Cooking Camp 62212

 Yesterday, I had the pleasure of treating these sweet friends to “cooking camp”! Friends since kindergarten, these soon to be middle schoolers and I enjoyed a day in the kitchen!
Making Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
Stuffed Strawberries Drizzled with Chocolate
Rolling Out Butterfinger Sugar Cookies
Time Out for a Little “Make Up” Fun

During baking time, the girls enjoyed some dancing to
 “What Makes You Beautiful” including Annie!
Elle and Annie are blessed to have such sweet friends!
The finished product – the girls did a great job!
Now time for lunch of personal homemade pizzas and salad and, of course, some sweet treats!
To Parker, Mary Harbin, Emma and Elle – you’re the best!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding
 and he will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3: 5-6
In Memory Of
Myra Foreman
November 29, 1930 – May 19, 2012
On May 19, God called another angel to heaven. Mrs. Myra was my pastor’s wife, my Sunday School and Church Training Teacher, my Wedding Director, a wonderful First Grade Teacher and so much more! She was an incredibly talented cook and a very creative person. Growing up, I spent hours and hours at her house, watching her “create” something. I especially remember her teaching me to make icing and roses for cakes. Both of my girls have a special creation of hers to treasure – Elle has a hand painted chair that she personalized with her name on it and Annie has a handmade “Raggedy Ann” doll. Some of my first recipes in my recipe box were hers! Yesterday, during “cooking camp”, I was reminded of the time she shared her talents with me and I am so thankful for all that she meant to me!
Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup powdered pink lemonade mix
4 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup milk
Paper baking cups
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, sugar and lemonade mix at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Place paper baking cups in muffin pans; spoon batter into cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Pink Lemonade Frosting
1/4 cup powdered pink lemonade mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
 2-3 T. whipping cream
1 (16 oz.) pkg. powdered sugar
Dissolve pink lemonade mix in 3 T. water. Beat butter, lemonade mixture, and whipping cream at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy.
Butterfinger Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 t. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 Butterfinger Candy Bars, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradully add to shortening mixture, beating until just blended. Stir in candy. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes or until browned. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Stuffed Strawberries
20 whole strawberries, hulled
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 t. vanilla
chopped pecans
chocolate chips
Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand up. Place berries cut side down on a serving plate. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Using a pastry bag, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans over strawberries, if desired. Melt a “handful” of chocolate chips and drizzle chocolate over strawberries. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Thankful Thursday – Best Friends Forever

My friend, Pam, and I have been friends since we were 4 years old! That’s 48 years! I’m not worried about telling my age – I’m just so thankful to be my age! When my family moved to the home where my Mother currently lives, there was an empty lot beside us. On the other side of the empty lot, lived the Lawsons who had 3 girls. At some point, this little red haired girl and the eldest of the Lawson girls met across that empty lot, around the age of 4 and a lifetime friendship was begun!
    From our early years at Pike County Elementary, middle school and high school at Pike Liberal Arts, Troy State University and years beyond, Pam and I have remained friends. Thanks to AT& T and Verizon Wireless, we talk frequently even though we live in different cities. We were in each other’s weddings. Pam was there when each of my girl’s were born. She was there for me immediately after I was diagnosed with cancer. She was there for me every day in the weeks before my Dad passed away and she was there for me the night he died.
     Today, I am so thankful for Pam and what she means to me and also to my family. She is a wonderful wife and stepmother to a son and daughter and a fabulous “Bam Bam” to four precious grandchildren. She is a great “Aunt Pam” to her nieces and nephews, a wonderful daughter and sister! We call her “Aunt Pam”, too – she is very special to my girls!
     We were born 6 days apart at Beard Hospital in Troy. We always wanted to think we were in the nursery together but I was already home by the time she arrived. So…when we celebrate our birthdays in May, what do you give a treasured friend that you haven’t already given her? First, let me go on record as saying she is the BEST at cards and gifts, but I did come up with something unique this year.

I purchased a wooden tray made my a sweet little man at an arts and crafts show, painted it black, filled it (using Mod Podge) with black and white photos depicting our friendship, growing up together. Then I had a glass cut to place over the top.
Most of the pictures, I found through a Google search and converted to black/white. The others were scanned from our school year books.
Included were pictures of: 1) Tootsie Roll Pops – Pam revealed to me in our adult years that she was always jealous of the drawing contest I won during homecoming week in first grade – the prize was Tootsie Roll Pops:) 2) Picture of downtown Brundidge – remembering how we used to go “riding around” all the time and how, when we got our license, we could think of anything and everything we “needed” for school so that we could drive to the Dykes Drugs 3) Student Council, 4) Betsy Clark – we loved some Betsy Clark and Holly Hobby Stuff 5) 21 Club – a social/service organization, 6) Orange Ade – reminding us of the summers when we would go into her Dad’s Barber’s milk truck for a cold drink 7) A map of our neighborhood 8) Pike County Bulldogs from elementary school 9) Cap and gown/diploma from Pike Liberal Arts, 10) Childhood photo and last, but not least 11) The Tastee Freeze – it’s not really our Tastee Freeze but close – when we were young, we aspired to work there. They had the best burgers and soft serve ice cream!

