girltalk Blog

Apr 29

Chocolate Cake in Milk

2010 at 3:27 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

chocolate cakeIf you checked out the 52home picture from Monday, you saw a large piece of chocolate cake swimming in a bowl of milk. Makes me hungry just writing those words. My brother, Chad, was about to make quick work of that piece of cake.

I titled the picture, “Cake the Mahaney Way” to avoid confusion, but this tradition actually comes from my mom’s side of the family—it is “Cake the Layman Way.”

You see, my grandfather was raised on a dairy farm in rural Virginia, and for as long as I can remember Grandpa Layman would only eat his cake drowned in a bowl of milk. So his kids grew up eating cake that way, and now, so do his grandkids. Even Mike ate his cake this way the other night. I’m telling you, it’s catching!

The cake you saw in the picture is a family favorite: Sour Cream Fudge Cake. We got the recipe from our friend Valori. She’s the mother of five boys, so you know this cake has to be good! Per your request, we wanted to pass it along.

The bowl of milk is optional, but I’m saying give it a go!

Sour Cream Fudge Cake (PDF Version)

from Valori Maresco

1 c. butter

5 T. cocoa

1 c. water

2 c. flour

2 c. sugar

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 c. sour cream

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 c. butter

5 T. cocoa

1/3 c. milk

3 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Bring the butter, cocoa and water to boil in a large pan. Remove from heat and add the flour, sugar and salt. Mix together the eggs, sour cream and baking soda; add to the mixture. Pour into a greased (13x9-inch) cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven. While the cake is baking, make the frosting by bringing the butter, cocoa and milk to a boil. Beat in the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Spread on the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Feb 15

Monday Recipe

2010 at 2:51 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

buttermilk rollsWe girltalkers have a weakness for homemade bread, and we are always on the lookout for new recipes. Mom recently discovered Buttermilk Refrigerator Rolls and they’ve made regular appearances at dinner ever since. These soft and chewy little guys are, well, what can I say? Scrumptious!

But what makes them doubly wonderful is that the dough keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week. This means you can whip up a batch on Monday (today!) and use it for dinner (or breakfast and lunch, for that matter) all week long. Yummy and practical! You’ve gotta try ‘em!

Buttermilk Refrigerator Rolls

1 pkg dry yeast
½ cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
½ cup shortening, melted
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp soda
2 cups buttermilk

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand five minutes. Stir in melted shortening. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add dry ingredients and buttermilk to yeast mixture; mix well. Turn dough out on a well-floured surface; knead gently until dough can be handled. Shape dough into a ball; place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover dough, and refrigerate until needed (dough will keep one week). Shape dough into rolls, as desired; place on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: about 2 dozen.

Jan 7

Ribbons and Soup

2010 at 7:16 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

kristin bowAs we’ve mentioned before, Mom was very intentional in training my sisters and me in homemaking—for which I am very grateful. Most of this training occurred in the home and she was our teacher. But she also tapped friends in the church to teach us candy making and sewing and together we took classes through the county and our local craft store.

Some lessons took off, and others fell flat. The bow-making class at Michaels, for example, was a complete waste of the registration fee. We had a good laugh about it this Christmas when I showed up to the family gathering with beautifully tied bows on my presents. Mom thought those lessons had finally paid off (fifteen years later) only to discover I had used pre-tied, elastic ribbons. Oh well!

The cooking classes, on the other hand, were worth every penny (easy to say when it wasn’t my money, but I think it is true!). They sparked a life-long love of cooking and the Lord knew that one day I would have three boys who love to eat. One of our favorite classes was Italian Cooking where a local wife and mother taught us how to cook some of her family’s favorite recipes. We still make many of her dishes today. This week, I whipped up a batch of her minestrone soup and put extra jars in the freezer. Mmmmm…perfect for winter! Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Minestrone Soup

4 slices bacon

2 onions, chopped

2 large carrots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, pressed

3 cans chicken broth

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with juices

5 cups shredded cabbage

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon rosemary


Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In large pot cook bacon over medium heat until browned and crisp. Remove; drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon and set aside. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook stirring often about 8 minutes. Add chicken broth, tomatoes with juice, wine, parsley, bay leaf, basil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add cabbage. Cook 10 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf. Serve with ditalini cooked separately. Top with crumbled bacon and Parmesan cheese—freshly grated.

