Delicious Taco Soup!

We love this delicious soup! It is easy to make and feeds a crowd, with at least 12 hearty bowls from each batch! I hope your family will enjoy it too. We seem to “eat by the weather” around our home, and this Taco Soup is delicious at the first hint of some crisp Fall weather and also on a cold winter’s day. Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef, browned
1 large onion, diced, saute in 1 tsp.of oil (I usually just put it in the microwave for 3 minutes with a splash of oil)
1 package of Taco seasoning mix – your choice of flavor!
1 package of Ranch dressing mix
3 cans of beans, do not drain! Choose from your favorites: kidney, pinto, black, great Northern
2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, chili style is good to use if you like a little extra spice
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes & chilies
1 16 oz. package of frozen white corn or 2 cans of yellow or white corn (drained)
2 cups of water

  1. Brown beef and sprinkle both Taco & Ranch seasoning packages on the meat, stir well.
  2. Add the sauted onion and mix well with browned beef and seasonings. SImmer a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the 3 cans of beans, remember do not drain.
  4. Pour in the 2 cans of tomatoes and the Rotel tomatoes and chiles. Stir well.
  5. Add the 16 oz. package of frozen white corn or the 2 cans of canned corn (drained).
  6. Add the 2 cups of water and simmer everything for 2 – 3 hours.

Delicious Toppings: Chili-Cheese Fritos, Plain Fritos, Tostitos, sour cream, diced jalepenos, grated cheese, diced avocados.



Homemade Hummus

*Two 15 oz. cans of chickpeas (drain & save the liquid, called aquafaba)
*2/3 cup of drained chickpea liquid
*1/2 cup of tahini (ground sesame seed paste – I usually find it in the organic section)
*1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
*2 lemons, juiced
*1/2 tsp. of minced garlic (may use fresh)
*1 tsp. ground cumin
*1/2 tsp. salt
ADD-INS: roasted red peppers, pickled jalapeños, pine nuts, your choice!

  1. Add drained chickpeas and 2/3 cup of chickpea liquid to food processor and pulse for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Now add tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt.
  3. Pulse for 30 seconds – should be very creamy.
  4. May add more chickpea liquid to thin to desired consistency – but remember the hummus will “thicken” when chilled.
  5. Pulse in your favorite “add-in” at this point. We like roasted red pepper the best!
  6. Serve with veggies, pita chips, or your favorite snack cracker. (I love Fritos Scoops…)

I made this hummus back a couple of months ago to take to a family weekend with our sons, daughters-in-love, and grandchildren. Everyone loved it! I hope you do too!

Gran Jan


“Comfort & Joy” Chicken & Dumplings

Gran Jan sporting her White Lily apron!

Chicken & Dumplings = A warm, comfort food, and one I love to make on a cold winter’s day. Good rich broth, delicious chicken, and delightful dumplings! The recipe is here, with pictures below if you’d like to check them out! I hope you make some soon. (Be sure to refer to the recipe often, the pictures are just to help, but don’t cover every step.)

Stock Ingredients: Water, chicken, onion, celery, seasoning
(Better than Bouillon), butter, and salt and pepper.
Refer to recipe for exact amounts.

3 Cups White-Lily self-rising flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 Cup of Crisco shortening
2/3 Cup of buttermilk

Once you get your dumplings made, divide the dough into two portions. It just makes it easier to roll out and handle. Dumplings are tougher than biscuits. Don’t be afraid to work the dough! It needs to hold up in the boiling broth.

Roll into two thin sheets and let the dough dry while your chicken is cooking.

Cut the dumplings into strips. I have a dough cutter tool I bought from Williams Sonoma. You can use a knife or a pizza cutter just as easily. I like to make the dumplings about 1″ x 3″ wide/long, but you do you.

This is a happy sight! It’s good for some of the flour to stick to the dumplings. This helps your broth thicken a bit. (That’s my fancy dough cutter.)

These two ingredients are keepers! You will stir the cream of chicken soup into the strained hot broth after you’ve removed the cooked chicken, but before you add the dumplings in.

The half & half is added at the very end. It makes a wonderful rich broth even better!

We like a mixture of both white and dark meat chicken. Just be sure to use “skin-on, bone-in” chicken for your broth. Remove it to a plate to cool and cut in bite-size pieces (discarding skin and bones).

After you’ve strained the broth and stirred in the cream of chicken soup, allowing it to mix well, it’s time to drop the dumplings into the hot boiling broth. I drop them in one or two at a time, stir very gently with a wooden spoon, and then let them cook about 20 minutes.

You’re almost there now!

Turn the heat off when the dumplings are done. When down to a simmer, add in the cup of half & half, then add the cut-up chicken.

