Monday, January 9

The Mercantile

A few years back I received The Pioneer Woman's first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, as a gift for Christmas. 
I love it and have since bought for myself or received as gifts all her other cookbooks!
The Pioneer Woman or Ree Drummond also has her own blog and recently opened a shop called The Mercantile in her hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Ree and her husband Ladd purchased an old red brick building in downtown Pawhuska and she had it completely remodeled.  And the results are stunning. I just love old red brick buildings and am always so happy to see them rescued from demolition.

According to The Pioneer Woman's website, the building was originally a mercantile beginning in 1910 and was known as the Osage Mercantile.
It was a place for trading goods and browsing. Ree and her family wanted to honor that legacy by recreating that shopping experience with hints to an earlier time in small town America.

Downtown Pawhuska has seen better days and many of the storefronts are closed, but there are a few other shops open. And there seems to be construction and remodeling of other buildings going on. 

Outside view of The Mercantile

We were told the Mercantile had 12,000 visitors on opening day, so it's great that The Pioneer Woman's business is bringing traffic again to old downtown Pawhuska and to Osage county.
We happened to be in the area because my granddaughter graduated from Army boot camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in December. When heading home to Ohio, my husband and I stopped in Pawhuska to see the Mercantile.

If you love the Pioneer Woman and her recipes you're going to love this shop!
I was amazed at all the beautiful dishes, kitchen gadgets, cowboy/girl nic-nacs, fabric, clothes and of course her cookbooks.

Beautiful displays of  kitchenware

Baskets for shopping and vintage fabrics

You can just see the staircase in this pic leading to the bakery!

You can also have lunch if you need a rest from shopping and afterward have fabulous desserts (or have them before).
There was a long line to have lunch so my husband and I just did desserts, which can be found at the second-floor bakery. We tried the fruit pastries (OMG) and Oatmeal Crispies. 
 I must confess, I immediately made the Oatmeal Crispies when we got home, yum!

Not sure what I'm doing,  but that's the bakery behind me!

Fruit pastries!!


And even more desserts!

We visited on a Saturday and arrived around 9 or 10 am. By the time we left, a line was forming so get there early or expect a wait. 

Although we just didn't have the time to spend a couple days in the area, there are other really interesting things to do in Osage County. Click this link for more info on Nearby Attractions.

I'd really like to go back and spend a couple days touring the other attractions and of course shopping at The Merc. And hopefully I'll run into the Pioneer Woman! I need her to autograph all my cookbooks! I hope and pray, that if I do see her, I remain composed and not stutter or say something completely stupid!


Monday, December 19

Fran's Holiday Cheese Ball Recipe

Cranberry coated Cheese Ball
We've purchased or made from scratch and tried many different types of cheese balls.  A cheese ball is nothing more than a mixture of cheeses, maybe chopped veggies and a few spices rolled into a ball and served as a dip with crackers.

It's an appetizer that has been in and out of popularity many times but still seems to hang in there.  Even though a cheese ball may be considered sort of retro by some, it's one appetizer you can be sure of.  And there's an entire book devoted to it.  The book, Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi has more than 50 savory and sweet cheese ball recipes!

This cheese ball recipe is our favorite and was created by my sister Frances. It has great flavor and can be easily changed to make many different cheese balls.

My sister Fran is a wonderful cook and I have been lucky enough to acquire a few of her recipes. She even wins numerous first place awards and ribbons (plus second and thirds) every year for her desserts at the Ohio State Fair!
Here are a few ways we have slightly altered this recipe in the past.

Cheese Ball Variations:
  • Reduce the amount of the mustard and horseradish
  • Double the shredded cheese amount
  • Use diced green onions in place of sweet onion
  • Use diced red onion and shredded Swiss cheese for a unique and wonderful flavor
  • Do not add the diced beef into the cheese ball mixture
  • Use various coverings in place of beef such as cranberries, nuts or just shredded cheese. 

Snowman cheeseball: Coat cheese ball with white cheese, add peppercorn eyes & mouth and a carrot nose

Cheese Ball Shapes:
Shape the cheese ball to fit the holiday or occasion. Be creative!
Examples:  Christmas tree, snowman, skull, pumpkin, football, Easter egg!

We serve this cheese ball at parties throughout the year but seem to like it best around Halloween,  Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Fran's Holiday Cheese Ball

2 - 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 to 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
2  - 2.5-ounce packages of Budig dried thinly sliced beef
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cheese)

Dried beef coated Cheese Ball

Allow cream cheese to soften at room temperature.
Chop the dried beef into small pieces and set aside. Dice the onion.
In a large bowl cream the cream cheese.  Add all the remaining ingredients, but add only about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the diced beef.

Delicious but didn't get beef diced as small as I usually like it

Form mixture into a ball.  Spread the remaining diced beef onto a plate or wax paper on the counter.
Roll the cheese ball over the beef, making sure to cover the outside of the cheese ball completely.
Chill the cheese ball in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.
Place cheese ball on a festive plate or dish and serve with crackers.

Skull Cheese Ball:  Take pics before setting out or this is what happens!


My sis Fran & I at our Fall Party
We've had a mixture of snow, rain, and sleet in the last few days here in Ohio and last week even had about 5 inches of snow on the ground!  
Fingers crossed, I'm hoping for a white Christmas! 


