Homemade Lemonade

•3/4 cup sugar
•3/4 cup water
•6 lemons
•5 cups cold water (may add ice cubes to measuring cup before filling with water to help the lemonade get cold faster)


1. Juice your lemons. Be sure to roll your lemons on the counter between your palm and the counter to make it easier to juice.
2. Combine 3/4 cup water and sugar and heat over medium-high heat in saucepan, until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Combine the sugar water, lemon juice and cold water. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
4. Serve cold.

Other ideas:
Add a few sliced strawberries for easy strawberry lemonade.
Replace juice from 1 lemon with juice from 3 limes.
Add mint to sugar water as you boil. Strain it before adding lemon juice and cold water.
Yield: (5) 12-oz. glasses
Shelf life: 3-5 days

Posted in Sides, What's For Dinner? | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Woozzle Cookies

Also known as Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey Cookies



1 ¼ C flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

4 Tbsp margarine, at room temp (or microwaved for 8 seconds)

½ c brown sugar, packed

¼ c sugar

1/3 c peanut butter of choice (I use smooth, but crunchy would make cookies with peanut chunks in it)

1 Tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 lg ripe banana (the riper the better) note: if you can’t use your banana right away, freeze it and thaw just before using

2 c oats (instant or old fashion)


3 Tbsp smooth peanut butter (crunchy may be used, but the glaze will have peanut chunks in it – smooth is best)

½ c powdered sugar

2 Tbsp milk

1 Tbsp honey

Makes: 2 ½ dozen      Bakes in 12-15 minutes


Preheat oven to 350*.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and set aside (this may be added to wet mixture after all margarine and sugars are mixed to make time go faster, but this insures better mixing).

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars and margarine until smooth. Add peanut butter, honey, vanilla and egg. Mix till smooth.

Slowly mix in flour mix just until combined. (If in a hurry, this may be added all at once on top of wet ingredients; be sure to mix all dry ingredients in if you do this.) Add oats and stir.

Using a scoop or spoon, drop dough (about 2 Tbsp worth) 2 inches apart onto stone cookie sheet (you can use medal sheet if you have too, but I recommend using parchment paper  or Silcone baking mat if you do).

Bake at 350* for 12 – 15 minutes (they’ll be slightly golden).

Remove cookies and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cookies are cooled, make glaze by whisking all 4 ingredients together until smooth. Add a drop or two of milk if still too thick; add a dab of powdered sugar if too runny. Drizzle glaze over cookies and let glaze set.


Posted in Desserts, What's For Dinner? | Leave a comment

Crazy Dangerous

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klaven is a young adult fiction novel. Sam Hopkins is a preacher’s kid who falls into the wrong crowd. Before he joins the group of thugs carry out a crime, he finds eccentric Jennifer Sales in the woods watching him. When the thugs find them together, Sam defends Jennifer from them providing an escape for Jennifer and received the beating of his life.

After one of the thugs posts the beating on the internet, the rest of the school sees him as a hero and he’s befriends by Jennifer’s track star brother. Jennifer is hospitalized due to her hallucinations involving demons, the devil and death. Sam begins to connect the dots and questions whether the hallucinations are just that, or if they are prophetic visions of devastation that is to come.

I picked this book because the reviews I read were favorable. It was an easy read and kept my interest. However, the portrayal of the police, parents and all adults as stumbling blocks is bothersome to me. The teen in this book is the hero and the adults are less than supportive.

The dialog and reactions of schizophrenics Jennifer is extremely believable. Well written and easy to follow!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com&gt; book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment

Kidney Stones

I am writing this amid a kidney stone attack. Crazy?

Let’s start with why there’s pain. According to kidney.niddk.nih.gov, “A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine within the urinary tract.” When that “crystalized” stone, jagged on all its edges, travels through the ureter (the tube between the kidney and the bladder), it causes pain. Because I have had kidney stones for more than 23 years now, I have a little experience with them.

I had my first kidney stone pass when I was 16 years old. I was on a trip with my youth group and they had to send me back in the chaperone van. My dad met them at the hospital. First test they ran was for pregnancy. Now that was crazy! Last I knew, only one virgin in history has become pregnant; but she got a message from an angel first.

