Proper appliances can make the difference in a mediocre meal and a magnificent one but don’t wait to find out this holiday season

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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It was a little more than a year ago that I gutted my kitchen and installed granite counter-tops, new cabinets and new flooring.

All of that was fine but not near complete without some new appliances. My home was built in 1985 and is pretty modest but for a guy that enjoys cooking, something had to be done to bring my “cooking technology” up to speed.

Luckily, it was in the budget and the result is what you see here, cooked out of this week’s featured cookbook, Three Chilies and a Bean, available at Something Special.


Cornbread Topped Stuffed Bell Peppers

By Syble Pierce

• 3 large green bell peppers

• 1 lb. lean ground beef

• 1/2 c. Onion, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 (14.5 oz. diced tomatoes and green chilies)

• 1/2 cup instant rice

• 1/2 cup chicken stock

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

• 2 tsp. chili pepper

• 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

• 1 pkg. Mexican cornbread mix

• 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

• 2/3 cup milk

1. Half peppers lengthwise, removing stems, seeds and membranes.

2. In a large skillet, cook meat, onion and garlic until meat is brown.

3. Stir in undrained tomatoes and green chilies, chili powder, uncooked rice, chicken broth, salt, pepper and garlic salt.

4. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes or until rice is tender.

5. Make cornbread following package directions and add cheddar cheese.

6. Fill peppers with meat mixture.

7. Place in baking dish lined with foil.

8. Pour prepared cornbread mixture over peppers.

9. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until cornbread is golden brown and peppers are tender.

Serves 6

Shepherd's Pie

By Cheryl Caudill

• 2-1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cooked

• 1-1/2 cups sour cream

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2 lbs. ground sirloin

• 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped

• 1 can (15-1/4 oz.) corn, drained

• 1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup, I diluted

• 1/2 cup milk

• 1 tsp. garlic salt

• 2 Tbsp. butter, melted

• Minced fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mash cooked potatoes with sour cream, add salt and pepper; set aside.

3. In a skillet, cook sirloin, red pepper, and onion until meat is browned and vegetables are tender; drain.

4. Add corn, soup, milk, and garlic salt; mix well.

5. Spread meat mixture in a nun greased 3-qt. baking dish.

6. Top with mashed potatoes; drizzle with melted butter.

7. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.

For additional browning, place under broiler for a few minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Note: If your family loves meat and potatoes, try this one dish casserole. Add a fresh green salad and this is a complete meal.

Serves 8.

Chicken Pot Pies With Puff Pastry

By Cheryl Caudill

• 1 cup onion, chopped

• 1 cup celery, chopped

• 1 cup carrots, chopped

• 1 cup cooked potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

• 1/4 cup plus 2 T. Butter, melted

• 1 cup frozen green peas

• 1/4 cup flour

• 2 cups chicken broth

• 1 cup fat- free or regular half and half

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

• 3-4 cups diced cooked skinless chicken (I use whole roasted chicken)

• 2 (17-1/4 oz.) pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed

• 1 egg yolk

• 1 T. half and half

1. Sauté onion, celery, carrot in butter in a large skillet for 10 minutes.

2. Stir in peas and flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Gradually add chicken broth and 1 cup of half and half; cover over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly.

4. Stir in salt and pepper.

5. Add diced chicken, stirring well.

6. Ladle chicken mixture into 6, 10-oz. oven proof soup bowls; filling to within 3/4-inch of rim. Set bowls aside.

7. Roll pastry sheets to 1/8-inch thickness.

8. Cut 6 circles of pastry, 1/2 inch larger than rims of soup bowls.

9. Combine egg yolk and tablespoon of half and half, stirring well.

10. Brush one side of each pastry circle with egg mixture.

11. Place pastry circles, brushed side down, over each soup bowl, folding edges under, and pressing firmly to seal.

12. Brush tops with remaining egg mixture.

13. Place pies on baking sheet.

14. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Note: This is really a very simple recipe to prepare and comes out of the oven perfectly puffed every time. I usually take a little of the dough and make small 1-inch heart shapes and add to the top of the pies. The hearts will puff up about 1/2-inch above the top and looks amazing I make these for my girls club luncheon and they always make us smile.

