Pumpkin Bread

A parent made this pumpkin bread for the children at school, and the kids were wild about it. She gave them her recipe, and that's how it ended up in my hands. After I made it I understood why the children loved it so much. It's not exactly like any other pumpkin bread I have made. The parent who shared the recipe made hers into muffins for the children, but the original recipe called for loaf pans. I made some of both. The batter made these two 4 x 8-inch loaves + 20 muffins, so it's a big batch. I used canned pumpkin like the recipe stated, but fresh pumpkin would be wonderful, I'll bet. My sister recently baked a couple of smallish pumpkins, then puréed them and froze in zip top bags. It looked so bright and fresh and seemed easy to do.

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Pumpkin Bread

5 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 (3 ounce) packages cook and serve vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, if making muffins. Prepare muffin pans with paper liners.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, if making loaves. Prepare loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk, then stir in oil and pumpkin. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture; mix well. If making muffins, fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 22 minutes.

If making loaves, divide batter among five 5 x 2-inch loaf pans. Bake for 50- 55 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.



Fried Pickles

Fried pickles are an appetizer I seldom make myself, but I love to order in a restaurant. A special request prompted me to make fried pickles this week for family at home. These are so very yummy, I really should make them more often. Here's a fact: Fried pickles are fun.

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Fried Pickles

1 (16 ounce) jar sliced dill pickles, drained
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
4 dashes tabasco sauce
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Oil for frying

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce. Add pickles, stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Working with a few pickles at a time, roll pickles in flour mixture until well coated. Shake off excess and drop into hot oil. Fry pickles in small batches until golden brown, about 3 - 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve with ranch or horseradish sauce, if desired.



Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip muffins are great for any time of day. They make a terrific breakfast, can be tucked in a lunch box, or handed out as after school treats. This batch was hardly out of the oven before they started disappearing. There's not a designated day set aside on the calendar to honor chocolate chip muffins, so I suppose it's okay to honor them any and every day. Just between us, we'll call today Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffin Day. Celebrate with me today and maybe tomorrow too.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a standard muffin pan with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; let stand for 20 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together oil, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir in buttermilk mixture. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; blend well. Stir in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 16 - 18 minutes or until muffins test done with a toothpick. Remove from pan to wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.



In Living Color

Beautiful, intriguing, startling, frightening, mysterious, and strange are just a few of the many words that might be chosen as descriptors for colorful creatures from nature. Each one has attributes that are special and unique to them. My favorite thing about each one is that it is designed in living color.

This is my grandson's leopard gecko, Spot, taking a nocturnal stroll. This is such an interesting kind of lizard. Unlike many lizards, these have moveable eyelids. He's gentle and easy to care for. These lizards come in different patterns and colors. I love Spot's vibrant colors.


I see these garden spiders every October. They're nowhere in sight one day, but the next day they will have a huge web built. I fear someday I'll walk right into one of these webs and become the spider's prey. If one builds its web on your porch, might as well leave it until after Halloween, though. They make spooky decor that is quite realistic.


These yellow mushrooms popped up in my rosemary this summer. Apparently, they are very common in houseplants and in greenhouses, but these are my first. They are so detailed and pretty, but are not edible. They don't hurt the plant and can be left if you want to enjoy their beauty, but should be removed if there are pets or children around who might accidentally eat one.


This scary looking creature is a tobacco horn worm. This one is devouring one of my tomato plants. They can quickly strip a plant bare. The red horn on the end distinguishes him from the similar tomato worm that has a black horn.

These are some of my brother's chickens. I added them because they are so colorful, and the eggs are colorful, too. He donates lots of eggs for our church members to buy. The money raised from the eggs always goes to help meet the monthly goal of the widows and orphans fund.



A is for Apple . . . B is for Bake

A bowl of red or green apples on a kitchen counter is a still life waiting for an artist. Because the shape and color of apples are both so appealing to the eye, it’s not uncommon for a decorator to use a container of apples as a focal point in a room. Nothing else looks quite as beautiful, that is, until something is baked with those same apples. After baking, the beauty of the apple is enhanced by enticing aromas from the oven.

