Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, it is time for the feast! We had our family feast this Sunday and yes, over-eating took place, again. But I DID make something that I know I will be making again and again. So, I will share it with you but I don’t have any pictures of it, sorry.

Cream of Celery Sage Gravy for dressing: (oh so easy and oh so VERY good!)

Thinly slice and mince about 1 cup of celery, thinly slice and mince about 1/2 cup yellow onion. In a medium (6-8 cup size) sauce pan, saute veggies in about 1 1/2 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP canola oil until onions are clear and celery is tender.  Add about 1/2 tsp dried Sage powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Stir to meld flavorings in veggies. Sprinkle in about 2 TBSP unbleached AP flour. Stir into veggies and cook for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat to cook flour.  Add 1 1/2 cans of chicken broth (I used Swanson’s, 99% fat free/no  MSG cans). Stir with whisk to break up lumps and blend all together.  Continue to stir and bring to simmer and add about 1/2 cup half & half, stirring all the while. Bring back to slow simmer and let gravy thicken as much as it can, turning heat to low or medium low. You don’t want to scorch the gravy or have it do a rolling boil because it will make the milk break up and show little curdles in the gravy. When thickened as much as it is going to, take off heat and serve with meal. It may not be extremely thick but it will be like giblet gravy thick because of the amount of flour added to thicken it up. In other words, it may a little runny, but that is ok because it will get absorbed in the dressing on your plate! (it was good topped on my buttered roll)

This gravy took the place of giblet gravy for the dressing I made Sunday because I did not have a can of Cream of Celery soup to use for gravy or giblets to cook up. Who needs that can when you CAN do this?!  It was very good and something I will be doing again for other recipes and for giblet gravy.  It can be made and you could put cooked diced chicken or turkey in it along with green peas and carrots and turned into a pot pie or served on top of some good home made buttermilk biscuits!  Yum! Yum!

Hope everyone has a great time this year with your families and friends. Hugs and prayers to everyone!

Vicky D

The kids at my Thanksgiving!

Do you know how hard it is for little ones to be still for pictures?



Published in: on November 12, 2012 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Sleet/Snow and Cooking

Snow! 2012

There is nothing better to do on a cold day than to experiment with recipes that you found to see how good or bad they are!  Yes, it snowed and sleeted here in this town of Fredericksburg, Tx.  Every so often it does that, thank goodness it is not very often….(did I ever say that I hate cold…..)

Back of the house.


BitBit does not know what to think of the snow and cold.

After eating brunch (home-made sausage, eggs and toast with coffee), I proceeded to get ready for the great recipe cook-out!  First on the list is Lemon Biscotti!  I read the recipe and re-read the recipe and nearly ditched it because it did not have eggs in it……but, I told myself to try it anyway……..it is from elanaspantry.com/lemon-almond-biscotti.  Go there and see what all she has there!  Anyway, here is what I did!

Biscotti ingredients.

I got out the trusty KitchenAid food processor, added the 1 ¼ cups of almond flour, 1 TBSP arrow root powder and ¼ tsp sea salt; hit pulse 5 or 6 times to blend it all together.  I then measured out the ¼ cup of agave nectar and zested one lemon into the processor bowl.  I then pulsed it for a few minutes until it all looked like little pebbles of dough.

Biscottie dough pebbles.


Once I chopped the roasted almonds, I added them into a bowl that held the dough.  Using my hands, no I cannot take pictures and knead the dough at the same time…, I worked the ground almonds into the cookie dough; then put it into the USA biscotti pan and formed it into a rectal “log”.

Almonds worked into dough.

Dough in Biscotti pan.


My oven was pre-heated to 350 degrees F, so I put the pan in to bake for 15 minutes.  Once the buzzer went off, I pulled them out, they smell so good, and cooled them for one hour on a rack in the pan.

Once baked Biscotti.


Using a serrated bread knife, the cookies got cut into little logs and baked again, cut side down, at 300 degrees F for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet.

Cut Biscotti.

