About me...

Pop the lid on my Mason Jar and meet my family. Jim {Jimma} and I have four kids, Creston (Ashley), Jami (Matt), Brandon and Chance. Our grandkids, Cade, Kirby, Eisley, Beck and Reed bring us more joy than any Mason Jar could ever hold. I am counting my blessings over and over and thanking God for His amazing love and grace.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sourdough Bread Recipe - Yummy!

My adventure with baking bread started 24 years ago, shortly after Chance was born. My cousin gave me some bread starter and the recipe to go with it. I always said that Sherry’s bread had to be the easiest bread you could make. If I could keep the “starter” going and bake bread with a colicky baby and three older kids in the house, anybody could. I baked the bread for several years, grew tired of baking it and let my starter die.

I always managed to find someone willing to share their starter with me and baked bread off and on through the years. Two years ago I thought it’d be fun to bake the bread again, only I couldn’t find anyone with the starter. I experimented with several starter recipes, trying diligently to get one going with no success. Last summer a friend happened upon a starter recipe that I had never tried, along with the bread recipe in a craft magazine. Since the bread recipe was the same as the one I used to make, I gave the starter recipe a try and it worked! I was thrilled knowing if I lost my starter or decided to stop baking for a while, I could always get it going again.

Since then I have given “starters” to several of the young mothers at church. They’ve all been impressed over the ease of the recipe and are now making “bread” memories with their little ones. For anyone interested in baking bread, this is the perfect recipe. All the steps are done according to when you have time to do them. Even if you’re new at kneading dough, this recipe is very forgiving and will be a perfect beginner’s recipe for you. Very little kneading is required, making it that much easier.

The recipe might seem a little overwhelming, but once you read through it and make your first batch, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy and fun it is to make. Each batch of dough makes three loaves of bread and can be used for anything that you use store-bought bread for. We’ve enjoyed French toast, cinnamon toast, grilled cheese, garlic toast, buttered bread with jelly, PB&J and barbecued chicken sandwiches made with the bread. A friend made a bread bowl with hers and filled it with a thick cheddar potato soup.

To begin the process, you’ll need to get a “starter” going. I learned that the secret to success with your starter is to feed it three times before making bread. You’ll need to pour any starter in excess of 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/3 cup off the first three times.

Important notes before starting:
*Other than the bread pans you use to bake in, don’t use any metal spoons or containers with the recipe.
*Bread flour can be found in the flour section of your grocery store.
*To make wheat bread, use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 5 cups of bread flour.
*Shiny aluminum bread pans bake up best. I found mine at a Dollar Tree!

Starter Recipe
3 packages of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)

Mix the yeast and the warm water in a small bowl. Put into a plastic container, seal and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days.

Starter Feed
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. instant potatoes
1 cup warm water -105-115 degrees Fahrenheit
Combine the sugar, potatoes and water in a small bowl. Stir and add to the starter. Put in a container with a hole in the lid so it can breathe. (I use a plastic pitcher with the lid popped up and cover it with cheesecloth.) Let stand at room temperature 8-12 hours. The mixture will be bubbly. Stir the starter and take out one cup to make the bread . Refrigerate the remaining starter. Feed again after 3 -5 days. If not making bread after feeding the starter, throw away 1 cup to avoid depleting the starter.

Sour Dough Bread
Simply put - Dump in large plastic bowl:
6 cups Bread Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
Stir and form a well in the center. Pour in:
1 cup starter
½ cup corn oil
1 ½ cup warm water
Mix with hands until well blended. Place in large greased plastic bowl. Spray top of dough with Pam. Cover with wax paper or freezer wrap and a clean dish towel. Let sit all day or all night, (8-12 hours) depending on when you started the process.

Have three greased loaf pans ready. Place dough on floured surface. Knead a few times and divide into thirds. Knead each piece 6-8 times or until smooth. Place in greased loaf pans, spray with Pam, and cover with wax paper or freezer wrap and dish towel. Let sit until ready to bake, 5-6 hours or all day or all night. I prefer at least 8 hours for mine. The longer it sits, the higher your loaves. Bake 350 degrees for 22-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Cinnamon Rolls - Yummy!
Instead of dividing the dough in thirds for bread loaves, divide it in half to make cinnamon rolls.

Melt 1/3 cup margarine and ½ cup brown sugar in microwave until butter is melted. Pour in a 13x9 inch pan. Sprinkle chopped pecans as desired, over mixture. Repeat with a second pan. Set both pans aside.

