People often ask me how I write this column. Actually there are several answers to that question. Sometimes I have a clear idea in mind and set about to write about it; other times I have a person to introduce you to; sometimes people send in a set of recipes, and sometimes the column just writes itself. That is what happened this time.

During the course of the week and conversation here, a noticed recipe there, a casual mention of a recipe and then suddenly there is a column. I love in when this happens because these recipes are usually ones that people like or they would not be talking about them to begin with.

A couple of the recipes in the column today are ones that caught my eye as they came across the internet, but most of them are ones that I have talked about with people.

You will notice that a good many of them are from Karin Traylor. I always know that any recipe I get from her is a good one! So with a nod to a popular meme, be like Karin, and send me a one, or two, or three or……. Make it a good week!

Veggie Ranch Tortilla Pinwheels Recipe from Karin Traylor

Prep/Total Time: 25 min.

Yield: 64 Servings: 25

2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

5 green onions, chopped

1 4 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained

1 (3.8 oz.) can sliced ripe olives, drained

1 celery rib, chopped

1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper

2 to 3 Tbs. real bacon bits

8 (10-inch) flour tortillas

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and dressing mix until blended. Beat in the onions, green chilies, olives, celery, red pepper and bacon. Spread over tortillas. Roll up. Cut each into 1-inch slices. Refrigerate leftovers. Yields about five dozen.

Nutritional Facts 1 piece equals 58 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 8 mg cholesterol, 188 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.********I also make a version with just the cream cheese, ranch mix, and thin sliced deli ham.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes from Karin Traylor

Karin’s Note: The Knorr products come in the American and Hispanic variety. This particular seasoning comes in a jar, and it is found in the ethnic section. It is available at Bi-Lo, and I am sure it is easily found elsewhere. I use it in all vegetables and mashed potatoes, and it adds such great flavor. It has more flavor than the American variety.

6 to 8 medium size potatoes

2 oz. cream cheese

2 Tbs. butter

1/2 cup milk

Knorr’s Caldo con Sabor de Pollo to taste

Boil six to eight medium size potatoes. When these are well cooked, drain and add two ounces of cream cheese, two tablespoons of butter, and one tablespoon of Knorr’s Caldo con sabor de Pollo. Use an electric mixer to whip the potatoes and added ingredients. Add milk to make the potatoes creamy. Serve with a tablespoon of butter in the middle and garnish with parsley flakes.

Sweet Roll Recipe (can also be used for dinner rolls) from Karin Traylor

Karin’s note: This recipe is not original with me, but it is my version. At least 20 or 25 years ago, I received some beautiful recipe cards in the mail. You will recall this, I am sure. The idea was that one would be tempted to subscribe to a monthly thing, and there would be a free recipe box with it. It was expensive, and I would not have used most of the recipes. I long ago passed the card on to someone who did not return it, but when I first saw it, I thought it seemed easy. I don’t usually pay attention to these things, but I tried it and have used it ever since. One can use 1 cup of whole wheat flour as a substitute. This is the most simplified version of the recipe I use to make the rolls I take to quilting guild meetings. Please note that I only use bulk yeast. Do not use the small packets bought in the grocery store. I get mine at Sam’s. It comes in a sealed package containing two bags. These keep for two or three years in the freezer.

2 Tbs. bulk yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 cup warm water

3 Eggs

1 stick margarine, melted

4 cups flour (I use 3 1/2)

In a 4-quart bowl put two tablespoons of bulk yeast. Add one-half cup of sugar, and one teaspoon of salt. Pour into these dry ingredients one tap-water hot cup of water and mix. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the melted margarine stirring the mixture as you add it. Add the flour. I add two cups and mix, add the third, and when this is well mixed, I add the final one-half cup. Mix well. The batter should have elasticity and it is sticky. Spray the top with Pam, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (can be overnight). With a spatula, scrape out the batter on to a floured surface. Make sure your hands/the top of the batter are floured somewhat and work it into a log shape. It should be about two feet long and look something like a loaf of French bread. Be sure it is floured as you roll it put into a rectangle with a rolling pin. Cover the top of this flat surface of dough with melted margarine (about one-half stick). Sprinkle the whole thing with sugar and cinnamon. Begin rolling at one end and roll from end to end one roll. Go back to the end you began on and roll again and again until it is rolled up. Pull the back side of the roll over the part that is already rolled. Cut in one-inch pieces and place side-by-side on a 9x13 greased pan with sides. I put five on the 9-inch side and six or seven on the 13-inch side. You can tell what works. Let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes.

Icing:

I guess at this but it is probably two cups of confectioners sugar and enough water to make it spread easily. Add maple flavoring to taste.

Dinner rolls are made much the same way. Pat down the dough on a floured surface and cut out rolls with a biscuit cutter. Place side-by-side on a greased baking pan with sides. I use a 9x13 pan.

Karin’s Okra

I learned a new way to prepare fried okra n it’s even better than traditional way. Cut okra as for frying. Cover with ice n put in fridge for an hour or so. Drain well. Mix Cajun fish batter - or maybe even onion ring batter - into a somewhat thick batter n pour over okra n stir well. Drop by big spoonfuls into skillet or pan of hot grease n cook until crispy. Serve n enjoy! Sooo good! I really thought the thawing ice would make it slimy but it only perked it up so batter would adhere well. This is very crispy n the Cajun flavor is just the right zing. Can even be eaten as a finger food using this method.