Serves 6

About Three Chili’s and a Bean

My story began in May 2007 and I never dreamed that I would someday look back and say 2007 was one of the best years of my life. As a small town Texas girl, I had a big smile, big hair and, of course, big dreams. My big dream that year was a trip to France and Italy and in May, I was making plans and getting so excited I could hardly wait. A few days before my departure, I began to to feel what I assumed to be a cold coming on. I immediately made an appointment with my regular physician's office, where they scheduled me to see one of the physician's assistants. Little did I know Kristen Brannon, PA would save my life that day.

She asked one simple question: "Have you had your yearly breast exam?" Not only did I answer "No," I had to admit at age 43 I have never had a breast exam or a mammogram. It was only minutes later when she said, “Oh my goodness! I feel a lump.” At that point, she seemed terrified. Me? Well I was in la-la land. You see, I didn't have a care in the world because I was headed to France and then to Italy in just three days - the fashion centers of the world! Did I mention that I'm a shopaholic? Hello, Prada and Louis Vuitton!

Being always optimistic, I couldn't see giving up my trip. So, I promised Kristen that I would make a mammogram appointment for the day following my return, and I made good on that promise. The news came back grim...looks like the cancer but had struck my family again. It was a little hard to swallow since I had a family member, my cousin Jatonne, Tonnie for short, who had been struggling with breast cancer for several years and was two years younger than myself.

Now, she was my strength as I prepared myself for treatment...a double radical mastectomy, with reconstructive surgeries ongoing to this day. She taught me that, despite troubling times, you have to always believe there is a better tomorrow. I believed and so did she, mostly because we both understood there must be tragedy in life to teach us to truly appreciate the good things that come our way.

Someone once asked me if 2007 was one of the worst years of my life. My response, "Absolutely not!" You see, 2007 was one of the best years of my life because it allowed me to meet some of the most kind and caring individuals who have such a passion for the life of others. The way I see it there is no tragedy in finding friendship!

The year passed and 2008 came - a bittersweet time. It brought healing for me and a lost war for my precious cousin, Tonnie. She succumbed to breast cancer on October 9, 2008, mere days before her daughter's wedding. I had been fortunate to live only a mile or two from the hospital in Weatherford, where she spent the last few months of her life. I was able to see her almost every day, and every day she asked me, "Do you think people will remember me?" I always smiled and said, "Of course people will remember you! How could they not?” Her smile, her sparkle, all so precious to me! I told her she had the smile of an angel, and a smile like that would never be forgotten. But I could see she had a deeper need to know her life had meant something. In the end I promised Tonnie I would find a way to keep her beautiful spirit alive. We had grown up together, spending weekends at our grandparents' house. And until the end, it was something we shared as cousins - good food and happy smiles. In fact, through our shared battle with breast cancer, we vowed to each other we would find something to smile about each night and each morning. And though Tonnie was fighting the end stages of her own battle, for as long as she could, she drove more than an hour to bring me her best comfort food, chicken and dumplings, following her surgeries.

Today, I am cancer free, and I fully expect to stay that way. Regardless of the future, however, I don't want to leave this world without having done something selfless. And so was born the idea of Three Chilies and a Bean. If I could take the simple comfort food brought to my cousin and me when we were fighting breast cancer, and pass that comfort on to others while keeping Tonnie's spirit alive through focus on breast cancer awareness, I could cross one of my biggest dreams off the list.

So, I leave you with kind words of well wishes in your struggles, whether you are currently in treatment, are a breast cancer survivor or are someone else's support as she fights her battle. I hope the recipes for delicious dishes you find in my cookbook bring you comfort strength and hope as we all join together to fight this horrible disease.


Featured cookbooks are: Just Us Cowgirls Cookbook on sale for $15 and available at Brazos Trails Cowboy Church, located at 300 Sharla Smelley Road or by calling Janet Walker at 817-599-7377; Taste and See by the Ladies Intentionally Going Helping Touching at the First Baptist Church of Weatherford. The book is $17 and available at the church office; Made with Love by the Parker County Committee of Aging (senior center). The book is available at the Senior Center on sale for $25; Feeding the Flock by North Side Baptist Church benefiting the Prayers and Squares ministry. The book is $16 and available at the church office.

Three Chilies and a Bean can be purchased for $20 at Something Special benefiting breast cancer awareness; Favorites from Our Table by the Parker County Quilter’s Guild can be purchased at Quilters Guild meetings or by calling Andrea Killias at 877-441-2471 for only $10. Center Point Baptist Church, Favorites from the Country, is available at the church office. The Brock United Methodist Church, Classic Recipes, benefits the women’s group at the church and is only $10. It can be purchased by calling Lisa Belding at 817-613-0332.

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