Welcome! :-) Whatever brought you here today wasn't an accident, and I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm always glad to have folks drop in my kitchen for a visit and hope you'll feel right at home. We always have an ample supply of fresh lemonade, sweet tea, and a pot of coffee brewing along with a sideboard full of baked treats for you to enJOY while you're here. Relax and take your time as we visit and catch up on the latest news. Don't forget to email and let me know what's going on in your world, as well. And, come back soon!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Honoring Momma

Momma and me
Last Thursday, December 18, would have been Momma's 60th birthday. It was a bittersweet day, filled with food, sweets, memories, and JOY. She would have loved spending time with her family and friends to celebrate, as we would have loved spending time with her.

Even from an early age, one of my favorite ways to spend time with Momma would be in the kitchen. It's one of the best rooms in the house for conversation, laughs, hugs, and some delicious eats. I have some great memories with Momma in the kitchen over the years...

My family honored Momma on her birthday with poinsettias and Christmas flowers on her grave in Arkansas. And because I am here in Maine and was working that day, I honored Momma by doing something she loved so well - feeding people. I had a Christmas party at work, and I made the appetizers and dessert for the party. I also made Christmas cookies for friends at church and placed them in pretty packaging. It was a special way to give JOY to others on a day that my Momma gave JOY to the world by being a part of our lives for the time she was able.

Here are a few recipes that I made for my work Christmas party, which got great reviews! Also I included one of my favorite cookie recipes Momma would often make at Christmas-time and coincidentally is one of my favorites!

EnJOY cooking and baking for your family and friends! Momma would be happy to know her recipes are bringing delicious JOY to others. :)

Pat's Hidden Valley Ranch Party Pinwheels (pg. 9, "A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That" Cookbook by Patricia Rains

2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch original dry mix
2 green onions, minced
4-6 (10-12 in) tortillas
1/2 cup diced red or green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced celery  (I omitted this part)
1 cup sliced black olives, drained (I omitted this part)
(I also added 1/2 pound of sandwich-sliced turkey and 1/2 pound of sandwich-sliced ham, dividing it into a few pieces for each tortilla)

Mix the first three ingredients. Spread on tortillas. Sprinkle on remaining ingredients, and lay on the turkey/ham if using. Roll and wrap tightly. Chill for 2 hours. Cut off roll ends. Slice 1/2-inch pinwheels. Place decoratively on serving tray. Makes 3 dozen or more.

I also made sausage stars for my Christmas party, but forgot to snap a picture, and by the time I remembered they were all devoured! Folks love these delicious little treats, found on pg. 9 of the cookbook, or here on the blog post: Hearts and Stars!

Kenda's Cranberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Eggnog
(a revised version of "Ruth's White Chocolate Bread Pudding," found on pg. 100 of "A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That" cookbook by Patricia Rains)
(Note: makes 2 large casserole dishes of bread pudding)

For pudding:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup eggnog
1/4 cup butterscotch schnapps 
1 cup sugar
1 large bag of white chocolate morsels
12 whole eggs
2 pkgs. (8 count) hot dog buns, cut into small chunks
6 large cinnamon sugar donuts, cut into small chunks
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup pecans 

For white chocolate ganache:
1 cup eggnog
1/4 cup butterscotch schnapps
1 large bag of white chocolate morsels

For pudding:
Stir whipping cream, eggnog, butterscotch schnapps, and sugar in a heavy saucepot. Bring mixture to a boil; remove from heat and carefully add white chocolate pieces. Allow chocolate to sit and melt for several minutes, then, whisk until smooth. Whisk well together a dozen eggs in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour hot cream/chocolate mixture into the eggs in a steady stream, whisking constantly as you pour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the inside of two 9x13 casserole dishes. Place half of the hot dog bun chunks and donut chunks into the dish. Pour 1/4 of the liquid mixture into one dish and then 1/4 into the other. Using fingers or a rubber spatula, push and swirl the bread and allow it to absorb the liquid. Gradually pour another 1/4 of the liquid into one dish and then the remaining 1/4 into the other. Sprinkle fresh cranberries and pecans over both bread puddings. Cover them with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour; watch it closely. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and it has a nice brown finish to the top of the bread.

For white chocolate ganache:
Bring eggnog and butterscotch schnapps to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and carefully add white chocolate morsels. Whisk chocolate into the hot liquid, melting it and making sure it doesn't stick to the sides or bottom of the pan. Baste over the top of the hot bread pudding, and use any leftover ganache served on the side.