Let everything rest for a half hour or more to a pot of COMFORT & JOY!

Gran Jan


Pumpkin Muffins – All Sizes!

I love to make pumpkin bread. This recipe is my absolute favorite. Lately I’ve used my same recipe to make muffins instead of loaves. This recipe makes either:
12 JUMBO size muffins, OR
24 REGULAR size muffins, OR
48 MINI size muffins
The recipe and baking time adjustments are below:

3 cups White Lily all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
2 tsp. baking soda (make sure it’s fresh!)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup vegetable oil
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
2/3 cup water


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray the muffin tins with Baker’s Joy or use paper liners. My favorite liners are the brown paper parchment fancy bakery style holders. (See the picture above.) I found these on Amazon and also saw some at Home Goods recently.

1. In a large bowl, whisk all DRY ingredients together, breaking up clumps of brown sugar.
2.  Add the WET ingredients and mix well with a spatula.
3.  Divide into muffin tins – approximations as follows:
Makes 12 JUMBO muffins – use 1/2 cup of batter per muffin
Makes 24 Regular size muffins – use 1/4 cup of batter per muffin
Makes 48 Mini Muffins – 1 big Tablespoon of batter per muffin

Bake Jumbo Muffins 35-38 mins; Regular muffins 30-35 mins; mini muffins just 12-15 mins. All ovens are different, so be sure to test for doneness. Don’t overbake. They will continue to bake a bit when you remove them from the oven.
4. If not using paper liners, cool 5-10 minutes in the pans then invert and cool completely.

This recipe also makes 2 standard size loaf pans of pumpkin bread. I have the recipe with a fabulous swirl of cream cheese on top on my blog also. You can find it by searching “Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread.”

Happy Fall Y’all!
Gran Jan


Sausage Gravy!

Good old Southern Sausage Gravy is a favorite breakfast of my husband. It really is also a good supper meal on a cold winter night. It is most assuredly a meal that you eat in moderation!

It is actually very simple to make – here is my tried and true recipe.

Note – this recipe doubles well!

INGREDIENTS – (Serves 4-6)
1 lb. Jimmy Dean pork sausage (mild, hot, sage-flavored or a mixture)
[We like to mix the hot and sage flavors together.]
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of White Lily all purpose flour
3-4 cups of milk, start with 3 (whole or 2% milk, don’t use skim)
1/3 stick of butter

  1. Crumble the sausage and brown over medium heat until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper at this time. You will be amazed at how lean this Jimmy Dean sausage is – no grease to drain!
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and then sprinkle on the 1/4 cup of flour and mix well so that the sausage soaks up the flour. Keep stirring the sausage and flour together for another minute or so.
  3. Now slowly pour in about 3 cups of the milk, stirring constantly.
  4. Continue to cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens. (This may take a good 5-7 minutes.)
  5. Now go ahead and add the other cup of milk and the butter and stir well. You are done!
  6. Spoon the sausage gravy over warm buttermilk biscuits and serve immediately. It is sooooooooooooooo good!

Happy Sausage Gravy Making!
Gran Jan


Fig Preserves!

I made this batch of fig preserves last week with figs from my very own tree! My husband gave me the tree for Mother’s Day, 2016. They are “Brown Turkey” variety figs. Delicious! It was the first time I had used home-grown figs!

Needed: Fresh figs, sugar, canning equipment, time, and lots of patience.

This recipe works regardless of the amount of figs you are blessed to have. No measuring!

My dad had 8 sisters (7 older and 1 younger ). One of them, my Aunt Jimmie Lou, is the one who taught me how to make these old-fashioned fig preserves. Now normally I am a cook who measures; however, not when making fig preserves. But I promise it’s easy, and you will be able to make them too. There are only two ingredients – figs and sugar!

