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I enjoy cooking for two, but not every night!   (My husband read this and was amused--so I had to add   "not every night".)   Cooking light is my usual goal.  However, the holidays call for cookies, and I've included my favorite recipes here.  

Here is a recipe you might like to try--it is a TexMex favorite recipe and so easy:

Mexican Bean Dip

 1 can jalapeno pinto beans with liquid

Puree in blender or food processor until fairly smooth.   Serve with regular or baked corn chips. This is virtually fat free if you use the baked chips or the Frito Lay WOW chips.  This is from a Houston, Texas caterer.

This super easy recipe serves a crowd, and is delicious.

Coconut Cake

1 box  Betty Crocker Butter recipe yellow cake mix,  made according to directions, in a jelly roll or sheet cake pan.  It will take about 20 to 25 minutes to bake.

1 can cream of coconut   (This is found with the drink mixes in the wine section of the supermarket.)

1 can Eagle brand Sweetened condensed milk

Stir the cream of coconut.  Pour over the hot cake, poking fork tines in cake.  Pour Eagle Brand milk on cake.  Cool.

1 medium size container of Cool Whip
1 package or can of coconut

Frost the cooled  cake with Cool Whip and sprinkle with coconut.  Chill several hours or overnight.

Delicious and so very easy.  Serves 24 easily, cutting it 4 x 6.


Another favorite recipe is for homemade brownies--there is really no need to use a mix when these are so quick and easy. Try these and you'll never go back to preservative filled package brownies.


Homemade Fudge Brownies

1 stick butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Soften butter in bowl; add sugar and cream the mixture. Add the eggs and beat; add flour, cocoa, vanilla and the chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Pour into greased (or Pam coated) 8 inch square pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Brownies will be fudgy in the center. Cool and cut into squares. It only takes about 3 to 5 minutes, and 1 bowl to make these fantastic brownies. Enjoy!


A great recipe for a cool refreshing punch is this one! The wine may be left out if you wish.

White Sangria Punch

Mix one 12 ounce can of frozen lemonade with one 2 liter bottle of cranberry or regular gingerale.   Add 2 cups of orange juice and 2 cups of white wine. Any ordinary white wine will be fine. Pour over ice and serve. It is very bubbly and tangy, and won't leave a trail of red like the red wine punches do!   Great on hot days like we have now.


Here are some really great cookie recipes.  They are full of butter and sugar and are not fat free or sugar free.  But in small doses, they make the holidays so special!  Enjoy!!

Coconut Butterballs and Ruby Sparklers

2 cups sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
48 candied cherries
1 cup chocolate chips
red colored sugar

Sift flour and salt.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and light.   Stir  in
vanilla and almond extract.  Stir in flour, 1/3 at a time.  Dough will be stiff.
Divide dough in half, and set half aside.   Press 1 tsp. dough around cherry
and roll in coconut.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets 1 inch apart.  Using
other half of dough, press 1 tsp. around 3 chocolate chips.  Roll in colored
sugar.   Place as above on cookie sheet.  Bake at 325* for 25 minutes or
until firm.
   Remove carefully and cool completely.  Keeps well!

Hints:  I used no cherries, just chocolate chips.  I also used 2 colors of sugar.
Instead of almond extract I used more vanilla.  These are pretty on a cookie
plate at Christmas.

Bourbon Balls

1 cup chocolate chips
3 tbsp. corn syrup
1/2 cup bourbon
2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1 cup finely chopped nuts

Melt the chocolate chips.  Add corn syrup and bourbon.  In large bowl
combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, confectioner's sugar and nuts.  Add
chocolate mixture and blend well.  Let stand about 30 minutes.  Form into
1 inch balls.  Roll in more powdered sugar.  Allow to season in covered
container for several days.  Potent!

Hints:  I have sometimes used graham cracker crumbs instead of vanilla wafer crumbs, since
I had most of a box left from another recipe.   I also used honey for corn syrup,
since it was available.  rum or another  liqueurmay be used instead of bourbon.

Chocolate Chip Bars from Aunt Esther

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp water
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Heat oven to 375*.   Grease 13x9 pan.  Mix all ingredients but nuts and 1 cup
chocolate chips.  Spread batter in pan.  Bake 20 minutes.  While still hot,
sprinkle with chopped nuts and remaining 1 cup chocolate chips.  Cover pan
to melt the chips.  When cool, cut into bars.

Hints:  Chill to firm up the chocolate topping.  Then bring to room temperature
to cut.  The smaller chocolate chips are easier to use for the topping, and
spread more evenly than the jumbo chips.

7 Layer Cookies also known as Hello Dollies

Large rectangular pan

Melt one stick butter or margarine in pan

Add in order:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped nuts

Bake 30 minutes at 350*.  Cool.  Cut in squares.