Knead each half of dough a few times and roll it into a rectangle shape about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up jelly roll fashion from the long side. Cut roll into 12 even portions. A simple way to do this is to take unflavored dental floss, put it under the dough, pull it up over the top, criss cross the two pices and pull until it slices through the dough. Place the rolls in the pecan mixture. Repeat for second pan. Cover lightly and let rise 6-12 hours. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

If desired, you can glaze with Icing:
1/3 cup margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
½ cup milk
Cream the margarine with vanilla. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and milk. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bottled Moments

I spent the afternoon with Mom and Dad yesterday. Or should I say I spent the afternoon with Mom. It was a typical visit, just like all the others. Dad stayed outside in the hot, humid heat and Mom and I stayed inside in the air-conditioned house.

My mom has a large china cabinet in her dining room. Most people would have china in theirs, but not Mom. Her china cabinet is crammed with a vast collection of assorted pieces of glassware, some of them very old and some not. There are saucers and plates, goblets, various little glass dishes, dessert cups, pitchers, vases of varying shapes and sizes, among all the other items filling the spaces on the shelves.

As many times as I’ve seen the china cabinet I always go back to it, picking up the various pieces and looking at them with Mom. I only wish she knew the history behind the older pieces. Some of those dishes have been with her for so many years that all hope of figuring out where they came from is gone. Other than a couple of dishes from Granny Essie, the rest remain a mystery to her and to me. I couldn’t help but think yesterday that if only those dishes could talk, I’m sure they would have some interesting stories to tell.

After the china cabinet we usually navigate to the photo albums. Today we followed the same ritual. Both of us grabbed one and sat in the recliners pouring over the pictures. I love to hear Mom reminisce about the people who were once such a big part of her life and those who still are. So much of her life and mine are contained within the pages of those albums.

When putting away the photo albums, Mom asked me if I wanted a whiskey bottle! OK, there are two facts I can swear by when it comes to my mother. One, she never throws stuff away. If someone gives her something she can’t use, she’ll keep it until she can find someone who can. And two, my mom as well as my dad are anti-alcohol and alcohol is forbidden in their house. That being said, I was more than surprised by her question.

Before I could give her an answer, she walked over to a hutch in the corner and picked up a whiskey bottle hidden among the other stuff on top. I watched in curiosity as she turned it over, found a “key” and wound it up. The “whiskey bottle” turned out to be a music box that plays the tune “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Another one of those items that someone was getting rid of it and Mom gave it a home until she can find someone who wants it. This particular “find” of hers might just be there a long time waiting for a new home. Looking at it, I got the crazy idea that one day I’m going to see some lucky person on the “Antiques Road Show” finding out it’s worth a fortune. Maybe I should rethink her offer?

As I started to leave, I noticed a giant “hopper” (as Cade calls them) munching away on one of Dad’s plants. Before I knew what was happening, Mom reached for the hopper and tried to catch it with her fingers! She missed, tried again and grabbed the hopper, threw it on the ground and stomped it. That poor hopper didn’t stand a chance! All I could think of is that I NEVER would have wanted to, much less made an attempt, to catch a hopper with my fingers.

The hopper incident brought back memories of a delightful morning spent with Mom and Cade about six years ago. We took Cade to the little springs behind her house to catch tadpoles. I tried over and over and could not catch the first tadpole. Yet every time Mom scooped the net into the water, she caught several. I remember sitting there soaking up every moment, trying to hold on to every detail in my mind so I could keep that morning forever in my memory. As I watched the two of them, I thought how wonderful life would be if we could simply bottle our favorite moments and relive them over.

When I went to tell Dad goodbye, he was sitting on the porch watching some wild turkeys walking around the pond. I usually have to hunt him down when I leave and it was nice to see him soaking up the view from the porch. I’m sure if the grass had needed to be mowed, he would have been on the mower, or if there was weeding to be done, he would have been in the flower gardens.

I have to say that yesterday turned out to be a perfect afternoon for all three of us as we took some time to relax and enjoy life. Moments like these I'd sure like to bottle!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out of my Comfort Zone

Several weeks ago a close friend of mine called and told me of a ministry she thought I might be interested in. Someone asked her to visit a lady who is in a local hospital. This mom of two had been in a horrific automobile accident, leaving her a quadriplegic on a ventilator. It seems her family lives out of town, so visitors were few and far apart. Vicki had started visiting Tammy and asked if I would go with her one day. I was hesitant, but told Vicki to call me the next time she was going and I would go.

