Mexican Rice

If you like Mexican food, this is a really close version to what you'll eat at a restaurant.

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper
2/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and green pepper and saute until tender. Pour the rice into the pan and stir to coat grains with oil. Mix in cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, salt, garlic salt, and broth. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cook at a simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Serves 5-7. Great with Enchiladas.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Maureen Lang's Fruit Bars

Maureen Lang is the author of twenty-one novels and novellas that offer settings ranging from historical to contemporary, Europe to America. Her earlier work won RWA’s Golden Heart Award then ACFW’s Genesis, and published works have finaled in the Christy, Carol, Book Buyer’s Best, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Golden Quill. She’s won a HOLT Medallion, First Place for a Selah Award and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest. A wife and mother of three, she is the primary caregiver to her adult son with Fragile X Syndrome and she lives in the Chicago area. Maureen can be found online at her Website, on Goodreads, Facebook Author Page or Profile and participates in a group blog at Christians Read.

Maureen's Latest Book Release: The Cranbury Toymaker

 The moment Raina Wingate arrives in Cranbury, she's convinced God brought her there for a reason. Surely God can use Raina's toymaking talent to help her Aunt Esther restore the dilapidated Cranbury Inn!

Since Cade Levick's return to his small hometown after the heartbreaking loss of his wife and, more recently, his young daughter, he's worked hard at two things: woodworking, and establishing himself as Cranbury's very own curmudgeon.

But when Raina discovers Cade was once a toymaker himself, she recruits his unwilling help to make her soft toys the best they can be.

Will Raina's perpetual good cheer break through the boundary Cade has erected around his life? Or is learning to grieve the only way Raina can understand this particular town curmudgeon? Can her irrepressible optimism break through his stubborn grief? Buy the book HERE. 

Maureen's Fruit Bar Recipe

I can't say my characters ever tasted this favorite family treat, but if I ever hosted Cade and Raina for afternoon tea, this is what I'd serve!

2 sticks butter or margarine (In this case, butter really is better!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 can fruit pie filling, flavor of your choice

Cream butter and sugar well, then add egg one at a time. Beat well after adding each egg. Add lemon juice and flour, mixing well. Spread on greased and floured jelly roll pan. (Using butter flavor cooking spray without the flour also works.)

Cut through the batter in the pan with a knife to mark bars, sixteen to twenty depending on the size of your pan and the size of the bar you wish to serve. Put a spoonful of pie filling in the center of each square.

Place pan in center of oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, testing cake center with a toothpick for doneness. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and enjoy!

Caramel Blonde Brownies


Here's a delicious new take on blonde brownies. Enjoy!

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup salted butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 pieces of caramels, quartered
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together brown sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour to the creamed mixture and stir just till combined. Stir in caramels, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Press into 9x13" baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 23-25 minutes until center has set. Cool completely before slicing. Makes 24 bars.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Meatballs


I've never tried making my own spaghetti sauce until this summer when I had a bunch of tomatoes to use. I have to admit that it's time consuming to prepare the fresh tomatoes, but my, oh my, did it smell good in the kitchen . . . and it tasted great! I hope you'll enjoy it too! Serve with Soft Breadsticks.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cups onion, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh garlic
8 cups (3 pounds) tomatoes, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup red wine
3 cubes beef bouillon
1 can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 pound ground hamburger
1 pound ground sausage
1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

In large saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic. Add tomatoes, red wine, bouillon cubes, tomato paste, bay leaf, sugar, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is cooking, prepare meatballs. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine hamburger, sausage, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, onion, and Italian seasoning. Mix well. Roll into balls the size of golf balls. Place in greased baking dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes until done.

In small skillet, melt butter and saute mushrooms for 10-15 minutes. Add to spaghetti sauce along with cooked meatballs. Cook sauce for an additional 10 minutes. Serve over cooked spaghetti with French Bread or Soft Bread Sticks. Serves 10-12.

Wine Recommendation: Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2012
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Rebecca DeMarino's Grandmother Horton's Ginger Cookies

REBECCA DEMARINO inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother; a love of horses, reading, and writing from her dad—and the wanderlust gene from both parents. Her new novel, To Follow Her Heart released this year from Revell. She is the author of A Place in His Heart and To Capture Her Heart, books one and two of The Southold Chronicles. A free prologue to The Southold Chronicles series available here:

Rebecca's Latest Book Release: To Follow Her Heart 

Duty and love are powerful forces. Only one has the power to make her life complete.

It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton’s ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados. There were no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island.

Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy sails aboard a British warship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold—and to an overjoyed Patience—it’s not quite the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for.

With a finely tuned sense for authentic historical characters and settings, Rebecca DeMarino plunges you into a world of tall ships, daring journeys, and yearning hearts. 
Buy the book HERE. 

Rebecca's Grandmother Horton's Ginger Cookies

Growing up, I always knew Christmas would soon be here when the ginger cookies baked by Grandmother Annabelle Horton arrived by mail, carefully wrapped in a glossy green Frederick and Nelson’s shirt box! She baked them every year and when she passed away, my mother continued the tradition. I have tried to do the same, baking them each December for my three daughters and grandchildren. My 9th great-grandfather, Barnabas Horton was a baker from Mowsley, England, and I like to think the cookie genes came from him! The following recipe is Grandmother’s original. I use canola oil instead of the Mazola. These are delicious with a glass of icy cold milk, but I enjoy them with a steaming cup of coffee or tea, too!

