Welcome to my blog!

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Peek A Boo Shrug

My Peek  Boo Shrug Design published in Kim Werker's Book, Get Hooked Again.
See link to FREE hat pattern below.

Many of you have probably heard of Kim Werker, who actually started the famous blog she called "Crochet Me". There are  many free patterns  posted, as well as paid patterns and all kinds of info about
crochet. After a few years she retired from that blog and it is now run by Interweave Crochet. 

 But years before she retired, Kim wrote her book Let's Get Hooked, which was geared 
more for young women. The designs would actually appeal more to teenagers. Then later, she decided to do Get Hooked Again! and she opened it up to other designers. So I submitted this shrug and skull cap and she accepted both for the book. There wasn't enough room in the book for the hat, so she put it on her blog as a free pattern here

Free Pattern
Peek A Boo Hat by 
Mary Jane Hall

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fresh Tomato Pie

Fresh Tomato Pie
If you're from the south you've most likely heard of Tomato Pie, and if not, you're in for a real treat!  This tomato pie is good as a side dish with any meal, but many times I eat a warmed up slice for breakfast. So good! I've seen a lot of recipes for this pie and have tried some of them, but I have to say, I like my version best.
Fresh Tomato Pie
The first recipe I ever tried, that my brother gave me, did not say to saute the onions and they came out a little too crunchy for me. So now I always cook them first and it's much better. Also, I didn't like the oregano it called for, but did love the taste of the basil. I've also seen some recipes that call for fresh garlic, but I prefer garlic powder in mine. The mozzarella and mayonnaise mixture tops it off just perfectly! Another thing is that if you don't place the tomato slices on paper towels and salt them (to draw out more liquid) the tomatoes will make the pie soggy and not as good. My version is just perfect, so I hope you'll try it and enjoy it!

(makes a deep dish pie)

1 pie shell (I used All Ready Pie Crust by Pillsbury)
3-5 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 cup sweet Vidalia onion, thinley sliced
1-2 slices bacon, cooked (optional) It's just as good if you don't have bacon
¾-1 cup Hellmans mayonnaise (not fat free and not Salad dressing)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ teaspoon sugar (optional)
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Parsley (optional)
Dill weed

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Bake pie shell for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let it cool.
While crust is baking, slice tomatoes ¼" thick and place them on paper towels to soak up excess liquid. Salt the tomatoes to bring out more liquid and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Put another paper towel on tomatoes to blot out more liquid.
     In the meantime, cook bacon, leaving grease in the pan.  Saute sliced onions in bacon grease. After crust has cooled, spread ½ cup mozzarella cheese onto crust. Then place ½ of the tomato slices on top of the cheese. Sprinkle tomatoes with sugar, garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper. Next spread cooked onions on top of tomatoes. Spread another ½ cup mozzarella cheese on top of onions.
Place remaining tomato slices on top of cheese, then sprinkle on the spices. (Garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper). If you're using bacon this would be the time to break that up and place on top. If you have some green onions sprinkle some chopped ones on to of this.
In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining mozzarella cheese, parsley and mayonnaise.  Spread this cheese mixture on top of tomatoes. Then sprinkled some dill weed on top of all.
Pie Shield 
Place pie in heated oven and let it cook for 25-30 minutes. Toward the last 15-20 minutes you may have to place a pie crust shield around edges. If you don't have one, put aluminum foil around crust edge so it won't get too dark. Watch pie so it doesn't get burnt on top. You do want it to be a crusty brown though.

Let the pie cool 15-30 minutes before serving, so it will set up. I think it is best when warmed up the next day, but I'm sure you could eat it cold too!
Note: I did not have parsley this last time I made it and it was great without it.
Please enjoy the recipe! You're in for a treat!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Curried Rice

Curried Rice

This is a side dish I like to fix when I make Coconut Chicken, but I also make it with many other main dishes. Curry goes with so many things and it is eaten in many cuisines such as Thai, Chinese, Indian and African dishes. I learned to love curry chicken when I was a little girl in the Philippines where my parents were missionaries. I'm In fact, I have the  recipe for Chicken, Curry and Rice my mom fixed HERE.

Curried Rice

1 cup white rice (or brown)
6 Tb butter (or coconut oil)
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1-2 tsp yellow curry powder (I like it best with 2 tsps)
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional- golden raisins, ¼ cup sweet coconut flakes
Note: if you don't have coconut milk you can use 2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups water, instead of 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup water, as in the recipe. I like the taste of the coconut milk, but have used all chicken broth many times. It kind of depends what main dish you're fixing with it.

Saute onions and celery in butter (or coconut oil) in large frying pan or large sauce pan (this makes about 6 cups rice when it's finished so make sure your pan is large enough).
Cook onions and celery till onions are translucent. Add rice and curry powder to the onion mixture and stir all together for about 2 minutes to coat rice. Add water and coconut milk. When it boils, cover pan and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until rice is tender and rice is absorbed, about 18-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and coconut if desired.
Note: If using brown rice, you'll need to cook it longer than that and probably add more liquid.

I hope you enjoy this!

