Grandma’s Cookbook-Recipe Refresh #1 Jack Pot Casserole (1948)

IMG_20200406_081611_107Choosing recipes for this series is hard enough with so many to choose from within this wonderful book but adding to it the challenges we are facing right now, made it even more difficult with our limited pantries and shopping trips. BUT, let’s face it…it pales in comparison to what people are enduring and dealing with everyday. I will happily manage 🙂

My goal in this series is to take vintage recipes from my Grandmother’s cookbook and refresh them to match our modern times. Some are just fine the way they are and some just need a revamp or to be made with healthier more up to date ingredients. IMG_20200405_144352247

I have always been about substitutions in recipes. Some of the best dishes come from “oopsies” or just not having all the right ingredients. This is probably why I am not the best baker because I am not one to measure or to follow rules in the kitchen lol!IMG_20200323_103606492

So, I will include the original recipe and then also my refresh. I like to avoid sodium in my dishes as much as possible due to my husband’s heart issues but you can always add it if you prefer.

Like I said, with our limited pantries at the moment please feel free to contact me with questions on substitutions. You would be surprised just how many ingredients can be substituted with whatever you have on hand and you will still have a great dish! Enjoy!IMG_20200405_154855271

You will need:

  • 2-  Boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces  (I think ground chicken, turkey, or beef would have been better in this dish (approx. 1 lb) but I didn’t have any on hand)
  • 2- Tb Butter (you can omit the butter and add more olive oil if you want)
  •  Olive oil
  • 1- med onion chopped
  • 3- garlic cloves minced
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tsp cilantro dried or fresh
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1- 14.5oz can no salt added petite diced tomatoes (you could add 2 cans if you are a big tomato fan)
  • 1- 1/2 cup water
  •  1 Tb tomato paste
  •  1/2 package (8oz) pasta (any kind) uncooked (I used elbow)
  •  2- 14.75 oz cans cream style corn
  •  1/4 cup chopped jalapenos (I used jar) add more if you like the heat
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used a mexi cheddar blend)
  • Crushed tortilla or corn chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Add butter and a good drizzle of olive oil to pan on medium heat. Add onion, some pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp cilantro. Sauté for a couple minutes then add garlic and stir a minute or 2. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp cilantro, and curry. Cook until chicken is white (chicken will cook more in the oven) Add the tomatoes, (Put a splash of water in the tomato can and swish it to soak up the tomato juice left in can and add to pan. You will also do this with the corn cans) tomato paste, water, and noodles and another couple grinds of pepper. Stir until blended. Cook until noodles are tender stirring frequently. Add corn, jalapenos, and parmesan and stir. Remove from heat.IMG_20200405_155816233IMG_20200405_161208790

Pour into a greased casserole dish ( I used an 8 x 11 rectangular). Sprinkle with shredded cheese and chips and drizzle the top with olive oil. Bake approx. 45 min until golden and bubbly. IMG_20200405_162112387IMG_20200405_162739760

IMG_20200405_170637683Let it rest out of the oven for about 10 min. Serve with remaining cilantro, cheese and chips. Btw I think olives would have been great with this dish but my family doesn’t like them! If you like heat you can serve with hot sauce or more jalapenos. Serves 6-8 and is GREAT leftover! Can also be made ahead! **This is a medium heat dishIMG_20200406_081611_107

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂





My Journey Into My Grandma’s Cookbook


fb_img_1456083434628-1I can’t even remember how long I have had it. It’s just kind of always been there. Through all the moves, packing and unpacking, on this shelf, in that cupboard… just always around. I am almost ashamed of that. Like it’s the lost or forgotten of Andy’s toys…dusty, under all the newest and more desirable and it’s prior AND present value and beauty ignored.

I have a wall of shelves in my basement adorned with all my dining and kitchen goodies. Everything you need for table setting and entertaining…well not everything…but I love my collection and it gets lots of love and use. Holidays, dinner parties, birthday parties etc. I LOVE to entertain and that will never change, God willing.

Recently I went downstairs to retrieve some dinnerware for a family birthday dinner I was hosting and as I was digging around for “just the right” items (and sometimes that takes a while because I am unfortunately a perfectionist!) I was trying to grab something in the back of the shelf and there it was! Like I had never seen it before! Ya know, one of those moments where the choir sings and a light emanates around it? It literally stopped me in my tracks. I put everything down and opened this cookbook. I cannot easily explain what I felt. It was overwhelming. At that moment nothing was going to keep me from looking at this treasure. It took me ALL these years to see its glory. It’s as if Grandma herself took it off that shelf and SMACKED me in the head with it! And if you knew my VERY Polish Grandma you would not be surprised! I think I felt that wooden spoon she used to threaten us with, (but never used because we KNEW not to push her that far), cracking me in the behind and a voice saying “Charlene Sue! Why is my cookbook collecting dust?! Do you know how many years of sweat and joy I put in that book? Now open it up and appreciate it!” I honestly haven’t put it down since.