Dec 21

Grandma’s Christmas Cookies

2009 at 5:25 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Holidays | Recipes

christmas cookiesOn Saturday we were snowed in with 22 inches of snow! I couldn’t have ordered a more perfect day to make Grandma’s Christmas Cookies with Caly. I went to our blog to pull up the recipe and re-read Nicole’s post (from 2005) about these special cookies. It made me cry, and when I read it to the fam at breakfast, they cried too. So, I thought it was worthy of a re-post. Besides, you really have to try these cookies!


Grandma Mahaney’s Christmas Cookies

2005 at 10:03 am | by Nicole Whitacre
Filed under Homemaking Holidays and Seasons

This year, on December 26, the Mahaney clan will descend upon Grandma’s house—all loud, laughing, thirty-six of us. And this year, as with every year since my dad was a little boy, there will be Christmas cookies next to the punch bowl on Grandma’s sideboard in the dining room.

But these are no ordinary Christmas cookies. No siree! Just ask any Mahaney who is old enough to talk (and we usually start early)—these are the original Christmas cookies. All the rest, they’re just cookies.

The Mahaney Christmas cookie starts with the softest, chewiest, nutmeg flavored sugar cookie, slightly undercooked. Then pinky-red or soft-green frosting is lathered over the entire surface. But what really sets them apart are the red-hots (fresh, not stale, mind you) strategically placed on top. The key to eating one of these cookies, as every Mahaney knows, is to plan each bite to include icing and at least one red-hot.

And if these cookies still sound ordinary to you, it’s simply because you’ve never tasted one.

Several years ago, Dad asked Grandma why she had started using smaller cookie cutters. The almost-face-sized cookies he remembered weren’t as large as they used to be. But Grandma told him that these were the same cookie cutters she’d used since he was little. It’s just that he got bigger.

It’s a small thing that Grandma does, really. She makes Christmas cookies. And she makes them every year. But simply by doing it year after year, she gives her children, and now her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a special memory.

Sometimes, we try to make adult size memories for our children, and we exhaust ourselves doing it. We forget that the cookies that seem small to us seem really big to them. Little acts make a big impact. Especially when done year after year. We would do well to keep that in mind this Christmas.

Today I’m making Grandma’s Christmas cookies for Jack. They’re about the size of his face right now. One day he’ll probably ask me why I stopped using those big cookie cutters. And I’ll tell him they are the same one’s I’ve always used. It’s just him. He got bigger.

By the way, if you want to make a big memory with little work, here’s the recipe for Grandma Mahaney’s Sugar Cookies:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
¼ cup sour cream
½ tsp. nutmeg
3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Work butter until creamy. Stir in sugar gradually, then beat until fluffy. Stir in egg and sour cream. Mix well. Sift together flour, nutmeg, soda, and salt; stir into mixture. Mix thoroughly. Chill one hour. Set oven for 350 degrees.

Roll out a small amount of dough at a time, ¼ inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut with Christmas cookie cutter. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool. Decorate with colored frosting and red-hots.

In a medium bowl, stir together until smooth:
4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons water

Adjust the consistency as necessary with more powdered sugar or water. Color as desired. To store, cover the surface of the icing with a sheet of plastic wrap. This keeps for up to 4 days at room temperature or about one month refrigerated.

Nov 24

Thanksgiving Leftovers

2009 at 4:06 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays | Recipes

We’re preparing for Thanksgiving and we want to bring you in on the fun. Mom’s got the turkey covered (after the disastrous Thanksgiving of 2007 we girls intercede for her health all week).

I’m already thinking about leftovers.

You see, a few months ago, my mother-in-law, Nancy (who has a knack for finding delicious new recipes) made Jack Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa. I’ve been waiting to share them with you ever since.

I have to admit I was skeptical when she told me the ingredients—I don’t tend to like sweet and spicy mixed together. But wow, this cranberry salsa is absolutely delicious! Five stars! Four forks! Five mitts! (Can you tell I’ve been browsing recipe sites all week?)

These quesadillas are a unique way to use up leftover turkey and cranberry sauce; or, as the recipe suggests, you can put the salsa on turkey sandwiches. I might just eat the salsa with a spoon; it’s that good.

Jack Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa

jack quesadillasYield: 8 servings (serving size: 3 wedges, about 1/4 cup salsa, and 1 tablespoon sour cream)


* Salsa:
* 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 Anjou pear, cored and finely diced
* 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

* Cooking spray
* 1/4 cup (2-inch-thick) slices green onions
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers
* 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
* 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
* 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


To prepare salsa, combine first 7 ingredients. Cover and chill.