You can bet someone will follow their nose to the kitchen when you bake with apples. Desserts and breads are two popular ways apples delight the taste buds. Apple pies, cakes, and dumplings are traditional favorites among desserts. This recipe for Fresh Apple Cake dates back more than 50 years and makes a moist, delectable cake. On an occasion when a special gift is needed for friends or neighbors, this apple cake is a perfect solution.

Apple pie is an old favorite that most of us once enjoyed at our grandmother’s table. The scent of an apple pie baking might bring back distant memories of a time when families gathered around the table to eat.

Apple dumplings can be a time-consuming delight to make, but this recipe couldn’t be easier. There must be a hundred uses for packaged crescent roll dough, and it makes these apple dumplings a breeze to put together. Better stock up on ice cream before you bake these enticing treats because someone will probably request theirs à la mode.

Even a sleepyhead will be enticed to start the day with a bounce if apple muffins are on the breakfast menu. This Apple Muffin recipe makes a large batch of 24 muffins. Unless you’re feeding a brunch crowd or have plenty of freezer room to put some away for another day, you might want to half this recipe. Enjoy these apple recipes and expect visitors to the kitchen when others detect the scent of apples baking in your oven.

Four All-time Favorite Apple Recipes

Fresh Apple Cake

      1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, well beaten
3 cups chopped, tart apples
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a Bundt pan with cooking spray, set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add eggs; stir to combine. Blend diced apples into the mixture. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the apple mixture. Stir until flour is incorporated. Add walnuts into mixture. The batter will be thick. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick and bake a few minutes longer if needed. Remove from oven; cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan by inverting over a plate. Allow to cool. May be dusted with powdered sugar, if desired.

Apple Pie

      Pastry for double crust pie
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash salt
About 8 cups thinly sliced tart apples
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For the bottom crust, dough should be rolled slightly larger than the pie pan. Place dough in pie pan. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add apples to the mixture and stir all together. Fill pie pan with sugar and apple mixture. Dot with butter. Roll top crust out, fold in half, and place on top of the pie plate. Adjust crust; trim off excess around the edge of pie. Cut holes in top to vent and crimp edges to seal. May be sprinkled with sugar for sparkle, if desired. Place on a baking sheet to catch any overflow and bake for 50 minutes. For the last 20 minutes of baking time, shield the edges of crust with aluminum foil strips to prevent over-browning. Cool on wire rack. Serve plain or with a scoop of ice cream.

Apple Dumplings

      2 whole Granny Smith apples
2 cans (8 ounces each) crescent roll dough
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 can (12 ounce can) Sprite soda
Cinnamon, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices. Roll each apple slice in a triangle of crescent roll dough. Place in a single layer in prepared pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and stir slightly. Stir in vanilla, then pour mixture over rolled apples. Pour 1/2 can Sprite around the edges of the dish. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon; bake for 40 minutes. May be served with ice cream, if desired.

Apple Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, finely chopped apples
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened (batter will be stiff). Fold in apples, raisins, and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cup 2/3 full. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Bake for 20 − 25 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks. Makes 24 muffins.



Alabama Seafood

The Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area is a favorite vacation spot of mine. For more than 30 years my family has gone there to enjoy the sun, the sand, and of course, the seafood. There are a number of super restaurants in the area, and we enjoy our own style of seafood dishes, as well. Sometimes we even get lucky and catch our own. This good fishing trip was a few vacations ago.

I also love going to the seafood market for fresh shrimp when I'm there. I haven't been to the beach this year, and I sure would like to go and enjoy some Alabama seafood. I have a couple of my shrimp dishes entered in the Southern Living photo contest, and you'll never guess what the prize is. A trip to Gulf Shores! It would be amazing to sink my toes in the sand right before I sink my teeth in some of that great Alabama seafood.

Shrimp dip


This shrimp dip and jambalaya are the two #ALseafood dishes I have entered in the contest. These are two favorite recipes, and they can be found in the recipe index at the top of this page. I have to add that our Arkansas rice mixes very well with that Alabama shrimp in the jambalaya. In order to qualify for that trip, my dishes could use a few votes over on the Southern Living page here. But even if you don't want to vote, head over there and see all the great seafood on display. I have to warn you though, it could tempt you to take a trip to Gulf Shores for some of the scrumptious local seafood.