This Curried Rice goes great with Coconut Chicken. The recipe I use is

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Macaroni Salad - No Sugar

My Favorite Macaroni Salad with No Sugar

I am not a huge fan of sweet macaroni salad. I will eat it and enjoy it, but several years ago a little old man brought his version of macaroni salad to a church potluck and I loved it so much that I had to have his recipe. That was many years ago and I have lost that recipe, so I had to try and come up with a version on my own, trying to replicate his. I think I pretty much figured it out since I remember some of the basic ingredients. I do know for sure it was not sweet. There are many more ingredients you can add to macaroni salad, which I don't add to my recipe, and I've listed some below as optional. Actually my recipe is similar to my potato salad in the fact it has lots of eggs and I always use Hellman's mayonnaise. If you do prefer sweet macaroni salad, just as add some
sweet pickle relish and a little sugar. I hope you enjoy this!

1 lb dry macaroni
6 hard boiled eggs
1-1½ cups Hellmans mayonnaise
1-2 Tbs yellow mustard
2/3 cup green pepper, chopped
2/3 cup sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
1-1½ cups black olives, sliced
Milk or cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional- sweet pickle relish, chopped celery, grated carrots  canned tuna, frozen green peas.

Cook the eggs and let cool before peeling. Set aside. Boil the macaroni and drain in a colander, rinsing the starch off so it won't stick together. After it has drained, place in very large bowl.
While the macaroni is cooking, chop the green pepper and sweet onion. Then slice the olives. Add to the macaroni. Grate the eggs into the macaroni with a grater. Add mayonnaise and mustard. Stir this all together. Add black olives. Taste and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Add more mayo if needed. If you want it a little more creamy, just add some milk or cream, but not too much.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Zig Zag Striped Scarf - Free Pattern

Zig Zag Striped Scarf by Mary Jane Hall - Free Pattern

Back in 2006, not long after I had started designing professionally, a rep from Hobby Lobby contacted me, asking if I'd be interested in coming up with some original designs, using their yarn. The patterns would be in the form of "tear sheets". These are the free patterns you see in their stores. They offer them hoping you will use their yarn, which, by the way, is wonderful and high quality at an affortable price.  Other stores, such as Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics, do the same thing.  Of course I was thrilled and honored they considered me for this job.

I ended up doing a total of 7 designs using their beautiful yarns. That was such a fun time, as they would send me large boxes of different types of yarn, in many colors. Even though these were fun projects for me to do, many times I wished I could just go to the store and pick out other yarns with their "Yarn Bee" label, that I wanted to work with.

My patterns in the form of tear sheets are no longer in their 400+ stores across the nation, but for years you could find them there and on their website. I am not even sure if my patterns are at their site anymore, but I  found this one and will share it with you here.
You can substitute the yarn I used with any yarn of your choice. The yarn weight, your gauge and hook size do not matter when you're making a scarf. You can make it bulky or light weight and delicate. And if you want to make a "wrap" from this pattern, all you have to do is keep adding rows.

I hope you enjoy my pattern! If you share it, please link it back to me here, also giving me credit as the designer! Mary Jane Hall

Zig Zag Striped Scarf by Mary Jane Hall - Free Pattern

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Best Authentic Fried Rice

Mary Jane's Authentic 
Fried Rice Before the Green Onions are Added

The reason I say "authentic"' fried rice is because even though I'm an American and was born in the US, my family lived in the Orient for 3 years when I was a child. We lived in the Philippine Islands where we ate Chinese Fried Rice along with other dishes at a Chinese restaurant every Sunday after church. A sweet little old lady insisted on paying for our family to eat there at her expense. "Auntie" was so special and thoughtful to do that for us. We learned to love Chinese food there but we also got to visit Hong Kong and Japan. The Filipinos had their style of fried rice too, so we got to experience different types and flavors. 
It's reslly difficult, though, in my opinion to find what I call  that "authentic" Chinese taste. I've had 100's of different versions of fried rice over the years, whether it be at a restaurant or recipes I've found in cookbooks or on the web. I was never satisfied with the taste until I decided sesame oil was the ingredient that made Chinese food taste authentic to me. Some people don't use as much in their recipes as I do, but I use a lot of it, even more than what I wrote down for this recipe. So add more if you want! You won't always see water chestnuts in fried rice, but I love it for the crunch. The onions and garlic are always in authentic fried rice too. Another note is that if you want your rice to separate and not stick toget her, then you need to cook it the day bfore and pt it in the refrigerator so it will be cold. Something else that will help your rice not stick together is to rinse your dry rice with cold water 2-3 times before you cook it. Getting the starch out will help it not be sticky when done. 
Another secret is to use a good rice and my favorite to use with any dish is Basmati, which is the long grain rice used in Indian cooking. It costs more but believe me when I say it is totally worth it! And lastly, I want to say I use this Chicken Fried Rice as a main dish. Please don't put a totally different Chinese dish on top of this. It should stand alone! All the other Chinese dishes such as Cashew Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Moo Goo Hai Pan and other dishes need to be put over steamed rice or what many people call white rice. There are just too many flavors in fried rice that will compete with these other Chinese dishes. They have their own unique flavor. The steamed rice allows you to taste the flavors of the dish you put on top of it. I'm real touchy about this subject! I think most oriental people would agree!

*Whatever you do, do not leave out the sesame oil. I buy it in the large red can!*

Ingredients - feeds 6 

Canola oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 cups cooked cold Basmati rice (cooked the day before)
2-3 cups Kroger brand frozen Grilled Chicken Strips, thawed  (green bag) or any other chopped meat
4 eggs, scrambled
1 can sliced water chestnuts, sliced into strips
1 cup corn
1½-2 cups frozen peas and carrots, pre-thawed in the microwave for 2 mins
2 Tb Toasted Sesame oil (I add more when everything is put together before serving)
4 tsp Lite soy sauce (mostly for color. Too much will make it salty)
1 tsp Accent (unless you are gluten intolerant)
Salt and pepper to taste
For Top:1-2 Tb toasted sesame seeds
6-8 green onions (raw), chopped (for top after the rice is cooked)

Optional:  dash of garlic powder, onion powder, ½-1 tsp fresh grated ginger, fish sauce
Note: sometimes I use chopped pork, ham or shrimp, but my favorite is chicken. 

Mary Jane's Authentic Fried Rice


Make sure your onions, garlic, water chestnuts and chicken are cut up into separate bowls before you start anything. Believe me, prepping this ahead of time will make this easier. 

Cut frozen chicken up into small pieces. Then cook it in oil on medium high heat in a frying pan or wok. Remove chicken to another bowl and set aside. In same pan, add about 1 tsp oil and fry onions and garlic for a few minutes til tender. Remove this and add to chicken or into another dish. Try to keep each cooked item warm by putting a plate or lid over them. Next, quickly fry the sliced water chestnuts in same pan then remove to another dish or add to chicken. Then fry the peas, carrots and corn to get them warm for a few minutes. Remove from pan.  Put a little more oil in the same pan and scramble the eggs, stirring constantly. Remove from pan. 

 If you have a wok that would be best te use, but it's not absolutely essential. Hopefully you have the kind of wok that won't make the food stick. Melt about 1 tablespoon butter in the wok (med hi heat). Add half the rice and stir fry till it is separated and heated. This would be a good time to add half the soy sauce and half the sesame oil. After that is heated, move rice to another dish and do the same with the other half of rice. We are doing this because we do not want to crowd the rice. Having too much rice in the pan will cause it not to separate and heat the right way. Add the other half of the soy sauce and more sesame oil.

Put other half of heated rice in the wok and add all the other ingredients. Now add salt and pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients. Add toasted sesame seeds and str. Just before serving, toss in the chopped green onions. Serve immediately. You can either purchase sweet and sour sauce or use my recipe, which  I will try to add later! Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Turkey Squash Casserole

Turkey Squash Casserole Before the Crunchy Top is Added

If you're looking for something healthy to fix your family, this casserole is healthy and delicious at the same time! One day about 7 yrs ago I was searching the web for a recipe that called for ground Turkey and I am so glad I found this. It will not disappoint and kids will eat it too, which is always something mothers and grandmothers battle with, right? The original recipe was sent in to Taste of Home by Mildred Sherer of Fort Worth, Texas. I'm a Texas gal, so I know it has to be good! My mom and dad lived near Fort Worth for a while and some of the best
dishes come from there.

Turkey Squash Casserole with Crushed Topping

I have some slight differences from the original recipe. If you want to see the original, see the link below. The recipe called for yellow summer squash and even though I like that, I decided to use Zucchini squash instead. It's great in this recipe, so I'm not about to change it. The other difference is that I substituted crushed gluten free pretzels for the saltines, which are put on top. I have to say, I like the GF crushed pretzels even better! They made the top extra crunchy. I get my GF pretzels at Aldi, but I've even seen them in regular grocery stores.

A couple of times I have added mushrooms and either mushroom or cream of chicken soup and as much as I'm crazy about mushrooms, the casserole is fantastic without them and I'm sure it's healthier without the soup. I usually bake some acorn squash in the oven that has been drizzled in real maple syrup to go with this casserole. Yum! Or you could just fix a salad to go with it. I hope you enjoy this great recipe as much as I do. I always know I'm eating something good for me.

Baked Acorn Squash Drizzled with Maple Syrup and Butter

1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups sliced zucchini squash (original calls for yellow summer squash)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (could substitute almond milk if you're dairy intolerant)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup crushed saltines (I used gluten free pretzels)

* For a change - sometime you should add mushrooms and mushroom soup (or cream of chicken soup). If you do use soup in the recipe, use the whole can of milk (not just 1 cup)

In a large skillet, cook turkey in oil over medium heat until no longer pink. Add the squash and onion. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender; drain.
In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Stir into the turkey mixture. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with the cracker crumbs or crushed GF pretzels.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 35-40 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.
Originally published as Turkey Squash Casserole in Casserole Cookbook 2001, p38

To see original recipe click HERE.