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Homemade For Goodness Sake

Quick Valentine Sweets

CA Simonson 

I was about to make a strawberry pie for my sweetie this Valentine's Day. That was the usual fare, and so easy and quick to do. Fresh strawberries, pour Danish Dessert over them and put into a baked pie shell. Nothing easier. You can see instructions here. I found it in the baking aisle in Ohio, but have learned Danish Dessert is hard to find in all states.


Then I found this recipe — and it is out-of-this world good!

Chocolate-covered Raspberry Truffles

Chocolate-covered raspberries

No baking with this one either and only five ingredients! The recipe I found suggested using an ice cube tray. I found an egg holder works much nicer and makes these truffles mound-shaped.

Ingredients needed:

• 1 bag of chocolate chips
• 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 cup whipped cream
• Fresh raspberries (substitute maraschino cherries)


Melt the chocolate chips on 50 percent in the microwave, stirring several times. Add a little butter to make it creamier.  Pour a small bit in each section of the egg holder (or ice cube tray). Using your finger, smear it up around the sides of the section. Put this in the refrigerator to harden while you make the cream filling.

Make The Cream Filling:

Whip together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and whipped cream until smooth. Fill each cup with the cream cheese mixture.

Add one fresh (or frozen) raspberry in each truffle. (For substitution, you could use maraschino cherries).

Filled cups with card

Cover the top with more melted chocolate. You may have to reheat to get it workable to pour or spoon on top of each truffle. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 truffles.

It's for the Birds ā€” for Goodness Sake!

CA Simonson 

Seed ball

It may look like a cheese ball, but this one is for the birds. In the cold winter days when our beautiful winged friends are searching for food, it's fun to put out something they can enjoy.

You can buy commercial suet blocks from your local store to fit into a feeder cage, but it's just as easy to make your own. Suet is rendered animal fat, which holds the suet cake or ball together. notes that you can use lard or even bacon grease (to a small extent). I've found that peanut butter works just as well, and may possibly be more nutritional for our feathered friends, for goodness sake!  

 bird feeder2







Depending on the ingredients of your seed ball, you can attract different types of birds. Wrens and warblers like fruit such as raisins or dried cranberries. Woodpeckers and cardinals love sunflower seeds in the shell, while little birds like the smaller seeds. 

Woodpecker and warbler

We have seen redheaded woodpeckers, nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, warblers, cardinals, blue jays, bluebirds, and many others.

Recipe for Homemade Suet Cake


• Breadcrumbs
• Sunflower seeds (in or out of the shell)
• Wild Birdseed or thistle seed
• Raisins or dried cranberries
• Peanuts or other nuts chopped
• Maple syrup or honey
• Chunky peanut butter


1. In a large bowl, break the bread into tiny crumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients with 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey, and enough peanut butter to make everything stick together. Mix with a large spoon or with your hands.

2. Form mixture into a ball or press into a suet cage. Place or hang outside and enjoy watching the many birds that come visit.

Birds and Blooms magazine has several recipes for homemade suet using cornmeal, flour, and millet. Some even suggest putting in dried mill worms for a more nutritional mixture with protein.

Holiday Cheese Balls that Win the Prize

CA Simonson 

It’s that time of year for holiday parties whether at the office, at school, church, or social group. So much wonderful food, but cheese balls always seem to be one of the main appetizers. You can find oodles of recipes for every kind from peanut butter balls to spicy, hot jalapeno blends.

This year, why not make a holiday cheeseball that stands out above the rest? The type of cheese or ingredients going into the cheese ball doesn’t really matter – it’s what you put on it afterward that counts.

Cheeseball Christmas tree

Christmas Tree Cheeseball

Easy Quick Cheeseball Recipe:
• 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
• 8 ounces sour cream
• 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
• 8 ounces ranch dressing powdered mix


1. Mix thoroughly. Shape into form. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until set. Then let the creation begin!

This scrumptious beauty was created with the basic cheese ball recipe. Shape it into a cone. After washing the vegetables, proceed to stick broccoli, cherry or grape tomatoes, radishes, and carrot slices into the cheese with toothpicks. To create the star effect in the carrots, cut a wedge into the whole carrot before slicing.