IMG_20200323_103606492The cover is held together by duct tape and the pages are very delicate (a revised edition from 1938). As you turn the pages you can’t help but put yourself in that time. The pictures, the terminology, the old smell, her carefully thought out notations, the drips and stains, the carefully organized recipes in all their categories…just a plethora of a time that has almost been forgotten and not appreciated for the beauty that it was.

I love that women are in a place in time of choices. A little girl can grow up and be whatever she wants to be. Many fought for these rights and choices and aren’t we ever so grateful? I do feel, and this is just my opinion, that one choice has gotten a little lost in the shuffle of modern times….and that is the choice of being a Homemaker. I don’t even think I hear that word used anymore and it saddens me because it IS a choice and a wonderful one! I believe it is a choice that doesn’t get the respect it used to and I also feel women who TRULY want to make this choice are somewhat misunderstood. ” Hi Mary! So nice to meet you! What do you do?” – “Well, I am a Homemaker, Domestic Engineer, a Stay at home Mom.” –  “Oooooo so you don’t work?” –  Mmmmmmmmm……???? 😦

When I was growing up I really have no idea why, but my dream was to be a Homemaker. I played make believe Mom and housewife ALL the time when I was a little girl. I couldn’t wait to get married, set up a home and have children. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard “Aren’t you going to college? What about your career? So, what are you going to do with your life?” Now, granted, I did get married way too young due to family circumstances that I won’t get into, and no I wasn’t pregnant lol, but I can truly understand why people may have been worried about my future, worried I may go down a bad path of struggle and regret, but I knew deep down I was living my dream and I was willing to take the chance….in fact, I made it very clear to my husband-to-be that that was my life plan and he had to agree to it before I would walk down the isle! 🙂 Life IS full of struggle and regret no matter what path we take, but I think it’s how we overcome and learn from it all that molds us into what we 1984-3

IMG_20170108_165420629 (2017_09_11 13_04_50 UTC)The reason I believe this has become such a misunderstood career choice is because of the time we live in. It is just about impossible to live on one income nowadays and those few women who may want to be at home by choice just can’t make it work financially…especially when you have children. Those buggers cost a fortune! 🙂 I have had my years of feeling like I had to work outside of the home and I have accumulated marketable skills over the years and did get out there and put them to use…BUT, I never stuck with it because it wasn’t my passion and I was always unhappy trying, so, I tried to earn income in many different ways from home to make ends meet. IMG_20200321_101343086IMG_5504 (1)

Please do not misunderstand me. I COMPLETELY support women in ANY career choice they make…well as long as it’s legal lol, and I DO NOT think a woman who CHOOSES to have a career outside of the home is any less or more than a woman who doesn’t. We NEED to support each other always and respect ALL our choices as the awesome women we are and see their value. As I look through this cookbook I wonder what my Grandma was thinking. Was she happy in her choices? Was she content or did she need more? Did she feel pressure to live the life she lived or was it HER passion? As I read all her little notes and see all her care in every page she saved, every recipe she carefully chose I feel more and more that she DID have a passion for what she did. I am sure there were things she dreamed of doing, choices she wondered about, what-if’s she pondered from time to time, but I can tell you that those times at Grandma’s house were bursting with love. Gave me literally the BEST memories of my childhood. The smells, the tradition, the amazing food, the care she put into every detail. The love and comfort I felt at every event or Holiday at her house stayed with me to this day. I really don’t believe a soul such as she would have been able to make us all feel that way if she wasn’t living her choice OR her passion. If that were the case, bless her heart, she was amazing at making us believe otherwise.

I think I actually just answered my own question. My Grandma is probably the reason, and her daughter, my amazing Aunt Carole, that I developed such a passion for home. Such a passion and a need to nurture and create comfort for all that surround me. I want to make my loved ones feel what I felt during those few and precious gatherings at Grandmas house. And, I DON”T want it forgotten. I don’t want that “choice” to go away. I don’t want that choice to no longer be an option for women who want it, for women who HAVE that passion. I don’t want that choice to be frowned upon or disrespected or not seen for its value. I want to fight for THAT choice to BE a choice in todays modern times for those few who desire it.

There is so much I want to share with you from this cookbook. So I am starting a series dedicated to it. It has SO much interesting material that I HAVE to! Ooooo the recipes! You will not believe the recipes! Not only do I want to spotlight them but I want to revamp them to recipes for “TODAY”.  I even saw a few where one of the ingredients was MSG! Good grief! How far we have come! IMG_20200323_103741944IMG_20200321_101403136



As I look at THIS picture, this advertisement featuring a young girl so proudly, with the help of her Mother, presenting the most “perfectly” perfected cake to the “MAN” of the house, her Father, and looking so accomplished and joyful! But…I just wonder, knowing the time, was SHE being presented choices? Or was she so gracefully being groomed into what ended up being MY dream…but maybe wasn’t hers?

