My Two Bits

Red Cream Soda Jelly

on a biscuit

Yupppp! You read the title correctly.

Red. Cream. Soda. Jelly

What you need (ignore my background mess!):


  • 3 Cups Sugar

  • 1/2 Cup Water

  • 1 – 12oz can of Red Cream Soda (or Cream Soda that isn’t Red, you’re jelly will be sort of golden in color) I used Barq’s Red Cream Soda (obviously)

  • 2 – 3oz pouches of Sure*Jell CERTO® Premium Liquid Fruit Pectin (2 pouches come in the box pictured above)

  • 1-2 pats (about 1T each) Unsalted Butter (Yup, I forgot to put the butter in the picture)

Other Stuff you need:

  • Clean Sterilized Jars (my batch made two 12oz jars, one 4oz jar, and one 4oz jar that is about 3/4 full, so about 34oz worth of jars)

  • Lids & Rings

  • Canning Funnel(s)

  • Jar Lifter

  • Magnetic Lid Lifter

  • Ladle

  • Labels


This makes approximately four 8oz jars (In this batch I was able to make two 4oz jars – 1 of which is 3/4 full – and two 12oz jars).

Prepare your jars by washing, rinsing, and then sterilizing them.  I put my washed & rinsed jars on the jar rack and immerse in water I already have boiling in my ‘canning pot’, then let them boil for about 10-15 minutes. OR you can run them through your dishwasher with the heated dry cycle on.  Leave the jars in the dishwasher or pot of hot water until just before you need them.  Then – if you boiled them – use your jar lifters to remove them from the pot, dumping all that good, hot water back into your canning pot, and set the jars upright on a towel/dishcloth near your stove. If you have them in the dishwasher remove them and set them upright on a towel/dishcloth near your stove.

I have 3 canning funnels so I usually go ahead and set them on top of 3 of the prepared jars so I don’t have to do it later.

Prepare your rings and lids in another small/medium pot of boiling water.  Turn the heat off and keep the rings and lids submerged in the hot water until needed.

Cut the tops off your pectin pouches and stand up in a bowl or measuring cup so they’ll be ready when you need them (this makes it a whole lot easier!)

 Next I set the timer on my iPhone (or the built-in timer on my stove-oven) for one minute, so it is ready for me to hit ‘start’ later.

In a large pot (I use my 5qt chicken & dumpling pot so I don’t accidentally boil over) combine the sugar, water, and Red Cream Soda; heat over medium until all the sugar is dissolved.

At this point I like to add a pat (1T) or two of unsalted butter to reduce foaming. (Yes, I forgot to include the butter in the picture of the ingredients), stir until butter is melted.

stir butter

Then raise the heat to medium-high to high and stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil (a rolling boil is a boil that you can’t ‘stir down’/it keeps bubbling while you stir it)

Immediately squeeze both pouches of pectin into the mixture in your pot, stirring constantly to combine and return to a rolling boil.

Now hit the start button on your pre-set timer!

Boil for one (1) minute, stirring constantly.

rolling boil

When the timer goes off immediately remove from heat and ladle into prepared jars.

ladle in

Once the jars are filled you’ll see that a skimmy/foamy film is on the surface. Yuck!


Use a spoon and skim all that yucky stuff off! Discard the yucky stuff into the trash!


Now, with a damp paper towel or dishcloth wipe the rims of the jars; as well as the outside part of the jar where the rings screw on. (Ignore my fat fingers that desperately need a mani!)

wipe rims

Using a magnetic ‘lid lifter’ – that’s the scientific term for it 😉 – get the flat lids out – one at a time – and place on top of your nice clean jar rims.



Next screw the rings down rrrrreeeeaaaaallllly tight – or as tight as you can get them.  Use a towel (or your shirt tail like I did) to hold the jar to tighten the ring… the jars are HOT!


Now check the water in your canning pot.  Get it to a boil and use your jar lifters to GENTLY lower each jar into the pot and onto the jar rack inside, ONE by ONE.

put in pot

Be sure there is at LEAST 2″ of water over the tops of your jars! Add water if needed (like I had to)

in pot 2 inches

Return to boil and put the lid on your pot


Set your timer for TEN MINUTES for locations below 1k feet elevation; increase by +5 minutes for 1k-3k feet elevation, +10 minutes for 3k-6k feet elevation, +15 minutes for 6k-8k elevation, and +20 minutes for 8k-10k elevation. (yeah, so what? It took me 7 seconds to grab my phone and take a picture and yes, I *know* I dribbled jelly on the front of my stove…. I’ll clean it later)


Hurry up and fix a cup of coffee, put your feet up for the remaining time, and enjoy it

coffee(Gratuitous shot of LSU coffee mug – it’s gameday afterall)

DING DING DING DING! Choke a bit on your coffee and jump up and turn that dang timer off!  Turn the eye on your stove off too while you’re at it.

