Red, White, and Blue Bark

This DeAnna specialty is absolutely delicious, and the perfect way to celebrate the holiday with a themed dessert!


  • 1 package of White Chocolate Chips, or 3 White Chocolate Bars
  • 1 package of fresh Raspberries
  • 1 package of fresh Blueberries
  • 1 box of Vanilla Wafers
  • Vegetable, Coconut, or Olive Oil


  1. Place a sheet of wax paper in the tray of a cookie sheet.
  2. Arrange Vanilla Wafer cookies in a single layer on top of the wax paper. The cookies should be touching.
  3. In a microwave-safe glass bowl, melt white chocolate with a tablespoon of vegetable, coconut, or olive oil – slowly and carefully in the microwave. Stir the melting chocolate every 15 to 30 seconds until smooth and pourable. Do not over heat the chocolate, it will become stiff and burn.
  4. Pour the melted white chocolate over the vanilla wafers and work quickly to spread the chocolate evenly over they entire sheet with a silicone spatula. (Spray spatula with a little cooking spray to prevent sticking.)
  5. Quickly sprinkle as many of the blueberries and raspberries as you would like over the white chocolate.
  6. Cool the entire cookie sheet in fridge for at least 1 hour until the white chocolate has hardened.
  7. Lift the bark from the cookie sheet using the wax paper, and transfer the bark to a large open space on the counter. Carefully break the hardened bark to produce random shaped pieces. Try to avoid smashing the fruit. Arrange on plate and serve.

Store left over bark in fridge to keep the fruit fresh and to avoid melting.


Instead of sprinkling the fruit on top, you can arrange it in a USA flag pattern by creating a grid of blueberries in the top left corner, and using the raspberries to create the red horizontal stripes, leaving the white chocolate to shine through between the red stripes.



Pineapple Whiskey Sour

Note: This drink recipe contains alcohol, but you can skip the alcohol, replace it with ginger ale, or add more lemon and water for a lovely non-alcoholic drink too.


1 to 2 parts whiskey of choice (depending on how strong you’d like it to be)
5 parts pineapple juice
3 parts water
1+ teaspoon sugar or honey (to taste)
1 squeeze of lemon


  • Combine all ingredients into shaker, add ice. Shake until sugar is dissolved.
  • Strain into sugar rimmed glass and enjoy!

How to sugar rim a glass:

  • Place 1/2″ of water or pineapple juice in small bowl that is slightly wider than your cup
  • Place a small pile of rimming or turbinado sugar crystals on a small plate or bowl
  • Turn your cup upside down and dip rim into the liquid
  • Press cup rim into the sugar – gently rolling it around as needed to pick up the sugar crystals

DeAnna’s Crock Pot Beans

If you’ve ever had this DeAnna specialty in person, you already know it’s an absolute crowd pleaser! The secret is: it’s her spin on another recipe from her favorite vintage Betty Crocker cook book!


1 cup chunky salsa
1 oz. envelope of taco seasoning
4 (15 oz.) cans of baked beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can of kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can of black eyed peas, drained
9 oz. package of frozen lima beans
12 oz. package of spicy ground pork sausage


  • Cook sausage on stovetop, and drain.
  • Combine cooked sausage and all other ingredients in crock pot, stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

Fresh egg whites – 5 (from actual eggs, not a box)

Lemon – 1 slice

Vanilla – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 1.5 cups

Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 220 degrees

For this recipe, you will need a stand mixer or electric hand mixer.

In a small bowl, collect the egg whites by separating the egg whites from yolks. Make certain to not get any yolk in the egg whites. Let the egg whites sit for a few minutes to come closer to room temperature before you start mixing.

  • Slide lemon slice over the mixer beaters and the inside of a large mixing bowl
  • Add egg whites to the bowl you’ve rubbed the lemon on
  • Add the vanilla to the egg whites
  • Blend on medium speed, until you have soft peaks
  • Add sugar SLOWLY by sprinkling a thin layer at a time into the bowl as you continue to mix on medium speed. Adding the sugar should take several minutes.
  • Blend until all the sugar is fully incorporated, and the mixture forms very stiff, glossy, white peaks
  • Turn off mixer to add chocolate chips – I try to keep it to 3/4 cup or less so that the cookies stay big and fluffy – gently sprinkle the chocolate chips in an even layer over the surface of meringue mixture, then use a spatula to gently fold them in by hand. Mix just enough to incorporate the chocolate chips, do not over mix.

