Cranberry Orange Muffins

Two of my good friends met today. My lifelong pal Simple met my favorite friend Tasty, and they really hit it off. A perfect example of how they feel about each other is this wonderful Cranberry Orange Muffin recipe. These are the most simple muffins ever to make because of the ingredients like self-rising flour, but ever so tasty because of the cranberries and the fragrant orange zest. I certainly hope Simple and Tasty will be seeing a lot of each other in the future and will inspire other great recipes like this one.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living

Print Recipe

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon orange zest
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin pan with paper liners or use cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cranberries, and orange zest; make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil, and eggs; mix until well blended. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 10 muffins.


Scalloped Cabbage

There's nothing fancy about this casserole, unless you count the taste. This is just a plain cabbage side dish, but it's good enough to serve to company. It also travels well to potlucks. The ingredients are basic staples, and the prep is minimal. With this recipe, even humble cabbage can be a five-star dish.

Scalloped Cabbage

2 cups crushed cornflakes
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (10 oz.) package finely shredded angel hair cabbage
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced, root to tip
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of celery soup
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together the crushed cornflakes and butter. Spoon half of the cornflake mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place cabbage and onions on top of the cornflake mixture in the baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together milk, mayonnaise, and soup; pour mixture over cabbage. Next sprinkle with cheese, then top with the remaining cornflake mixture. Bake for 1 hour. Makes 6 - 8 servings.



A Shamrock Plant for Good Luck

A houseplant that I've had very good luck growing is the Shamrock Plant (Oxalis). This pretty plant likes a window with indirect sunlight and only needs watering about once a week. I've had my Shamrock Plant for 2 years, and it has outgrown its small original pot and now occupies a large floor-sized pot.

The Shamrock Plant gets it name because the leaves look much like a clover plant or "shamrock." These plants come in greens, purples, reds, or in different combinations of the colors.

My Shamrock Plant has green leaves with purple undersides.

Shamrock Plants also produce delicate flowers, like this white one from my plant. Other types of Shamrock Plants may grow pink, yellow, or red blossoms.

One thing that I find very interesting about my Shamrock Plant is that is goes to "sleep" at night by folding up its leaves. When I first got my Shamrock Plant I didn't understand this, and I thought something was wrong with the plant, but this is just a normal process. The leaves open up in light, but they fold up at night when it gets dark.

This would be the perfect plant to give as a good luck gift to someone for any occasion because of the association of the shamrock with luck. Mine has been easy to take care of, has grown quickly, and is very colorful. With a plant like this one, a person can keep good luck growing all the time.

"May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go."
                                                                                                      --Irish blessing


Foodie Friday at ARWB

Today my guest post titled "We're All a Little Irish on St. Patrick's Day" is featured for Foodie Friday at the Arkansas Women Bloggers site. Included in the post are recipes for Potato Soup and Brown Soda Bread. These tasty traditional foods are something to consider preparing for your clan to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I'd be honored to have my readers visit the ARWB site and leave a comment.

Erin go Bragh!


It Might Be Love

When I set up a home aquarium I had no idea how much commotion could go on in such a relatively few inches of water. I have written before about how my prolific mollies keep my tank filled to capacity, but now it seems the other fish are willing to contribute to the excitement as well.

I wondered recently if any of my fish were going to be able to survive. In mid-January I left home to help with family out of state, and I set an automatic feeder to take care of my fish in my absence. I expected to be gone for about a week. As situations sometimes go, one week led to two, two weeks led to three, and in all I left my fish on that automatic feeder for four solid weeks.

Expecting the worst when I came home, I went straight to the aquarium to assess the damage. The water level was low, there was some brown algae growing on the glass that made it harder to see clearly, but there were those crazy fish, swimming as if all was right in their world. I guess things were going pretty well for the pair of rainbow platys, I noticed a new baby platy had been born in my absence.

Is it normal for aquarium fish to be this hardy? Honestly, I expected them to all be D-E-A-D when I got home from such an extended trip, not to be reproducing.