To celebrate my sweet friend, I added an ice cream party – dishes, a cow (she loves cows) ice cream scoop, toppings, napkins, etc.
Thanks, Pam, for the memories! So glad that God blessed me that day we met across that weeded lot on Bowden Street with such a special friend!

What’s in the Bread Basket? Ham and Cheese Puffs

Ham and Cheese Puffs
I have 5 shelves of cookbooks (one day I will count them!) and easy access to recipes by Google, but sometimes the best recipes are find in my recipe box. It is filled with “tried and true” recipes that I have had since I first started cooking. This one is from my early cooking days and I had forgotten all about it!
1 C. water
1/2 C. margarine/butter
1 C. all purpose flour
1/2 t. dry mustard
4 eggs
1 –  4 oz. pkg. sliced cooked ham (diced)
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
Grease a large cookie sheet. In a 2 qt. sauce pan over medium heat, heat water and margarine (or butter) until it melts and mixture boils. Remove saucepan from heat. With wooden spoon, stir vigorously. Stir in flour and mustard all at once until mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is smooth. Stir in ham and cheese (cheese does not need to melt). Drop batter, using an large spoon onto prepared cookie sheet into 12 mounds, about 2 inches apart, swirling the top of each. Bake 35 minutes or until golden. Serve as bread with soup, salad or main course. Makes 12 puffs. 145 calories per puff.
I used already chopped ham that is available at Publix in the meat department. I served with a salad. They are best when served hot right out of the oven!

Annie’s “Seal of Approval”

Sweet Corn – Sweet Memories

Corn Off the Cob
This is my current favorite summer dish! For 2 weeks in a row, I have sauteed corn fresh from the Farmer’s Market. My family likes “corn on the cob” but Elle can’t eat it now that she has braces, so I found this option to be just as good, maybe better!
6-8 ears of corn, cleaned
3 T. butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Cut the corn off the cob. Saute corn in butter for about 10 minutes! Season with salt and pepper to your preferred taste. That’s it! It’s just like corn on the cob but much easier to eat and really not that difficult to prepare.
Growing up, I remember my parents shucking corn and it taking what
seemed like forever to clean all the silks off the corn.
Check out this video!
Shucking Corn – Clean Ears Every Time
It works perfectly! I just wish my Daddy was here so that I could share this tip with him. He would be all about it! First, he would doubt it – then he would have to try it! Then it would work and he would tell everybody about it – just like Ken! Just like the time I told him I was putting the turkey in the oven on 500 degrees, cooking for an hour and then turning the oven off for the night and on Thanksgiving morning, we would have a fully cooked turkey! He must have read the directions in the “Calling All Cooks” 20 times to be sure I knew what I was doing. It worked and he became a believer in this turkey cooking method.
I miss him when I cook my Thanksgiving turkey, I miss him with every pecan I chop (he always provided my pecans), I miss his jokes(again and again), I miss talking to him about the weather (he kept up with every tenth of an inch of rain), I miss him playing with my girls
 and many, many more things!!
Today, on Father’s Day, I am thankful for my Daddy
 and for every memory
that I have of all that he meant to me and to my family!
Happy Father’s Day

"In the Pink" Basket

When I was going through cancer treatment, my friend, Lynne, from Ohio sent me the “coolest” basket of treats to make me smile. She called it an “In the Pink” Basket and the idea was to open a package any time I was feeling “blue”. At the time, Elle was almost 4 so I let her pick the package and I opened one a day until they were all opened. It was fun for me and also fun for her! This was such a great idea that I couldn’t wait until I was in a position to do the same for someone else. Since then, I have had several opportunities to create an “In the Pink” basket – individually, and working together with a group. It is a great idea for a work group or Sunday School class to do – everybody just contributes a gift wrapped in pink. Depending on the size of your group, you can create a pretty awesome basket!

Here is how it works:
  •  Find a basket – size will, of course, depend on your number of items. Many times, I have already had a basket on hand. At other times, I usually find at Hobby Lobby. Once, I sprayed painted the basket pink, but that is not necessary.
  • Collect gift items that will be comforting and useful to the recipient. This idea is not limited to  cancer patients. Anybody going through a difficult time will be blessed by this gesture.
  • Wrap everything in pink! I usually use a variety of pink wraps so that it isn’t boring!
  • Include a note with the explanation – I usually print on card stock and tie on basket with pretty ribbon!
  • Deliver to your friend and enjoy the smile on her face!

