Chicken Spaghetti

Hands down, one of the comfiest comfort foods around. Creamy, cheesy, packed with veggies, and warm pasta. It’s perfect for a cold winter night or a quick prep before a summer baseball game. It’s also excellent (Jay argues better) frozen and reheated. So make lots and freeze some for later!

From our table to yours, Chicken Spaghetti!!


  • 16 oz thin spaghetti
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 Tbs. chicken paste
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped finely
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms, rough chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped finely
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 jar pimentos
  • 2 cans cream of mushroon soup
  • 1 can rotel
  • 2 c. + 1 c. sharp cheddar
  • 2 c. monterrey Jack
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off the bone and rough chopped

1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and 2 Tbs. of chicken paste to a boil. Cook your spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta and return to pot.

2. In a large skillet, melt your 3 T. of butter. Saute onion, celery, mushrooms and green pepper until tender.

3. Add sauteed veggies, and the remaining ingredients to your cooked pasta and mix until creamy.

4. You can serve it straight from here or spoon into a casserole dish. Top with additional 1 c. of cheddar and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until cheese is bubby.

5. Can be frozen up to 6 months. To reheat, thaw in fridge for 24 hours, then bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes until reheated and cheese is bubbly.



HEB Jalapeno Artichoke Dip

My first three stops when I cross the Texas state line are Whataburger for a number 1- add jalapenos, Bucees for all things Texas, and HEB for veggie chips and jalapeno artichoke dip.  (And that’s just the beginning of my quest to eat my way through the state.)  Now, I won’t claim that this recipe is quite as good as HEB’s but it’ll definitely do until I get back home!

So from our table to yours,



  • 1 can of artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup of pickled jalapenos (mild, medium or hot, depending on your preference); drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of shredded fresh parmesan
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Mix all ingredients.

It’s amazing cold or hot!  Cover and refrigerate or pour into a glass baking dish and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes until bubbly.   I love it with veggie or pita chips but tortilla chips are never wrong.  Serve with your favorites and dream of all things Texas.




Every good Texan knows two things about Kolaches:  One,  you never drive through West or Caldwell without stopping to get some, and two, you always get enough to share.  At the holidays, coordinating who will bring kolaches is just as important as coordinating who’s making turkey and dressing.  (At our house, we count on Aunt Cindy and Uncle Paul.)  There are lots of chain restaurants and donuts shops that sell them, but nothing beats the little hole in the wall kolache shops with stained tile floors, a leaky faucet in the bathroom and the same three laminate booths that customers have sat in for 50 years.

This Czech/Tex pastry is sweet, but savory; fluffy; but filling, delicate, but hearty.  So I knew when I decided to tackle the art of making them, the chances of getting it right the first time were slim.  My first batch was too dense and the filling ran out.  The second batch would have been perfect….if I had been making danishes.  The third batch was a charm.  It took me the better part of a day, but they were so worth the wait.  They were glorious.  So for those of you, like me, too far away from home to get our fix….



  • 2 packages of yeast
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 7-8 cups flour
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • your favorite fruit preserves or filling
  • Cream Cheese filling (recipe below)
  • Crumble Topping (recipe below)

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

Crumble Topping

  • 1 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar

1. Stir your 2 Tbs. sugar into 1/2 c. warm water.  Sprinkle in 2 packages of yeast.  With the back of a spoon, I gently dunk the yeast into the warm water.  Let it sit until the yeast is foamy.

2.  Meanwhile, mix milk and sour cream.  Add in yeast mixture.

3.  Add 2 c. of flour.  It should be pretty runny at this point, like pankcake batter.

4.  Mix in 1/2 c. melted butter, eggs, sugar and a pinch of salt.

5.  Slowly add in 5 to 6 more cups of flour.  Too much flour makes it dense and tough, so it’s better to have too little than too much.   Add 1/2 c. at a time until your dough is smooth and tacky.  I used my dough hook on my kitchen aid to get it started, but kneading it in by hand really proved to be the best route for me.

6.  Set your oven to 350 degrees, and let preheat for 3 minutes.  Then turn it off and your light on.

7.  Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray or butter.  Place your smooth ball of dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

8.  In your oven that is OFF but warm, place your bowl.  Let it rise until doubled in size, an hour to an hour and a half.