  • First rinse the figs in cool water, and remove all the stems. Next, I soak the figs in my kitchen sink in cool water for about 30 minutes or so. I then drain them by giving them a final cool rinse in a colander.  
  • Next, I get a large pan and alternate a layer of sugar and a layer of figs. (Begin with a layer of sugar in the bottom of the pan, and end with a sprinkling of sugar on your top layer of figs.)
  • BEFORE you layer the figs/sugar, cut about half of the figs in half. Cut half in half, leave half whole.” How’s that for measuring? This has proven to be the best texture we like for the preserves. We like for some of them to remain whole!
  • No matter what size stock pot or heavy pan you use to soak the figs and sugar, just generously sprinkle a layer of sugar over each layer of figs. I don’t totally cover the figs with sugar, just a nice sprinkling.
  • Now put a lid on the stockpot and place in the refrigerator. The sugar will begin to dissolve and form the syrup you need to “cook down” for the preserves.
  • The next morning, let the figs/sugar come to room temperature before you begin cooking them.
  • Bring them to a gentle boil, and let them boil on a medium heat for a good half hour. Then turn the temperature way down and let the mixture simmer LOW AND SLOW until the figs darken and the syrup thickens. I usually simmer them from 90 minutes to a couple of hours. Stir often so they don’t stick. One good test is to take a spoonful of the syrup and put it on a plate – if it is thick and doesn’t “run,” it’s the right consistency. A nice slow simmer for a couple of hours is good.  If you have a very large amount of figs, you may need to cook them longer – just do the “thickness” test and that is a good indicator.
  • CANNING:  Bring your clean jars to a simmering boil in a large pot. Also put the bands and lids in a separate pot. Keep those HOT by leaving them in a pot of simmering water also.
  • Carefully ladle the HOT fig preserves into the HOT jars, leaving about ¼” of headspace.
  • Put the lids and bands on – don’t screw the tops on too tightly – just finger tight so they can expand.
  • Carefully lower the jars of hot figs back into a pan a hot water, covering the jars by at least an inch of water. Process them, or “water bath” the preserves for a good 10 minute rolling boil.
  • After 10 minutes, carefully remove the hot jars with tongs and let them cool and seal on the kitchen countertop. I love to hear those popping sounds as the jars seal. One of life’s simple joys.

Get ready to make some homemade buttermilk biscuits. Generously butter them to enjoy with these delicious fig preserves. A Southern delicacy for sure. My biscuit recipe is also here on the blog!

Happy Preserve-Making & Canning ~ Gran Jan


Caramel Cake – Icing Update!


Oh the JOY of an old-fashioned Caramel Cake! I’ve made a lot of caramel cakes since my original post back in 2008. I don’t have any updates to the cake, but a couple to the icing, so that’s why I’m posting today. I basically wanted to bring this recipe “forward” on the blog, so here it is! This is a recipe I found in a “Georgia Farmer’s Market Bulletin” paper over 40 years ago. This icing takes the cake!

CAKE  [Makes 3 layers]
· 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
· 3 cups of sugar 
· 5 eggs (room temperature)
· 2 1/3 cups White Lily all-purpose flour, sifted
· 1 tsp salt 
· ¼ tsp baking soda 
· 1 c sour cream 
· 1 T. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350° & grease/flour 3 nine-inch round cake pans.
2. Cream butter & sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, then blend after each egg is added. 
4. Sift flour, then whisk in salt and baking soda.
5. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to the batter, ending with flour. Mix after each addition.
6. Stir in the vanilla extract.
7. Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake 25-28 minutes. The batter is thick.  Put an even amount of batter into each cake pan. Don’t overbake!

Now let the cake layers cool in pans for a few minutes; then turn out onto cake racks to cool completely. Do not attempt to ice until they are completely cool. Completely cool. Completely all the way cool!

2 sticks of butter (I use salted butter)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar 
1 cup of evaporated milk (may use heavy cream)
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
4 cups powdered sugar

1. In large heavy saucepan (I like to use a non-stick pan), melt the 2 sticks of butter over medium heat.
2. Add the 2 cups of dark brown sugar and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer the butter and sugar together for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
3. Add 1 cup of evaporated milk to your butter/sugar mixture, Now bring to a slight boil again, constantly stirring. After blended, remove from heat.
4. After removing pan from heat, stir in the vanilla.
5. Pour hot icing into a large mixing bowl and set aside just 2-3 minutes to cool down a bit.
6. Now add the 4 cups of powdered sugar.
7. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in the powdered sugar until the icing is smooth and fluffy.

Timing is everything! The caramel icing will get stiffer as it cools, so ice your cake when the icing texture is just right, nice and creamy. If the icing gets too thick, splash in a bit more cream and stir again. If your icing is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. You’ll get the feel for the perfect texture and get the timing down with practice. I speak from experience.

Update: Put a dab of icing on the cake platter of your choice and put the first layer there to help secure it while you add the frosting. Add a good dollop of the caramel icing and spread around. Do the same for the second and third layers. I would approximate I use about 1/2 cup of icing for each layer. This recipe makes a lot of icing and I use every bit.

This is a good tip: I take a tall glass of warm water and dip my icing spatula in to smooth the icing around the sides of the cake. You can do this several times. Then I take a wet paper towel and clean up any drips of icing that may have fallen on the cake platter. Presentation is important, but once someone eats a piece of t his cake, presentation won’t matter as much. Seriously.

I hope your family and friends enjoy this delicious timeless caramel cake recipe!

Gran Jan