Remove the lid from the pot (use a pot holder of some sort so you don’t burn yourself on the hot metal handle); then carefully one by one, and using your jar lifters, remove each jar……….

take out

…… and set on a dishcloth/towel to cool completely

set out to cool

Now you get to sit back and listen to the sweet ping ping pinging of the jar lids that confirms that they sealed properly.  You’ll also be able to see a slight indentation in the middle of the lid(s) which will also verify they are good and sealed.

It *MAY* take several hours for the jelly to completely and properly set up.  It should look like this when it has completely finished setting up:



If, for some reason, after several hours (sometimes up to 24 hours!) your jelly has not set up properly (looks runny/liquidy) you can do THIS.

Now go to your computer and make some pretty labels for your jars of Red Cream Soda Jelly and stick them on the jars!  Be sure to add a date to the labels; homemade jams & jellies have a two (2) year shelf life.

ACKKKK! Help! My Jam/Jelly Didn’t Set Up!

If for some reason your batch of  jam/jelly doesn’t set up properly (Be sure to wait a full 24 hours!) You can do the following:

(Yes it’s a PITA, but who wants to waste a batch of jelly?)

*Do not remake more than 8 cups of jam/jelly at one time!

Prepare jars, lids and rings as you normally do.  Set aside.

You will also need:

First you need to do a trial batch. So, take the rings and pry the lids off the jars of jam/jelly that didn’t set up.

  • Next use a liquid measuring cup and pour (yes from those same jars) the liquidy jam/jelly into the measuring cup until you have 1 cup of unset jam/jelly (the rest of the unset jam/jelly should be set aside and refrigerated until later).

  • Now pour the 1 cup of unset jam/jelly into a medium (so it doesn’t boil over) pot and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when you stir it) over HIGH heat stirring *constantly*.

  • Add the sugar, lemon jice and liquid pectin to the pot and stir to blend well.

  • Return to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring *constantly*

  • Remove from heat.

  • Ladle/pour into prepared jar(s).

  • Skim off the yucky foam.

  • Wipe jar(s) rim(s) and on the outside of jar(s) where the rings screw on.

  • Place flat lid on jar, then screw the ring on tightly.

  • Process in boiling water bath in canning pot for 10 minutes for locations below 1k feet elevation; *increase by +5 minutes for 1k-3k feet elevation, +10 minutes for 3k-6k feet elevation, +15 minutes for 6k-8k elevation, and +20 minutes for 8k-10k elevation.

  • Remove jar(s) from canning pot and set on dishcloth and let stand for 24 hours to check set.

Refrigerate opened pouch of  CERTO® Liquid Fruit Pectin as well as the unused unset jelly/jam.

After the 24 hours is up and you’ve checked the set on the trial batch (hopefully it set up properly – you can tell by tilting the jar to see if the jelly/jam is, well, ‘jelly-like’/’jam-like’).  If so, you now get to process the remainder of the batch! (Oh Goody!)

  • Follow the recipe above, using the listed measures of sugar, lemon juice and CERTO® Liquid Fruit Pectin for EACH 1 Cup of unset jam/jelly.

  • Prepare jars, lids, and rings.

  • Go ahead and preset a timer (on your smart phone or on your stove) just don’t hit the ‘start button’ yet.

  • Measure unset jam/jelly into a large pot.

  • Bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when you stir it), hit the ‘start button’ on your timer and boil 1 minute, stirring *constantly*.

  • Remove from heat

  • Ladle into prepared jars.

  • Wipe jar rims and on the outside of jars where the rings screw on.

  • Process in boiling water bath in canning pot for 10 minutes for locations below 1k feet elevation; *increase by +5 minutes for 1k-3k feet elevation, +10 minutes for 3k-6k feet elevation, +15 minutes for 6k-8k elevation, and +20 minutes for 8k-10k elevation.

