Grateful Hearts / Celebrating Life

Favorite Recipes

Maureen and I love to cook. We started our culinary adventures in 2009, with a plan to take cooking lessons at  a local kitchen-supply store (Sur La Table). The cost was $80 per person for a group lesson–and that seemed a bit high to us. So instead, we bought ingredients and just started cooking! We figured, “What the heck? If it doesn’t taste good, we’ll throw it out and try something different next time.”

Our first attempt was seared scallops with orange sauce, and we cooked this on Valentines day. Scallops are pricey ($18/lbs.), but after reading a few articles and watching a video, we cooked a great meal! And we’ve been the dynamic duo of the kitchen ever since!

We have some of our favorite recipes listed below. Please download and enjoy, and let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks for visiting our At Home site!

Baked Squash Casserole

We have a vegetable garden and one of the things we grow is yellow squash. This year’s crop has been particularity bountiful, and that’s great because we both love squash casserole! It’s an excellent side dish for almost any kind of protein (grilled chicken, seared fish, ground beef, pork ribs). And, it freezes beautifully well.

Pork Pozole

Pozole is the Spanish word for hominy. Hominy is produced from maize corn (the type of corn used for Fritos). Straight from the can, hominy has a mild flavor. But when added to a soup, hominy will partially dissolve and creates a rich flavorful broth. This soup freezes beautifully well.

Turkey Bone Gumbo

The best thing about a gumbo is the roux. A good roux smells and tastes like buttered toast. Of course, the meats are important too. We use both light and dark turkey meat, and Andouille sausage. I use to only make this gumbo after Thanksgiving. Now I make it 3-4 times a year. It freezes beautifully well.

10-3 Vegetable Beef Soup

We love fresh vegetables! This recipe has 10 of them, plus three others that are canned or frozen. It also has three fresh herbs. This recipe makes a bunch (I use my 12 quart stock pot), but it freezes beautifully well–and you’ll love having this in the freezer for an easy evening meal. We usually enjoy this soup with fresh biscuits.

Instant Pot Jerk Pork

This is one of our favorite recipes. The cinnamon in the dry-rub and the maple syrup & apple cider vinegar in the sauce create a lovely Caribbean favor. This is another meal that freezes beautifully; we normally freeze 11-12 ounces per container and that will feed us both (especially when served with Cuban black beans).

Instant Pot Cuban Black Beans

A friend of mine from Austria, whose husband is a diplomat from Brazil, shared this recipe with us–and it’s wonderful! Black beans can be hard to cook (until I had the Instant Pot, I could never get them tender). You won’t have that problem with this recipe. The beans freeze great; we normally freeze 15-16 ounces per container.

Coconut Bread

In Grand Cayman, the Wholesome Bakery produces fresh coconut bread every Monday and Thursday. People will wait in line starting at 6:00 a.m. on both days, to take a fresh warm loaf home.
Grand Cayman does not allow preservatives to be added to breads, so you have to eat this one quick before it starts to mold. (And for us, that’s never a problem.)

French Honey Bread

We’ve never been to France. If we ever retire, the two places we’re going first are France and Italy. But for now, we’ll enjoy homemade French and Italian cooking, and of course we’ll have great breads! This is another of our favorites!!

Turkey Pot Pie

There is a restaurant in Dallas called Bistro 31. Every Tuesday they serve turkey pot pie–and it always sells-out. If you aren’t seated by 7:30 p.m., you won’t get to order it. People with later reservations will offer to prepay the bill–and they won’t do it. 
If you love turkey pot pie, I think you’ll find this recipe is just as good–and it freezes great!

Fish Soup

There’s a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, FL (El Tamarindo Cafe) that is famous for their fish soup. It’s so good, they can charge $22/bowl–and still sell-out on Friday and Saturday nights.
I’m not sure my recipe is better than theirs–but it’s dang close! And for $22, I can make ten bowls–and it freezes great!

Cajun Tuna Noodle Casserole

The problem with most “noodle casserole” dishes is that they spike your blood sugar and an hour after eating, you’re hungry again. 
Tuna is a high-protein food and this great meal will keep you feeling good for hours! It’s great with fresh or frozen tuna–and the leftovers freeze beautifully!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

We love gumbos; we eat a different one every week (usually from the freezer). The secret to a good gumbo is the roux–and the roux recipe here is fabalous!
The most important thing in making a roux is the pot. We use a Dutch oven and our roux cooks beautifully in just 10-12 minutes. 


Jambalaya recipes are a lot like chili recipes: everyone has their favorite and your best friend’s just isn’t as good as yours! So, you won’t hurt our feelings if you pass this one by.
We really like this recipe. It has more meat than most (a common theme in all our recipes) and paired with a side salad makes a wonderful meal. And … you guessed it, the leftovers freeze great!

Kung Pao Chicken

I love Chinese food. The problem with making Chinese food is you use a lot of ingredients that aren’t common to Southern or Cajun cooking. But most of these ingredients can be purchase affordably at Walmart, and if you enjoy Chinese cooking the cost of the ingredients will be spread over several meals–making the purchase a bargain. And, of course, the leftover freeze beautifully!

Crawfish Bisque

If you live in Louisiana, you are blessed with an abundance of crawfish. That’s not the case everywhere else.
However, Walmart now has frozen, uncooked LA crawfish! (You should never use cooked crawfish in a recipe.) These tasty creatures are a bit pricey ($17/lbs.) but the quality is excellent. This recipe cooks quick, freezes great and is delicious.

Potato Soup

Southern Boys will always love three things: their momma, mashed potatoes, and bacon. My momma always enjoyed my cooking;  I think this recipe would have been one of her favorites! 
Mo and I really enjoy this soup with a Reuben sandwich. We add grated cheese, bacon, and pumpernickel croutons to the soup. It’s another recipe that is quick, freezes great and is delicious.

Spinach Lasagna Soup

Spanish and Italian lasagna are both delicious, but Spanish lasagna is slightly sweeter and less acidic. I love both!
This soup has a wonderful Spanish flavor. If you make it, I’ll bet it becomes one of your favorite winter soups!

Ms. Dot's Pound Cake

This family loves HGTV and Food Network shows! Yes ma’am and sir, we do love to cook and update our home. But mainly, we enjoy TV where the only agenda is to love God and each other. 
This recipe come from the Home Town TV show and it’s wonderful!

Pizza Sauce

This recipe uses a can of tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, red wine, honey, a olive oil, and several herbs. Its great on pizza, or to use as a dip for bread sticks.

We also like to use it on meatball subs. (We prefer the  FarmRich beef and pork meatballs sold at Walmart.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is a little different: it makes a chocolate chip cookie that is very thin and crisp, with a wonderful caramelization of the sugars.

Having this cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is unbelievably good!


I found this recipe in the Best Kitchens cookbook and modified it slightly. It has variations for blueberry, bluegerry-lemon, banana-walnut and chocolate-pecan-coconut.
I’m guessing the muffins will stay good for 7-8 days (they never last that long in this house).