9.  Punch your dough down, and pinch off dough to make 1.5 ounce balls.  I fight extra steps when I cook, but weighing the dough out gave me uniform kolaches with just the right consistency….no small, burnt ones or big, raw ones.  You can get a scale for less than $10 at Wal-Mart.  Worth. It.

10.  Using a silicone brush, butter your cookie sheet or glass baking dish.  You can certainly make more at one time on a baking sheet, but I’ll be so honest and say, I prefer my glass baking dishes for cookies, pastries and breads.  There’s no science behind it and hard core bakers may shudder at my confession, but I stand by it.  Everything just comes out softer.  With this batch, I made 1/2 on my cookie sheet and 1/2 in a baking dish.  We unimously voted for the baking dish version.

11.  If you want the traditional rectangle shaped kolaches, your balls have to placed very closely together on your baking sheet.  You want them to rise up, not expand out.


12.  Brush the tops with butter, and gently cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel.

13.  Return to oven until doubled in size.  Oven off, but light on.


14.  While they rise, prepare your fruit filling or cream cheese filling.  Mix all of your crumble topping ingredients in a separate bowl until crumbly.

14.  Using your fingers, make an indentation in the middle of each dough ball just big enough hold a couple of tablespoons of filling.  Gently drop in your filling, and sprinkle with topping.

15.  Cover one last time with a tea towel or plastic wrap and return to warm oven and let rise again.

16.  Once they have returned to big and fluffy, remove from the oven.  Preheat your oven to 375.

17.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until they’re fluffy and lightly browned.  Watch them closely, though….I’ve had some batches finish quickly and some took a few more minutes.

18.  My kids circled me like vultures as they finally came out of the oven for good.  And we sampled all of ours immediately.  Vanilla Pear, Jalapeno Apple and Cream Cheese.  Our next batch will definitely include my personal favorite…Poppy Seed!




Cheddar Chicken Pot Pie

Think Cheddar Bay Biscuit meets Chicken and Dumplings.  Yeah, no introduction necessary.  A cheesy pie crust with a traditional pot pie filling…. It’s pretty much the epitome of all things comfort.


The Crust:

  • 5 c. flour
  • 2 c.  butter
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar

The Filling:

  • 1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped fully cooked chicken or turkey (rotisserie chicken. leftover turkey, etc.)
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 tsp. chicken paste
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 egg, beaten

1.  In a large mixing bowl, cut your butter into your 5 c. of flour.  Add in the milk and a pinch of salt.

2.  On a well floured surface, divide your dough in halves.  One half at a time, knead in more flour until smooth and no longer sticky.

3.  Knead in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese into each half.

4.  Roll out each half into a circle large enough to fill the bottom and sides of your pie pan.

5.  Carefully lift and place in your pan.  Repeat with the second half of your dough, but save it for the top of your pie.

6. In a dutch oven or large saucepan, melt your butter.  Add in all of your veggies, except the garlic.  Saute until softened.

7.  Add in garlic and peas, and cook about 1 minute more.

8.  Stir in your flour.

9.  Add water, chicken paste, and heavy whipping cream.

10.  Continue to stir until you’ve got a thick sauce.

11.  Add in a dash of your favorite hot sauce and chicken.  Mix well.

12.  Pour into your pie crust.

13.  Top with the second half of crust that you have reserved.

14.  Cut off excess crust around the edges.  Press edges together with the back of a fork to seal in all of that chicken goodness.

15.  Cut 4 slits in the top of the pie for venting.

16.  Brush the top and edges with beaten egg. (I completely forgot this when I made this last night…so yours will be prettier than mine!)

17.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until your crust is golden and flaky.

18.  Let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


Apple Pear Caramel Pie

My great-great grandmother was known for her sweet caramel pie and her even sweeter spirit.   She was alive until she was 99 years young.   Unfortunately for me, she suffered from Alzheimer’s most of the 15 years I got to know her, so I never got to try that legendary caramel pie.  But I do hear about it year after year, so this holiday season, I thought I better attempt my own.  The simplicity and nostalgia of a caramel pie has always intrigued me.