The latest drama in the aquarium is a romance between my pleco and a glass shark. I blame myself for this because I only have one pleco, and with all the mating and pairing and who knows what that goes on among the other fish in the aquarium, he's bound to feel left out and lonely. I have several different kinds of colorful glass fish in the aquarium, but the pleco has chosen this gray shark to bestow his affections upon. He enjoys resting right next to the shark, as if to say to the other fish, "Look at us, we're a couple," or maybe "Just me and my bestie going for a swim."

I mentioned this fish situation to my daughter to see what she thought about the pleco taking up with the glass shark. She didn't find it strange at all. "I think everyone has dated a glass shark at one time or another," she observed.

Now that's deep, but not as deep as the sludge at the bottom of the aquarium after being away from home for four weeks.


Chocolate Cherry Chip Brownies

There are so many good Brownie recipes and so little time to taste them all, but I do keep trying. These Brownies happened because I was browsing the baking aisle at the grocery store last week and came across cherry flavored baking morsels. I had not tried them in a recipe before, nor had I seen them in my local grocery store, so I tossed a couple of bags into my shopping cart.

With the flavor of chocolate covered cherries in the back of my mind, I decided I would adapt a brownie recipe for the cherry chips. The chocolate/cherry flavor combo is one I love, and I'm glad I thought of adding the cherry chips to my Brownies. I'm going to be looking for additional ways to use these tasty little cherry chips, and I'm always open for new recipes if anyone has an idea to send my way.

Chocolate Cherry Chip Brownies

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup cherry flavored chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together cocoa powder and baking soda; stir in 1/3 cup melted butter. Add boiling water, stirring until the mixture thickens. Add sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup melted butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla, and salt to the mixture; stir until blended. Stir in both kinds of chips. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack before cutting into squares.

This recipe was shared with:
Weekend Potluck


St. Patrick's Day Breakfast - Rainbow Toast

The calendar says March, but northern Arkansas has seen quite an unseasonable ice and snow storm for this time of year. Schools have been closed for the week, and my grandson Landon has been visiting at my house during some of his time off. While sledding has been a favorite activity of his, we have found some other fun pastimes as well. One interesting thing Landon thought of doing this week was to make a rainbow colored breakfast for us in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

To make Landon's special breakfast we used:
Whole grain cocktail-sized bread
Soft spreadable butter
Colored sugar sprinkles in rainbow colors (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
Scrambled eggs

Each little slice of bread was spread lightly with butter, then sprinkled with a color of sugar to represent a color of the rainbow. We toasted our bread on a foil covered baking sheet for a few minutes in the oven under the broiler, then served the rainbow of toast up with a pot of gold-colored scrambled eggs. 

This St. Patrick's Day breakfast was one of Landon's great ideas to keep his Grammy entertained while we wait for the ice to melt.

This post was shared with:
Saturday Dishes
Weekend Potluck


Ten Favorite Lemon Recipes

I'm not sure if others are as much in love with the flavor of lemon as I am, but for those who might share this savor of lemon with me here are 10 favorite lemon recipes of mine. The tartness from lemon flavor adds that special zip I crave to cookies, breads, muffins, pies and tarts. These recipes range from breakfast bread to tea time treats to a sugar free no bake pie, so there should be something here to delight all lemon aficionados.


Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

I believe there is no better way to teach children to eat healthy foods than to involve them in meal and snack preparation. Given the option, many children will often choose fruit over junk food when it is readily made available to them. This Cream Cheese Fruit Dip is a commonly made accompaniment to fruit of all kinds, and it can help make fruit even more enticing to youngsters. With St. Patrick's Day coming up soon, maybe the kids would enjoy helping to prepare a tray such as this one with different kinds of green fruit. Young children would not be able to manage the cutting involved, but most would be able to assemble the fruit on party picks or skewers. Learning new skills and mastering kitchen tasks can be a big self-esteem builder for children.

I think one of the best ways to help a "picky eater" learn to try new foods is to invite the child into the kitchen to help. Few children can refuse to try something they have helped to prepare.

Print Recipe

Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer until fluffy. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla extract; mix until all ingredients are well blended. Optional: a few drops of food coloring may be blended in to add desired color to the fruit dip. Serve with your favorite fresh fruit.