Shortly after the phone call with Vicki, another friend called to chat with me. I told her that I had just made a commitment to do something I did not want to do. I went through all my reasons why this was not a good thing for me to get involved in. It helped soothe my guilty conscience that this friend completely understood my reasons and she suggested I share my reasons with Vicki.

Suffice to say, this hesitancy to visit a quadriplegic in the hospital struck a raw nerve in me. I have a heart of compassion and find it meaningful to be an encourager and supporter to someone going through a difficult time. I struggled to understand my feelings and figure out what was holding me back in not wanting to visit Tammy. It was equally as hard to justify my feelings since the hospital is less than three blocks from my house, easily accessible with a five minute walk.

The reasons resounded in my head. I don’t like hospitals. I’ve never been around a quadriplegic and felt uncomfortable thinking about it. What hope can I give someone who is paralyzed from the neck down? What if she tries to communicate and I can’t understand her? How upsetting will that be? How uncomfortable will it be to see someone like this? What should I talk about? What if I say the wrong thing? Will I know if I say something that’s upsetting to her? Just what do you do when you visit someone in Tammy’s situation? All my reasoning convinced me that I wasn’t the “perfect” person for the job. Plain and simple, I did not want to be around someone in Tammy’s condition.

Vicki called when she was on her way to the hospital to see if I was available to go with her. I had been going over all my reasons why I didn’t want to go and was ready to bail on my commitment. I begin sharing my hesitations, and true to Vicki’s kind, sweet nature she didn’t argue with me. She just listened and said it was all right, that she knew it would be hard. Vicki’s understanding made it that much harder to say “no,” so I caved in and told her to come pick me up. Then I ask if she had told Tammy I would be a regular visitor because “the last thing this lady needs is to get her hopes up only to have them shattered.” This was a polite way of letting Vicki know this would be a one time visit for me.

When we walked in Tammy’s room, she was asleep. Vicki softly spoke to Tammy letting her know we were there and Tammy barely opened her eyes. Our visit lasted all of about three minutes. I was relieved, the visit was over and I had fulfilled my obligation. On the way home Vicki and I talked briefly. Not really wanting to, I committed to yet another visit. I made it clear that I would only go with her, since I did not feel comfortable going by myself.

For the next visit I met Vicki at the hospital. I can’t remember why, but we weren’t able to go in to visit with Tammy. Sweet relief. I had fulfilled my obligation and could go on my merry little way. Yet something was stirring in me and I was confused as to why I was feeling the way I did. Even though I had tried to pull away, something inside me had been awakened. As much as I wanted to, I could not just put my thoughts on a shelf, walk away and forget about Tammy.

About a week later I found myself walking past the hospital on my morning walk. I felt compelled to go in and see Tammy even though I was by myself, and didn’t have a clue what to say or do. I walked in and Tammy was barely awake. I spoke to her and told her who I was. She opened her eyes and looked at me then closed them again. I softly said “good bye” and walked out relieved that Tammy wasn’t alert. A few days later I had a desire to go visit Tammy again. This time she was asleep. The nurse said to speak quietly and see if she would wake up, but not to try to wake her. That was good enough for me. I spoke, no response and I hurried out the door.

Something interesting started happening. I found myself missing Tammy and felt drawn to go back and visit her. A couple of days later I walked down for a visit and she was awake and alert. How awkward can this be I wondered? Not knowing what to say, I asked if she would like for me to tell her about my life. She nodded as best as she could and I started sharing different aspects of my life with her. I enjoyed the visit and much to my surprise, I promised Tammy that I would come back to see her.

That visit was a turning point for me. I realized the visits with Tammy were brightening my day. I needed those visits as much, if not more than Tammy did. Now I try to go every day and visit with her. I’m learning things that make her smile, such as holding a photo album up and flipping through it so she can see pictures of her family. She likes to have her hair combed and a moisturizer put on her dry, parched lips. Tammy likes for me to read to her, share my favorite Bible verses and pray with her. I talk to her about Heaven and how one day we’ll be there together. I can envision her with a new body, one that is whole and complete. I like to think that she’ll be jumping up and down, running and singing all over Heaven. She’ll remember me as one of the people who cared enough to come and visit her.

