The Loft Link-Up [Potluck…]


I’ve been away from “THE LOFT” for two weeks and I’ve missed this weekly connection with new friends and certainly my friend Leah Adams However, I thoroughly enjoyed some time away from my office and all things electronic and media – but I’m glad to be back today with this Potluck topic.

My dictionary app defines potluck as “a food or a meal that happens to be available without special preparation or purchase; a meal especially for a large group to which participants bring various foods to share; whatever is available or comes one’s way.”

To me, the word Potluck brings to mind memories of 38 years as a pastor’s wife and many, many, many (did I say many?) covered dish lunches, suppers, and fellowship times around the table. I believe meal time is so important and something sadly missing in today’s families. A time to relax, connect, and share conversation. When I was growing up we didn’t eat on the run, or really even eat “out” very often. Most families ate at home…together. Some of my sweetest memories surround being in the kitchen with my mother and my sisters.  Although I do recall many squabbles with whose turn it was to wash the dishes and whose turn it was to dry! Gotta love being raised in a house full of sisters. To this day one of my favorite times is when both of my boys have their feet back under their mama’s table! 3GenerationsSo for our potluck gathering today at The Loft I am going to literally share a potluck with you – some of my favorite recipes. Click on the title link below for each one and I hope you will try one, or some, or all of them. I will tell you that the meatloaf recipe receives more “hits” than any on my blog! So fun!

Icebox Banana Pudding

Morton Meatloaf – Delicious!

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Jalepeno Cornbread Muffins

Southern Tomato Sandwich 🙂

Peach Cobbler!

Quick & Easy Lasagna

Buttermilk Biscuits

Happy Potluck! It’s Wednesday, how about that? Many churches have potluck suppers on Wednesday night!



Icebox Banana Pudding

BPI reached way back in my recipe box this past weekend for this Southern delight! By way back I mean I’ve had this recipe for over 30 years… Even the title signifies it’s an old recipe. You don’t hear the refrigerator called an “icebox” these days! There was a sweet older woman in our church in Athens, Georgia named Miss Lillie Bell, and this is her recipe. When I was a young wife and mama she was a mentor to me, but I didn’t realize that’s what was happening at the time. All I knew was that she loved me. She just quietly came alongside and helped me with my two young boys. She worked in a mill that made clothes for children and she literally provided clothes for my boys when they were toddlers.  She made teacakes for my husband Gary too – that will be another post for another time!

I brought this banana pudding to work yesterday to celebrate working surviving 🙂 one year in the Superintendent’s office. (See yesterday’s post!) Here is the recipe for you:


  • 2 four-serving sizes of Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
  • 3 cups of cold milk
  • 1 can of Eagle Brand condensed milk
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip
  • 1 box of Nilla Wafers (no off brands please)
  • 6 to 7 bananas

I layer mine in a trifle bowl – wanted you to know that first!

  1. Using a mixer (I use a hand mixer) mix the instant pudding mix and 3 cups of cold milk in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the Eagle Brand milk in the pudding mixture, continue to mix until creamy and well blended.
  3. Now add 1/2 to 2/3 of the Cool Whip (save enough to spread on top) to the pudding mixture and mix well.
  4. Layer in this order: vanilla wafers, bananas, pudding, vanilla wafers, bananas, pudding…repeat!
  5. Top with Cool Whip.
  6. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight is best.



TASTING GRACE – A Mentoring Ministry in the Kitchen!

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Even with all the ways for people to connect through social media nowadays, nothing replaces a face-to-face conversation. And there is something REALLY special about gathering around a good meal at the table. TASTING GRACE wants to do just that! TASTING GRACE is a new ministry of encouragement for women of all ages to connect and share together while learning cooking (and life) skills. My sweet friend Jan Hamil and I are so enjoying this outreach. The book of Titus exhorts the older women to teach the young! We get together and cook and talk and laugh and share. I’ve heard many women say over the years that the “quilting bees” of long ago were good for women to share and connect, and it wasn’t all about the quilting! Women need women like never before in our social media driven society. I’m thankful to have the blessing of sharing my life’s experiences (and love for cooking) with these precious young women. When I was a young pastor’s wife I had the same blessings from older women in my life, but we didn’t know it was mentoring. We were just doing life and it happened along the way, nothing forced or organized. It was just the pure joy of coming alongside another woman to be an encourager. You can’t get that from a computer screen, or texting, or an iPhone chat. I certainly don’t want to take away from modern technology, because I sure do love my convection oven, Kitchen Aid stand mixer, dishwasher, and air conditioning! We wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun at TASTING GRACE if we’d had to chop wood to load the stove before making these biscuits! Can I get a witness? 🙂 But these are GIRLs – Girlfriends In Real Life!

