Dinners and More…

No-Bake Energy Bites
1 cup dry oatmeal (rolled or quick)
1/2 cup fresh ground almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Stir all together until completely combined. Chill for 1/2 hour. Roll into 1″ balls. Store in an airtight container & refrigerator for up to 1 week. Great for breakfast on the go and anytime snacks.


1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
8 cups water
2 ½ cups pinhead oats (steel cut)
1 large onion-chopped
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons salt
pinch (or more) of pepper

Add salt-pepper & oats to boiling water.  Cook covered 2 hours over low heat-stirring often.  Add meat-onion and bay leaves – mix well.  Cook 1 hour stirring often.  Pour into loaf pans to cool.  Refrigerate – keeps for days- or freeze.  To serve-slice-flour & fry until brown.  Slow Cooker Method- same ingredients as above-use only 6 cups water.  Put water-salt & pepper into cooker.  Cover and heat on high 20 minutes.  Stir in oats-cover and cook on high 1 ½ hours.  Add meat-onion and bay leaves.  Mix well.  Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.  Cook uncovered longer if not thick enough-stir often. Proceed as above by pouring into loaf pans.


Our nephew won the Chef’s Challenge competition in Bloomington, IN last fall, with peppers as their required ingredient. The timed contest is similar to the Iron Chef on TV and tests the very best chefs, and also, raises money for the needy in Bloomington. His winning menu included cheesy grits with jalapenos. He then prepared a large pot for family as a Thanksgiving side dish. Jason’s tip for extra creamy grits – stir, stir, stir! I was inspired! This recipe combines an old favorite with my new favorite to make a meal that stretches an expensive item like shrimp to earn a place on the weeknight menu list.

Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

¾ tsp Cajun spice blend

¼ tsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp minced garlic

2-3 dashes Liquid Smoke

¼ cup diced onion

1 stalk celery, diced

1 10oz can red enchilada sauce

1 15oz can crushed tomatoes

4 Tbls butter

1# Andouille sausage, sliced (optional)

1 ½ pounds peeled, deveined shrimp

Melt butter in heavy pan, sauté onions and celery until softened. Add other ingredients, except shrimp and sausage, and simmer over medium low heat uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage and shrimp. Continue simmering until shrimp is cooked, and sausage is heated through, 5-6 minutes. Cover and turn off heat.

Prepare the grits:

Bring 4 cups water to a rolling boil. Stir in 1 tsp chicken base and 1 cup quick cooking grits. Lower heat and continue stirring for about 7 minutes until grits have absorbed the broth and are thickened. Add 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1 Tbls diced jalapeno. Stir until cheese is melted and mixed into the grits.

Spoon grits into serving bowls and spoon the shrimp mixture over the top. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

Spices, Liquid Smoke, jalapenos, chicken base, and grits are available at Pat’s Bulk Food!


Cowboy Caviar

In small saucepan bring to boil:

  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar

Set aside while preparing the vegetables.


  • 1 can shoepeg corn
  • 1 4oz jar chopped pimentos

Drain and rinse:

  • 2 cans Black beans
  • 1 can Pinto beans
  • 1 can Black-eyed peas


  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup celery

Mix all together in a large bowl. Refrigerate until serving, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips or scoop chips. This ‘caviar’ is good served over grilled chicken or fish, too!



Aunt Shirley’s SPINACH BALLS

1/2 teaspoon each: garlic powder, black pepper, thyme, sage, salt

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 lg. onions, chopped fine

1/2 cup celery, chopped fine 6 eggs, beaten 2 (10 oz.) boxes of frozen chopped spinach, drained very well

3/4 c. melted butter

2 c. coarse bread crumbs (Aunt Shirley makes her own bread crumbs for this recipe with a 16oz loaf of stale bread)

Combine all ingredients. Mix and shape into walnut size balls. Bake 350 degrees on ungreased sheet for 20-25 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Can also freeze on cookie sheets and then pack into bags until ready to use. Thaw one hour and reheat at 325 for about 10 minutes.


Hanky Pankies Appetizers

Brown 1# lean ground beef with 1# pork sausage, Drain if needed. Add 1# Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes. After cheese melts, spread on cocktail rye. At this point you can refrigerate or freeze for later. Bake at 350 on ungreased cookie sheet until heated through. Makes about 50 appetizers.


TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) CHILI 

  • 2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups textured vegetable protein
  • 15oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 14.5 Can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • Drained, rinsed beans of your choice, optional

Instructions: In large saucepan, bring broth to a low boil, add soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, olive oil. Stir, remove from heat and rapidly stir in Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), combining completely. Wait 2-3 minutes for it to hydrate. Stir in remaining ingredients and return to heat. Keep on low simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Garnish with shredded cheese, green onions, sour cream, oyster crackers.


Travelling past Metamora, IN with its horse drawn canal boat reminded me of how my grandparents met in a simpler day. When Cincinnati still had canals, young men would wait for young ladies to get off work at the shops near the canal. The girls would have to lift their long skirts to step onto the canal boat. Apparently Grandma had very pretty ankles and the rest is family history! It is hard to find a restaurant in the German areas of Indiana that doesn’t serve Pork Tenderloin sandwiches or have Mock Turtle as Soup of the Day. Pick up some delicious breaded Indiana Pork tenderloin patties from Pat’s and enjoy with hearty homemade soup.

Uncle Jim’s Mock Turtle Soup

1# ground beef

3 quarts water

2 carrots, chopped fine

1 onion, chopped fine

1 14oz bottle of catsup

3 TBL Worcestershire sauce

1 6oz can tomato paste

½ tsp ground clover

½ tsp ground allspice

½ cup cider vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

½ lemon sliced very thin

Gingersnaps -30 small or 15 large

Add meat to the water and break up with a fork or masher. Add the other ingredients. Simmer for 2 hours, covered. Then crumble 15 large gingersnaps (or about 30 small) and mix in a little water to make a paste. Stir into soup to thicken it. Salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped hardboiled egg to garnish.

Spices, gingersnaps, Indiana pork products, and more recipes are all available at Pat’s Bulk Food


Homemade Ricotta Cheese (from the Barefoot Contessa TV show)

This is delicious in Lasagna and amazing as a sweet, creamy spread on bagels! And it is far superior to any store-bought ricotta.


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or table salt
  • 3 tablespoons white or white wine vinegar


Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding. It must be a full rolling boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I tend to like mine on the thicker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.


Mom’s Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs (can be doubled)


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 peeled whole cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 7oz can tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbls sugar
  • 1 Tbls oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash black pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onion looks limp. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.


Mix well – 3 slices bread softened with water, 1 small onion diced, 1 Tbls parsley, 1# ground beef, 3 Tbls parmesan cheese, 1 beaten egg, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper

Shape into 12 meatballs. Brown in a little oil in a deep skillet (or bake for 30 minutes at 350). Then lift meatballs into sauce. Continue cooking over low heat, uncovered, for 1 hour. Placing a wooden spoon over the sauce will keep it from boiling over or splattering. Serve over cooked spaghetti or your favorite pasta. The wooden spoon over the pasta water keeps it from boiling over, too.


Shillito’s Tea Room Ground Beef Sandwich
Brown 2# ground chuck with ½ onion, minced
Add 1 cup beef broth or au jus gravy, ½ tsp yellow mustard, ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer uncovered until liquid cooks down by half. Mixture should be moist but not soupy. Stir in 1 Tbls butter to finish it.
Place a thin slice of Velveeta cheese on the bottom half of a toasted hamburger bun, spoon on the meat and top with lid of the bun.