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Welcome Friends! Please be patient while I add more info. I have SO much to share with you. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Creamed Spinach Bake

I love, love, love this recipe and hope you will too! I've combined 2 recipes that I have used for 40 yrs and like this version best. Everyone asks me for the recipe! Sorry there is no picture. Next time I make it I'll try to remember to do that. Enjoy!

  • 3 - 10 oz. packages frozen spinach (thawed and drained) To maker it easier, you can use canned spinach, but I think it's much better with the frozen spinach.

  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)

  • 8 oz sour cream

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

  • ½ packet/envelope Lipton Onion Soup (dry-comes in a box)

  • 6 oz can Durkee French Fried onions, divided in half

  • 8-10 oz Slivered or sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Thaw and drain spinach (drain the spinach really well- squeeze out any extra liquid by draining spinach in a colander and pressing out as much liquid as possible.)
  3. Mix together spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, mushroom soup, Lipton Onion Soup, ½ the almonds and ½ of the French's onions.
  4. Pour into greased casserole dish.
  5. Add remaining French onions and almonds to top.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through (make sure not to let onions brown too much.)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Mother/Daughter Snowball Scarves

This Mother/Daughter scarf set is found in my book, Positively Crochet. I designed a snowflake for you too. I was actually inspired to make the scarf aftef I found this soft snow-like yarn from Hobby Lobby.

Mother/Daughter Snowflake Crochet Scarves by Mary Jane Hall,
published in Positively Crochet!

The book has 50 designs of garments and accessories! Check out my Rsvelry designer page HERE to see all my designs that are in this book. It's still being sold on Amazon and eBay, as well as other online stores.  

Snowflake for Mother/Daughter Snowball Scarf in Mary Jane Hall's book,  Positively Crochet

 Mother/Daughter Snowball Scarf in Mary Jane Hall's book,  Positively Crochet

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Favorite Cole Slaw

I have always been very picky about cole slaw. I don't like it with a lot of vinegar and I don't like it with horseradish. Just never liked that taste. So I created my own version of cole slaw years ago and now I'm sharing it with you.
This goes really great with my Southern Fried Catfish or Fried Chicken.

Mary Jane's Favorite Cole Slaw

1 bag cole slaw mix (or greate your own cabbage - maybe 4 cups?)
2/3 cup Hellmans Mayonnaise (no substitute)
2/3 cup sour cream (not fat free!)
1- 2 tsp apple cigar vinegar
3 - 4 tsps sugar (or to taste)
A little salt
Optimal: for a change, sometimes I add chopped sweet Vidalia onion and/or chopped sweet green pepper

Mix ingredients for sauce in bowl, and allow sugar to dissolve. Then add to cole slaw mix. Add salt to taste. You may need more sauce, depending on how much cabbage you have. You don't want it to be too dry, but you don't want it overpowered with sauce either. I probably make more sauce than this, but I never measure the ingredients. It is very  important though to have the same amount mayo as you do sour cream. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps - Thai Style

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, shown without the flour tortilla

Easy Gluten Free Meal!
If you've never had the priveledge of munching on this delicious light meal, you're in for a treat. It's a healthy wrap, which is great for lunch, snack or an evening meal. Your kids will love it, because what kid doesn't like peanut butter? You'll find other chicken wraps without it, but Thai style wraps almost always have peanut butter as a main ingredient in the sauce.  This particular recipe can be used with a flour tortilla, or wrapped in Boston lettuce (also known as Bibb lettuce). I like to put the lettuce inside the flour tortilla. In my case, I use gluten free tortillas,  since I am wheat intolerant. Many grocery stores carry the GF version, but I find mine at Aldi, displayed with their other GF products.
I double this recipe when I make it because we like to have some left over for the next day or two. If you plan to have any leftovers, it would be a good idea to keep the sauce separate from the chicken/cole slaw mixture. Then you can just heat up the sauce. We eat the chicken mixture cold with warm sauce, but you can heat up the chicken If you want. It's just that since its mixed with the cole slaw mix, that may not be good warmed. I hope you enjoy this! It 's one of my favorite meals!