To prepare quesadillas, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1/4 cup sliced onions to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Remove onions from pan; reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over each of 4 tortillas. Top each cheese-covered tortilla with one-fourth of onions, 1/2 cup turkey, 2 tablespoons cheese, and 1 tortilla.

Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 quesadilla to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and cheese melts. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges. Serve with cranberry salsa and sour cream.

Nov 23

Thanksgiving Turkey

2009 at 5:55 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Holidays | Recipes

Here’s the recipe I use for the turkey that will grace our table on Thanksgving Day:

The World’s Best Turkey Recipe

Original Recipe Yield 1 (12 pound) turkey


* 1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
* 1/2 cup butter, cubed
* 2 apples, cored and halved
* 1 tablespoon garlic powder
* salt and pepper to taste
* 2/3 bottle champagne [I use sparkling apple cider instead]

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Rinse turkey, and pat dry. Gently loosen turkey breast skin, and insert pieces of butter between the skin and breast. Place apples inside the turkey’s cavity. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place turkey in a roasting bag, and pour champagne over the inside and outside of the bird. Close bag, and place turkey in a roasting pan.
3. Bake turkey 3 to 3 1/2 hours in the preheated oven, or until the internal temperature is 180 degrees F (85 degrees C) when measured in the meatiest part of the thigh. Remove turkey from bag, and let stand for at least 20 minutes before carving.

I also cook two turkey breasts in crockpots so we have plenty of meat for sandwiches the next day:

Crockpot Turkey Breast

1 sm. to med. turkey breast

1 stick butter


Wash and pat dry turkey breast. Season lightly with salt. Place in crockpot with 1 stick of butter. Turn on low for 10-12 hours. Great to do overnight). Very moist!

Together with our favorite sides we enjoy this meal with much gratefulness to God our Savior!

Nov 13

Friday Funnies

2009 at 4:32 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Fun & Encouragement | Friday Funnies | Homemaking | Recipes

A few days ago, I received the following email from our church administrator, Tim. (I think he meant to send it to the North Pole.)

Dear Santa,

I have been a pretty good boy this year. I know you’ve been watching, so you know how hard I’ve been trying. There’s really just one thing I want this year and then I promise I’ll be even better next year. Could you get Nicole Whitacre to bring those killer-to-die-for crab crackers to the Pastors’ Christmas Party again this year? You could deliver a couple of cases of the crab meat to her so she could bring a lot and so I won’t feel so guilty eating hundreds of them. Do you have her address? She lives in Virginia, which is just outside Washington DC. If you’re coming by sleigh, just turn left at Great Falls and head west. Well Santa, I guess I’ll go now. Thanks for listening. Please check your list because I’m pretty sure I’ve been good.


P.S. Please let me know what jobs I can do for you.

The “killer-to-die-for crab crackers” recipe is from my friend (and fabulous cook), Jessica.


1 stick butter

1 jar Kraft Old English Cheese Spread

1 T. Mayonnaise

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 T. onion flakes

6 oz. crab meat (fresh or canned)

6 English muffins

Separate English muffins into halves. Mix all other ingredients together. Spread the mixture on muffin halves. Broil until browned and bubbly. Cut into quarters (if so desired) and serve immediately. If frozen, bake at 375 degrees for fifteen minutes and broil one minute at end. Freezes well.

See you back here again on Monday,

Nicole for the girltalkers

Sep 29

French Dip Disaster

2009 at 10:07 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

One night, a few weeks ago, I was stumped on what to make for dinner. It was already after 4pm and I needed something quick and easy. So I did what I usually do—I called one of my sisters. Nicole had just the thing. Her friend, Alyssa, had recently made her a delicious homemade French Dip Sandwich and she gave me the recipe over the phone.

I rushed to the store, got my ingredients, came home, and assembled the sandwiches—roast beef and provolone on toasted French bread, spread generously with horseradish, and beef consommé on the side for dipping. I set the sandwiches in front of the fam. They looked and smelled so yummy.

Mom took the first bite. Hmmm…something wasn’t right. She stopped eating and watched the rest of us. Chad took a bite and immediately blurted out: “Janelle, this is so hot!” When Mike and I bit into our sandwiches, our eyes began to water and I felt a headache coming on. Now we like spicy food, but these sandwiches were beyond hot! We couldn’t take another bite. Dinner was a total bust.