Biscotti cut and on second bake.

They then cooled on the sheet for quite a while on cooling rack so they would get crispy and ready for eating!

Taste test:  (drums are rolling……….) they taste purty good!  Will put some melted white chocolate on them next time! (I’m not getting outside to the store just for that…..did I say that I don’t like cold weather?????)


Next………Clean Whole Wheat Bread….

This recipe came from www.cleaneatingmag.com/recipes/clean-whole-wheat-bread.aspx The author is Eric Pater.  I have been looking for a clean and easy whole wheat bread recipe so that I could make my own and know it was good and good for you!  I saw this and printed it out.  With 6 ingredients, how complicated would this be?  I think I can handle it…..

I keep my flours in the fridge outside, so I got my white whole wheat flour and Old Fashion whole wheat flour out, measured 1 ½ cups of each one in a bowl to come to room temp.

Ingredients for bread.

Recipe calls for 3 cups whole-wheat flour, 2 tsp yeast, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 TBSP honey, 2 TBSP EVOO, 1 ¾ cups warm water.

Here is what I did……..

Measure out flours into bowl, mixing flours evenly, let come to room temp.  In large mixing bowl, put 1 ¾ cups warm water, 1 envelope active yeast or the 2 tsp if using bulk yeast and the blended flours.  Stir with wooden spoon, mound dough into ball shape.

Dough ball.

Cover with warm towel(microwave towel for 15 seconds) and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm place, my stove was still warm from the biscotti, so that was the perfect place!

Covered dough bowl, rise one.

While this was rising, I took a small bowl, added the salt, then the EVOO and then the honey, mixing as well as I could. My tip is that you measure out the oil first and use the same spoon to measure out the honey; you will notice that the honey just slips right out of the spoon without sticking to it because the oil has coated it for easy release!

Salt, oil and honey.

Once the dough has risen, uncover and add salt, honey, oil mixture and stir with your cleaned-up wooden spoon, stirring until the dough is sticky.  Take your bread pan, I used a stone loaf pan from Pampered Chef, and coat it lightly with pecan oil.  Pour the sticky dough into the loaf pan, cover with warm towel, and let rise another 30 minutes in a warm place (back on my stove)(I warmed my towel in the microwave for about 15 seconds before covering the dough each time-another tip)

Dough in pan.

Covered pan to rise second time.

Second risen bread.

About 25 minutes into the rising, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Once pre-heated, put bread in the oven, positioned in the middle of the rack, rack needs to be in the middle of the oven too.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Take out, cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, invert pan, continue to cool until you can remove pan from loaf. You may need to take a knife and run it around the edges to get it out of your pan.

Once I got the bread out of the pan, I could not let it cool completely, I had to see what it looked like on the inside and eat a piece of the heal with butter…….note for next loaf…let it bake for 1 hour, not the 40-50 minutes recipe read.

Not bad for a first time!

Center was a little doughy, but the taste…………O.M.G.!!!!!!!  I just love hot home-made bread with butter!  Will definitely make this again!  It is easy and it is good!!!!!!!  Toast a piece, put butter or cream cheese on it and enjoy!  Hope Larry eats this too……..Much better than store bought bread….now it is your turn!!!!!   Hugs!  Vicky

Published in: on February 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pancakes and Apple Butter

This Sunday I made whole wheat pancakes for brunch and cooked up some apple butter to have on my morning “gruel”…….

The recipe for my pancakes that I use is this(I may have posted it before):

In a large bowl, whisk together:  2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp sea salt.  Divide this equally into two ziplock baggies.  When you are ready to make a batch of cakes, take one baggie and put into a medium-size bowl and whisk in 1/3 cup ground flax meal.  In a 2 or 4  cup measuring cup, add 2 cups low-fat buttermilk and two eggs.  Blend together and add to dry ingredients in bowl and mix.  May leave a few lumps or you can mix smooth.  Cook on hot griddle or in waffle maker.

Side one cooking.

Side two cooking!