My first ever caramel pie was gorgeous with a mile-high meringue.  But it didn’t set well.  My second pie set perfectly, but we decided it lacked pizazz, umph, the X factor.  So for the 3rd attempt, I took a public vote.  Add apple, pear, or both?  We ended up somewhere right around a tie….so I went with both!

It turned out amazing!  We loved it.  The fruit just added some texture and depth to the already glorious caramel flavor.   You could easily do just apple or just pear, but the tart apple and the sweet pear complimented eachother so well.  So enjoy!!  As with any recipe, make it your own, so that it graces your table often.


For the Crust:

  • 5 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. butter flavored Crisco
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • pinch of salt

For the Fruit:

  • 3 Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Pears
  • 2 T sugar

For the Caramel:

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 c. milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 3/4 . sugar
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For the Meringue: 

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 c. sugar

1. For the crust, sprinkle a pinch of salt into your flour.  Cut in your butter, and mix until crumbly.

2.  Add in the milk and mix until smooth.

3.  On a well-floured surface divide dough into 2 manageable balls.  Knead in more flour until the dough is really smooth and not sticky.


4.  Roll out one of your balls until its roughly 14 in. in diameter or big enough to cover your deep dish pie pan in the bottom and up the sides.

5.  Carefully fold it in half and using a large spatula pick it up and place in your pie pan.  Unfold and gently press into your pan and crimp your edges.  *The remaining dough can be vacuum sealed or put in a freezer bag and frozen for your next pie*

6.  Pie experts have pie beads to pre-bake crusts…..but I don’t, so I use mason jar lids to keep the crust from bubbling.  Whatever you use, place on your crust, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust starts to brown.

7.  While your crust cooks, slice your apples and pears into bite size pieces.  I like to leave the skins on, but most people don’t.  So peel your fruit or don’t.  Make it yours!

8.  Place in a heavy bottomed pot with the sugar, and cook over medium heat until softened.  Remove from heat, and let cool in a separate bowl.  You’ll need the pot.

9.  Don’t forget about your crust!  Remove from the oven and let cool.

10.  In the same heavy pot you used for your fruit, caramelize 3/4 cup of sugar.  Whisk it often over medium heat until it begins to turn brown and liquify.  Don’t rush this step…too much heat will burn your sugar instead of caramelize it.  You’ll definitely smell the difference!


11.  While your sugar is caramelizing, mix your other ingredients in a separate pot.  2 cups of milk, 3 egg yolks, 4 T. flour and 3/4 cup of sugar.  Whisk continuously over med-low heat until thickened.

12.  The custard and the caramel should finish at about the same time.  When they do, pour one into the other and whisk continuously.

13.  Continue to whisk until it’s thick….even thicker than it already is; about 5 minutes.  This is the step I cut short in my first attempt…and the reason my pie didn’t set.

14.  Spread your cooled fruit into your pie crust.

15.  Pour your thickened caramel custard over your fruit.  It will set as it cools.


16.  In yet a separate bowl or with a stand mixer, beat your egg whites.  Add in the sugar and continue to beat, until stiff peaks form.  Stiff peaks just mean when you pull the beater out, the whipped egg whites point straight up.  They don’t curl over like a wave.

17.  Gently, with a rubber spatula, scoop your meringue out onto your pie.  It’s important that your meringue touches the crust on all sides or it will flop.

18.  Bake in a 425 degree oven until it’s starting to brown on the spoon lines.  Don’t walk away…it happens quickly.

19.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting.

20.  Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, but the meringue will start to disappear and flatten after about 8 hours.






Pecan Apple Pie

This mornings’ church sermon was all about embracing interruptions in our lives….you know, when things don’t quite go according to our plans.  In true God fashion, that was exactly what I needed to hear today. Because, you see, this whole past week has been one big, fat interruption.  

It was fall break.  I had big plans of wooing my kids with movies, chic-fil-a lunch dates, horses, maybe even some go-karts.  Everyone else was headed to the beach or Disney World…. the least I could do was make this break at home a memorable one.  