  • Remove jar(s) from canning pot and set on dishcloth and let stand until cool & set.

  • Label Jars

Discard ANY leftover CERTO® Liquid Fruit Pectin!

(Pictures to be added later)

Fig Pie

So, last year was a very good year for my fig trees (1 turkey & 1 either a celeste or alma).  I canned figs.  I canned fig preserves and strawberry-fig preserves.  I made fig jam.  I made fig jelly. I canned fig syrup. I made and canned ‘fig meat’ to use to make homemade ‘fig newtons’ (which I still haven’t done btw). I also gave ice chests full of figs away and what I couldn’t give away I froze in gallon zip-lock bags.  Now here I am, nearly a full year later and I still have a freezer full of figs and the fig trees are already full/loaded with baby figs!  What’s a Manure Queen to do?

I’ll tell you what a Manure Queen does…. she googles fig recipes.

I found one here at Nancie McDermott’s blog that looked simple enough, so decided I had to try it!

Here are a couple of pictures getting it ready for the oven:

figgy goodiness

Figgy Goodiness ready to combine with sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt


ready to bake

Ready to bake with plenty of steam vents


This sucker is in the oven for a little while longer, I’ll edit and add pictures of the final product after the timer goes ‘ding’! 




Hot from the oven!


Hot & Bubbly!



Cooled just enough to get a slice!



Come to Mama!

Nanny’s Teacakes

I haven’t made these in years, mainly because The Hubs made fun of them by calling them ‘hockey pucks’. I refer to them as ‘hard tack’ for no other reason that they are *supposed* to get hard. When my mother-in-law first taught me to make these she told me that she used to make them ‘in the old days’ for ‘the men’ to put in their saddlebags to carry on their cattle round-ups and drives. They lasted for days and were perfect with morning coffee, negating the need to ‘cook’ breakfast on a campfire.

Give them a try! They are great with coffee, hot chocolate,or tea. Just sweet enough without being too sweet; great for ‘dunking’ especially after they reach their intended ‘hardness’.

What you need:
1 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tspn. Vanilla
1/2 tspn. Nutmeg
1 cup Buttermilk
1-1/2 tspn. Baking Soda
8 to 10 cups plain/all purpose flour

Cream together the shortening and sugar

Next, add the eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and stir until well combined

Combine buttermilk and baking soda then add to mixing bowl. Start mixing in flour, a little at a time to make a soft dough. (8 to 8-1/2 cups usually)

Dump dough onto floured surface and roll to desired thickness.

Either cut into strips lengthwise then across for desired size or, as I’ve done below, use a biscuit cutter. (One with fluted sides would be pretty)

Place on greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. When done remove from sheet and allow to cool on wire rack.

Fall Means it’s Time for Dragon Chili

Dragon Chili

Dragon Chili

My tried and true recipe for chili.  It’s great in a bowl or in a baked potato. (serves approx. 10)

What you need:

  • 1lb Jimmy Dean Original/Regular Sausage
  • 1lb Ground Meat – Chili Grind is best but not mandantory
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper – chopped
  • 2 cloves – minced OR 3 heaping Tblspns minced garlic
  • Optional – 1 Jalapeno pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup Wine – Burgandy preferred but really, ANY will do
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 3 Tblspns Chili Powder
  • 2 LARGE cans Italian Pear Tomatoes/Whole Tomatoes
  • 1 can Pinto Beans (15 oz)
  • 2 cans Dark Red Kidney Beans (15 oz each) – (Do NOT use the creole/new orleans/cajun ‘style’ that has that groddy sauce in them!)
  • Papa Guys Seasoning
  • Kosher Salt
  • Shredded/Grated Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Optional – Baked Potato (1 per person)

What you do:

In a large Dutch Oven fry up those 6 slices of bacon, drain well and set aside; crumble up the Jimmy Dean Sausage and fry – breaking it apart as it cooks so it’s smallish, drain well and set aside; now crumble up the ground beef and fry, again, breaking it apart so it’s smallish, drain well and set aside;

Now, take your chopped onion, bell pepper, diced garlic and optional diced jalepeno and throw it in the dutch oven, saute 5 minutes, then stir in the mustard, celery seeds, and chili powder, simmer for 10 minutes.