Larry and the pancake!

Larry's pancake.

As you can see, my hubby like a little pancake with his syrup!

"MY" pancake plate!

I like mine with a little molasses! (apple butter was not done, yet!)

Now for the apple butter!

I chopped three organic Gold apples into small pieces, yes I left the peeling on them!  In a medium pan, in went the apples and I added 1/2 cup water.

Apples ready to cook!

Cook this on medium until it starts cooking good and then turn heat down to low to medium low.  This should stew for about an hour.

Apples cooking.

Add 1/4 cup turbinado sugar and 1 1/2 tsp of your favorite gingerbread spice mix or you can add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg.

1/4 cup Turbinado sugar.

Stir all together and cook on low another 30 minutes or so.  I took my hand mixer and mixed the apple butter as well as it would do, and then put into clean quart jar.


It turned out wonderful!!!  Low sugar and high flavor!  Yes, I will do this again!

Tomorrow is Wednesday!  I plan to go to the fitness center and put in about a good hour of working out, come home, shower and eat me a hot bowl of my “gruel” topped with my apple butter!!!  I can hardly wait!  Yeah, I will have to eat supper, shower, go to bed, sleep, and then wake up in the morning to get there!!!!!  You think that is something to look forward to in the morning???!!!!!  I think so!!!!  LOL  Hugs!  Vicky D

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Spicy Fish & Chicken Seasoning Mix

Hi All! Just wanted to share a quick seasoning recipe that I mixed up to use for cooking pan fish and chicken!  It DOES have a kick to it but it is really good!  You may want to keep this one by your stove so that you can use it on anything!

Here it is!

In a cereal bowl, mix together 1 tsp. of the following spices:


ground ginger

fine black pepper

ground mustard

oregano flakes

chili powder

garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

When mixed, put into a spice shaker bottle and use as any other seasoning!  This does not contain salt, so you would need to sea salt lightly whatever you are using this with!  You can make a paste of EVOO and this seasoning to make a coating if you so desired!

Hope everyone is doing fine!  I am still on my resolution plan and doing well with it!  How are you doing with your resolutions????!!!!!!!  I am available to help you with your clean eating/cooking if this is part of your resolution plan! My phone number 830-997-7918 or 830-889-5577!  Give me a call or contact me via e-mail (simpledinners@verizon.net)

Hugs!  Vicky

Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Chicken Muffin Cups

Hey y’all!

I am back!  I have been busy at work plus trying to crochet pot holders to be sold at Der Kuchen Laden!  But I DID manage to take pictures of a dish I fixed last nite for supper!  I saw a recipe from Cooking.com/eatingwell.com called Muffin-Tin Crab Cakes.  I had baked up about two whole chickens and knew I needed to do something with the meat I had in the fridge.  So, when I saw this recipe, it gave me the idea of making chicken muffin cups based on this recipe but making my changes to meet my taste buds!  Crab meat is expensive, if you did not know that, and by using the chicken and other ingredients I used, I was able to give it a “seafood” flair!  So, here we go!

Two chopped chicken breast meat

Set your oven to 450 degrees before you start.  I took two cooked chicken breasts, pulled the meat off and chopped it into small pieces, about the size of lump crab meat and put it in a large mixing bowl. For measuring purposes, 3 cups of chopped chicken meat of your choice would be fine.

Onion, pepper & garlic

Here is 1/2 green pepper, chopped fairly fine, about 1/2 cup chopped onion and a small clove of garlic minced fine sitting in a non-stick pan with about 1 TBSP of EVOO.  Saute this until onion is starting to be clear. Set aside to cool a bit while you pull the other things together.

Toasted bread crumbs.

I put two pieces of whole wheat bread in the toaster and crumbled them in my 4-cup Cuisinart mini processor.

Mayo, Old Bay, and eggs.

