“What’s for Dinner?”–Family favorites

Every household has requests for favorite foods and meals, ours being no exception. Some of our favorite things to make may not get made often, but get a huge reception, and may become special things that our family eats or recipes that we make over and over. Family gatherings and friends often request items once we know we make them. Please do let me know your impressions of our favorites, and share your own!


Brownies: I’ve become known for bringing cakes and desserts, especially to church gatherings, and often asked about my brownies. While I do use a mix for these, I load them up with chocolate chips (a whole small bag) and marshmallows (half a bag). The marshmallows at the top usually cook and burst, making a bit of crunch where they appear. If you make these, make sure to bake for exactly the time allowed unless the actual batter hasn’t cooked; they are extremely gooey and can make appear uncooked when it’s just the melt from the chocolate chips.


fb_img_15072297326231362821493.jpgChicken in a Biscuit: This recipe came to me from a family friend while in high school, and I do still pull it out once in a great while. A filling of chicken and cream cheese is sealed into puff pastry, such as crescent roll dough, and baked in the oven. It is divine, and can also be done casserole style with the dough laid across the top. I cut up the chicken into small pieces and cook it in a skillet with onions and seasoning before adding it to the mixture.


Crab Dip: Hot or cold will do. Our hot crab dip recipe comes from a woman at our church and is everything you’d want in a warm dairy-seafood dip, while the cold one is my mom’s, traditionally made for new year’s eve parties and finished the next morning for breakfast.



Mac ‘n Cheese: While rather self explanatory, my version uses the cheese sauce from Kitchen Treaty. I’ve made many, many versions of mac and cheese, this this is by far the best. DH’s family eats this at just about every gathering and holiday, which I, understandably, wholeheartedly embraced. This image is one before baking–tons of sauce!


Raisin Pie: This is one I make for Dad, and me, mostly, either at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. It’s an annual event where I look forward to eating it, and other people get the chance to try it, as well. Over the last few years I’ve come up with a version I like very much. To me, the lusciousness of this pie requires a deep pie plate, an entire large (12–15 oz.) canister of raisins, and I never use a top crust. The sauce made with the boiling water from the raisins is absolutely delicious on its own, as well.


20171007_2012211825005193.jpgRamen: Once in a while, we enjoy a large bowl of ramen. It’s very comforting, rather like chicken noodle soup, but more substantial and great on a cold night. I recently got large ramen bowls for serving this, so even better. Mine is usually made with stock, veggies, and of course, Asian style fish cakes.


Tater Tot Casserole: One word: YUM. This is probably the one meal that DH requests the most. Our favorite version is here, with a great ham flavor. But no matter what you put in it, it’s cheesy, creamy, and full of potato goodness. It is not the same without the sour cream.



Birthday Breakfast

If you are ever in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania, there are plenty of things to see and do, especially if you enjoy exploring Amish attractions. There are also outlets and shopping opportunities, as well as one of the most extensive buffets you’ll find anywhere around. The Shady Maple Smorgasbord is famous around here, and a great deal on your birthday (free!). Not only that, it has great Amish-style cooking, cook stations where you can have things made for you, and near other things worth checking out, such as the enormous gift store beneath the smorgasbord, Good’s Store, the Farm Market, and outlets.


Because you get to eat free on your birthday, last year we went for the first time, for dinner. It’s totally worth it with the price tag that comes with it, and we left suitably stuffed with the huge amount of options. I have since been for breakfast, and it was also delightful, but less heavy on the stomach, so we went for breakfast this year.


Plate 1: Breakfast tomato, cheesy shredded potatoes, hash brown with cream chipped beef, icing cinnamon bun, apple fritter, bacon, and a roasted breakfast tomato.

While everything there is usually good, the tomato was just okay. The bacon was crisp. Their baked goods, however, are extremely good; the iced bun was very fluffy with a good amount of icing. I love a good icing, and this one was definitely a plus. Their apple fritters are famous for a reason. It was the star of this place, and probably the best thing I ate there this time. They have raisins, so I got one of DH’s, too.


Plate 2: Eggs Benedict, pork sausage, turkey sausage, ham, ketchup.

Yes, I tend to overdo the ketchup. It’s my usual condiment of choice for both meats and potatoes. The Benedict if from a cook-to-serve station, where the woman making these was pleasant, quick, and efficient. It was good, though not spectacular. Pork and ham were okay, but the turkey sausage was very hard and tough–the worst thing I had.

As one might imagine, they also have a large drink selection, with coffees, teas cappuccino, hot chocolate, juices, milks and creamers, water, sodas, etc. Everything is from a dispenser, and often watered down. I had a smores hot chocolate with amaretto creamer, cranberry juice, and a citrus peach blend which were all good. DH’s soda tasted awful, though, very salty.

Overall, we enjoyed our time and food.

Afterward, we explored the gift shop and Good’s store before going home.


Walnut Rice Stuffed Peppers



Walnut Rice

4–5 cups cooked rice

1/2 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4–1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 Tbsp chives



1/2–3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Olive oil


Heat a pan with olive oil and saute onions and garlic. Add walnuts for the last few minutes and toast. Add to pre-cooked rice along with other ingredients. Adjust seasonings and herbs to taste.


Stuffed Peppers

5 peppers, tops and seeds removed, and blanched for 3–5 minutes

2 cans worth of tomato sauce

Rice mixture
Add sauce to the rice mixture until you are happy with the consistency. Put a layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish or casserole. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture and place in dish. Top with extra cheese if desired. Add remainder of mixture to dish if desired. Spoon extra sauce over rice and peppers.

Cook at 350 F until heated through.
This recipe can be made ahead and kept chilled until you’re ready to cook it. My mom freezes hers sometimes, which I imagine you can do before or after cooking.