 Snickerdoodles (pg. 156 of "A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That" cookbook by Patricia Rains)

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white Crisco solid
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons or more granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon ground Saigon cinnamon

Heat oven to 400*F. Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together, and place aside. Beat sugar, butter and shortening together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well-mixed. Use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture until all of the flour is taken up. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonsful (or use a cookie scoop) and roll in combination of granulated sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake about 10-12 minutes until crackled and golden, but not browned. Remove immediately from pans to cool.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Pecan Pie

Living in Maine, I miss seeing groves of pecan trees that were so familiar to me down South. Harvest time for pecans is in the fall when the trees shed this beautiful, delicious nut. Thankfully, pecans keep well when shelled and frozen in Ziplock bags, so when I travel home to the South, I can bring pecans back with me and have access to freshly-shelled pecans for recipes.

I add pecans to salads, pop them into cookies and cakes, roast and season them for snacking, use them in pumpkin bread, toss them into trail mixes and granolas, and include them inside cinnamon rolls. But my absolute favorite thing to do with pecans is making a homemade pecan pie.

You can search high and low for the best recipe for pecan pie, but I've found that the tastiest and most memorable is on the Karo syrup label! My grandmothers used it and my Momma used it, and it always turned out perfectly sweet, gooey, and nutty. Along with a homemade crust, pecan pie is one of the best pies around! And not just for the fall-time holidays, although Halloween and Thanksgiving tend to see more pecan pies than any other holiday.

First, begin with a homemade crust. I borrowed this recipe from a friend who knows her desserts. It's flaky and perfectly flavored. And it holds up well to the syrupy-goodness of the pecan goo. Give it a try with other pies, and you'll see this is one of the best crust recipes!

Homemade, flaky pie crust
(Will make two pie crusts)


1 stick of cold butter, cut in cubes
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold Crisco vegetable shortening
8-10 Tablespoons of ice water
1 Tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour


In a large bowl, mash with pastry cutter the flour, butter, salt and shortening until pea-sized crumbles. Add lemon juice to ice water, and slowly add tablespoons of the liquid to the solid mixture, incorporating until softened but not too sticky. Combine dough in ball. Cut in half, and mash out until flat. Wrap individually in plastic-wrap, and place in freezer. Take out of freezer after about 15 minutes and flatten with rolling pin. Roll until larger than the pie plate that the pie is being baked in. Place the flattened, rolled-out dough inside the pie plate and crimp the edges. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes just before using it, or if not baking immediately, freeze and thaw 30 minutes before baking.

Karo Syrup's Pecan Pie recipe
(will make one pie)


1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 1/2 cups (6 oz) pecans
1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie crust

Directions: Stir the first five ingredients thoroughly using a spoon. Mix in pecans (note, to make a pretty design with the pecans, you can wait and add the pecans on top of the pie, after pouring mixture into crust before baking). Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool for 2 hours. Store pie in refrigerator. (Tip: Pie is done when center reaches 200 degrees F. Tap center surface of pie lightly; it should spring back when done.)


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Fall Apples

It’s officially fall, y’all! Fall was Momma’s favorite time of year. It just so happens to be my favorite time of year, too. There's so much to love about fall - the trees changing colors, the cooler weather, the Razorback football games, the candy and desserts, the mums, the farmers market pumpkins, the spooky decorations, the classic decorations, and the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays.

For me, living in New England, fall is even better. Trees change colors so much earlier, and the crisp air wanders through these 17th-century colonial towns, which are all celebrating fall festivals and decked out with quaint harvest pumpkins, mums, Indian corn, and hay stacks. It makes the season so much more authentic. This is my second fall in Maine, and I love it here. Even though I'm far away from "home" in the South, I somehow feel closer to Mom here, because I think she would have loved visiting me in New England.

Fall also means apple-picking season in New England, and what better thing to enjoy than a harvest of apples! I joined an apple CSA and have been getting a variety of heirloom apples every other week. I like to make an assortment of fall-inspired sweet desserts and savory dishes with them. I’ve been searching through cookbooks for apple recipes, and Momma’s cookbook has been a big baking inspiration, of course.

Especially in the fall, Momma would make fried apple pies with fresh apples. Oftentimes I would eat the filling of the fried pies by itself, without the fried pie dough. The pie filling is very reminiscent of homemade apple sauce. This week, I decided to take it a step further and actually use Momma’s recipe for fried apple pies to make apple sauce. And it turned out wonderfully! Here’s my transformation of Momma’s fried apple pie filling, turned into apple sauce.