There is two eggs and one egg white in the bowl.  Beat those well together.  Add about 1/4 cup of mayo to the eggs along with 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning and 1/2 tsp sea salt.  When mixed, add to the chicken along with the bread crumbs and sauteed veggies.  Chop 1 TBSP of fresh parsley to the bowl, sorry, I don’t have a pic of that, last minute addition to get that perfect taste I was looking for!  Fold ingredients  and put in sprayed non-stick muffin pans. Top with Whole Wheat panko crumbs. Bake in pre-heated 450 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Serve while hot!  I took a slender high-heat spatula and ran it around each cup to help get them out of the pans.

Chicken cups ready for oven!

This is a pic of the chicken muffins that I had in a regular tin 6-cup muffin pan.  I had three in a non-stick pan, also.  The ones in the non-stick pan browned better on the outside and came out of the pan easy while the ones in the tin pan, stuck and did not brown on the sides.  That’s just an FYI for you when you make them!

Plated and ready for eating!

Now doesn’t that look just yummy!  I made mac & cheese using a scratch cheese sauce/roux base white sauce with sharp cheddar cheese, I put some of the sauce on the chicken cups after I took the pic!  Fresh carrots, radishes and Serrano peppers were my sides.  I wanted to make some squash from the freezer, but I did not remember to do it until after I had nearly cleaned my plate……go figure…..

They really tasted great and Larry said I could make these again anytime!  So, in the event you have quite a bit of left-over chicken in some form or fashion, here is a good and tasty way of using some of it up!  If you don’t want to go to the trouble of cooking/baking chicken, you can use rotisserie chicken from your favorite store!

Hope you try this, because it is good and easy to fix, plus it is GOOD FOR YOU TOO!!!!!!!  Shhhhhh don’t tell the kids that……Hugs!  Vicky D

Published in: on December 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving & banana pudding!

Hi all!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this year!  I did and will share a twist on making banana pudding!  Larry & I went to Sister Juanice’s house Thursday and I made 4 salads for the feast!  All but one turned out good…let’s not go there…..

Friday I did not have to work at the store, so we had Larry’s kids and family over for supper!  The menu was smothered deer steak(the last of the elk from 2009-wonderful things, those Ziplock freezer suction bags); mashed red potatoes, green beans with bacon and onion, the left-over salads except the bad one; green salad mix; sweet corn-Heather brought this, and bread from Fredericksburg Bakery-Christine brought this!  I wasn’t going to do desserts but I had a hankering for banana pudding, so I gave in….Heather brought her chocolate layered dessert also! (she was craving chocolate-yes, the little girl will be here about the first of April next year!)

We all ate til we were miserable……the kids played and played and played.  I bet they slept good that nite!

The little "darlings"!


Makenna Duecker and Koen Koch…yes, those are the two grand-kids that live here in Fredericksburg.  Mr. Robbie is in Dallas, missed having Alex, Michael and Robbie here for this time but they will be down the weekend of December 17th.  Our family Christmas celebration will be at that time!  Menu is planning in my head, yes, of course!

Ok…..now for the banana pudding…….it turned out good…..hurt myself bad eating it……..

Here is the recipe!

Make a triple batch of tapioca pudding according to the box directions only use this milk substitution instead:

6 cups of 1/2 & 1/2 and the rest regular or 1% milk and use only 2/3 cups of sugar instead of the 1 cup for the triple batch.  I did not want a real sweet pudding.  When the pudding is done, set it aside to cool somewhat and get your box of vanilla wafers and bananas(I used 4) along with the big bowl for the pudding.  In the bowl, start with tapioca pudding, then cookies and then bananas and layer that way until the end and make sure your last layer is pudding and then vanilla wafers. Ok….I did a layer of pudding on top of the cookies and ten the first layer of bananas, but pudding was first…ok??!!

The thing to remember: make the pudding next to last and the wafers as last topping..hope that makes sense.  You don’t want bananas as your last or next to the last layer of the pudding…they will turn brown as you know bananas to do!  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to enjoy!

Layer one!


Final product! Wonderful stuff...


I wanted to jump in the bowl head first….I love, love, love banana pudding……..

