Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicken in paprika sauce

This is so delicious and easy to make -- an excellent holiday buffet dish. I adapted the recipe a friend gave me at a holiday party.

Chicken in paprika sauce
3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin and cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbl. olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup or more)
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
2-3 tbl. paprika
10 oz. can condensed chicken broth
8 oz. white wine
1 cup sour cream
(noodles or spaetzle)
  • Saute chicken pieces in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken to large bowl. In same pan, saute onion till soft and remove to bowl with chicken. Add olive oil as needed to saute. Saute mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper in same pan and remove to bowl with chicken and onion.
  • Add paprika into bowl with chicken, onions and mushrooms and stir to coat.
  • Return to pan and stir in condensed chicken broth and wine.
  • Bring to simmer, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  • Remove lid and simmer on low heat until sauce is reduced slightly. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Allow to cool slightly and stir a little sauce into sour cream. Add sour cream to chicken and sauce in pan and stir thoroughly.
  • Heat as needed, but do not bring to boil or sour cream will curdle.
  • Serve over cooked noodles or spaetzle.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy holidays!

Our Pencil Box Club had a lovely holiday luncheon at Kathleen Z.'s on Wednesday with all the most luscious of comfort foods on a blustery December day.

Greek salad
Beef barley soup
Cheese straws
Rice pudding
Chocolate dipped shortbread cookies

We delivered our holiday donation of $72 to the LESA Backpacks for Kids project, and told LESA Administrative Assistant Judy Paulsen about our new Pencil Box Club Cookbook that also highlights LESA's Backpacks for Kids project (although the entire cost of the book goes to the manufacturer, Blurb.com). A paperback copy of the 38-page book is $12.95 plus shipping from Blurb.com. To order go here at Blurb.com. Click here to see a preview of the entire cookbook.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Robin's get-together

Our Bridge group got together to fete our friend and former Bridge partner Robin Y. who was in town recently for a short visit. Lunch was delicious and everyone wanted Sally's and Kathy's recipes, so here they are. We also had four kinds of olives for an appetizer -- very popular, and easy!

Chicken Pasta Primavera
from Sally S.

Penne pasta (I used 16 oz. box of Barilla whole wheat penne)
1 cup broccoli or asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
Carrots, 1 cup cut in chunks
1 cup zucchini, chopped
1 cup yellow squash, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped with juice
8  Baby Bella 
mushrooms, sliced
6 tbl. butter
1 envelope dry Italian Salad Dressing Mix
2 cups whipping cream or heavy cream
1/2 cup, or to taste, grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into chunks, rotisserie is fine
Salt and pepper.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions
  • In a large skillet, saute broccoli and carrots in butter for 3-4 minutes
  • Add mushrooms, zucchini and squash and saute until crisp tender, 3-4 minutes
  • Stir in chicken, tomatoes dressing mix and cream. 
  • Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes. 
  • Drain pasta, mix with vegetable mixture. Toss to combine.
  • Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and toss again. You can pass more grated cheese.
NOTE: This best heated before serving - low heat in oven.
You can make the day before, bring to room temperature, then heat. Serves 8 plus leftovers. You can add whatever vegetables you like. It's a little bland. I would add onions and celery.

Cashew Salad with Dressing
from Kathy T.

Dressing (This will make more than you need):
1 cup Miracle Whip (no substitution)
1/2 cup sugar (I always use less)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp. celery seed
1 tsp. dry mustard

Romaine lettuce (as much as you like)
1 cup cashews
1 cup finely shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup sliced, green onion

Add the dressing just before serving.  Use less dressing than more.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pimento Cheese Spread and a word of thanks!

At last week's monthly Bridge gathering Kathy T. served this fantastic cheese spread from the May 2010 Southern Living magazine:

1-1/2 cups Hellman's mayonaise
4 oz. jar diced pimento, drained
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. onion, finely grated
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 cup pecans, toasted in 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes
8 oz extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
8 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Mix mayo, pimento, Worcestershire, onion and red pepper in large bowl. Stir in pecans and cheese. Store in refrigerator. Serve with celery sticks and crackers; or make toasted cheese sandwiches in skillet or panini press with the cheese spread.