Parsley & Pimento Christmas Wreath

Create this beautiful, edible wreath by shaping your cheeseball into a wreath shape. Cover with parsley, broccoli pieces, and/or green pepper pieces. Sprinkle pimentos, or pieces of radish over the top for color!


Frosty the Snowman Cheese Ball

Create this cute snowman, compliments of Fahrenheit, by stacking your cheese balls. Cover with shredded cheese and add black olives for buttons and eyes. A carrot nose and a cheese hat complete this little guy. 

Antipasto Cheeseball

Sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black and green olives - is your mouth watering yet? Serve this tangy cheese ball with salami and crackers - sure to be a hit at any office party! Find the instructions here!

cheese ball tree

Strawberry Tree Cheeseball

This strawberry Christmas tree by Kara's Party Ideas show a great way to create an edible tree. I would think a wonderful white or dark chocolate cream cheese fudge could serve as the base and a dip for the strawberries too. What do you think?

strawberry tree

If you tried any of these recipes, it would be fun to know! Leave a comment!

DIY Mini Christmas Tree for Next to Nothing

CA Simonson 

Repurpose Tomato Cages!


For unique outdoor Christmas décor this year, repurpose your unused tomato cages. Yes. You read it correctly. Pull a few tomato cages from their storage spot and use them again!

Hide Unsightly Fixtures

I wanted to hide the water pump in my front yard and this seemed like the perfect solution. I turned my tomato cages upside down, stacked them five high and set them over the water pump.

Cut Greenery

We have many cedar trees in our backyard, so finding extra branches to trim wasn’t a problem. Although I used real boughs, imitation pine garland would work just as well. Stick branches in between wires to secure or wrap garland around the cage and then fasten with wire until you fill all open space. Pull the wires at the top together and secure with wire. Top it off with a bow.

Add Decorations

Add your decorations: lights, balls, bows, tinsel, or whatever else you have on hand.

No fixture to hide? Use a planter, like this wise man did! 

Result? A perfect little Christmas tree at hardly any cost! ….and homemade, for goodness' sake!

Fresh Cranberry Relish

CA Simonson 

Looking for a quick, nutritious side dish for your turkey dinner?  Cranberry Relish! So simple and quick, it comes together in a few moments.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Being one of the native North American fruits, some claim cranberries must have been on the dinner cuisine at the pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving. Canned cranberry jelly has been a staple at Thanksgiving dinner since 1912.  The jelled sauce was a standard in my house until I found my mother’s recipe for fresh cranberry relish.


Cranberries are Good for You! 

Full of nutrients, cranberries are one of the healthiest side dishes you can make at only 46 calories a cup. According to, the nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.

Old-Time Grinders


Does anyone remember the old-fashioned grinders? My mother used to grind her cranberries and fruits with this handy-dandy appliance after clamping it onto the cupboard. Now, the food processor does a lovely job.

Fresh Cranberry Relish


• 1 bag of fresh cranberries
• 1 orange
• 1 apple
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 to 1 cup walnuts


1. Wash cranberries, picking out any that are spoiled or too soft.

2. Peel orange and apple.

3. Put each fruit through the food processor (or grinder, if you are adventurous) and chop into tiny pieces.

4. Add one cup of sugar to the mixture.

5. Add nuts and combine well.

6. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat.

This recipe will keep up to one week in the refrigerator. 


Cranberry-Marshmallow salad

Add miniature marshmallows and whipped cream for a wonderful side dish – FRESH, for goodness sake!

Cranberry-Marshmallow salad

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Venison Roll-Ups

CA Simonson 

It’s deer hunting season again, and we like to clean out last year’s venison still left in the freezer. Our steaks and chops are always great tasting, but sometimes need a little help with tenderizing.

A recent television show talked about grilling “elk boats.” Stuffed with ingredients, it was an interesting concept. They put many vegetables inside a slice of elk and pushed up the sides like a boat to keep the ingredients from spilling out.  I decided to try this using venison. 