Anyway, after pumping me full of morphine, we discovered that I had an adverse reaction to the drug – nausea. I haven’t been given morphine since.

That first time, I never passed the stone. After more than a week in the hospital, they had to do surgery to remove it – twice. The first time they used a little basket to try and remove it – fail. The second, they scoped my ureter – it came out with the scope.

Two years later, a week after starting my senior year, I had my second kidney stone. Again, I never passed it. They did surgery. First they tried the scope because it was successful the last time – fail. Lipotripsy, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), was the successful surgery the last time. I woke up a few times, they only had to use local anesthetic, and it felt like someone was flicking me with their finger on my back; not as bad as being cut open by far! The time it took from the beginning of the symptoms to returning to school? Six weeks. I graduated mid-term in order to work that final semester before college. That means my senior year I was in school a total of 12 weeks. It was a relief, I was so ready to be done with high school! But that’s another blog in and of itself.

The positive to all of these surgeries is that despite the pain I went through, the urologist put stints into my ureter each time, one on the left and then one on the right. Those stints stretched my ureter and now I have a bit more room for the kidney stone to pass though. I haven’t been hospitalized for a kidney stone since the one when I was 18 years old.

I have lost count of how many kidney stones, I’ve had, but I estimate that I’ve had well over 20. I had them while pregnant, while teaching, and while on vacation.

The most stupid comment made to me after someone saw my kidney stone was, “Wow, that’s so tiny. You couldn’t have been in that much pain.” I have never had the courage to say it, but just stop and think about that. You try and pee anything out a hole the size of your pee hole and see if it isn’t uncomfortable for you too!

I have gotten to the place where I don’t have to go to the hospital any more. Don’t get me wrong, they still hurt! There are wide ranges of physical pain that I go through. It usually starts with the feelings similar to constipation – quite a bit of abdominal pain, but there is no actual constipation. After that, I usually develop a sharp stabbing pain like a knife jabbing into my back just under my ribs. The pain grows to feel like the knife is being twisted. The pain gets to the point that I can’t logically focus on anything anymore. For those of you who have had children and been in labor, you may remember the moment when you could no longer breath through the contractions because the pain was too intense at which point most women get an epidural; that is a similar degree of pain. This is also when most people end up in the hospital. The main difference is that most pregnant women only have a matter of few hours before they deliver. With my kidney stones, I have had this on-again, off- again pain for up to three weeks. After the back pain sets in, I have a strange final symptom. It feels like I have glass inside of me, sort of like a really bad urinary tract infection. This final symptom creates an urge to go to the bathroom ALL THE TIME. I can finish urinating, but I feel the sensation that I still need to go. This final symptom has thrown my doctors’ diagnoses off many times. I have had more tests run thinking I have everything else but a kidney stone. Once they test my urine, they always find traces of blood (no, you can’t see it. It only shows up in tests). I personally have found a small measure of relief by applying and ice pack.

I have received some of the craziest suggestions of how to keep from getting stones. But there are several types of stones, or several elements. The first thing I had to do was catch a stone and get it analyzed. (The internet is full of information about the different types.) My stones are calcium carbonate. This is the first ingredient in all adult vitamins and tums, so I’ve stopped taking an adult multivitamin (children’s don’t usually have this ingredient). In place of Tums or Rolaids, I take papaya enzyme (they are chewable and taste great – available in the vitamin isle of most stores) when I have indigestion. I have never been a milk drinker. I had meningitis when I was 6 months old and haven’t drunk it since. It was easy to give up milk when the urologist said to. But research has revealed some other things that may contribute to stones too. According to kidney.niddk.nih.gov, here are some foods with high and moderate levels of oxalates, which may contribute to kidney stones as well:

“People prone to forming calcium oxalate stones may be asked by their doctor to limit or avoid certain foods if their urine contains an excess of oxalate.

