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  • With the kids out of school, here are some fun projects you can whip up in your kitchen to keep them busy on a rainy day.

    I made this play-dough for my girls, Rachel and Stevie, when they were little and now my grandson Owen. You can divide it up (or make 2 recipes) and use food coloring to make different colors, or you can add an envelope of Kool Aid powder with the dry ingredients for color.

    Store it in a cool place, but it does not require refrigeration. It lasts a long time.

  • When I was growing up, I never ate spinach, but now I love it. Fresh spinach, that is, not the canned stuff.

    I usually plant two or three big flowerpots with spinach and lettuce every year and put them on my front porch (away from rabbits.) I get plenty for myself, to use in salads and cooked dishes.

    I was experimenting the other night and ended up making some delicious enchiladas with a little bit of leftover chicken, spinach and a big Vidalia onion. Yum!

  • It is hard work establishing a good asparagus bed, but the good thing is you only have to do it once. I've been picking asparagus every spring since 1991, and always get a good crop. As an added bonus, the birds spread the seeds all over the place, and soon you have volunteer plants. When the ferns are visible with their red seeds, make yourself a map so you'll know where to look when next April comes around.

  • Even though I had dessert recipes in my column last week, with Mother's Day coming up this Sunday I'm going to do it again. My mother definitely had a sweet tooth, and was always trying new recipes. I was her (lucky) guinea pig for many years, and when I moved away from home she still sent me recipes wherever I was.

    She was very fond of pecans, and I know she would d love this Butter Pecan Dessert. It has a crunchy buttery crust full of chopped pecans, and a thin cheesecake-like filling on top. Yummy! I could eat the whole pan full myself.

  • Two of my favorite spreads for crackers are easy to make and keep well in the refrigerator. Either one would be a great addition to a party.

  • If you're looking for a delicious dessert, there's nothing like a good pie, and these two are killer!

  • If you've got a dog or cat in your family, how about trying one of these homemade treats for them? Let the kids help. It's fun!

  • It's almost strawberry-picking time, which is a good excuse to try this great dipping sauce for strawberries.

    It's an adults-only sauce, as it contains bourbon, and quite delicious.

    Speaking of sauces, this Jezebel sauce is very easy to make, lasts forever in the frig and is great with grilled meat, egg rolls or (my favorite) cream cheese and crackers.

    And speaking of easy, I fixed country-style ribs in the crockpot the other day using just three ingredients. They were tender, sweet-spicy and scrumptious!

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    I'd like to share a new shrimp recipe that is easy and great for Lent or any other time! I frequently experiment with shrimp dishes and this one is a keeper for 2010.

    I call it Super Spicy Shrimp, mainly because one of the ingredients, chipotle chilies in adobo sauce is quite spicy (and delicious!) You can add more or less than what is in the recipe, depending on your taste for the fiery. It comes in a jar that will keep in the refrigerator a long time.

  • I like to keep cookie dough in the refrigerator (or freezer) so I can have warm cookies at the spur of the moment. You can keep almost any cookie dough in the refrigerator for several days, but if you freeze your cookies in whatever size you want before they're baked, you can just whip them out whenever you need them. You don't have to thaw the dough before you bake the cookies, just add a couple minutes to the baking time.

    I was wanting something a little different the other night and came up with these delicious Almond Toffee Cookies. They're terrific! See what you think.

  • This week's recipe is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken.

    It's easy, tastes delicious and is great with rice, potatoes or polenta.

    I've been making it a long time. I recently found the recipe in my mom's recipe box where I had sent it to her and it was dated December 1970.

    You can use cut-up whole chickens, breast pieces or legs and thighs (my dad's favorite.)

    Try it; you'll like it.

    BBQ Chicken in Casserole

    2 chickens, cut up

    1 t. salt

    1 c. flour

    1 stick butter

  • One of the very first things I cooked by myself (I think I was in the seventh grade) was potato soup.

    I was at my friend Cheri's house watching her mother fix dinner and she made potato soup.

    I paid close attention to what she did and it looked like something I could handle.

    The next night, I announced I was cooking dinner. My potato soup was a hit with my mom and dad.

  • The 4th Annual Heart of Kentucky Antique & Craft Fair will be held at the Centre Square Convention Center in downtown Lebanon, Saturday, March 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    The finest antiques and crafts dealers from across the state will gather for this premier event. The show features a wide range of antiques and craft items from the rustic to the fine arts. Admission is $3 for adults and all gate proceeds and concessions benefit the American Cancer Society. Children under 12 get in free.

  • Back in the old days, going on a diet meant counting calories.

    Forget fat grams or low-carb, the only way we knew to lose weight was to set a calorie limit and exercise.

    My mom was always on one diet or another, even though she never weighed more than 120 pounds in her whole life, except when she was pregnant with me.

    I remember a grapefruit diet and a cottage cheese diet and she also used to buy those little cans of Metracal diet food. Yuk!

  • One of the basic rules of life is "don't go to the grocery store when you're hungry."

    Everybody knows that. Right?

    I certainly know it and I try to follow that rule, but every once in awhile, I accidentally end up stopping at the store when I haven't had supper yet.

    When I do that, I find myself buying something I certainly don't need like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, candy or Krunch 'n Munch. Did you know it is possible to eat an entire box of that stuff in the time it takes to drive from Loretto Foodland to the caution light in St. Francis?

  • If you like egg rolls, you're sure to love these Chicken Won-Tons. They are easy to make and are a great way to use up just a little bit of leftover chicken.

    After you taste them, you'll see why they're habit-forming.

    You can serve them with a store-bought sweet and sour sauce, or maybe a hot Chinese mustard, but I love this easy peanut sauce for dipping.

    Try it; you'll like it.

    Chicken Won-Tons

    1 c. cooked chicken, minced

    1 c. finely shredded cabbage

    3-5 green onions, diced

    2 t. brown sugar

  • Here are a couple of hot and hearty dips, great for a party or watching the game on TV. They can be made up ahead of time, then kept warm in a crock pot or chafing dish.

    The Pizza Dip is an old recipe.

    I remember my mom serving it with breadsticks back in the early 60s.

    The Reuben Dip is terrific on rye crackers or toasted party rye bread.

    Enjoy!

    Pizza Dip

    1 lb. lean ground beef

    1 medium onion, chopped

    3 c. tomato sauce, pizza sauce or meatless spaghetti sauce

    1 T. cornstarch

    1 1/2 t. fennel seeds

  • I first ran this Potato-White Bean Soup recipe in 2001 and it has since become a regular at my house.

    We love it. My daughter Rachel requested it just this week.

    I like to serve it with baked cornbread.

    I usually use the little bags of cornbread mix, add milk and an egg instead of water, and also add one-half cup or so of shoepeg corn, fresh, canned or frozen.

    I cook it in a little cast iron skillet. It's really good that way.

    You really need to try this soup-it's delicious.

    Potato-White Bean Soup