Use an ice cream scooper to drop big even portions onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, keeping cookies an inch or two apart. (You can use cooking spray if you don’t have parchment, but it can discolor the bottoms of the cookie slightly.)

Bake for 60 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the oven closed for several hours to cool. The longer you leave the cookies to cool in the (turned off) oven, the better they will be. Properly dried meringue cookies will be crunchy and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.


  • You can eat them plain, of if you’d like to get fancier: dip/drizzle with milk chocolate or sprinkle with a cocoa/powdered sugar mixture (pictured).
  • Make them spring/Easter themed by adding a tiny drop of food coloring to lightly color your meringues just before you add your chocolate chips.
  • If you’re great with a piping bag, you can skip the chocolate chips and use an extra large star attachment, or freehand pipe large Peep shapes.



Pub-Style Shepherd’s Pie (Hello Fresh)

We have been relying on (and LOVING) our Hello Fresh subscription for fun and delicious meals safe at home during the pandemic. The Pub-Style Shepherd’s Pie was one of our many favorite meal kits from them.


Since Hello Fresh sends us the exact portions to make each dish, the recipe here is more of a “little-of-this, a little-of-that” approach.

Note: *This is not an ad, we really have a Hello Fresh subscription and we really enjoy this recipe!


Mashed Potatoes (5 to 6 Yukon Gold or 2 to 3 Russet)
Sour Cream – about 2 tablespoons (for making the mashed potatoes)
Carrots – 2 to 3
Onion – 1
Celery – 3 stalks
Ground Beef – 1 pound – OR make it plant-based with Impossible Burger instead, same directions.
Tomato Paste – 1.5 ounces
Flour – 1 tablespoon
Beef Stock – 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup
White Cheddar Cheese – 1/2 cup
Garlic Powder – 1 teaspoon
Fresh Thyme – 1 teaspoon for mashed potatoes, 2 teaspoons for meat mixture
Vegetable Oil
Butter – 1 to 2 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Wash and dry all produce

  • Finely chop onion and celery. Peel, then slice carrots length wise and chop into 1/4″ half moons. Strip thyme leaves from stems and roughly chop leaves. Cut potatoes into 1/2″ cubes.

Next, make mashed potatoes and vegetables separately but simultaneously.

  • Mashed Potatoes: Place potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water (2″ of water above potatoes), add a little salt. Bring to boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain. Return potatoes to original pot. Mash potatoes with sour cream, butter, and about 1 tsp of fresh thyme. Add splash of water as needed to loosen.
  • Vegetables: Drizzle oil in large pan, (use an oven safe pan if you’d like to make  the pie assembly easier). Cook carrots in a little salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened. Add celery, onion, and a large drizzle of oil. Cook 5-7 minutes until tender. Add splashes of water to keep veggies from browning. When veggies are fully cooked, add garlic powder, and 2 tsp of fresh thyme and cook for 30 seconds.

Add ground beef to vegetables, and season with a little salt and pepper. Break meat apart while cooking. Cook until meat is browned and thoroughly cooked.

  • Add 1 tablespoon of flour and 1.5 ounces of tomato paste to ground beef and vegetables and cook until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of beef stock to ground beef and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is very thick, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If using oven safe pan: top ground beef/veggie mixture with even layer of mashed potatoes, leaving a gap around the pan edge. Sprinkle with shredded white cheddar cheese. BROIL about 3 minutes until browned. CAREFULLY WATCH it to avoid burning.

If using a baking dish: If you don’t have an oven safe pan, assemble pie in baking dish. Ground beef with veggies in the bottom. Top with even layer of mashed potatoes, leaving a gap around the pan edge. Sprinkle with shredded white cheddar cheese. BROIL about 3 minutes until browned. CAREFULLY WATCH it to avoid burning.





Valentine Treat Mix

This original Betty Crocker recipe is a go-to for our Valentine’s Day treat bags!


  • 4.5 cups Chex cereal
  • 1/2 cup vanilla chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pink/red/white candy-coated chocolate candies
  • 2 tablespoons pink/red sprinkles



  • Place cereal in large mixing bowl, set aside.
  • In microwavable bowl, place vanilla chips, peanut butter, and regular butter. Set microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Stop the microwave every 30 seconds to stir the mixture until just melted. (May not take the whole 1:30 depending on your microwave.)
  • Pour melted mixture over cereal and gently mix until coated.
  • In a gallon zipper food storage bag, place 1/2 of the cereal mix. Add powdered sugar, close and shake bag until cereal is fully coated. Empty mix onto wax paper or aluminum foil and spread it out to cool, about 15 minutes.
  • With the remaining cereal mix in the bowl, gently stir in candies and sprinkles. Spread out on aluminum foil or wax paper to cool, about 15 minutes.
  • In large mixing bowl, gently combine both cereal mixes.
  • Place about 1 cup of mix into plain sandwich twist tie bags or decorative food-grade cellophane bags.