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Mazola oil
1 egg
4 tablespoons molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Combine sugar, oil, egg, molasses, flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.
Mix well, roll into small balls. Dip in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Remove to rack and cool. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Chicken Soup with Spinach Tortellini

Try this delicious chicken soup for dinner tonight. Serve with Cheddar Dill Scones. Yum!

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
6 cups chicken stock + 2 cups water
8 oz. uncooked spinach-filled tortellini
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In large dutch oven, cook chicken thighs in boiling chicken stock and water until done, 17-20 minutes. Remove chicken from stock to cool. Add tortellini, frozen vegetables, cabbage, basil, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to stock. Return to a boil, and cook for 16 minutes. While this is cooking, shred chicken thighs to small pieces. Add to soup and stir. Serves 4-6.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Three Cheese Chicken Penne


Here's a delightful recipe I conjured up based on the entree from Applebee's. Can you say YUM?

12 chicken strips, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup Italian dressing
16 oz. penne pasta
15 oz. Alfredo sauce
6 oz. Mozzarella, shredded
6 oz. Provolone, shredded
1 cup Parmesan
10 oz. Italian-style tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil

Slice chicken strips into 1/2" pieces. In large skillet, sear chicken in 3-4 tablespoon canola oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes before turning. Continue cooking until pieces are golden brown. Add Italian dressing and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Cook penne pasta in boiling water according to package directions, seasoning with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Drain and place in large microwavable casserole dish. Pour Alfredo sauce over pasta. Add shredded cheese and Parmesan, mixing well. Microwave for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted, stirring after 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat olive oil and saute onion, pepper, and garlic until tender. Add tomatoes and simmer until most of the juice is gone. To serve, place generous amount of pasta on plate. Layer with chicken and a spoonful of tomato mixture. Serve with Soft Breadsticks. Serves 6-8

Wine Recommendation: Kendall-Jackson Vitner's Reserve Chardonnay 2012
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Kim Vogel Sawyer's King's Inn Breakfast Bread Pudding

Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer wears many hats. As a wife, mother, grandmother, song-singer, cat-petter, and active participant in her church’s music and women’s ministries, her life is happily full. But her passion lies in penning stories that share the hope we can all possess when we place our lives in God’s capable hands. She and her retired military hubby live on the beautiful plains of Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s books. In her free time, she enjoys quilting, traveling with “The Hubs,” and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings. Learn more about Kim and her books HERE. 
Kim's Latest Book Release: Room for Hope
In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?
Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.
When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”
Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does? Purchase the book HERE. 

Kim's recipe for The King's Inn Breakfast Bread Pudding

Spray 6 LARGE muffin tins with non-stick spray
Sprinkle chopped walnut, dried cranberries, and 1 T. brown sugar in bottom of each tin

Tear 3 apple fritters into small pieces and fill muffin tins with pieces

Combine and mix well:
6 beaten eggs + milk or cream to make 2 cups liquid
1 t. vanilla
1 T. cinnamon

Pour 1/4 c. liquid over fritters. Let set over night. Bake at 350-degrees for 45-60 minutes (until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Serve with fried apples, if desired. (It’s also great with bacon!)

Pecan Pie with Chocolate Bottom

Here's a yummy recipe with a chocolate surprise at the bottom!

3 eggs
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped and halved
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1-unbaked pie shell

In medium bowl, beat eggs slightly. Stir in sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, bourbon, and vanilla until blended. Stir in pecans. In small bowl, mix together chocolate chips and cocoa. Sprinkle on bottom of pastry shell. Pour filling over chocolate. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 25-30 minutes longer until lightly browned and puffed across top. Cool. Serve with whipped topping. Serves 8-10.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Cream Puff Dessert


Here's an easy recipe first introduced to me by author Deborah Raney. Very tasty and great for potlucks or family entertaining.

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 small boxes French Vanilla instant pudding
2 1/2 cups milk
1- 8 oz. whipped topping, thawed
1/3 cup chocolate syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium saucepan, boil water and butter. Add flour. Mix well with wooden spoon. Dough will form a ball. Remove from heat. Transfer dough to mixing bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Spread dough in ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Press down crust as it bubbles. Bake for another 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Press down crust once more and allow to cool.

To make filling, beat cream cheese in large mixing bowl until smooth. Add pudding and stir in milk slowly. Mix until thickened, about 2 minutes. Spread onto cooled crust. Top with whipped topping. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 16-20.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Banana Nut Scones


We love scones at our house. Here is a recipe perfect for autumn. Enjoy!

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup half and half
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons decorating sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with knife or fork until mixture is crumbly. In small bowl, mix together bananas, half and half cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir into flour mixture along with pecans and work together until it forms a ball. (I use my hands for this.) Divide into eight pieces and place each in lightly greased scone pan. Press to form into the pan. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pan.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.


Breakfast Burrito


Here's a recipe we enjoy making at any time of year.

1 pound ground sausage
10 eggs
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 flour tortillas (see homemade recipe HERE)

Brown sausage in large skillet. Drain on plate with paper towel and set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and minced onion. Pour into hot skillet and cook until eggs are cooked through. Add browned sausage to mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Allow cheese to melt. Heat flour tortillas in microwave. Add egg mixture and roll inside tortillas. May serve with Homemade Salsa or hot sauce. Serves 8.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.