Last week the Pencil Box Club received two personal thank-you notes from students who received backpacks at the LESA distribution in August. We also got a nice note from LESA Fill Backpacks for Kids Committee Co-chairpersons Jean Garratt and Denis McBride. They said:
Your efforts on behalf of children and families in the county will help children begin the school year with the necessary supplies for successful learning.

Friday, September 3, 2010

LESA Backpacks for Kids report 2010

LESA Secretary to the Superintendent Judy Paulsen reported the LESA Backpacks for Kids 2010 project put together 1600 backpacks filled with supplies for Livingston County students in grades K-12 whose families need help to finance their back-to-school supplies. Paulsen said every one of 1000 students who attended the Aug. 19 distribution received filled backpacks.

"It's awesome to know we're helping people, and to see the excitement of kids and parents and volunteers," Paulsen said.

Students may still stop by LESA today for a backpack. After today, the extra packs will be sent to local districts, OLSHA, and LACASA for distribution according to need. This year, for the first time, LESA provided 50 backpacks to Livingston County's The Connection Youth Services.

Thanks to all Pencil Box Club members and fans who supported this very special project!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wired Women Hot Cheese Dip

Wired Women by Kathleen Z., Mary Lee, Rosemary, Linda, Kathy T., and Sally!

The Pencil Box Club gathered on Wednesday to make Wired Women lapel pins. Kathy T.'s beautiful and talented sister Ruth Ann drove in from Missouri to teach the class. "Trying to teach this crew is like herding cats," Ruth Ann said. (Just kidding; she didn't really say that.) We passed the tin and collected $55 for the LESA Backpacks for Kids project. I dropped the donation off at the LESA office at 1425 W. Grand River Avenue in Howell, MI where they are accepting donations for their 6-8 p.m. August 19, 2010 distribution of backpacks and school supplies for students in grades K-12.

Rosemary brought us a hot cheese dip served with Triscuits. Here is the delicious recipe:

Wired Women Hot Cheese Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. swiss cheese, shredded (two cups)
1/3 cup mayonaise
3 green onions, chopped
1/8 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1/8 tsp. nutmeg, freshly ground
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted if desired

  • Mix all ingredients except for almonds.
  • Spread in glass baking dish, or small pie pan.
  • Sprinkle with almonds.
  • Bake at 350-degrees for 12-15 minutes, until lightly toasted and bubbly.

Kathy T. and teacher Ruth Ann

Rosemary shows off her Wired Woman

Thursday, July 29, 2010


The Livingston Educational Services Agency is accepting donations for their 2010 distribution of "Backpacks for Kids" to be held from 6-8 p.m. August 19, 2010 at the LESA Educational Center, 1425 W. Grand River Avenue, Howell, Michigan.

The goal of the project is to provide Livingston County students whose families are experiencing financial difficulties with basic school supplies at no cost. Last year the project distributed over 1600 backpacks filled with school supplies. For information about the project, call the LESA backpack hotline at (517) 540-6833.

The agency's web site says: 
We are now accepting donations for the 2010 school year at the LESA Education Center or any of the community based drop-off locations. If you prefer, cash donations are also welcome. If making a cash donation, please make your check or money order payable to LESA and mail it to LESA Backpacks for Kids, 1425 W. Grand River Avenue, Howell, MI  48843.
School supplies are on sale now and it's a good time to buy for donations. The Staples in Howell (next to Lowes in the Wal-Mart shopping center) has backpacks on sale at 25-percent and 50-percent off. In addition, if you buy a backpack by this Saturday, July 31, the entire cost will be rebated in the form of a Staples card. That card can be donated to LESA to purchase more supplies. The Howell Staples manager said the store will accept these cards from the holder with no I.D. necessary.

We love this program; it's so much fun to get ready to go back to school!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Sally S. offered a luscious slush made with Jello brand flavored gelatin at one of our recent Bridge club meetings. She got the recipe on Allrecipes.com, but she made a few changes to the original:

Vodka Slush

  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry flavored gelatin mix
  • 1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 3 cups vodka
  • 2 liter bottle lemon-lime flavored soda

  • Boil sugar, water, and Jello for three minutes. Stir in juices, vodka and soda. Divide in half and freeze in two, one-gallon Ziplock brand freezer bags. Pour into pitcher and serve.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pencil Box Club donates $142 to 2010-11 LESA backpack project

The Pencil Box Club wishes the Livingston Educational Services Agency's 2010-11 Backpacks for Kids project a successful season with a $142 donation presented to project coordinator Judy Paulson last week.
Paulson said planning is beginning for next school year's distribution of back-to-school supplies at LESA offices, 1425 W. Grand River Avenue in Howell, MI from 6-8 p.m. on August 19, 2010. Make your own contribution to the project by sending donations to Adminstrative Secretary Judy Paulson at LESA, 1425 W. Grand River Avenue, Howell, MI 48855. You may make your check out to LESA with a note saying the donation is for Backpacks for KidsFor information, call the backpack hotline at 517-540-6833.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Chocolate chip and coffee pecan scones
Twenty years ago, my wonderful friend Virginia gave me Biscuits and Scones by Elizabeth Alston and it is still the best scone book ever! We had chocolate chip, coffee pecan, and orange almond at our chaotic Bridge club yesterday. Here is the recipe for chocolate chip scones and a variation of the coffee scones from Alston's book. Linda T.

Chocolate Chip Scones
from Biscuits and Scones by E. Alston
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking power
8 oz. unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs, large
1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used sour cream. LT)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used the mini-sized chips. LT)
  • Mix flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In electric mixer, beat butter on high speed until creams. Add sugar and beat 3-5 minutes until pale and fluff. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
  • Scrape sides of bowl, reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture. Mix onlu until blended. Scrape sides. Ad buttermilk and mix only until blended. Remove bowl from machine. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the batter and fold in.
  • Scoop 1/3 cupsful of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, placing the mounds about two inches apart.
  • Loosely cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes (or freeze, and when hard, remove to a plastic bag and freeze for up to six weeks).
  • Heat oven to 350-degrees. Uncover scones and bake 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 325-degrees and bake 13 minuts longer, or until pale golden brown. Cool, uncoverd on a wire rack.
Coffee Pecan Scones
adapted from Biscuits and Scones by E. Alston
1 cup pecans
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, large
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, cold
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Measure milk into bowl. Stir in instant espresso. Add egg, and mix well. Set aside.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Cut in small pieces of cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is texture of fine granules.
  • Add sugar and pecans, toss to distribute evenly.
  • Stir in coffee-flavored milk and egg mixture until a soft dough forms. (Do not overwork.)
  • Scoop 1/4 cupsful of dough and place about two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes until done. Remove to wire rack, cover lightly with dish towel and cool an hour or two before serving.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Creamy White Chili

Kathy T. served this spicy and delicious white chili on a cold winter's night last week when we got together for Bridge. This large batch of hearty goodness would be great for Superbowl parties!

Creamy White Chili
adapted from Taste of Home magazine

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 16-oz cans cooked great northern white beans, rinsed and drained
1 quart (or 29-32 oz) chicken broth
8 oz. chopped green chilis (vary to taste, this amount makes medium hot.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried organo
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (vary to taste)
1 pint (16 oz) sour cream
1 cup (8 oz) whipping cream
  • Saute chicken, onion, and garlic in olive oil.
  • Add beans, chicken broth, chilis and seasonings.
  • Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Mix cream and sour cream in small bowl.
  • Stir about a quarter-cup of hot soup into creams, then stir tempered creams into soup, and serve.
  • NOTE: When reheating, do not boil, or you may curdle the cream.
Makes approximately twelve 12 oz servings of soup.