Mash the tomatoes in a large bowl then pour into dutch oven with the vegetable spice mixture, along with the wine and worcestershire sauce, and meats. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer, now’s the time to bring your seasoning up to taste with the Papa Guys and the Kosher Salt, this is one of those things where measuring just doesn’t do the trick, but I’d start with a teaspoon or two of the Papa Guys and a tablespoon of the kosher salt; stir that in well and taste, add more seasoning if necessary, otherwise let that pot simmer for 30 minutes while you go check your email.  Pop back into the kitchen occasionally to stir.

When the timer goes ‘ding’ it’s time to add the three cans of beans (DO NOT DRAIN THE BEANS! ADD WITH THE LIQUID IN THE CAN). Stir those suckers in well and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and continue stirring occasionally over the next 60 minutes as it simmers. (Now is when YOU go check your Facebook, email, and check the latest HBO Game of Thrones season two News & Updates)

Serve in bowls or fill hot baked potato;

Top with shredded cheese (I prefer cheddar) and a dollop of sour cream.

Breakfast Soft Taco

This makes enough for Two Tacos


  • 2 Flour Tortillas
  • 2-3 Tblspns Chorizo
  • 1 Egg beaten with a splash of milk
  • 1/2 Cup shredded potato
  • 2 Tblspns chopped/diced onions
  • 1-2 Tblspns butter/margerine
  • Taco Sauce (to taste)… or Pico de Gallo
  • Finely Shredded 4-cheese blend

Heat both sides of tortilla in cast iron skillet or pop it in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for 15-30 seconds depending on microwave;

In skillet heat butter margerine, add onions and potatoes;

cook till done, turning occasionally; when done put in small bowl & set aside;

In skillet cook chorizo till it separates;

add beaten egg-milk mixture;

cook till done stirring occasionally;

when done put in small bowl & set aside;

Now, take your tortilla and spread some taco sauce on it (to taste),

add 1/2 of the potato-onion (per taco), then shredded cheese

and top with 1/2 the chorizo-egg (per taco); add Pico de Gallo if you like

From ‘bottom’ fold tortilla 1/4 way up,

then fold each side over,

finishing with ‘top.


Cornish Game Hens

I did a bit of experimenting the other night and it actually turned out quite good!  In fact the aroma that filled my kitchen nearly put me on my knees in tears and set my tummy to growling something fierce!

  • 2 – Rock Cornish Game Hens
  • 2 – finely chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
  • Fresh or Dried Rosemary
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • Melted Butter/Margerine
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup White Wine (I used Columbia Winery Cellermasters Reisling)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place cornish game hens in a baking dish, breast side up. Season with Fresh Ground Pepper and Kosher salt, then drizzle some of that melted butter over them.

Season with Fresh Ground Pepper and Kosher salt, then drizzle some of that melted butter over them.  Add the rosemary, chopped scallions and green onion tops on and around the hens, drizzle a bit more butter over the tops again and add some more of the pepper and salt if you wish.

Pour the wine into the baking dish around the hens.

Now bake for approx. 1.5 hours, basting frequently with the juices in the dish.  When the hens are a nice golden brown/meat thermometer reads 180F as soon as you insert it, or tug on one of those tiny wings and if it just about pulls off  😉 then they are done.

Place one hen on a plate, drizzle some of the wine/juices from the baking dish. (If you really feel like it, and aren’t starving to death by now, you could put those juices in a small pot, bring to a near boil and add a bit of flour… whisking it in well… for a thicker sauce).

I used sides of Minnesota Wild Rice (cooked in low fat/low sodium chicken broth) and brussel sprouts;  asparagus would accompany this quite well also.

Easy Caramel Pie


  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 graham cracker or chocolate cookie crumb pie crust

Use a *small* crockpot

Pour in the 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk

Cook for approx 4-6 hours (depends on the crockpot you have) stirring & scraping sides every 15 minutes until thick and the color of peanut butter.

Pour into pie crust

Let cool, then refrigerate to set up till firm

Slice &  Enjoy!

You can top each slice, or even the whole pie, with whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Beat/Whip with mixer until thick and spreadable
  • Spread on top of pie!

(Will add pictures in the next few days)

Hot Artichoke Heart Dip

Hot Artichoke Heart Dip

Have this ready for ‘the
big game’!