Now, for my hints.  My mother always made this in a square pan,  and so do I.
I never even realized it said to use a large rectangular pan.  You can vary the
chocolate chips to mint at Christmas or omit the butterscotch ones and use all
chocolate or some white chocolate.  Any brand of sweetened condensed milk
is fine, and the store brand costs about half of the Eagle brand.   I always chill
in the refrigerator to firm up, and then take out and bring to room
temperature to cut.

Crunchy Surprise Bars


1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup peanut butter

Mix sugar, butter, molasses, egg yolk and vanilla with a spoon.  Stir in flour
and 1 cup chocolate chips.  Press dough in ungreased 13x9 panBake at
350* for 25-30 minutes.

Mix rest of chocolate chips, raisins, peanuts and peanut  butter in 2 qt.
Saucepan.  Heat, stirring constantly until chips are melted.  Spread over
baked crust and refrigerate.    Cut into bars.

Hints:  I think this needs a bit more topping for such a large pan.
 Also, with chopped nuts it is
easier to cut than with whole nuts.


3 cups chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt

Melt the chocolate chips.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into foil lined loaf pan.  Chill.  Bring to room temperature to cut into squares.

Hints:  add 1 cup chopped nuts, any variety.
You may also use a square pan, and the fudge will be thinner.

This is the greatest fudge and the easiest to make!

Meringue Stars also known as Forgotten Cookies

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
colored sugar

Bring egg whites to room temperature.  Beat with cream of tartar and salt
until foamy and doubled.  Add sugar  gradually, beating constantly until stiff.
Pipe onto parchment lined cookie sheet with star tip.  Sprinkle with colored
sugar before baking.    Makes about 40 cookies.

Place in oven preheated to 350*.  Turn oven off, and leave all night.
They will dry out and be crunchy by morning.  Store in covered container by
themselves so they don't soak up moisture from other cookies.

Hints:  Add a few drops of green food coloring to eggs.  Add 1/2 cup chocolate
chips to stiffened egg whites.  Instead of  star tip, just use a teaspoon to drop
on cookie sheet.  (Obviously chocolate chips will not go through a star tip!)
Sprinkle with colored sugar, red or green, or the multicolored looks pretty, too.

Pecan Sandies

1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp water
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar.  Add water and vanilla.  Add flour and pecans and
mix well.  Chill 3 hours.  Shape into balls or logs, and curve into crescents
if logs.  Bake on ungreased baking sheet in slow oven,   325*, about 20
  Cool slightly and roll in powdered sugar.  Makes about 5 dozen.



Chicken Noodle Casserole

5-6 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
5 oz noodles, cooked
2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup lemon juice
c chopped celery
cup chopped onion
1 big glass jar canned mushrooms
1 can sliced water chestnuts
I small jar diced pimento
1 package frozen spinach, cooked and drained
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded for topping
sliced almonds for top

Make a white sauce of the following;

cup butter
cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt
Melt butter and add flour.  When bubbly add broth and milk and cook until thick.  Add seasonings.
Mix all together.  Put shredded cheese and almonds on top.  Bake for about 45 minutes at 350*, or until bubbly and cheese is melted.  Makes a 3 quart casserole.  Delicious!



    2 c Uncle Ben's converted rice
    2 # uncooked shrimp, cleaned
    1 # sausage
    1 can onion soup
    1 can beef broth
    1/2 c chopped green onions
    1 8oz. can tomato sauce
    1 8 oz. jar mushrooms
    1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
    1 tsp. thyme
    3 bay leaves
    chopped parsley
    1 stick butter

Put all ingredients except parsley and butter in a casserole dish.  Stir well.  Add sliced butter and parsley to top of casserole.  Cover with foil.  Bake 2 hours at 350*  This is wonderful and not very spicy at all.  My husband loved it and he doesn't do spicy at all.  More spices could be added if desired.   I used turkey sausage to keep the fat content down.


Mexican Casserole

2 dozen tamales, unwrapped from corn husks
  2 cans chicken a la king (Swanson's)            
  1 tall can evaporated milk
  1 small can chopped green chilis
  2 cups sharp grated cheese



  Spray large casserole with cooking spray.  Unwrap tamales and place in pan.   Mix next 3  ingredients and pour over tamales.  Top with grated cheese. 
 Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes or  until very bubbly.  Remove from oven

 and allow to set for about 15 minutes to set up.  Delicious!!  Easy!!  Large!!

  Spinach and Strawberry Salad

    1 large bunch fresh baby spinach, cleaned and dried
    1 pint strawberries, halved
    1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted


    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup raspberry wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted slightly
    2 tablespoons poppy seeds
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion


In a large bowl, toss spinach, strawberries and pine nuts.  Set aside.  In a
medium bowl, combine sugar, olive oil, vinegar, sesame seeds, poppy seeds,
paprika, Worcestershire sauce and minced onion and mix well.   Chill all
and toss and serve.