And then some creepy crawly venimous insect decided to bite the top of my head Saturday.  I was miserable and bedbound until the next Friday….the whole. darn. week.  So the second I felt better, we made a delivery, ran some errands, made it to the Main Event for a few hours for some bowling and video games….and then my face swelled up like a pumpkin and I headed back to the house to hide!

Even though it wasn’t anyone’s fault I got bit, I was beating myself up that I hadn’t done more with them.  I was sad that when they went back to school, their stories from fall break would pale in comparison to their friends’ grand adventures. 

And then I heard that sermon.  And I looked back at the week and realized how much good had happened.  I loved that my kids were happy with simple pleasures like new legos Daddy brought home.  And how sweet my Paisley was when she squeezed my neck and told me she was sorry I felt bad.  And I realized how much we all loved staying in our jammies all week and how much I appreciated that my husband made me laugh even when I looked like Quasimodo.  And suddenly, I realized maybe this was really the break we all needed.  

And as if all that wasn’t enough….I took this seclusion time yesterday to play with some new recipes.  I hadn’t made time to do that in too long.  So to say I enjoyed it would be an understatement.  

And this was the result.

So embrace the interruptions.  Hug your kids.  Love your husband.  And make pie 🙂 

For the crust:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • Dash of salt

For the filling:

  • 5 Tbs. softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces
  • 3 granny smith apples, sliced thinly
  • 1Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

1.  Mix your crust ingredients together until a smooth dough forms.

2. Divide in half.  Om a floured surface, roll one half into a circle big enough to fill your deep dish pie plate.  Freeze the other half for next time…because there WILL be a next time 😉

3.  Lay your apple slices to fill the bottom and sprinkle 1 Tbs. of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon over the top. 

4.  In a separate bowl, beat your eggs for several minutes until they’re light and fluffy.  

5.  Add in the softened butter, Karo syrup, and vanilla.  

6.  Pour over the apples. 

7.  Top with pecan halves or pieces.  

8.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour until the filling is set.  Be sure and check the crust around 40 minutes in.  If its getting too dark, just lay a piece of foil over top for the rest of the time.  

9.  Remove from oven and let cool.  If you’re feeling adventrous, add a scoop of Bluebell Homemade Vanilla.  That little bite of home makes everything better 🙂


Brisket Chili

Social media is covered up with everyone declaring their love for fall…the cooler temperatures, the colorful leaves, the sweaters, the campfires, the boots, and the food.  Oh, for the love of fall foods.  And I’m a sucker for every single bit of it.  September 1st, I practically skipped around the farm wearing flannel and decorating with pumpkins and mums and hay bales.  If I could whistle, I’d have probably done that too.  My name is Brooke, and I love fall.

And last night felt like fall.  Rainy, cold, windy….downright perfect chili weather.  I have an old faithful chili recipe that I make almost weekly during the cold months, but last night, we had about 4 lbs of leftover brisket trimmings, and I was feeling a little adventurous.   Now, I fully recognize, most people don’t have brisket just lying around like we do, but it would be criminal to keep this to myself.  So if you do happen to have some leftovers that have dried out a little bit in the fridge or you’re just hankering for the absolute best chili you’ve had in your life, give this a go.  You will not be disappointed.

So from our table to yours,


  • 4 lbs of fully cooked, Smoked Brisket
  • 4 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 15 oz. tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/4 c. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 29 oz. can pinto beans

1. Chop your brisket into small, bite size pieces and put in large pot or dutch oven.  Add garlic.

2.  Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin and water.  It seems simple, I know.  But you’re dealing with brisket here….not ground beef like usual.  It doesn’t need as much help to be amazing.

3.  Let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add more water if you need to prevent sticking.

4.  Add pinto beans, and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, still stirring occasionally.

5.  Ladle into a deep bowl that you can hunker over to eat.  It’s so good just like that.  But my never-ending quest for the perfect bite leads me to all the chili fixin’s….cheese, shredded lettuce, avocado, sour cream and jalapeños.

Oh!  And cornbread.  There’s probably some amazing homemade cornbread recipes on Pinterest.  But that 88 cent blue box of sweet Jiffy cornbread is like heaven in an 8×8 pan.  So it’s our resident go-to 🙂