Make it a Valentine! Use pink, red, and white curling ribbon to cinch the tops of bags closed. Add a themed tag if you want to get even fancier!



Healthier Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Vegetables and chicken make this soup hearty like a stew. We’ve made this classic healthier with loads of veggies, no-salt stock, lean chicken breast, and heart-healthy canned soups. Enjoy all of the comfort with less guilt!


2-4 Chicken Breasts, or you can skip the chicken for a veggie version
1/2 Onion, thin slices
2 stalks of Celery (optional)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup each, 3+ Veggies of Choice*
1 box No-Salt Chicken Broth (Veggie alternate: No-Salt Veggie Broth)
1 can “Heart Healthy” Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can “Heart Healthy” Cream of Celery Soup
Pepper and/or Garlic Powder to taste
1 tube of plain buttermilk biscuits (for dumplings)


Place olive oil, sliced onion, and celery in large pot. Sauté until onions and celery are softened. Add broth, 2 cups of water, and chicken. Cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked through.

Carefully remove chicken from pot and set aside.

Add both cans of soup and 3 cans of water to the pot – with the broth from cooking the chicken.

*Add veggies of choice to the pot. We recommend at least a 1 cup each of three different types of veggies, it’s a preference, add more or less if you like. The best veggies are ones you might see in chicken soup or pot pie: corn, green beans, carrot, peas, celery, mushrooms, broccoli – fresh or frozen, canned get too mushy. Pro Tip: Carrots often take the longest to soften, so you can microwave them for 1 minute first, then add to mix to speed up the process.

Carefully shred chicken with forks and return to the pot.

When veggies are tender, now make your dumplings:

Cut biscuits into 4 pieces each (don’t have to be even), and carefully drop each piece into the soup. These will form the dumplings, and they will cook in the surface/upper part of the pot. (Larger dumplings are made with fewer cuts per biscuit.)

Get the biscuits covered in the hot soup asap by gently folding them into the soup with your wooden spoon. Be gentle and do not stir. Use more of a poking than a stirring method. Keep dunking each biscuit to cook the outside evenly and keep it from falling apart.

Fully cooked biscuits will be stiff masses that look like sticky mashed potatoes.

Add pepper and/or garlic powder to taste.



Taste of Tradition

DeAnna’s Traditional Recipe: “I don’t think any Christmas cookie tray or box is complete without cutout sugar cookies! They are best to put out for Santa too! I use the basic sugar cookie recipe from my very first Betty Crocker cookbook that I’ve had since 1977!”

Betty Crocker’s Frosted Sugar Cookies


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softenend
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar


Frosting (For After Baking)

3 cups powdered sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Decorate: food colors, colored sugar, or candy sprinkles


  • In large bowl, combine powdered sugar, softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond extract and egg – mix with spoon until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Divide dough in half; shape dough into 2 disks, and wrap in plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  • Heat oven to 375°F
  • Roll each disk on lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Cut with 2 – to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters into desired shapes. Place cutouts on uncreased cookie sheets, at least 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool 1 minute; transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely.
  • Frosting and Decorating: In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together with spoon until smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too stiff to spread, add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Tint with food color. Spread frosting on cooled cookies. Decorate as desired with colored sugar or candy sprinkles.
  • Let stand about 4 hours or until frosting is set. Store in airtight container at room temperature with waxed paper between layers.

Kaylie’s Traditional Recipe: “This delicious recipe is my Grandmother’s. I make it from a hand written cook book she made for my Mom, where they are noted as ‘favorite for Christmas Eve.’ “

Grandma’s Holiday Squares Florentine


4 eggs, beaten
1 can cream of mushroom or celery soup
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed WELL drained, and minced
1/2 cup nuts
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tube crescent rolls



  • In large bowl combine all ingredients except crescent rolls, mix well
  • Unroll crescent rolls, but do not separate. Press rolls into 14×9 buttered baking pan or cookie sheet, pressing seams together
  • Spread spinach mixture over dough
  • Bake at 350°F degrees for 40 minutes
  • Cut into 1 inch pieces, makes about 50 appetizers