Gluten Free Wraps I buy at Aldi grocery store

Gluten Free Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Chicken Filling
3-4 cups cooked chicken tenderloins, shredded or chopped in small pieces
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups cole slaw mix with carrots
3 green onions, sliced
4 tablespoons chopped peanuts
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
Flour tortillas (I used gluten free from Aldi)

Other optimal ingredients: (I've seen in restaurants)
cellophane Chinese rice noodles, fresh edamame peas, shiitake mushrooms, sliced red pepper, slivered almonds, sesame seeds, cucumber, cilantro, alfalfa or bean sprouts, fresh chopped snow peas, chopped bamboo shoots

4 Tablespoons sesame oil (I prefer toasted; sometimes I use more than 4 Tbs)
4 Tablespoons lite GF soy sauce or Coconut Aminos
4-5 Tablespoons peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
4 Tablespoons lime juice
4 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped or minced
1-2 dashes ceyenne red pepper

Cook chicken for about 15 minutes and set aside to cool. In large bowl, mix together chopped chicken, cole slaw mix, peanuts and green onions. In separate bowl, mix sauce ingredients with wisk. Place sauce in microwave for 2 minutes to warm it.

To Assemble
Layer ingredients on a plate in this order:
Tortilla (warmed in microwave for 15 seconds)
Chicken Mixture
Roll up and serve

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Jalapeno Popper Cheese and Corn Dip - Gluten Free

  •  I took this dip to my granddaughter's birthday party, knowing there would be several adults there too. Well, actually, I forgot I had told my daughter I would bring something and since I didn't have time to go to the grocery store, I scrounged around in my kitchen looking through ingredients for something simple to make. I knew I wanted to make an appetizer to go with the pizza she was ordering, but also did not want to bring anything sweet. I hurridly looked on Pinterest for something gluten free since I am wheat intolerant. Wheat acts like a sedative on me and that wouldn't be good for me while driving back home. I am also dairy intolerant, but as you can see, this dip is not dairy free. It's really difficult to find wheat AND dairy free recipes! 

Several of the adults at the party liked this dip and asked for the recipe, so here it is! I looked at several dips on Pinterest and used some ingredients from each one to come up with my own version. If you are intrested in seeing the other great recipes for Jalapeno Popper Dip (and other cheese dips), see the links below my recipe. Hope you like my version!

  • Ingredients
  • 3-4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (save 1 slice for the topping - see below). You could use Bacon Bits
  • 1- 8 oz package cream cheese , softened
  • 1/2 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarrela cheese (I used half Gouda cheese and half mozzarella, because I didn't have enough mozz)
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed in the microwave about 2 minutes. (You can use fresh or canned corn)
  • 1/2 of a 4 oz. can Chopped Green Chilis (freeze other half for another dish or more dip later)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons jalapenos from a jar, diced, omiting seeds. I only used about 1 Tb, but next time I'll use more. 
  • Note: you could use fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet, green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet yelloe or red pepper (I used yellow)
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet Vidalia onion or green onions, finely diced 

  • Topping
1/2  cup mozzarrella cheese (I used Gouda, but think mozz would be better)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
Few dashes of parsley
Serve with Crackers or Chips

Turn on oven to 350. 
Cook bacon. I usually cook my bacon in the oven, but this time I cooked it in the microwave between paper towels, since there wasn't much. 
While bacon is cooking, combine the next 12 ingredients in a bowl. Add crumbled bacon  to mixture and place in small casserole, oven safe dish. 
Spread Topping ingredients on top of cheese dip, and cook in 350 oven for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with crackers or chips!

Other Ch Dips on Pinterest

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Dip
Cold Corn Dip
Fiesta Corn Dip
Creamy Bacon Parmesan Dip
Creamy BLT Dip
Famous Neiman Marcus Dip
Skinny Poolside  DIP
Hot Cheezy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Cheezy Bacon Ranch Dip
Hot Crab Dip
Jalapeno Popper Football Shaped Cheese Ball

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Advice On Reading Crochet Patterns - 7 Tips

I'm writing this, assuming you have already learned to crochet. If you have not learned, a good place to start is at www.LearnToCrochet.com. Another idea would be to look at the numerous youTube videos out there on "How To Crochet", especially if you are a visual person. I'm not teaching you to crochet here, but am giving you some tips I have learned along the way, that will make it a little less stressful. If you are wanting help with the basics, please read Jean Leinhauser 's article on "How To Crochet" at the Yarn Standards website. It is excellent, with very clear diagrams.
Please see my 7 tips below that may help as you learn to read a pattern.

How I Learned To Crochet
I learned to crochet in 1968, back when long vests with fringe were so popular. Tbis was such a fun, "groovy" time and I was thrilled when crochet came back into style around 2004, after about a 30 year absence. I am amazed that so many of the same styles of that time such as newsboy caps, ponchos, long vests, fringe, bell sleeves, etc are so popular now. I learned to crochet in a class at college and actually taught myself from looking at a book because I was too shy to go up to the front of the class to gather around the teacher's desk as she was showing the other 30 girls. I'm glad I did that though, because it taught me how to follow a pattern. So many people who crochet don't know how to follow a pattern because their mother or grandmother just "showed" them. So most who learned that way never tried to learn how to read a pattern and all they ever do is make afghans, scarves or washcloths. If you are one of those persons who has been frustrated trying to follow a pattern, please read on.

1. Where To Find Corrections If You Suspect There's An Error
To me, reading a crochet pattern is not only fun, but is challenging, as well. If you get stuck on something and no matter how hard you try and can't figure it out, just ask a more experienced friend.  Something else to remember is that there might even be an error. So no matter how many hours you spend trying to figure it out, you may never be able to. Some may be very minor, but there are errors in most patterns. I never even thought about that back when I was learning. Don't let that discourage you though, because some errors in patterns are easy to figure out without getting help from someone. This is especially true with today's very detailed charts or diagrams.

2. Do What Looks Right or Contact the Designer
If it seems impossible to figure out, please don't give up! If you don't have anyone to help you, that's when you should either "do what looks right" or look for errata on the web. If you can't find corrections for a particular pattern at the publisher's or designer's website, you can usually contact one of them personally and ask if there's an error, and they should help you. There's something to keep in mind though. Most of the time, people who ask me about one of my patterns are inexperienced. I never ignore these people, because not only do I really want to help them, but I have a reputation to keep. I have had numerous crocheters tell me (after asking for help), that most designers won't "give them the time of day"! And if they do answer they wil say "you'll have to ask the publisher about that". As a designer, I can't imagine doing that! The publisher will then just have to contact the designer, so why bother the publisher? Even though it's stressful sometimes, because of deadlines in the design business, I still try to help. I might tell them there are no errors in that pattern and if I can help, I will. I might even ask if they know someone who can look at their work up close along with the pattern. But I have to be honest about something. If they are asking about a pattern I designed 5-10 years ago, I most likely will not know how to help them. Sometimes my own patterns look like Greek to me and in order for me to help them, I would have to make that garment or accessory all over again myself to know what they are talking about. And for sure if I can't see their work, it's just too difficult for me to help, especially because I am such a busy person. I might have a heart to help, but sometimes I can't. That's why if you have a more experienced friend to help you, it's always best to go that route first before asking the designer. We just don't have those older patterns fresh in our minds. I even get confused on my patterns I wrote just 2-3 years ago! But that's only because I am reading an exerpt from the pattern. Reading the whole thing as you are making it from the beginning, makes a big difference. That leads me to another bit of advice on reading patterns.

3. Don't Read Ahead!
Whatever you do, please do NOT read the whole pattern ahead before you start it! This is very, very important! I'm saying this because it can save you from a lot of headaches! Some might think reading ahead is a wise thing to do, but I say no, no! And here's why. I can't tell you how many people have written me asking for help on a pattern saying there's an error or it doesn't make sense. Then I spend hours trying to look over what they have written, comparing it to my original pattern. This takes a lot of time and is even confusing to me, but I still want to try and help. If I find out they read the pattern ahead before even starting it, and I can't help them, I tell them to just start working the pattern. They have always written me to apologize because once they started working it, things made sense to them! I am an experienced crocneter who has been crocheting for 49 years and a pattern never makes sense to me if I read it ahead of time! You can save so much time and frustration by not reading ahead.

4. Find Help On the Intenet!
Since we have the internet today, there's no excuse for not looking these things up, (such as the designer) on Ravelry or other sites. And don't forget youTube! There are tremendous resourcses there! You can actually watch someone work a partucular stitch that you might be having problems with. Stop each frame as you work if it's going too fast for you.

5. Ask An Experienced Crocheter for Help
I learned to crochet back when there was no help. I felt kind of alone. After I left college, I didn't know anyone else who could crochet, so I'd spend hours on trying to figure out a pattern, but I was determined! Then after I got married and moved from the south to Ashtabula, Ohio with my husband, I found several ladies who could crochet, at the church I was attending. Most were much older than me and had a lot of crochet knowledge.  We met regularly, every month, in each other's homes to work on crochet. All these years later, I give these ladies credit as someone who helped me on the road to becoming a professional designer!  There was only one who had not passed away after I started having my patterns published in 2005 and she was the only one I could thank for the patience and knowledge I learned from them all those years ago in the early 70's.

6. What If The Pattern Is Old and In A Vintage Book or Magazine?
If you are one of those people who loves to collect vintage pattern books and magazines from the 50's, 60's and 70's, like me, you'll probably be out of luck trying to find corrections. This would be the time you do what looks right or ask a more experienced person. I have over 300 old books and magazines from those eras, and even though I don't have time to make any of the patterns, I have a blast looking through them!
I started a blog post on my vintage crocnet books but never finished it. I need to do that! If you are interested in this, you can purchase those old books on eBay and other sites. It's a fun hobby!

7. Learning Crochet Language is A Necessity!
And finally, one of the most important things you should do is to learn crochet language. If you're new at this, start by learning what the abbreviations mean. A good source is at the Craft Yarn Council HERE. That will help tremendously. I've had many people ask me something simple that they could have found on the internet or in a crochet book. This step is absolutely essential if you are wanting to design your own patterns. You may be able to write down your instructions so that they are clear enough for a friend to understand, but there is certain crochet language you will be required to go by if submittimg a pattern to a magazine or book for publication. Each has their on style, but it's not difficult to learn or understand. For instance, one publisher may want you to say (when describing a purse), "12"x 10", without handles", but another publisher might require you to write "12" x 10", excluding handles". Another example is one may say "Finish off", but another may say " End off". You will know what each publisher requires by reading their Guidelines or by simply looking at written patterns in their magazines.

Another excellent source for learning to read a crochet pattern is at Anie's HERE.

I hope these tips have helped! If you think I should add anything that will help someone in following a pattern, please let me know and I will add it!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Pasta Broccoli Salad with Bacon

My Favorite Pasta Salad

This  is by far my favorite pasta salad and I fix it when I want to take it to a special event. This recipe makes a huge bowl full. In fact it almost fills up one of those large Tupperware bowls that used to be sold in the 70"s and 80's. You remember. They came in green or yellow. If you never had one chances are your mom or grandmother did.

I have to warn you. This is a sweet salad, but it's not as sickeningly sweet as some of those other sweet broccoli salads. In fact you can control the sweetness. I don't add as much sugar as the original recipe calls for. Also, keep in mind the bacon is essential in this salad. Mozzarella cheese also helps it not taste so sweet.
Everyone who tries this loves it and I hope you do too!

Pasta Broccoli Salad withBacon

1 - 16 oz box Bowtie Pasta (you can substitute gluten free pasta. I like brown rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joe's or Aldi)

1 large head fresh broccoli, cut into small pieces (can use cauliflower too)

¾ -1 cup sweet red onion or Sweet Vidalia onion, chopped (to take some of the hotness away from the red onion you can soak the chopped onion in ice water for 30 mins - 1 hour)

1 lb pkg Hickory Smoked Bacon, cooked

3 cups Mozzarella cheese, grated

1-1½ cups Hellman's mayonnaise (not salad dressing)
½ cup sour cream
¾ - 1 cup sugar
3-6 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I use 2-3 at the most)

Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain in cold water rinsing off some of the starch so it won't stick together. Place in large bowl.
In the meantime, place bacon on large cookie sheet that had been sprayed with oil in 375ยบ oven and cook til crisp. Remove from oven and place on paper towels to drain.
Put onions, broccoli and mozzarella cheese in same bowl with the pasta.
Make the sauce snd slowly stir it in with the pasta mixture, small amounts at a time, to make sure you don't get too much. Break up the bacon, but do not add the bacon til right before serving. If I take this to a pot-luck or family holiday dinner, I put the bacon in a baggie, placing it on top of the pasta. If the bacoon is cold from storing it in the refrigerator, heat it up on about 40 seconds in the microwave before adding to the salad. Stir and serve!