I never leave the hospital that I don’t think about Tammy and the situation she is in. I cannot imagine being trapped in my body, not able to move or speak, and to have lost the ability to openly communicate my thoughts, feeling and needs. At best Tammy can slowly mouth a few words. She is completely at the mercy of the people taking care of her and the few visitors who stop in to see her. The scenery in her world never changes, it’s the same four walls day after day, night after night. The things that are so commonplace to us, such as taking a shower, going for a walk or eating are our favorite foods are no longer an option for Tammy. I can’t begin to fathom what she is going through and what she is thinking. I am more aware than ever that at any given moment that could be me, or someone I love in her situation.

I have gone from making every excuse in the world as to why I can’t visit Tammy to taking every opportunity I can to go visit with her. I am in awe at the transformation that has taken place in my heart and I’m loving it! When I walk into the doors of the hospital, I never know if Tammy is going to be alert or unresponsive to me. No longer do I hope that she’s asleep. I want her wide awake so that I can talk with her and let her know what an inspiration she is to me.

In the beginning I could not understand how Vicki could be so compassionate over someone she had just met, especially someone who could barely communicate with her. When she talked about Tammy, she had tears in her eyes. I just didn’t get “it.” Well, now I do and more often than not, there are tears in my eyes when I talk about Tammy. I’m so thankful that I listened to that still, small voice that urged me to visit Tammy. I’m learning one of life’s invaluable lessons, that it is in giving of one’s self that we are so richly blessed. Stepping out of my comfort zone has taken me on a journey of self discovery, which for me has been a good place to be.

“So we fix our eyes on not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen in eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buttons to Push

Sometimes a little mishap can turn an ordinary day into one that’s brimming with smiles.

Jim and I were chatting with Chance on the Internet yesterday. I heard what sounded like a phone ringing and received an error message on the chat window that the video had ended. Puzzled, I asked Chance if he had done anything different and he said maybe he hit the wrong button. I decided to start exploring the different buttons and hit one to see what would happen. Imagine my surprise when Chance typed, "I can see you!" At that point I was smiling so much you would have thought he was seeing us in person. Even though Chance wasn't on a computer with a camera, he could see us and get a little bit of home in Afghanistan. And that's almost as good as it gets.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Little Hope, Encouragement and Faith

On December 22, I will be a 14 year breast cancer survivor and on January 31, 2010 Jim will be a five year colon cancer survivor. Having been both the one fighting the monster called “cancer” and the one watching their spouse fight the disease, I’d like to share some things that helped me, as well as some encouragement to someone taking this path.

Unless you go through a cancer diagnosis, you can’t imagine how emotional it can be. It is a difficult journey to say the least, a road of constant uncertainty. The best way to describe it is that you’re on an emotional roller coaster. You get good news, bad news. You feel like you’re coping, than feel like you’re not coping at all. You wonder if you’ll ever look and feel normal again. Even on a day when you’re feeling better, you look sick, which makes you feel sick. You want definite answers, but rarely get them. It seems that cancer occupies your every thought, and there is no escaping those thoughts. You wonder if the time will ever come when you won't be invaded with those thoughts. I will never forget the initial fears I had, wondering if I would be all right. Going through chemotherapy, all the side effects, and endless doctor appointments, was exhausting, mentally and physically. There were times when I questioned God, and wondered where He was. Looking back, I can see that God was with me every moment, and sent me encouragement and help just when I needed it the most. He never left me. He was, and always will be, the only constant we have in life.

When I was going through my diagnosis and chemotherapy, Jim often said he felt like it was harder to be in his shoes, than it was mine. I was the one fighting for my life, while he had to stand by helplessly watching me. I didn’t fully understand the truth of his words, until he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Yes, he could make me comfortable and try to cheer me on, but other than that, the battle was between me and the disease.

I must say I learned from the best when it comes to being a supportive spouse. Jim’s love, support and encouragement made a huge difference during this difficult time of my life. Jim called me every chance he could when he was away from home and stopped by every time he was in the area. There were several times I wanted to throw in the towel, but Jim refused to let me quit. He spent endless hours at the hospital and doctor’s appointments, and never once complained, nor did he criticize me for my feelings and emotions. He tried every way he possibly could to be understanding and supportive. The physical changes that came with breast cancer and chemotherapy, losing my breast and my hair, were such a struggle for me. Jim made it so much better than I ever could have imagined. It was as though he couldn’t see those changes, he looked right past them. I began to appreciate Jim more than I ever had, and we grew closer together than we had ever been.