Your cast of characters:
Garlic Powder, Artichoke Hearts,
Mayonnaise, Grated Parmesian, White Pepper, Butter
Garlic Powder, Artichoke Hearts, Mayonnaise, Grated Parmesian, White Pepper, Butter
Grease a 1 – 1.5
quart baking dish well with butter
Grease sides and bottom well with butter
Drain Artichoke Hearts well then
Measure 1 Cup Mayonnaise into
baking dish

DSC00159 DSC00158

Add 1 tsp. Garlic Powder & 1/2 tsp. Ground White Pepper

DSC00177 DSC00176

Mix Well


Measure 1 Cup Grated Parmesian Cheese, Mix well

DSC00186 DSC00183

Add Chopped Artichoke Hearts, Mix well then ‘smooth’ it over

DSC00189 DSC00188


Bake at 400 F for approx. 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden
Serve with white corn tortilla chips/scoops


Chicken & Dumplings

Nothing says ‘Sunday Dinner’ to my husband, kids and extended family like Chicken & Dumplings. The following is the recipe taught to me (never written down that’s for sure!) years ago by my late Mother-In-Law. The basic recipe is hers but I have tweaked it a bit to make it ‘mine’ over the last 28 years.

Chicken & Broth

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 6)
Tony Chachere’s Original Seasoning Blend
Diced Onion (2 large)
Minced Garlic (1-2 Tblspns or more if you really like garlic and are brave)
Diced Celery (4-6 stalks)
Diced Bell Pepper (1/2 pepper, remove seeds and fleshy ‘pulp’) *optional
Chopped Green Onion Tops (bunches & bunches) 3 cups
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Kitchen Bouquet

  • Rinse Chicken Breasts, lay on a plate and season both tops & bottoms with Tony’s
  • In a stock pot or dutch oven use 4 Tblspns Canola Oil
  • heat over medium high
  • place breasts in pot and brown (turn your vent on, or the spices will set everyone to coughing!)
  • once well browned remove breasts from pot and set aside
  • add diced onion, celery, garlic and optional bell pepper to pot and saute till onions soft and translucent
  • Add water to halfway fill your pot, put chicken breasts back in pot, bring to boil, lower heat to simmer,
  • add cut up green onion tops and cover. (Go make your dumpling dough now!)
  • Cook until chicken is *very* tender, to where you can break each breast apart with a fork, break it up well
  • add water if needed
  • and enough Kitchen Bouquet to darken the broth nicely,
  • season to taste with Tony’s or Kosher Salt/Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Cover and lower heat to barely a simmer.

While the broth & chicken are simmering:


1-1/3 cups All Purpose flour (*not* self-rising!)
1/4 pound (one stick, eight tablespoons, 1/2 cup) butter or Crisco Solid (COLD)
1 dash salt
1/2 tspn baking soda
3 Tblspns cold water
Chopped Green Onion Tops 1 cup

  • Sift together flour, salt, baking soda
  • Cut in the butter/crisco until coarse crumbs form
  • add cut up green union tops, mix in to where they are well distributed
  • add cold water all at once, stirring until dough is formed into a ball, ***if chicken/broth is not to last step in chicken/broth section above, keep dough in bowl, cover with foil or plastic wrap and stick in refrigerator)
  • put ball of dough on floured surface and pat down/flatten it a bit
  • sprinkle a bit of flour on top and using a rolling pin, begin rolling it out as thin as you can get it, continue sprinkling flour on top of pastry to avoid sticking to rolling pin, this extra flour will help thicken your broth up nicely.
  • now that it’s nice and thin take a dinner/butter knife and cut into strips vertically, then run the knife horizontally to cut into medium sided rectangles/squares

Now remove lid and turn up heat (or down as the case may be) until steam is rising from broth but it isn’t boiling and start slowly dropping your dumplings in, scattering them well. Dumplings will initially sink and then float this means they are ‘done’. From this point on do not *stir*, use a fork to lightly ‘shake’ through the contents of the pot and continue to add dumplings. When all dumplings have been dropped, turn the heat to low, re-cover if not serving immediately.


Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken & Dumplings

Serve with Candied Sweet Potatoes (recipe to follow soon) and Pistolette’s. Green Beans with Almonds is a nice addition as well to round out this country meal

*Optional: If you don’t want to make your own dumplings you can find flat dumpling ‘strips’ in your grocer’s freezer, usually where the frozen breads, rolls, & biscuits are. The brand I prefer & have used in a pinch is “Mary B’s” and usually takes at least two (2) of the regular packs or one (1) of the bulk/family size packs.

Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings

Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings