Smokey Cheese Spread

This is a fun appetizer, compliments of Better Homes and Gardens, that can be made ahead either hours or even a day before you need it. Typically I’ve used the smoked Gouda option and haven’t tried the other two. There have been times  when I’ve not had enough time to make a ‘cheese ball’, so have made this into a spread.

Which just means that I put it into a container for later use.

I hope you enjoy this – it’s really yummy!


Smoky Cheese Ball


  • 2   8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 2 cups finely shredded smoked cheddar, Swiss, or Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons steak sauce
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts, toasted
Assorted crackers


  1. Let cream cheese, shredded cheese, and butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Add milk and steak sauce; beat until fluffy. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.
  2. Shape mixture into a ball; roll in nuts. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with crackers. Makes 3-1/2 cups spread (56, 1-tablespoon servings).

Communication, or the lack thereof

My husband looks at me and asks me what’s wrong. Did he offend me? Did he do something wrong? And, instead of being honest, I swallow my hurt and frustration, tell him no, and continue to fold laundry. I tell him I have a headache and I’m tired. He gets me some water and aspirin – the lie having caused the headache and the lack of communication causing a rift.

Communication is such a murky subject. There are numerous levels. There’s the ‘survival communication‘. The “did you get the clothes out of the dryer? S is out of underwear!” Then there’s the surface talk’ The “How was your day? Rough, yours? Kids were crazy, cute, then crazy again.”

It’s the deep talk, the heart talk, that is difficult to get to. Between the busyness of the day and the weariness in the evening, sometimes there’s nothing left to give.

How many times have we had to peel back the layers of life to get back to the ‘us’ – the couple that used to talk for hours? We have to make the time to communicate. We have to take it and put that time to good use.

My husband and I live in the same house together, we live life together, but communicating what’s on our hearts is sometimes difficult. After mulling this over and trying to get to the root cause of our lack of communication, I’ve come up with a couple of things. They may not be your reasons but perhaps they’ll help you figure out yours.

The first is complacency. Sometimes talking takes too much effort (there, I said it and my husband admitted this too). Much to my chagrin, sometimes I’m okay with not making that effort. It’s sort of like when you know you should be spending time with your kids but you know that pile of dishes won’t clean itself and you choose the dishes over love (please tell me I’m not the only one doing this!) You’ve lost that moment, to what, housework? But the times that you’ve chosen play over work have been so sweet.

That’s the way it is with talking with my man. When I choose talking over the 25 tasks on my ‘to-do’ list, it reaps so many more rewards. The dishes will always be there but the opportunity to build that relationship might not be.

Okay, so I told you that there were a couple of things – here’s the second. FEAR. One word, but such a big one. I’m afraid sometimes to tell that man that I love with all my heart, what is going on inside my brain. I’m afraid because with love comes the power to hurt, and if I don’t talk, I don’t give him that power, right?


But how many times have I been surprised when I do bear my heart and we have had a wonderful conversation?

Fear will do that to you. It’ll creep in and tell you things that aren’t true. Lies that will keep your relationship from growing because you believe them over what you know to be true. And the truth is my husband loves me and  wants to talk too. The truth is, he holds my heart protectively.

Do you know something wonderful? God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)

When I am fearful, I am weak, undisciplined, and selfish. These character traits don’t build relationships but rather tear them down.

The love of God is amazing and more powerful than we could ever fathom. He can give us the strength to have genuine heart conversations. And, He alone can conquer the fear that holds us back from becoming a couple who brings Him glory in our relationships.

He can give us the strength to make the

Berries w/Whipped Cream

This may sound like a ‘no-brainer’ recipe, but sometimes the most simple desserts can be the most seductive.

Spring and Summer offer a wonderful variety of berries all with go fantastically with fresh whipped cream.

If you’re pinched for time don’t hesitate to purchase Redi-whip. But, if your have a moment, freshly whipped is divine and can be made ahead of time.

A simple summer evening can turn into a sizzling summer night with berries and cream.



Berries and Cream
  • 1 Pint of your favorite Berries
  • 1 C. Whipping Cream
  • Sugar or sweetener to taste

1. Rinse berries and divide into two bowls.

2. Starting on low speed, whip your cream, increasing speed gradually. Once it starts to thicken add sweetener and keep beating until stiff.

3. Dollop whipped cream on berries and serve. Have fun!




Music to Set the Mood – Artists and Songs to get you there

Last month I asked my friends and followers on Facebook what their favorite ‘mood music’ or ‘song’ is. I got several responses :)

Here they are:
  1.  Ray Lamontagne
  2. The Carpenters
  3. Kenny G
  4. Barry Manilow
  5. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Diana Krall, and others of that genre
  6. Randy Travis – “Forever and Ever, Amen
  7. You are my special Angel
  8. Damien Rice
  9.  The Beatles – “Something


And #10 is my husband’s and my song.

It’s the ultimate introvert love song.

For full disclosure, I much prefer Ronan Keating singing it, but his video is really weird and totally detracts from the beauty of the song.

So here it is, “When you say Nothing at All”. I hope you like it!



Do you have a favorite artist or song? Let me know in the comments.


10 Date Ideas – #’s 6-10

Top 10 Date Nights
Top 10 Date Nights, continued….

6. Play video games - I have to admit, we don’t have any experience with this one. But a good friend of mine has said that is how she and her husband have date night. And, from what I’ve heard, talking actually happens while the game is being played. You know, that heart to heart, soul talking that we women long for from our husbands.

7. Read a novel together - Years ago my husband and I read Winnie the Pooh. Hardly, romantic, I know, but there was something about reading together. Maybe it was the levity of the book, or that we had something to look forward to. Whatever it was, it was fun and brought us together. I’d say it did its job :)

8. Candlelight picnic in the Living Room  - For those of you who live in an apartment or a condo and don’t have access to a backyard, a picnic in your living room would be perfect. My husband and I have done this on several occasions and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Candles, wine (or beverage of choice) and a blanket can set the mood for a very romantic evening. Oh, and for this one, make sure that you have your kids do a tidy-up before they go to bed. It’s not as romantic if you’re stepping on Legos ;)

9. Start a Hobby - Is there something that you’ve thought might be fun to try? Or is there a project that has been on your ‘to-do’ list for ages? Head to the library with your guy and see if there is a book in the hobby section that catches your eye. Maybe it’s learning how to do origami together. Or, maybe you could build a model airplane. There are so many possibilities!

10. Star Gazing - Remember when you were a kid, and you would lay down on the grass and stare at the sky? Well, we’re never too old for this. So, go outside one evening, lay down, and gaze at the stars. Make sure that you’re holding hands, though, the magic happens more readily when you and your man are holding hands ;)



Caprese Salad

This is one of summer’s most wonderful offerings and surprisingly one of the more easily prepared date night snacks. Not only is it beautiful, but will make your mouth glad for sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and just-picked basil.


Caprese Salad
  • Two ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • chopped basil
  • Balsamic vinegar reduction
  1. Arrange sliced tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate, sprinkle with chopped basil
  2. Drizzle with reduction
  • 1 C. to 2 C. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Sweetener

Pour vinegar and honey into saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let reduce by at least half. Watch closely, until reduction is syrupy. Remove from heat, let cool and drizzle over salad.





Creme Brulee

This is one of my husband’s all time favorite desserts. The combination of maple and creamy, rich, custard make for a very sensuous dessert. Plus your husband will love when you make this because he gets to play with fire.

Plan to make this one in the afternoon. It should be chilled before serving. And don’t let the hazelnuts scare you.  I’ve never served this with them because of the cost. I’m sure they add a lovely dimension, but aren’t completely necessary. Oh, and don’t worry about trying to make this for two – you’ll eat the entire batch. It’s that good!

Note: Step 6 states to melt the sugar in a saucepan and then pour over each crème brulee. It’s much easier and less touchy to invest in a crème brulee torch. This might sound laughable, but believe me, you’ll get your money’s worth out of it since you won’t be able to make this just one time.



Photo credit Better Homes and Garden


Maple Creme Brulee with Hazelnuts 
recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat six 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins* with cooking spray. Place custard cups in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In a heavy small saucepan, combine whipping cream and the 3 tablespoons sugar; heat over medium heat just until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine egg yolks, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Beat with a wire whisk or rotary beater just until combined. Slowly whisk hot whipping cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  3. Divide mixture among prepared custard cups. Place baking dish on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the custard cups.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until mixture in custard cups appears set when lightly shaken. Transfer custard cups to a wire rack; cool. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  5. Before serving, let custard cups stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, for caramelized sugar, in a heavy 8-inch skillet, heat the 1/4 cup sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low; cook about 5 minutes more or until all of the sugar is melted and golden brown, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Quickly drizzle some of the caramelized sugar over each creme brulee. (If sugar starts to harden in the skillet, return to heat, stirring until melted.) Sprinkle individual servings with toasted hazelnuts. Serve immediately.