Apple Sauce

(Adapted from “Apple Fried Pies” recipe on pg. 93 in “A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That” Cookbook by Patricia Rains)

2 Tablespoons butter
4 large apples (I used my CSA apple varieties: Wealthy, Northwestern Greening, St. Lawrence), peeled, cored, and sliced into small pieces
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ lemon squeezed, seeds discarded

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven. Add the apples and cook until they begin to fall apart. Then, add dry mixture all at once and stir to keep lumps from forming. Add the lemon juice. The sugar will dissolve and “thin” the apples at first, then the corn starch will thicken it as you continue to stir and cook over medium heat until desired thickness is reached. Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Take an immersion blender (or put the cooked apple mixture into a blender), and blend until the mixture is more of a sauce and the apples are cut into smaller pieces. There can still be some pieces of apple visible, if you like it chunky. If you like it saucier, keep blending until preferred consistency is reached. Allow to cool. Refrigerate leftovers. Serving suggestions for apple sauce: with pork chops, a side with roasted pork tenderloin, on potato latkes, on fresh bread, or just by itself! EnJOY!
(See step by step photos below...)
Cut apples into small pieces.
Cook apples in Dutch oven with butter.
Mix dry ingredients.
Add dry ingredients to apples and cook until apples are softer.
Add lemon juice and continue cooking until sauce is thickened.
Add vanilla and stir. Break apart cooked apple mixture with immersion blender.
Apple sauce is all done and ready to store in the refrigerator or serve!
Happy fall! :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Summer Vegetables

Tomato at Portland Farmers Market
With summer comes an abundance of vegetables, and the Portland Farmers Market was overflowing with them this weekend. From tomatoes and peppers to corn and cabbages, you can get your veggie fix at your local farmers market. I have my favorite vendors that I visit from week to week to swoon over their selection. I am especially fond of juicy, richly-colored, plump tomatoes. The fun part is bringing them home and finding dishes to incorporate them into. Tomatoes are so much more than just for salads. They can go in your favorite lasagna, pasta sauces, quiches, ratatouille, soup, chili, or just on their own with a little salt and pepper.

Along with tomatoes, we often get bell peppers, onions, corn, green beans, and other veggies at the market. They are so beautiful and fresh! Because I love the color purple, I captured all the purple veggies I could find at the market - and there were quite a few!

That's a lot of purple! They say you eat with your eyes first. Colorful vegetables are a great way to get kids interested in food, rather than handing them something colorless and uninteresting. I was definitely interested in food as a kid, and I think my parents encouraged variety in our diet.

Growing up, Dad and Mom always kept a garden. I don't recall a summer when our family didn't have access to fresh vegetables. I think that's why I get so excited about food in the summer, because we can make so many delicious dishes with a garden of ingredients. My Dad still keeps a garden at his and my Mom's home in Arkansas. When I was there in the spring, I saw the beginnings of his garden already showing up. It's so exciting to see plants grow into something yummy and good for you.

My Dad's garden in Arkansas, back in May at the beginning of the growing season

When my husband, Nathan, and I lived in Savannah, we maintained a garden every summer, having okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, jalapenos, and bell peppers. Here in Portland, we just have a container garden, but most importantly, it's a container of cherry tomatoes. And they are beautiful and delicious! I get so much joy into going out in my back yard and picking tomatoes right from the vine.

Sun Gold and Red Cherry Tomatoes from my container garden
I selected a few veggie-incorporated recipes from Momma's cookbook to share and celebrate the fresh vegetables of summer. Get outside and enjoy this last bit of summer before the veggies and farmers markets are gone for the year!

From A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That Cookbook by Patricia Rains

"5-Layer Mexican Dip"


1 can (15-1/2 oz) refried beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
3 green onions, diced
1/3 cup sliced black olives
1 tomato, chopped

Directions: Mix beans, chili powder and cumin; spread onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Top with layers of remaining ingredients. Refrigerate several hours, or until chilled. Serve with tortilla chips.

"Best Salsa Ever!"