These are some of the many things I want to explore and share with you and ALL from this amazing cookbook I shamefully put to the side for so many years. Who knew? Who knew I had a magical book by my side just waiting for me to let it shine…let it shine in all of Grandma’s underrated glory. She has been gone, but NOT forgotten, since 2004 and it’s about time I share her priceless treasures and put that precious book front and center where it belongs. Buzz and Woody would be so proud 🙂


Stay tuned……

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂





Pomegranate Apple Crisp

This recipe is definitely one of my favorites and perfect for the Holidays!


IMG_20180102_111347_852This is a really different apple crisp recipe but I love it! You get a little crunch and zing from the pomegranate seeds along with the rich sweetness of the apples and crisp topping. I am always pushed into the mood to make apple pie or crisp when I have those extra apples left in the produce drawer that no one wants to bother eating because they aren’t perfect. 😦  So, I tend to make apple recipes with a mix of different types of apples on their last leg and it hasn’t failed me yet! I REALLY hate wasting food, so sometimes I create great recipes because of it….win-win! 🙂

You will need:

  • 8 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples (any kind you prefer)
  • 1 cup of pomegranate seeds (save a little for garnish)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • 1 cup…

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Peppered Bacon Green Beans

This is a great recipe to revisit for the Holiday season!


img_20151126_193203-1If you are looking for a change from green bean casserole for the holidays I invite you to try this delicious and easy recipe. Now this doesn’t fall into my Healthy Selection category (AT ALL) but it IS for the Holidays when you make those little splurges. I have never been a fan of the good ol’ green bean casserole and this is what I have always made, and as far as I know, I haven’t had any complaints 🙂

You will need:

  • 1 pkg. (includes 3 bags) Schwan’s Live Smart Microsteam Green Beans (you can also use fresh washed green beans)
  • 6-8 slices Schwan’s Thick Sliced bacon thawed and cut into 1 inch pieces (you can use the whole package if you like more bacon)
  • 1 c water to start- may need a little more throughout cooking
  • approx. 1 tsp fresh ground pepper up to 1-1/2 tsp if you like a little…

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Entertaining in the Fall…why it is the best time of year to host a gathering :)

Let’s get the Fall festivities going!


img_20160801_121324-1Whether you are an experienced Host or someone who is just thinking of entertaining at home the Fall season is by far your best bet. Until recently, I hosted my annual get together of about 25-35 people every year without fail in October…and let me tell you why.

Not only is Fall the BEST time of year but October is only host to one festive holiday… Halloween. And that falls at the very end of the month. So, you are left with an entire 30 days to do…WHATEVER!

It’s not like September, November, or December. September is busy with back to school, Fall sports, and it’s still mainly a Summer month… November starts to get pretty cold and in todays day and age most people are already in Christmas mode and wanting to spend their weekends shopping…and let us NOT forget Thanksgiving (my favorite) and that pesky and ANNOYING black Friday…THEN, when you finally…

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Roasted Ginger Curry Autumn Medley

It’s that time of year again to revisit this recipe! Sooooo good!


img_20160926_103940I can’t get enough of roasted vegetables!! Especially root vegetables and especially this time of year. They are so rustic and hearty and look beautiful on your table. The fun thing about them is that you can make them in any combination and it is ALWAYS good. So for the amateur cook it’s a no fail dish. Pick from your favorites or from what’s on hand, throw them together, roast ’em and like magic you have a dish to serve that makes you look like a pro! I have many of my own favorite combinations and I will be posting them but this one is my absolute favorites. It is perfect for the Fall and winter and holiday season and can be paired with just about anything. You can prep it ahead and roast it before serving and this is also one of my Healthy Selections recipes so it’s good…

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Spaghetti Squash

I am a total vegetable freak! I love them and spaghetti squash is definitely one of my absolute favorites. You just can’t get easier…it is a very simple process to make and you can literally change it up anyway you’d like. You can serve it so many ways just use your imagination! IMG_20190430_102832_970


You will need:

-1 or 2 med to large spaghetti squash

-olive oil

-salt and pepper

-any seasoning blend you prefer or just stick with salt & pepper (my favorite to use is Tastefully Simple’s Rustic Herb Seasoning)IMG_20190505_123524179

Line a sheet pan with foil and preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds.  Drizzle and rub olive oil thoroughly on the inside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I leave out the salt because we are on a low sodium diet) and any other seasoning you like.IMG_20190405_190654107

Turn the squash up side down skin side up and bake for 30-60 minutes (depends on size and number of halves) or until your finger indents the skin when you press it. It should be a little squishy.

Remove pan from oven and using tongs flip them right side up to cool for about 5 minutes.IMG_20190405_190520295

Using a fork “fluff” the squash “noodles” out of the skin. You can eat it right out of the skin (built in bowl!) or remove it to use as a side dish or mixed with anything you’d like! You’re favorite sauce, cheese, vegetable or salad…you name it! It is just DELICIOUS!IMG_20190430_102832_970


Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