Other Posts:

Cheesy Bacon Dip

Elizabeth's Breakfast Casserole

Grandma Coy's Chocolate Caramel Bars

Monday, December 12

Cookie Cutter Christmas Ornaments

I make Christmas ornaments every year for my kids and now my grandkids and to give as gifts. It started out as making ornaments only for my kids, but then I started making two or three extra to give as gifts, and that has now grown into a yearly Christmas Ornament Exchange!

For me, it takes lots of planning and looking to find just the right ornament I want to make.
A few I've made in the past are Vintage Paper Ornaments, Vacation or Beach Ornaments with sand and shells from St. Augustine, Florida, a Flag of Ohio ornament and Felt Snowman ornaments.

And last year I created ornaments using vintage cookie cutters.
I was in a beautiful little antique store and gift shop in Grove City, Ohio and found a basket full of cookie cutters for $1.00 each.
I decided to use them to make little vintage – Victorian looking ornaments.
I of course, kept the old cookie cutters I didn't already have and added them to my collection.

Thursday, December 8

Elizabeth's Breakfast Casserole

I created this Breakfast Casserole by changing a recipe I found in an old Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook years and years ago.  The original recipe was for an Impossible Taco Pie or Impossible Seafood Pie, something like that.
And we seem to go back and forth on the name, either calling it a Breakfast Casserole or a Breakfast Quiche.

I usually make this recipe around the Holidays, for Thanksgiving morning and Christmas and New Year's Day. It's easy to make, a breeze to serve and clean up and it can be made for a few guests or a house full.

Sunday, November 27

Grandma Coy's Caramel Chocolate Bars

This recipe came from my mother-in-law Coy. She cut it out of a magazine years and years ago and had been making them for holidays and her grandkids ever since. My son Daniel especially loved these delicious cookies and Coy always made sure to bring him a special container of his own.

Sadly, Coy recently passed away, so I wanted to share her cookie legacy and recipe.

An easier version of this recipe uses a 12-ounce jar of caramel ice cream topping mixed with flour in place of the 42 caramels, but I haven't tried it yet.
I for one like an easier version of a recipe as long as it doesn't compromise the taste.

Friday, November 18

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

I had a request to do a blog post on this cheesecake (yea, it's that good). 

I found the original recipe for this decadent cheesecake in a Paula Dean Cookbook , but for time and convenience sake, I made a few small changes to make it a little easier.
For one, I use a pre-made graham cracker crust and I use a bottled caramel sauce. I also add a little vanilla.  We love our Homemade Vanilla.
And I'm sure using real caramels would taste better but I usually just don't have the time to spend an hour melting them!
But even with the changes, this has become one of our favorite desserts for Thanksgiving! Everyone just loves it and there's usually none left over.

Thursday, November 3

Maple Leaf Quilt Block

I'm in the middle of sewing a Farm Quilt, using patterns from Lori Holt's quilt book, Farm Girl Vintage.  I'm making the quilt blocks that relate to my own little farm, like a bee, black cat, chicken, strawberry, pumpkin, tractor, etc.

I have multiple sugar maple trees and in late winter I tap those trees to make real maple syrup. So, of course, I want a maple leaf block in my Farm Quilt.

There are many patterns out there to make a maple leaf  and I almost used the one from Farm Girl Vintage.  By the way, I love Lori Holt's books!!
But although her maple leaf is super cute and really easy to make, it's missing the top part of the maple leaf. Here is the scrappy leaf by Lori Holt (Bee in my Bonnet).

Monday, October 24

DIY Costume Awards

We have a fall / Halloween party every year and many people come in costume although it's not mandatory.
Our Halloween parties started when the kids were little but it has now evolved into a mostly adult party, although kids are encouraged and welcomed to come and I always have kiddy food, drinks, and treats.

When my kids were little I would give out prizes for top voted costumes but we haven't had a costume contest in years.
My daughter Alexis asked me to revive the tradition. So this year we had a costume contest, complete with voting jars for each category, and slips of paper and ink pens for everyone to pick their favorites.

We also decided that if you win an award in one category, you could not win in another.  That rule just allows more people to take home an award, but feel free to make up your own rules.

Wednesday, October 19

Halloween Costume Ideas #4

At the Circleville Pumpkin Show
Well, here we go again!
It's everything fall and pumpkin at our house this time of year and getting decorations set up for our annual Halloween Party.  We encourage everyone to come in costume (but not mandatory) and surprisingly, many people create costume themselves, which I love.

I've homemade my kids costumes for years and years and now that they're grown, they're carrying on the tradition.
If you've read any my previous posts on costumes, you know I have nothing against store purchased costumes, except that they are usually expensive but cheaply made, repetitive and many are just trampy.
So here are a few costume ideas and recent ones that have stood out.

Friday, September 16

Child's Batman Quilt

My most recent finished quilt was a request for a one-year-old boy's Batman quilt.

I'm not really into Batman (or any super hero) fandom so after finding a batman print fabric, I used Google to come up with coordinating colors.
The original request was just no blue colors.

There are actually a few Batman costumes, with the newest one clad in all black. I'm old school and I grew up with the vintage batman.  A plain black batman quilt or a gray-black one was just not very interesting in my opinion, so this quilt is inspired by the vintage batman costume.