These pictures are from my church’s (Second Baptist)   April 11, 2015 session of TASTING GRACE in one of our big old church kitchens. Learning to make homemade biscuits was on the menu. [Our Winter session included two different soups, cornbread, and a delicious Honeybun Cake.] Our devotional was from John 6 where Jesus talks about the True Bread of Life! We are meeting again in July and October also with much deliciousness and delightful conversations planned.

IMG_3858 IMG_8909 IMG_9391 IMG_9392 IMG_9398 IMG_9400 IMG_9401 IMG_9402





Cream Cheese Pound Cake – Recipe

Yesterday was my sweet husband’s birthday and that man of mine dearly loves a pound cake, so I made a special one for him using my heart-shaped pan. You can order one for yourself by visiting this Williams-Sonoma Site.IMG_8978

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter (softened – room temperature)
1 8-ounce block of cream cheese (softened – room temperature)
6 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups plain flour (sifted)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Butter and flour the pan generously. [I used Butter Flavor Crisco.]

2. Whip sugar, softened butter and cream cheese well.
[I LOVE THIS MIXER. It literally makes me so happy to use it. Baking becomes an EVENT, not a routine thing. And celebrating my wonderful husband’s birthday and love for pound cake is an event in itself! AND did I mention it was also Valentine’s Day while I was baking?]IMG_8990

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

4. Add vanilla.

5. Lower mixer speed, and slowly add sifted flour and salt.

6. Pour batter into pan. (It is a thick batter, so it is more of a “spooning” into the pan.)IMG_89917. Place in a cold oven and set temperature to 300 degrees. Bake for 1 and 1/2 hours.

For some reason this cake began to rise over the top of the pan…  WOW! It rose so high I literally sliced the top off before I turned the cake out of the pan! Gary loved eating that buttery crunchy top. IMG_8992

8. Let cake cool about 10 minutes in pan and then gently turn onto a platter or cake plate.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband, Gary. I love him so much and I’m so thankful he loves my cooking and is enjoying his pound cake. These are the beautiful pink roses he gave me for Valentine’s Day. He had them waiting at the table when we went out to dinner.IMG_8979

I close with this beautiful picture of the clouds set in the shape of a heart framed by the valley and mountains. Enjoy your loved ones, make time to bake their favorites and celebrate love and family. Each day is a gift and treasure from the Good Lord.IMG_8994

Job 37:16 (NLT)
Do you understand how he moves the clouds
    with wonderful perfection and skill?


Blackberry Cobbler & 37 Years!


It’s been a great week – Gary and I celebrated 37 years of marriage this past Wednesday on June 11th.  I’m thankful for my sweet husband…for the way he leads and loves. I had no idea as a young 19-year-old bride what a great man he was. I just knew I loved him and wanted to be his wife. God in His great plan for me unfolded a happy home that now includes two sons, two daughters-in-love, and five amazing grandchildren.  All because two young people fell in love and got married.  Here we are…about to begin our journey.  We’d only just begun…  I wish you could see Gary’s baby blue leisure suit because it matched the baby blue Pinto car.  He was also very proud of his white patent leather boots that matched his wide white belt.  And the platform wedge shoes I had on? They are back in style today!


Today before church the discussion turned to cobblers as a group of us ladies were in the choir room.  Some of us cook the fruit, some don’t, some of us sweeten the fruit, some don’t.  All I know is last night I made a blackberry cobbler that my husband told me was the BEST I HAD EVER MADE! So I wanted to share my recipe that happens to be the way my mama and my Granny also made cobblers.  Starting with these beautiful berries right from my garden sure was wonderful!



I have posted my recipe for CHOCOLATE COBBLER on my blog as well as my recipe for PEACH COBBLER if you want to see those recipes.  The blackberry cobbler recipe below is identical to the peach cobbler recipe, but I didn’t take pictures while making it last night as our “Father’s Day Celebration” grew and Gran Jan had to hurry! [First it was just me and Gary and my mom and dad.  Then my younger sister Jo called and had a change of plans, so she came.  Next we heard from our son Jonathan and he and his wife and two children came, so the party of four quickly turned into a party of 9!]  It was great except for I sure missed my Cartersville Crew…


9 x 13 casserole dish
4 cups of fresh blackberries
6 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter
1 and 1/2 cups of self-rising flour
1 and 1/2 cups of milk (not skim)
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse blackberries.
3. Now make a simple syrup by bringing the 6 cups of water to a boil and then adding in the 2 cups of sugar so it dissolves.
4. Add the blackberries to the simple syrup. 
5. Simmer berries in the simple syrup for 4-5 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
7. Melt the 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (I use the microwave) and pour in 9 x 13 casserole dish.
8. Now take a wire whisk and mix the sugar and self-rising flour well, removing all lumps!
9. Then add the milk to the sugar/flour and whisk until creamy. It will be thin – that is fine!
11, Gently pour this “batter” over the melted butter in the pan.
12. DO NOT STIR! I repeat – DO NOT STIR!
13. Now ladle the cooked berries and all the juice (sugar syrup) over the batter so they are evenly placed.
15. Slide casserole pan into pre-heated oven and bake until bubbly and browned (about 45 minutes).
The Beautiful Crust will rise up through the berries and will be so delicious!
Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.
 This has been a great weekend that began Saturday morning with coffee on the front porch and ended this evening with sitting in the swing by the pond while Gary fished a bit off the bank. There was also blackberry cobbler making, an awesome time of worship at church, playing with grandkids, honoring my dad and husband for Father’s Day today, and even weeding the garden! Life’s simple pleasures really are the best, so don’t forget that vanilla ice cream on the cobbler… 

Jalepeno Cornbread Muffins Recipe

Spicy food is a favorite of mine, and I especially like jalepeno peppers. When I make Mexican Cornbread I add in lots of chopped pickled jalepenos.  Last month there was a post from Living Proof Ministries with their favorite holiday recipes. Go HERE to read the post and see the wonderful recipes.  When I saw Diane Riley’s cornbread muffins recipe and that it was almost identical to my Mexican Cornbread recipe, I wanted to try to make muffins instead of a pan of cornbread.  The result was perfection!  I’ve shared my step-by-step recipe below:Muffins-TinMuffins-Plate

Gran Jan’s Jalapeño Cornbread


  • 2 beaten eggs
  • ¼ Cup Canola oil
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • 1  medium to large onion, diced (I put the diced onion & 1 Tablespoon of Canola oil in a bowl and microwave for 3 minutes so the onion is really done.)
  • 1  can of creamed corn
  • 1 ½ Cups self-rising cornmeal
  • ½ Cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 4-5 Tablespoons of diced pickled jalapeños (or less or more )


1.  Mix egg and oil together, whisking until well blended.
2.  Pour in buttermilk and then add microwaved onion, and creamed corn.
3.  Next add cornmeal and flour and stir well. 
4.  Lastly, add shredded cheese and diced jalapeños. 
5.  Bake in a 450 degree pre-heated oven for about 25-30 minutes.  

You can either pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into each tin of a greased muffin tin (makes 12), or use a  good old Southern cast-iron skillet well-greased with Crisco to bake a pan of cornbread. (I sprinkle the skillet with cornmeal before pouring in the cornbread batter.  It makes the top crispy.)   

These are good with chili or soup or any stew or with just a bowl of pinto beans or blackeyed peas, or great northern beans, or white beans…or ANYTHING!

Hope you make some soon!

~Gran Jan


Thankfulness Giveaway!

ThankfulPumpkinThanksgiving is very special to me – so wonderfully uncluttered…if you don’t count my kitchen while I’m in there cooking up a storm! (I’m a messy cook, but a good one…according to my husband and sons).  I treasure the simplicity of what Thanksgiving stands for: thankful hearts, grateful hearts, family time, and delicious food. Thanksgiving isn’t ruined with commercialization by the media (only because marketing for Christmas begins in August and that is where their focus is). I love to celebrate one holiday at a time – and I want to savor Thanksgiving before I begin the countdown to Christmas.

I celebrated my birthday last Saturday (November 16) and it was a good one! While counting my blessings I decided to host a giveaway here on my blog! The gift is a wonderful book by Liz Curtis Higgs entitled “The Women of Christmas.”  I’ve given copies to my mom, by dear friend Lanie and I have one for YOU too!TheWomenOfChristmasTo enter the giveway, all you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite Thanksgiving tradition or food.  I will take comments through Thanksgiving Day.  A winner will be randomly selected, and I will get your book in the mail right away! I want you to be able to savor this joyous time of year that we celebrate Emmanuel, God With Us.  I’m so thankful He is with us every moment of every day.  Another reason I love Thanksgiving: EVERY DAY is Thanksgiving when you live with a grateful heart and count your blessings and realize it’s all grace.

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room,





PS: Make sure to leave your email in your post so I may get in touch with you if you WIN!