The way I grew up eating banana pudding is where Mom would make the Jello cook vanilla pudding and do the layers like this, but after a day in the fridge as left-overs, there would be liquid  in the bottom or sides from the pudding…….not too good like that……BUT!  I had some for breakfast this morning, today is Sunday and I made it Friday, and NO RUNNY STUFF IN THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL!!!!!!!   I am TOTALLY impressed!!!  From here on out when I make banana pudding, I will be making tapioca as my vanilla pudding!!!!!!!!!!  Hope you try this, if you like banana pudding, and it is as good as what I did here!  Hugs!  Me!


Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Meatballs are ready!!!

Hi all!

I could just kick myself….I wanted to take pics of nearly every step of me making the meatballs, but I did not…my dear sweet daughter called and I had to talk to her and I worked/cooked while talking…go figure, yes, multi-task, but I forgot to get the camera while mixing the meatballs up.  My fault but I DID get some pics to share anyway!

Ok…here goes…..

I made a double batch  so I would have left-overs and be able to put some in the freezer.

3 pounds of your favorite ground meat(mine is ground deer meat-1/2 deer,1/2 beef grind)

4 eggs and 1 1/3 cup milk, mixed together(this was an accident-recipe calls for 1/2 cup milk for double batch, I did not pay attention to my directions-was reading the bread crumb ratio for the milk- but it worked out fine!  Nice & moist!)

1 1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 tsp oregano, marjoram, salt, pepper and garlic powder(mix this in a bowl)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, seasoning and egg/milk mixture.  Take a large cookie sheet and cover with foil.  Spray with ns spray.  Using whatever size scoop you want to, scoop balls onto the foil.  Take your hands and round them out and replace them on the sheet.  I used a 11×17 jelly roll sheet pan an used a large cookie scoop (OXO large) to make the balls.  Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of meatballs.  Serve with your favorite sauce and sides!

Meatballs in the oven!

Waiting to get the rest of the sides ready, I have the oven off, the baked/microwaved potato in the oven with the balls.  As you can see, these are not little ones!  They would make nice meatball subs!


First frozen green beans from the garden.

I pulled out of the freezer a pack of green beans that I put up this summer from the garden.  Brown some bacon in a medium pan; add defrosted beans and some onion.  Stir around and add about 1 cup of water, 1 tsp chicken bouillon paste, and black pepper.  Turn burner to low and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes.  These turned out really good!  I will fix a big batch for Thanksgiving dinner Friday after the T-day!

Gooood gravy!

Ok…I do cheat on brown gravy but I change it up to add flavor.(are you surprised…)  2 packs of McCormick brown gravy mix.  In your non-stick pan, add about 1 TBSP EVOO and chop up about 1/2 cup onion.  Cook until onion is tender.  Add the 2 cups of water and packs of gravy mix.  Whisk to blend gravy powder and cook until thickened and bubbly.  Turn down or off if all sides are ready.  This mix is a staple at the Duecker house. You can’t beat it.


My plate! (yes, I ate the whole thing..) 🙂

Meat balls, 1/2 baked potato drizzled with EVOO&pepper, green beans, carrots, japs, avocado, and yes, gravy on the meatballs!  This is definitely a good supper!  I saved out 10 meatballs for left-overs and put up 2 quart vac bags holding 4 meatballs per pack for the freezer, just right for a meal for two!

I am stuffed……hugs……me!


Published in: on November 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Last of the garden & stewed cranberry & fruit

Mother Eggplant


Hi!  Sharing pictures of the last of the garden produce before the hard freeze last week.  This is the mother eggplant that produced all the eggplant we ate and shared with family, friends and neighbors!  She is just ONE plant that produced so many little babies!  Can you believe it??!!


Baby eggs and bell peppers...the last of them.


We picked 29 baby eggs and 57 bell peppers before the freeze hit Thursday/Friday of this past week.  We shared them with those who would take them.

Japs & Serrano peppers.