I like to experiment with new ideas, however. So instead, I rolled slices of venison. It was delicious and easy!  I could call them a fancy name such as “Venison Roulade” but all that means is that they’re rolled up. So let’s be easy. Let's go with my version of Venison Roll-ups! I think you’ll like it too!



First, melt 1 to 2 Tablespoons butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Slice onions and mushrooms into the melted butter, and saute until tender. Season with garlic salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash seasoning.


2_Venison Chopped

Venison steaks or chops should be 1 inch thick or thinner. Put them on a clean chopping board and tenderize with a chopper or meat mallet. Sprinkle meat tenderizer and a sprinkle of salt to each one.


3_Venison Filled

Place a spoonful or two of sautéed mushrooms and onions on each slice of meat.

Roll Up

4_Venison Rolled up

Roll them carefully, stuffing any veggies that fall out back in the center. Wrap a piece of bacon around the roll-up and secure with a toothpick. 

Grill or Fry

5_Venison Grilled up

Put the roll-ups on the grill, carefully turning until all sides are browned and the bacon is crispy.  (If you like the meat done all the way through, cover them with aluminum foil).  You can also fry these in olive oil on top of the range.

The result?

Succulent, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth venison full of goodness.

FRESH — for goodness sake!

What fresh recipes do you have for venison?

Roasted Pumpkin Soup for a Chilly Autumn Day

Nothing beats a bowl of hot soup on a chilly autumn day, and what better way than to fix it FRESH?

Homemade, For Goodness Sake!

I recently had “Autumn Soup” at a local restaurant. It boasts of a rich blend of butternut squash and pumpkin with honey, apple juice, cinnamon and a hint of curry. It was creamy, rich, sweet, and delicious.

Experiment or Testing?

pumpkin soup

I decided to try my own version at home with some of my freshly pureed pumpkin. I tend to experiment, sometimes to my own hurt. So I also switched some other ingredients (like sugar for honey) and added more pumpkin spices. My "sprinkle" of curry was a bit overzealous and too pungent, so I added garlic salt. Big mistake. The soup now lacked the sweetness. So much for my experiments.

The next step was to look for great recipes on the web. Oh, so many. Some add apple juice or maple syrup for sweetness; others add curry or thyme. Spicy or sweet? Oh, the choices. Vegan recipes substitute coconut milk or almond milk. Some add mashed potatoes for thickening, however, if you get the right consistency of pumpkin, you will have the thickness and texture desired without the added carbs.

Hot Soup! Hot MESS!

The first time I attempted to make my soup a little creamier, I put it into my blender — while HOT. Bad mistake. I learned from that experience the hard way. If you want a blender explosion, just put hot mixture into the blender and turn it on. It blows the lid right off and contents fly everywhere. Just ask me. Big mistake.

That is another reason to make your pumpkin puree ahead of time. Many recipes gave the whole process of preparing fresh pumpkin. Time-consuming when all you want is a quick bowl of hot soup. So much easier to pop your pumpkin puree from the freezer and prepare!

Autumn Pumpkin Soup


• 1/2 small onion
• 2 cups pureed pumpkin (or 1 can)
• 4 cups vegetable broth
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon cloves
• 1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut or almond milk if desired)

Note: stick with full-fat milk or cream to avoid curdling.


1. Chop onion into tiny pieces, and sauté in a medium pot with 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Add pumpkin, vegetable broth, and maple syrup. Stir in spices and simmer.

2. Take 1/2 cup of soup out and mix with cream to warm it gently. Add the cream mixture back into the soup and simmer. Do not boil, it will separate the milk. If the milk separates, it’s still OK to eat, but does not look appetizing!  You can also remove the soup from the stove, add the milk or cream, and then reheat on very low heat. You’ll be rewarded with a thick, creamy soup! Yummy.

More Pumpkin Recipes

Find many other pumpkin recipes from all over the nation including pumpkin fudge, pumpkin roll-ups, pumpkin casserole, plus many desserts at

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