and one-half inch thick.  Season the strips with salt and pepper and refrigerate two hours.
  2. In a saucepan melt one and one-half tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir with a wire whisk until blended.  Meanwhile, bring the consommé to a boil and add all at once to butter-flour mixture, stirring vigorously with the whisk until the sauce is thickened and smooth.  Stir in the mustard.
  3. In a separate pan heat the remaining butter, add the meat and sliced onion and brown quickly on both sides.  Remove the meat to a hot platter, discarding the onion.
  4. Add the sour cream to the mustard sauce and heat over a brisk flame for three minutes.  Pour sauce over meat and serve.