Saturday, July 8, 2017




Reflecting Independence
by Paula George
June 26, 2006

As Independence Day approaches, many thoughts and memories travel through my
mind and heart.

Thoughts of the freedoms, others have sacrificed home and lives for bringing us
to this point in time.

Families divided, others brought closer as they faced enemies seeking to destroy
these freedoms.

Goodbyes said as loved ones shipped to foreign lands, never to return, yet;
giving their lives to protect their homeland.

Unfortunate the divisions in our own homeland, families divided, others
reunited...infiltrated within by...

Outsiders...taking advantage of our freedoms and government, unwilling to accept
our land according to the laws it was founded upon.

Only taking of the opportunities...unwilling to become an intricate part of the
Independence we have because of lives sacrificed.

Reflections still remain that I have the opportunity to live in "freedom" and I
am a "citizen" of the "Land of Independence".

Refections of those who serve in our military forces...those near and
far...those past and present...those willing to sacrifice home and family to
protect our freedom and homeland..."Reflecting Independence".


El Toro cheese dip was a favorite in Florence, Alabama. It's great with a big basket of tortilla chips.
This is my version, as I recreated it per Ricks taste buds!
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 - 1/3 cup dried minced onion
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red/cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp cumin
1 lb original Velveeta cheese
1 -1/2 cups milk

Microwave Directions
Melt Velveeta in a large microwave-safe bowl
Mix dry spices into melted cheese
Heat milk, slowly stir into melted cheese, reheating cheese as needed

Crockpot is slower, but can just dump and stir occasionally.

Serve promptly!

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil
Adapted from recipe that I found online...
1 lb. Dutch yellow potatoes
4 ears of corn, cut in thirds
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
1-1/2 lbs. Shrimp, peeled & deveined, tail on
1 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/3 cup melted butter
Fresh parsley for garnish

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for about 13 minutes. Add corn last 5 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Place drained potatoes & corn, shrimp, sausage, onions, garlic on baking sheet. Sprinkle with Old Bay. Drizzle melted butter over. Toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley & serve. 

Cobb Salad Quesadillas
Southwestern Cobb Salad Quesadillas
In this recipe, two favorites converge to make one fantastic salad.

Makes: 4 servings (3 cups salad, 3 quesadillas)

Total time: 45 minutes

1⁄2 cup purchased ranch dressing
2 tsp. adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chiles)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
Salt and black pepper
3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1⁄2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1⁄2 cup avocado, diced
1⁄2 cup canned black beans, drained, rinsed
1⁄2 cup jarred roasted red bell pepper, sliced
1⁄2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1⁄2 cup corn chips, crushed
3 burrito-size flour tortillas
1 1⁄2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Olive oil

Nutrition Information
Per serving: 688 cal; 25g total fat (11g sat); 75mg chol; 1730mg sodium; 65g total carbs; 8g fiber; 34g protein

Preheat grill to medium.

Stir all ingredients for the dressing together; cover and chill.

Brush chicken with oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill 4–5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Slice into strips.

Toss chicken strips with all salad ingredients (except the dressing); chill while assembling quesadillas.

Assemble quesadillas with cheese. Fold over, brush with oil and grill, covered, 1–2 minutes per side, or until cheese melts and tortillas brown. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges, toss salad with dressing, and serve. (Store any leftover dressing for up to 1 week.)

Neva, one of the servers at the restaurant told me about this recipe that she tried over the weekend. I cooked b/s chicken breasts in the crockpot and had this last night.
 Chicken,Artichoke & Cheddar  Melts
2 cups chopped/shredded cooked chicken (Cooked chicken in the crockpot with Montreal Chicken Seasoning)
1 jar (6 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained & finely chopped
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (Duke's)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion, or a little more to taste!
1 Tbsp. Dijon or grainy mustard (I used Country Dijon made with Whole Grain Mustard)
8 slices Sourdough or Rye bread ( I used Whole Wheat Bagel Thins), lightly toasted
8 slices sliced Sharp Cheddar cheese, cut diagonally.
Combine chicken, artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, onion, & mustard; mix well. Spread mixture
evenly over toast; top with cheese. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 6 minutes until hot and cheese is melted; about 6 minutes. Top with remaining toast & serve. Instead, I ate mine as open face sandwiches.
Tonight, I had a scoop of the Chicken/artichoke salad with crackers, delicious that way also! Lots of options, use Rotisserie chicken so you don't have to heat up the kitchen...or add your own little tweaks such as sundried tomatoes.

These comments are from their cookbook: "At Magnolia we decided to make our cake not quite a traditional yellow cake or a traditional sponge cake, given the use of whole eggs in our recipe. We're sure you'll agree this recipe is moist, delicious and makes a beautiful layer cake or cupcakes for birthdays or any celebration. Frost with pink buttercream icing and lots of colored sprinkles as we do, and feel as though you're at your seventh birthday party all over again!"
SERVES 16 , 1 3 layer cake


Cake Batter
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter extract
Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon butter extract
1Preheat oven to 350°.
2Grease and lightly flour three 9 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
3In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
4Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition.
7Divide batter among the cake pans.
8Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
9Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
10Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
11If you're making cupcakes, line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
12Spoon the batter into the cups about three-quarters full.
13Bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 22 minutes.
14Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on a rack before icing.
15When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake.
16To make the icing - place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
17Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.
18Beat until smooth and creamy.
19Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you may very well not need all of the sugar).
20If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.
21Use and store icing at room temperature, as icing will set if chilled.
22Can store in an airtight container for up to three days.

I made this for Rick's birthday, adding 1 teasppon of butter extract to the cake and the frosting. This cake has a wonderful consistency! I will definitely make it again!