Diabetic Carrot Cheesecake

Cheesecake:

18 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese (at room temperature)

3/4 cup Splenda granulated

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

3/4 cup fat-free egg substitute

1 tsp vanilla

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and Splenda until smooth. Beat in the flour, egg substitute and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

Carrot Cake:

3/4 unsweetened applesauce

1 cup Splenda granulated

1/2 cup fat-free egg substitute

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 (8 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, well drained, reserve juice

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped nuts – optional

In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, Splenda, egg substitute and vanilla; blend thoroughly. Stir in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in the pineapple, carrots and coconut (and nuts if you choose to use them).

Frosting:

4 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese, softened

1 Tbs. light butter, softened

1 & 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbs. pineapple juice

Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9-inch springform pan; set aside. Spread one and one-half cups of the carrot cake batter over the bottom of the springform pan. Drop large spoonfuls of the cream cheese batter over this. Top with large spoonfuls of the remaining carrot cake batter. top with large spoonfuls of the cream cheese batter, spreading evenly with a knife, being careful that you do not marble the cream cheese. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is ‘set’. Cool on a rack to room temperature and then refrigerate. When the cake is completely cooled, prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, mix all the frosting ingredients until smooth and of a spreading consistency. Frost the top of the cake. Refrigerate 3 – 4 hours before serving. (Note: I think the only thing I would change would be to use only one tablespoon of the pineapple juice in the frosting to make it a thicker consistency..

Mom’s Vinegar Pie

Pie:

1 qt/ hot water (put on low heat to keep hot)

2/3 cup vinegar (can use cider vinegar)

2 cups sugar (can use brown)

3 Tbs. flour

1/2 to 2/3 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup butter

Crust:

2 cups flour

2/3 cup shortening

Water enough to moisten

Roll one-third of the dough an cut into strips and place across the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle one-half of the sugar, flour and nutmeg onto the layer. Dot with butter. Roll out another one-third of the dough, cut into strips and make a second layer. Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar, flour, and nutmeg and dot with butter. Roll out the rest of the dough and cut into two pieces. Secure at the sides. It will have a slit in the middle. Pour the vinegar and water on top. Bake at 450° for about an hour.

3 Ingredient Chicken

Chicken

.Packet of Dry Italian Seasoning Mix

1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix the Italian seasoning packet and the brown sugar. Coat chicken on all sides. Line the pan in foil because the dressing/sugar will caramelize. Bake at 350 degrees until it’s golden brown, 25 minutes on each side.

Lori’s Sausage Dressing

1 9x13 pan of cornbread (I use two boxes of Jiffy)

2 rolls of sage-seasoned breakfast sausage

1 (32 oz.) box of chicken broth, plus a little extra

A couple of handfuls of Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing

Dried sage, to taste (I like a lot)

1 can cream of chicken with herbs

1/2 can cream of celery

1 large onion, diced small

Roughly 2/3 stick of butter

Better Than Bullion Chicken Base **my super secret ingredient**

Prepare & bake cornbread. While that’s working, saute sausage. I add a little water to the meat as it helps it crumble into smaller chunks. Drain when done. Melt butter on medium high and chop onion. Add to a skillet. Next add the Better Than Bullion. This stuff is salty, so tread lightly. I add maybe less than a teaspoon to start. Stir well. Add one-third cup or so of broth and bring to a simmer. After the onions have cooked a few minutes, I taste the liquid. I’m going for rich without being salty. If I think it needs to be richer, I add a little more BTB. When the taste is to your liking & the onions are nice and soft, remove from heat. At this point, I usually heat the box of broth. Just to get it a bit warm. When the cornbread is done, remove from oven and let it rest for a few minutes. I like to use warm cornbread because it absorbs more liquid. So crumble cornbread into a very large mixing bowl. Add a couple of handfuls of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing. Pour in onion mixture, about half the broth, and a big dose of sage, stir. Add the soups, the rest of the broth and stir. Taste. Add more sage if you think it needs it. I always do. Add crumbled sausage, stirring as you add. If mixture seems dry, add extra broth (doesn’t have to be heated). Finally, stir in some black pepper. I’m a big fan of black pepper, so I add probably more than a tablespoon. Adjust as you like. I wipe out the pan in which I baked the cornbread, spray it with some no-stick & pour the dressing into the pan. Bake at 350° until it’s set. I like mine more on the soft side, so I usually pull it out before it gets too firm.

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

Richard’s Note: I have not made this particular recipe, but I am told it is very good!

The secret of this is not to stir anything. That’s what makes your dumplings. When you dish it out, you have your dumplings on top.

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (you can use a store bought rotisserie chicken)

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 stick of butter

2 cups Bisquick

2 cups whole milk

1 can cream of chicken soup (the herbed cream of chicken soup if you can find it)

3 tsp. of chicken granules (Bullion)

1/2 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. of salt or more to taste

Preheat your oven to 350°. Layer 1: Melt one-half stick of butter in 9x13 casserole dish. Spread the shredded chicken over butter. Sprinkle black pepper and dried sage over this layer. Again do not stir. Layer 2: In a small bowl, mix the milk and Bisquick. Slowly pour evenly all over chicken. Again do not stir. Layer 3: In medium bowl, whisk together two cups of chicken broth, the chicken granules and the chicken soup. Once all mixed, slowly pour over the Bisquick layer. Again do not Stir. Bake the casserole for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown

Date Cake Squares

1 cup chopped dates

3/4 cup chopped pitted prunes

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 & 1/4 cup water

1 stick margarine, cut into pieces

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

5 & 1/2 tsp. Splenda or 18 packets

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Combine dates, prunes, raisins, and water in a medium saucepan; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until fruit is thickened and water is absorbed. about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add margarine, stirring until melted; cool. Mix eggs and vanilla into fruit mixture; mix in combined flour, splenda, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread batter evenly in greased 7x11 baking dish; sprinkle with walnuts. Bake in preheated 350° oven until cake springs back when touched lightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack; cut into squares. Makes two dozen squares.