High-oxalate foods-higher to lower: rhubarb, spinach, beets, swiss chard, wheat germ, soybean crackers, peanuts, okra, chocolate, black Indian tea, sweet potatoes

Foods that have medium amounts of oxalate may be eaten in limited amounts. Medium-oxalate foods-higher to lower: grits, grapes, celery, green pepper, red raspberries, fruit cake, strawberries, marmalade, liver. (Source: The Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation)”

I might add that some of the medications I have taken after several of my surgeries for other issues have side effects which cause kidney stones.

There’s one thing not on this list that since I have eliminated it, it has helped reduce the frequency of kidney stones. That’s caffeine. A year and a half ago, I eliminated caffeine use from my daily diet. Unfortunately, caffeine is in Excedrin and some none cola drinks like A&W cream soda and even orange soda. I have done my best to avoid it, but sometimes I don’t find out until after I’ve already consumed it.

The other practice I have adopted is drinking almost a gallon of water a day. I don’t drink anything but water, so it is easy to get this quota a day. I had one urologist say that he didn’t care what I was drinking, as long as I was always drinking something. I have found that water is the best – no calories, needed for good health, tastes great with anything!

The most awful part about kidney stones to me is that I can go for a few days at a time with no pain only to have the pain return when I least expect it.

So, which phase am I in currently? I am on the final stage. This stage could take anywhere from an hour to weeks. So, I wait.


Posted in Everyday Living, Stories of Home | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

French Toast Casserole Recipe


½ Loaf bread

1/3 Cup pecans or walnuts

½ Cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

8 eggs

1 ¾ Cups milk

2 tsp. vanilla

Maple syrup, for serving


1)      Grease a 13×9 baking dish (I recommend Pampered Chef Rectangular Baker or the Rectangular Baker-Cranberry)

2)      Slice bread into 1 inch cubes (Pampered Chef’s Cutting Board makes measuring easy and protects your blades).

3)      Chop nuts (I recommend the Pampered Chef’s Food Chopper)

4)      In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts (I recommend Pampered Chef’s Measure-All Cup, Adjustable Measuring Spoons and Mix ‘N Scraper to make this step a snap.)

5)      Arrange half the bread in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish; sprinkle with half the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture. Add a second layer of remaining bread and sugar mixture.

6)      In a large bowl (I recommend Pampered Chef’s Bamboo Fiber Mixing Bowls, Classic Batter Bowl or the Stainless Mixing Bowls), whisk (I recommend Pampered Chef’s Stainless Whisk) together eggs. Add vanilla and milk; whisk together thoroughly.

7)      Start with the edge and work your way to the center, pour the egg mixture evenly over cubed bread. With a spatula (I recommend Pampered Chef’s Mix ‘N Scraper), gently press down on the bread to coat it with the egg mixture. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

8)      Heat oven to 350*. Bake casserole covered for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until casserole turns a golden brown, usually 30 MORE minutes.

9)      Serve casserole warm with maple syrup drizzled over it.

Posted in Entrees | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Cheesy Potato Soup

1 (32 oz.) pkg. frozen hash browns (or shred your own)

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

2 cans of water (reuse the evaporated milk can for this)

1 lb. processed cheese, cubed (like Velveta)

½ Cup onion, minced or diced (I love the taste of red onions in this recipe!)

In a slow cooker/crockpot, mix all ingredients together.  Cover and cook on low heat for 3 – 4 hours stirring occasionally.

Suggested toppings: broccoli, bacon and/or diced ham.

This is the easiest recipe I have every found.  It freezes and reheats well too.

Posted in Entrees, What's For Dinner? | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Hummingbird Cake Recipe

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing pans
Flour for dusting pans
1 package (18.5 oz.) plain yellow cake mix
1 Can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple packed in juice, undrained
1 Cup mashed ripe bananas, 2 – 3 bananas
½ Cup water
½ Cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (if you use artificial vanilla add another ¼ teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 350*
1) Lightly grease 2- 9 inch round cake pans. Dust with flour and shake off excess. Set aside.
2) Place cake mix, pineapple in juice, mashed bananas, water, oil, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides. Blend on medium for 2 minutes. Batter should look thick and the fruit well blended.
3) Divide batter between the two, floured cake pans smoothing it down with a rubber spatula.
4) Bake at 350* for 30 – 32 minutes side-by-side in oven. Center should spring back slightly with pressed.
5) Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of real butter (not margarine), at room temperature
3 ¾ Cups confectioners’ Sugar/Powered Sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low until combined. Add confectioner’s sugar, a bit at a time, blending well. Add vanilla increasing the blender speed to medium and blend until fluffy (about a minute).
2) Use at once. Store in refrigerator.