There were some things that helped with my recovery and instilled in me that I was winning the battle with cancer. I believed that every negative aspect I could turn around, was a victory for me, and a defeat for cancer. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I decided to quit claiming cancer with the word, “my” and begin to refer to it as “the” cancer. I reminded myself on numerous occasions that a doctor’s prognosis was not always the same as what God had planned for my life. Only God sees the big picture. I refused to let the doctors, or other people’s experiences be the gauge that I measured my outcome by.

While going through treatments, and during recovery, I put myself in relaxing and calm environments as often as possible. Countless hours were spent in a swing listening to wind chimes, sometimes reading “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. I only watched pleasant shows on television, no horror or suspense movies for me. Not only did I journal about my experience, I studied the book of Job and journaled about the passages I read. I put as much positive influence into life as I could, believing this was one more way of beating the diseases.

I printed Bible verses and words of encouragement and put them all over the house. I made a wish list and titled it “Molly’s Wish List.” It was a list of simple things I wanted, or wanted to do and I posted it on the refrigerator for everybody to read. Some were simple wishes, some were wishes that wouldn’t happen for a very long time, such as my wish for grandkids. It was a way to think positive, to believe that I was going to beat cancer, and be here to see my wishes happen. My family loved my list and really enjoyed making my wishes come true. I’ll always remember Chance, coming to me one afternoon with a frozen turkey. He wanted to know how to cook it, so he and Brandon could fix dinner that night, and make a wish come true.

Creston and Jami were grown and married, but Chance and Brandon were still at home. They figured out that colored pencils dipped in water made cool tattoos. We had a fun afternoon letting them tattoo my bald head, and we took pictures. This was a way I could turn something very unpleasant into something fun. Even more than a memory, I like to think this was a life lesson for them, making something negative become something positive. From soccer, to school functions, to church, I did everything in my power to keep our lives as normal as I possibly could. Not only was this important for Chance and Brandon, it was important for me. I didn’t want cancer to rob me of one precious moment in life.

Chemotherapy robbed me of my energy, so I had to learn to accept help! It was so hard for me to let people come over and clean my house, do my laundry or bring us dinner. I came to realize this was one way that friends could contribute to my recovery and help us through this time. Their help made my days so much better, letting me save my energy to do things with my family. Even when Jim was going through chemotherapy, friends came over and did stuff to help out. They helped with things I could have done, but their help lightened my load and gave me more time to spend with him.

A cancer diagnosis, treatments and recovery are a tough time for kids. Pay close attention to the way they are responding and acting. Even if they seem to be doing great with all of this, you never know the thoughts and fears they have. We ended up seeking some counseling from a wonderful Christian counselor, to give the boys someone to open up to, and help them through everything. You can’t begin to know how hard this is for your family members. After my diagnosis, it seemed that every time I called my mom, she would start crying. One day I told her she had to get a grip on things, I was coping and she had to cope. She asked me how I would feel if it were my daughter going through this. It was then that I understood her tears, and why she was struggling so much. I realized that I needed to find ways to encourage her and help her cope. It seems unfair, but sometimes you have to be the one to pull everybody else up. The better you handle all of this, the better all those around you will.

My most important advice is the advice the doctors gave me on my first visit, and also told Jim on his. Listen to your body! If you feel tired, rest. Don’t push yourself like you did before treatment. Chemotherapy is hard physically, the diagnosis is hard mentally. Rest and let your body heal. If you don’t have the energy to do something, don’t do it. Rest instead. This will be a key factor in how fast you recover. Don’t get discouraged if recovery isn’t happening as fast as you want it to. Use the slow times to reflect on the many blessings you have. Soak up every moment.

The day Jim finished his last chemotherapy in September, 2005, I had some tests come back that presented some serious health concerns. After more tests and a DNC, I had a hysterectomy in November. From the first procedure until after the hysterectomy, I was in a constant period of waiting on tests and pathology reports. I had some fears and concerns to say the least. One day I was stressed and voiced my concerns to Jim. He put it all in perspective for me when he asked, “Knowing I couldn’t change anything, did I want to waste precious moments in worry while waiting for the test results? Or did I want to live with no regrets, savoring every moment life gave me?” This was a huge turning point in my life. No matter how difficult it gets, you can’t change any of it by worrying. So try and live for the moment, and trust God for the future.