We did not take count on the Japs and Serrano peppers that we picked, but as you can see, there were quite a few…..hundreds…and hundreds……

Step back picture of the last load.....until next year....

Yes, until next year……..but here is the plan!  One eggplant again in the same bed, upper left corner by the well!  Two Serrano plants, two TAM jalapeno plants, no other than TAM next year.  Two bell pepper plants, maybe, depending on what Larry wants to do.  Yes to okra, squash, cucumbers, green beans, probably not carrots, but definitely radishes, for sure.  So, that is the game plan unless we decide to do something different??!!….broccoli?  Cauliflower? Swiss Chard???  Kale??  Hmmmmmm…………we will see next year!

Ok! Now for the recipe that is absolutely great!

This may not look like much to you but red mush

cranberryies, apples, and a pear!

This may not look like much to you but some red mush, but this REALLY is good!  Ok…take a bag of fresh cranberries, pick and rinse.  In a medium large heavy stock pot, put the rinsed berries in.  Chop up one large apple of choice, I used a Jonagold apple, and one pear of choice, I used a red pear (I wanted to put two in but the pears were a bit hard and really not as ripe as I wanted it).  Add about 1/2 cup water along with about 1/4 cup of agave nectar for sweetener.  Stir and bring to a simmer and turn heat to a low temp and stew for about 2 hours.  Take off heat, cool and put into your favorite container.  Now, the best part!  While still warm, you can put some in a little bowl, top with honey Greek yogurt, enjoy the mixture immensely!  I did!  That was my “ice cream and fruit”!   I will definitely fix this again!  It is good and good for you!(top with granola would be good too!)

My mother would make stewed apples and I had that thought when I was putting this together in my head before I did this!  I love you mother!  Such sweet memories!  Hugs!  Me!


Published in: on November 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cooking again… :)

Yes, my day off and I am cooking again!  I have Banana Bran Muffins in the oven now!  Go to eatingwell.com and put banana bran muffins in the search!  My variations is that omit the ap flour and use white whole wheat flour.  I add ground flax, ground almonds, instead of buttermilk, because I did not have any, I used 2/3 cup 1% milk and 1/3 cup Greek yogurt mixed together.  That gives it the tanginess that buttermilk has!  I follow the recipe to a point, as you can tell…..are you surprised???

Hubby likes them and I am taking some to Jerry when they come out of the oven and cool off enuff to handle! Will also bring one to Larry at work!

Hot muffins!

I use a stone muffin pan to make my muffins.  I really like how things bake in stone……Oh do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man! Oh do you know the muffin man that lives down Drury Lane!



Published in: on November 2, 2011 at 9:44 am  Comments (1)  

Ciabata Ham Sandwich


Last Wednesday I went to the store and bought some sliced ham, the REAL stuff, and came upon some Ciabata bread that looked really good too!  I was hungry for a good ham sandwich, and I knew Dear Sweet Larry would like one too!  So, back home I went with my wonderful purchases at HEB!  I took the bread, cut it in half, and then in half again through the middle.  I drizzled EV Olive Oil on the thick half and scattered grated Moz cheese on the other half, broiled it until it was toasty and light brown on each side.  In the meantime, I had chunked up a good 2 cups of ham, sliced a tomato purty thin and sauteed some green pepper and onions in oil.  When I brought out the bread from the oven, I smeared some mayo in each side, topped the ham on the side without the cheese, added the onions & peppers and then the tomatoes.  The tomatoes got peppered and I put the other side on top.  Using bread knife that was used to cut the bread, I cut the sandwich in the middle and we both ate a half!  It was VERY filling and, yes, I would do it again!!!!!!!  (Imagin us doing the “Guy Fietty” stance to eat this!spelling not good, I know…)  :0



Ciabata Ham Sandwich


Yes, it was a BIG thing and very filling!  Changes???  Yes, maybe some Dijon mustard, shredded lettuce, and definitely more cheese!   Hugs!  Me!

Published in: on October 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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