Bread Pudding


    1 (1 pound) loaf French bread or sliced white bread
    1 quart milk
    3 eggs, slightly beaten
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 cup raisins
    2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
    Whiskey Sauce

Break bread into small chunks and put in a large bowl.  Add milk and let
soak about 10 minutes;  crush with hands until blended.  Add eggs, sugar,
raisins, and vanilla.  Pour butter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.  Spoon pudding
mixture into pan;  bake  at 325* for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until
pudding is very firm.  Let mixture cool;  then cut into squares.  Place in
dessert dishes and spoon Whiskey Sauce over each serving.  (Soak the raisins
in boiling water for a few minutes first to keep them plump.)
Yield:  12 to 15 servings.


Whiskey Sauce

    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup half-and-half
    2 tablespoons whiskey

Combine butter, sugar and half-and-half in a heavy saucepan;  cool over
medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer
5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Let cool, and add whiskey. 
Yield:  1 1/2 cups.


Spicy Thai Coconut Shrimp


 2 cups uncooked rice
 1-1/2 tablespoons water
 1-1/2 teaspoons red curry paste (such as Maesri) or
      chile  paste with garlic
 1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and
      deveined  Cooking spray
 2-1/2 cups  sliced tomatoes
2 cups sliced red or green pepper
       1-1/2 cups sliced green onions
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk 
  Cook the rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. While the rice is cooking, combine the water and curry paste in a medium bowl; add shrimp, tossing to coat. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add the shrimp mixture, and saute for 4 minutes. Add sliced peppers, tomatoes and green onions; cover and cook for 3 minutes or until the peppers are crisp-tender. Stir in salt and coconut milk. Cook for 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice. Yield: 4 servings


29oz. Can of pumpkin
4 eggs
1- 12 oz. Can of evaporated milk

1 cup of sugar
 2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Ginger
tsp.  Nutmeg
1 pkg. Yellow cake mix
1 cup melted margarine
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts suggested)

                      Preheat oven to 350  - grease the bottom only of a 13 X 9 X 2 pan or dish.

                      In a large bowl combine the pumpkin - eggs - milk - sugar - and spices.

                      Blend very well. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle the cake mix over

                      the top of the pumpkin mixture.  Pour the melted margarine over the top

                      of the cake mix. Sprinkle with the nuts and bake 1 hour - Do not over bake.

                      The cake will look slightly runny but will set up as it cools.


                       Hint from Peggy - Some people have been know to serve this with whipped

                       cream as a topping !  A very rich desert and serves a crowd.


BBQ Brisket-The World's Easiest Recipe

Get your butcher to clean up one of the big packer trimmed briskets, the ones in the cryovac pack.   You are going to bake this, either in a large roaster pan or a broiler pan covered with heavy duty foil.  Season as desired with dry seasonings, like lemon pepper, mixed seasonings or just plain salt and pepper.  You can add Liquid Smoke or a can of beer if you like.  Dried onion soup is great on it too.
Cover and bake overnight at 225 overnight, or for about 12 hours, up to 20 hours or so!  It will be fork tender and you won't believe  how good it is.  Remove from the oven and cool to where you can handle it.  Drain the juices off.  Save if desired.  Chill if necessary to firm up to where you can slice it, across the grain.  Slice it in  1/4 inch slices.  Chill if not ready to eat soon.  About an hour or so before serving is when I put it back in the pan and pour over it your favorite BBQ sauce and bake it a little bit more, at about 350 to warm it for serving.  Serve with some added BBQ sauce to pour over it.  Great as a meal, on buns, or left over on baked potatoes!  Absolutely it cooks itself!

English Toffee Recipe

(made in Microwave Oven; recipe from about 1975)


This was made and tested twice in recent days, 2008, and is fantastic!


1 cup butter or marg (Please use butter!)

1 1/3 cup sugar

2 TBSP water

1 TBSP light corn syrup (Karo syrup)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup finely chopped nuts


Combine butter, sugar, corn syrup and water in 2 quart deep bowl that can go in microwave.  (I use the 2 quart pyrex measuring cup--handle gets hot after cooking though, so use a pot holder to remove from the oven.)  Microwave uncovered for 4 minutes. (2008-about 3 minutes)  Stir.  Cook 6-8 minutes more or about 300 degrees is reached, stirring and checking temp the last few minutes.  (2008-About 4-6 more minutes.  (The original times were when microwave ovens were about 650 watts.  Now they are about 1000-1200 watts so less time is needed.) No need for candy thermometerjust watch the last minute or so and cook until a nice fairly deep golden color; stand there and don't go running off or it may get too brown and burnt;   go by color and smell, not just by time.)  Remove from oven.  Stir in vanilla--it will bubble and may spatter a little.  Pour in to greased foil lined 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  (I used about 1 cup.)  Cover for a very few minutes to melt the choc. chips.  Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the toffee.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Refrigerate to set. 


This is fabulous and so easy!   Wow all your friends with your candy making abilities.  No one will know how simple it is.






Happy Cooking!

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