Take the “what if’s “ out of your thinking. They lend themselves to fear. God wants you to trust Him, and let go of the fears you have. Your feelings will take you places you shouldn’t go, your beliefs will keep you where you should be, grounded and focused on God. Keep reminding yourself that God did not create us to walk by feelings, he created us to walk by faith. It’s so easy to be positive and upbeat when things are going good. But to do so during our trials is a true testimony to God’s power in our life. Two weeks after Jim’s surgery for colon cancer, he was back in surgery with an infected wound, and came home from the hospital with a wound vac. Being a diabetic and on chemotherapy, he had a slow healing time, and numerous medical problems. I became more aware than ever, how important it was for people to see me trusting God, and to be a testimony for the difference God can make in one’s life. I wanted them to look at me and say, “Wow, look at all she’s going through. What gives her the ability to cope with it all?” What we went through was extremely difficult, to say the least. It was painful, miserable, and downright aggravating at times. Looking back if I could change anything, I would
have trusted God more, and worried less. Had I done that, things would have been so much better.

Jim and I can see so many blessings that came from our journey with cancer. We learned not to stress over the little things. And the big things? All the worry in the world won’t change them. We learned that in the midst all the lab results, biopsies, and numerous doctors’ appointments, there is only one constant in our life and that is God. He never wavers. We learned to look for the silver lining in the ominous dark clouds. We learned that everyone has problems, some of them much bigger than ours. Many people would gladly trade places with us. Instead of looking at what we didn’t have or how bad it was, we tried to focus on what we did have, and what Gold had blessed us with. We learned that no matter what is going on in our life, there is always something to be grateful for. No matter how hard it is right now, try and appreciate life, savor each moment and count your blessings. Most importantly, know that there are blessings in everything you go through in life. Some of those blessings you won’t even realize until you reflect back on what you went through. Then you’ll really be in awe of God and how He takes care of every little detail in your life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yummy Recipes

We had a family dinner at my parent’s house on Saturday to celebrate Dad’s birthday. Thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I made on Saturday and the Chocolate Cherry Cake recipe I made for Mom’s birthday this past July. For Dad’s birthday I made a recipe that his mom, “Essie T” used to make. One of my favorite childhood memories is seeing this fruit salad on her counter when we went to visit. It was the bomb!

Granny Essie’s Fruit Salad
Combine the following:
2 small red apples, core and chop
1 can crushed pineapple in it’s own juice, drained
1 small jar Maraschino cherries, drained
1 small pack of miniature marshmallows

In top of double boiler, whisk together and cook until thickened:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar

Cool and set aside.

Whip 8 oz. of whipping cream until stiff. Fold the egg mixture into the whipping cream and then coat the fruit salad mixture with it. I like to add 1 Tbsp. sugar to the salad. Chill an hour before serving.

I promise you won’t taste the vinegar/egg mixture in this recipe. The whipping cream tones it down and balances it out, making a delightful fluffy fruit salad.

Mexican Lasagna
1 lb ground beef
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped onion
2/3 cup water
1 package Taco Seasoning Packet
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can Mexi-corn (do not drain)
1 can Mexican diced tomatoes (I used Rotel - mild flavor)
1 can refried beans
3 cups cheese - I use a Mexican blend
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas

Brown the ground beef, green pepper and onion. Drain. Add the water and Taco Seasoning packet. Simmer for 2 minutes and add the black beans, Mexi-corn and diced tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Spray a 13x9 inch pan with Pam. Put 2 tortillas in bottom of a pan. Then spread ½ can refried beans on tortillas and top with ½ the beef mixture, then 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with 2 flour tortillas and 1 cup of cheese. Spray tin foil with Pam (to keep cheese from sticking) and cover casserole. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

This recipe fills a 9x13 pan to the top. It’s a delicious casserole that’s simple to make and feeds a lot of people.

Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 box Devils Food Cake Mix
1 can cherry pie filling
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of almond extract
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs and almond extract until blended. Pour in a greased 13x9 pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Ice cake while warm

Boil sugar, butter and evaporated milk for one minute. Stir in chocolate chips. Immediately pour over cake.

If you love chocolate covered cherries, you’ll love this cake! Try serving with vanilla ice cream. Yummy!