    Gift Suggestions:
    •  iTunes Gift Card
    • Book – something fun and upbeat!
    • Photo Album – Having photos of your family and friends is so uplifting!
    • Gas Card
    • Magazine
    • Candle
    • Scarf
    • Hat
    • Journal
    • Pens/Pencils
    • Hard Candy/Peppermint
    • Playing Cards
    • Note cards
    • Bookmark
    • Lotion
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Lip Balm
    • Hand Soap
    • Water Bottle – I personalized with the Cricut machine!
    • Tissues
    • Puzzle Books
    • Figurines
    • Lotion
    • Inspirational quotes or verses (I usually include Jeremiah 29:11 which my friend, Gina, gave to me on several cards that I posted in prominent places around my home)

    You know your friend so be creative, based on her likes/dislikes. For cancer patients, remember that tastes and appetites change so food items might not be best. Most patients spend time traveling to and from doctors offices and hospitals so anything to support the travel such as gas cards, coins for vending machine, parking money, etc. is helpful. Also, remember that alot of time is spent in waiting areas with nothing really to do so books, magazines, puzzles, etc. might be in order – just make sure it’s something she would enjoy. Ipods/Iphones can provide an opportunity to them to listen to music or watch tv/movies – if she has these electronics, the iTunes card is perfect!  For lotions, candles, hand sanitizers, etc. be aware that many patients can’t handle strong scents so go with something mild.
    Suggested Wording For Tag
    For you………..a basket of gifts to encourage you along your journey. Whenever you are feeling “blue”, just open a package and, hopefully, you will feel “in the pink” again! You are in our thoughts and prayers!
    This Pink Basket was created for you by your friends from ____________. The idea behind is that, when you are feeling “blue”, you can choose a gift to open to help you feel “in the pink”! We just wanted you to know that your friends are with you through the tough times. May each and every gift be a blessing to you through your journey. Praying daily for your strength, courage and healing.
    Be an encouragement to someone today!

    What’s for Dessert? Apple Cobbler

    Quick and Easy Apple Cobbler (Or Blueberry or Strawberry)
    2 (21 oz.) cans of pie filling of your choice
    1 stick of butter, softened
    4 oz. (1/2 block) cream cheese
    1 t. vanilla
    1 box yellow cake mix
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pie filling in bottom of 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Mix butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Cut butter mixture into dry cake mix with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture on top of apples. Bake 25-30 minutes or until browned on top. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without vanilla ice cream.
    This dessert was a huge hit with my family! We chose “apple”, “warm” and “with ice cream” but I can’t wait to try strawberry and blueberry. And the best part was that it was quick and easy! Try it out and let me know what you think!
    Note: This is similar to the Apple Dump Cake that I posted a while back, but I think the cream cheese and vanilla makes this one better!

    Play Ball in the Miracle League!

    While I am following the Women’s College World Series in Softball and the NCAA Regional Baseball Championships, I am reminded of another team of baseball players – The Miracle League, whose mission is to provide opportunities for adults and children with special needs to play baseball!

    Recently, the University of Alabama Baseball Team hosted The Miracle League of Tuscaloosa at “The Joe” – children and adults with varying abilities stood along side the Crimson Tide for the National Anthem. These guys are their friends – as Coach Gaspard and members of the Alabama baseball team have been a partner of the Miracle League in encouraging children and adults with special needs through baseball.
    Two time National Championship Coach Ray Tanner of the South Carolina Gamecocks is donating 100% of the proceeds of “Carolina Baseball: Pressure Makes Diamond” to build a Miracle League Field. “It’s hardly just the wins and the losses, the struggles or victories of what we’ve done here in Columbia,” Tanner says. “It’s about children that we believe deserve to have an opportunity to enjoy the pastime that has changed all of our lives. Enter the miracle-league field concept. If we do this correctly and do this together, we can put up a playing field that will allow physically challenged children of different ages to play our sport. I’m determined to make this happen. The book has become a vehicle in which to do so, and something we’re very excited about.”
    Miracle Leagues are not just in Alabama and South Carolina but in Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states across our great country! There are many opportunities to volunteer with a Miracle League – visit to locate a Miracle League near you! Watch an amazing video thath shows you just what it’s all about!
    Volunteering to help a child or adult with mental and/or physical challenges to play baseball will be time well spent and you will be the one who receives the blessing! 
    Play Ball!

    Sip of Summertime – Arnold Palmer

    So, am I the only one who has never heard of the “Arnold Palmer” until yesterday? First of all, I was watching Paula Deen in my hotel room (Staybridge Suites is fabulous, by the way!) and also reading John Grisham’s “Calico Joe” so I wasn’t paying complete attention. Paula was making Arnold Palmer cupcakes and I did notice that she steeped tea bags in milk for the cupcakes which I found interesting. Like I said, I didn’t get it all, and I certainly didn’t get the connection to Arnold Palmer, the famous golfer.
    Fast forward to the evening when we went to dinner with our sweet friend, Karen, from Clemson after the South Carolina baseball regional games were over. At a place called “Thirsty Fellow” (which was also very good, by the way!) Karen asks first, if they have lemonade and then ordered an “Arnold Palmer”. That’s when I learned the the “Arnold Palmer” is a half and half blend of iced tea and lemonade!!
    If you are like me and never heard of this beverage, here’s the story!
    Now I understand why Paula placed a straw in her cupcakes!
    Here is the recipe!
    So glad I discovered this drink and just in time for summer!