3 cans (28 oz each) diced tomatoes drained (basil, garlic and oregano seasoned)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce (basil, garlic and oregano seasoned)
4 medium fresh/vine-ripened tomatoes, died
1/2 purple onion, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced/crushed
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 Anaheim pepper, minced (omit for milder variety salsa)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice

"Fried Green Tomatoes"


1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated California Garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
Ranch dressing (Hidden Valley recommended), for dipping

Directions: Combine flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic, alt and pepper to make breading. Dip a tomato slice into the egg, then the breading. Do the same for all the tomato slices. Set aside. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to halfway cover the tomato slices. Heat oil to 325 to 350 degrees. Add tomatoes. Cook three minutes on each side. Serve hot as an appetizer with ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.
(Kenda's note: I like to fry my green tomatoes in a cast iron skillet for best crispiness. Also, I omit the ranch and serve the fried tomatoes with a little drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, sun-dried tomato garnish, and goat cheese.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - EnJOYing a Healthier Summer

Anyone who knew my Mom, creator of this blog and the cookbook "A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That," knows that she had an affinity for sweets. Of course, being her daughter, I share this same affinity. And this isn't a bad thing! But lately I've been trying to be better with my diet. And when you're trying to eat healthier, you have to alter recipes a bit to suit your diet. Because a little bit of sugar isn't bad, but a lot of it can be, especially when you're like me and tend to overindulge.

I wanted to take a few of my favorite summertime recipes of Momma's and turn them a bit healthier but cutting down on sugar, butter, etc. After all, summer is about living a carefree life in the sunshine and beautiful outdoors - not about feeling icky because we ate something that was a thousand calories. This isn't a "health" post - just a post about a girl trying to find ways of making good food and drinks easier to love, without all the guilt. I promise this won't be a reoccurring post. Just for today, I wish you a healthy, happy summer. :)

I took Momma's recipe for her "Lazy Day Lemonade," and changed it up a bit. See her original recipe on page 10 of the cookbook.

Kenda's "Happy Day Lemon-Limeade"

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or use bottled lemon juice)
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (or use bottled lime juice)
1 teaspoon Stevia Powdered Extract (concentrated) (or 1 cup Sugar in the Raw)
1/2 gallon water (to make simple syrup)
1/2 gallon of cold water
slices of limes and lemons

In a large stockpot on the stove, place 1/2 gallon of water, along with the 1 teaspoon of Stevia Powdered Extract or 1 cup of Sugar in the Raw. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil to create a simple syrup. Boil for a few minutes or until sugar is totally dissolved in the water. Remove pot from heat, and allow to cool on stove top. In a gallon pitcher, pour the freshly-squeezed juices in the pitcher with a 1/2 gallon of cold water and the water-sugar mixture. Stir with long-handle spoon, until well-blended. Serve over ice with slices of limes and lemons. Enjoy on a hot summer day!

Momma has several recipes for banana bread in the cookbook, all of which are amazingly delicious. I wanted one, though, that would be a little lighter to have for breakfast and give me energy of a morning. I prefer having pecans in my bread, but you can omit those if you don't care for them. The recipe I altered is Momma's recipe for "Banana-Walnut Loaf" on page 78 of the cookbook.

Kenda's "Banana-Pecan Breakfast Loaf"

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with canola oil. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with mashed bananas, milk, and vanilla. Add wet mix to the dry, and stir in pecans, just until incorporated well. Pour mixture into loaf pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes, until done in center. Enjoy for breakfast on a nice summer morning!

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - Cookies and Milk

There's something extremely comforting about cookies and milk. I'm talking cookies hot out of the oven with an ice cold glass of milk. Usually chocolate milk, but sometimes regular 2-percent white milk. Never fat free! That's a family rule when it comes to cookies and milk. I have fond memories of Momma making cookies of an evening and giving me one straight from the oven with a side of cold Coleman's milk, which is an Arkansas dairy. Here in Maine, we have several local brands, but one in particular dairy is my favorite. Smiling Hill Farm has blueberry, banana, coffee-flavored, chocolate, strawberry, and regular milk - all in glass bottles.

The best thing about getting milk in the glass bottles is that it feels like you're experiencing something out of early 1900s America. Like when dairy farmers would drop fresh milk off by your front door of a morning. You can even recycle the bottles and take them back to the dairy, which is located just outside of Portland. But what bottle of milk would be complete without something sweet? That's where cookies come to the rescue.

Chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, molasses, and oatmeal raisin - these are just a few varieties I recall Momma making most often. I enjoy different takes on the oatmeal raisin cookie, like substituting raisins with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. When I was home in Arkansas for a few weeks this summer, I made Momma's recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies but used dried cranberries and white chocolate chips instead of raisins. They were absolutely delicious!

Here is my own special take on Momma's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (original recipe found on pg. 154 of "A Pinch of This, A Smidgen of That" cookbook)

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies


1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup butter, softened to room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups quick cook oats
1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries (like Craisins)
1 cup white chocolate


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, cranberries and white chocolate. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet before removing to counter to cool. Yields about 4 dozen cookies.