*Alternate presentations: top with toasted pecans (preheat oven to 350* and toast for 4-5 minute – you will just begin to smell them. Don’t leave the kitchen while toasting nuts; they are easily burned. They continue to cook after being removed from the oven.)

Posted in Desserts, What's For Dinner? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pepper Steak Recipe

Pepper Steak served over rice

4 lbs. cubed steak
1 large onion (yellow, white or red) – chopped into large chunks
1 large green pepper – chopped into large strips
1 large red pepper – chopped into large strips
2- 15 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
½ C Flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for pan

Preheat oven to 375*
1. Chop onion and peppers and set aside. In a large skillet, warm olive oil. Mince garlic into oil. In bowl or on a plate, place the flour and pepper; cover steaks individually with flour and brown in hot garlic oil on both sides. Place 1 can of tomatoes and ½ of the chopped onion and peppers in the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Place browned meat over veggies in pan. Once all the steaks are browned, cover with other can of stewed tomatoes and rest of onions and peppers. Sprinkle a bit of salt across the top if desired (I don’t because we watch our salt intake). Cover with aluminum foil.
2. Bake at 375* for about 30 to 35 minutes or until steaks are cooked through.
3. Serve over rice.
*Additional options: serve with green beans, peas, broccoli, carrots or green salad; garlic bread, beer bread or biscuits.

Posted in Entrees, What's For Dinner? | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken Scampi



  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk, hot


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, crushed
  • ¼  teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup white wine or cooking wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  •  ¼ cup white sauce (recipe above)


  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves, roasted
  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced
  • olive oil


ROASTED GARLIC: Separate head of garlic into individual cloves still in ‘paper’. Toss in olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil or a small pint sized dish with a lid. Bake in 350* oven for 45 minutes. When the garlic has cooled to the touch you should be able to squeeze it out of the ‘paper’ shell of the individual cloves.

SCAMPI SAUCE: Heat butter over low heat. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes on low heat. Add the wine and chicken broth. Stir until combined; about 30-40 minutes.  Start white sauce about 5 minutes before you need it; that way it is hot. Add ¼ cup white sauce and cook till slightly thickened.

WHITE SAUCE: Heat 1 tablespoons butter in sauce pan, add 2 tablespoons flour and cook for 2 minutes on med. heat stirring constantly. Slowly add ¾ cup hot milk (hot so it won’t get lumpy). Set aside until needed. (Make sure that the white sauce is hot when adding to the scampi sauce).

CHICKEN: In a large skillet, sauté chicken in a little olive oil till nearly done; about 10 minutes flipping regularly (meat will no longer cling to fork when inserted when it is finished- it comes out easily). Add the peppers and onions, sauté till chicken is done. Add the sauce. Add roasted garlic cloves. Sauté until everything is warm; about 5 minutes. Serve over pasta.

Posted in Entrees, What's For Dinner? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coffee Cake Recipe

Streusel topping and center:
4 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1 Cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp. flour
4 tsp. cinnamon
Melt butter and mix in other ingredients till moist.

1 ½ Cup sugar
½ Cup butter/margarine (softened)
2 eggs
1 Cup milk
3 Cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Combine sugar, butter and eggs. Mix in milk. Add dry ingredients and mix till well blended, like think cake batter. Pour half of the cake mix into greased and floured pan. Sprinkle ½ of the streusel mixture over the top of the batter. Add remaining batter to cover middle streusel mixture. Top with the last ½ of streusel mixture.
Bake at 375 * for 25 – 35 minutes (toothpick will come out clean).

Great for Christmas morning breakfast!

Posted in What's For Dinner? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment