Hello Autumn!

I am originally from upstate New York but have been living in the Southwest since 1994. This saturation of autumn color is what I miss most about living in the Northeast. I have always loved the change of color during the cool autumns in the Adirondack Mountains not too far from where I grew up.

I know many of you have already done this but I guess it’s time for this girl to dress up our home for fall!

Oh, and let’s not forget the kind of comfort cooking and eating that is just too heavy to enjoy in the summer heat. Hmm… what shall I make first? Apple or pumpkin pie? Crock pot chili or stew?

How about you? What do you do to celebrate autumn?

Cream Soup Mix

I found a great recipe for a homemade cream soup or sauce mix while browsing The Dollar Stretcher, one of my favorite frugal sites on Facebook.

Since I use cream soups a lot for crock pot cooking—and I’m always looking for ways to save $$$—I love this recipe! And in case you’re interested, you can find even more $$$ saving homemade mix recipes from their readers here.

Soup or Sauce Mix

Yield: Equal to 9 cans of cream soup

2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon
2 Tbs. dried onion flakes
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning

Combine all ingredients in a re-closeable plastic bag, mixing well. Store in the closed plastic bag or an air-tight container until ready to use. It does not have to be refrigerated.

To substitute for 1 can of cream soup:

Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1-1/4 cups of cold water. Cook and stir on stove top or in microwave until thickened.

[You can add whatever veggies or meat desired. If making chicken or beef flavored, add the particular bouillon flavor after the microwaving.]

Add thickened mixture to casseroles as you would a can of soup.

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

I’ve been trying to use my slow cooker more often now that it’s cold out. I just bought a new one recently and it seems like all sizes and combinations of slow cookers are on sale. Maybe that’s because they make great Christmas gifts, or it’s a common sale item this cold time of year (and I never noticed till now). Whatever the reason, slow cookers are a great kitchen appliance.

While looking through my recipes the other day, I found one of my favorites: Slow-Cooker Lasagna. This recipe is from Kraft.com and is easy and very inexpensive to make. It also tastes great and firms up just as if you baked it in your oven.

There are too many days when only comfort food will do. Why not get this all put together in your slow cooker the night before and start it cooking just before you leave for work the next morning or run around on countless Christmas errands? The delicious aroma that greets you when you return home can’t be beat and may even soothe frazzled nerves. Add some garlic bread or rolls (not really important if you don’t have them) and a salad, and you’re all set.

You can find the recipe here.

Mishmash Monday

It’s Monday again! And my chosen subject of the day is… well, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Thus the title “Mishmash Monday.”

To me this means that each Monday’s post will be different depending on what’s going on with me at the time. I’ve been trying to keep to a theme each day in order to stimulate my writing thought process, but Mondays will be a whatever kind of day.

That said, today I’m simply going to share that Crazy Cake recipe I talked about yesterday. It is very easy to make and doesn’t require a mixer. The “crazy” part of it is the inclusion of vinegar and it doesn’t have any eggs or butter in it.

The original recipe was created during the depression, thus the simplicity of it and the lack of eggs and butter. FYI, I have also heard it called “Wacky Cake.”

Head on over here for the recipe!


Sweet Saturday

Sweet Saturday

Are you having a “Sweet Saturday”? The “sweet” in my “Sweet Saturday” designation is more about having a day off from the usual Monday through Friday workweek, whether that means running errands or just enjoying a lazy day. And each Saturday will probably be a little different depending on what’s going on in your life that week, so make it yours in whatever way works for you!

Today it’s all about cooking for me. It’s been snowing all morning which makes it a great day for cooking! I had some leftover baked potatoes from earlier in the week and found the greatest recipe online for a baked potato soup. I tweaked it a bit because I didn’t have the celery, American cheese or green onion called for, and it still turned out great! Even Rick, who isn’t a great fan of potatoes — unless they’re his favorite potato pancakes — loved it.

The recipe is called Bacon and Baked Potato Soup and comes from Recipe.com.  I changed the American cheese to shredded Cheddar, and since the green onion is just to top each serving, I didn’t feel bad leaving it out. And I’m not a big fan of topping soups with sour cream, so I left that out too. The recipe also called for half & half, light cream or milk so I used equal amounts of half & half and milk.

This recipe made enough for a couple more lunches, so that part made me happy. I’m a big fan of cooking once to serve several times. It saves time and energy, which in my life makes a huge difference because it keeps me from standing up too long at any given time.

Oh, and I did peel my potatoes because Rick likes them better that way, but as the recipe says, that is optional.



Yesterday I posted my recipe for an Apple Crostata. I completely neglected to mention that the apples should be peeled as well as cored and sliced. I know, that’s a big “duh” but for people with CFS brains like mine, every little detail needs to be spelled out or we forget or flub things up. I’ve already edited my recipe to reflect my omission, so feel free to copy or share it now.

The Apple Crostata I made yesterday came out sooo good, and so did my turkey breast… AFTER I turned it breast side up. You see, my addled brain did not register the fact that my bird was turned downside up until it had been roasting for 3 hours! So chalk up another duh moment for me.

Not to worry though, everything turned out well in the end. Although Rick’s favorite way of eating freshly roasted turkey is in a sandwich with plenty of mayo — without any side dishes, mind you — I immensely enjoyed my serving of roast turkey with a baked potato and the green bean & mushroom side dish.

That’s one of the things you learn in marriage as you go along. Don’t stress the small stuff like needing to serve a somewhat different dinner to your spouse than you like. I’ve finally learned to make the side dishes and enjoy them myself whether Rick wants any or not! This just means there are leftovers for me to have the next day or so without having to do any more work — and THAT I definitely like!

And here it is!

Here is the result of my baking efforts today, doesn’t it look good?


This looks like it took way more effort than I actually used to make such a yummy looking dessert. After checking in the freezer and finding no vanilla ice cream (however did that happen?), I’m going to serve this up later on with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Canned whipped cream to save time and energy, but whipped cream nonetheless.

If you’d like the recipe for this, click here.


Less than semi-homemade

I used to be able to spend lots of hours cooking and baking in my kitchen — that is, until my health took a nosedive. Now I need to sit down and rest a lot in between tasks, so I’ve been cooking “less than semi-homemade” for quite a while.

No offense to Sandra Lee, whose “semi-homemade” cooking I love, but she puts more effort and time into those lovely dishes (and her tablescapes, I might add!), and these days I can’t even manage that.

So, my definition for “less than semi-homemade” cooking is this: take a box, package or can of something or other, add a few ingredients, and voila! It looks like I spent quite a bit of time over it, and may even taste that way on a good day, but in reality has only taken maybe 15 minutes (minus cooking or baking time).

One of my favorite easy dessert recipes is an apple crostata, which is a fancy name for a rustic apple pie. It involves slicing a few apples and adding a little sugar, flour, and some spices, and literally tossing them together into a refrigerated pie crust. This is especially yummy when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

During the colder months, like right now, I like to use my slow cooker quite often because the end result is a very homey meal with very little effort. My go-to slow cooker dinner is simply to take some frozen chicken breasts and add one can of either cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, a can of sliced mushrooms, a can of sliced potatoes, and a can of sliced carrots. I add some seasoned salt to the cream soup to give it a little zest and pour it over the other ingredients. About 1/2 hour before I’m going to serve dinner, I bake some canned biscuits, and a real comfort dinner is ready for us.

So what’s for dinner tonight? I bought an after-Thanksgiving turkey breast on sale and am going to roast it. Since the oven will be hot, I’ll toss in a couple of potatoes during the last hour to bake at the same time. My green veggie dish will be fresh green beans steamed first and then sauteed with butter, chopped onions, garlic and fresh mushrooms. Oh yeah!

And that apple crostata pictured above? That’s what’s for dessert!