When I called Nicole the next day, we figured out my problem. I was supposed to use horseradish sauce, but I had accidentally used straight up horseradish. And I had spread it on thick. No wonder one bite gave us all a headache! (Dad, not liking roast beef, was spared this ordeal.)

I’m happy to report that I didn’t let this experience get the better of me. I have since made the sandwiches again—this time with horseradish sauce—and they were delicious. They’ve even become a staple around here. I just might make them again this week.

If you’d like to try these yummy, warm sandwiches on a crisp fall evening, here’s what you need:

-Bread of your choice (I use French bread from the grocery store bakery and Nicole likes sourdough)

-Roast beef (freshly sliced from the deli is best)

-Provolone cheese, sliced

-Horseradish SAUCE

-Beef consommé (in the soup aisle)

Slice bread and briefly toast two slices per sandwich under the broiler. Remove toast from oven. Take half of the slices off the pan and spread with horseradish SAUCE to taste. Set aside. Turn over the remaining slices, pile high with roast beef and provolone, and return to broiler. Heat until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and assemble sandwiches. Warm the consommé in microwave and serve in a bowl for dipping.

Happy eating!

Jun 8

Family Breakfast

2009 at 12:19 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

My sister Helen lives in Florida so I don’t get to see her that often. But last week, she and her husband came through town and we got to spend several, delightful days together.

Breakfast was at my house, and together with my mom and other sister Janice, the women of my family had great fun talking, laughing and reminiscing around my kitchen table. Helen’s husband, Steve, was a great sport to endure hours of family stories—you know, the ones that are only interesting if you were there?

So that I could spend as much time as possible with my sister, I chose breakfast menus that allowed me to make most of the meal the night before. This meant little preparation and minimal cleanup in the morning.

I thought you might enjoy these recipes from Helen’s visit. They are perfect for company, but also for a delightful, relaxing vacation breakfast with your family.


Caramel Apple French Toast
Coffee and Juice


Caramel Apple French Toast:
(Meredith Huspeni)

1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, cubed
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 – 3 large tart apples, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 slices day-old French bread (3/4 inch thick)

In a small saucepan, cook brown sugar, butter and syrup until thick, about 5-7 minutes. Pour into an ungreased 13”x9” baking pan; arrange apples on top. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk and vanilla. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture for 1 minute; place over apples. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350* for 35-40 minutes.


Breakfast/Brunch Bake
Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes
Fresh Fruit platter
Poppy Seed Tea Bread
Coffee and Juice

Breakfast/Brunch Bake
(Betsy Ricucci)

1 lb. sausage
6 eggs
2 cups milk
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
6 slices favorite bread, cubed
10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon salt

Saute sausage; drain well. Beat together eggs, milk, salt and mustard. Layer bread cubes on the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish. Next, layer the sausage and then the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.
Note: instead of sausage, you can substitute with 1 pound of cooked bacon pieces or ½ pound of cooked ham, cubed.

Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes:
(Karen Carr)

2 (20-oz.) packages Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns (refrigerated, not frozen)
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup (8 oz.) shredded cheese
1 ½ cups sour cream
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 9”x13” baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, place in baking pan and bake in preheated 350* oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

Poppy Seed Tea Bread
(Nancy Royer)

3 cups flour
2 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons poppy seed
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ teaspoon butter flavoring
1 ½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix all the ingredients in the order given with an electric mixer. Pour batter in 3 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes at 350*. Remove onto racks and glaze while warm.

¼ cup orange juice
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon oil

Melt all ingredients in a saucepan. Prick loaves with a toothpick and pour the glaze over each.

May 22

Simple BBQ Ribs

2009 at 3:21 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Homemaking | Recipes

104808 Janelle was having a cookout a few weeks ago and asked me what she should have Mikey grill. When I told her ribs were easy to prepare, she didn’t believe me. But then she tried this recipe and discovered her big sister was right once again. If you don’t have a plan for your Memorial Day cookout yet, give these ribs a try. They are super yummy, and yes, Janelle, super easy too!

(We use reviewer Bonnie12’s instructions, which is first when you sort by “Most Helpful.” And then we slather the ribs with Bulls Eye or Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce)

Simple BBQ Ribs


  • 2 1/2 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce


  1. Place ribs in a large pot with enough water to cover. Season with garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Bring water to a boil, and cook ribs until tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Remove ribs from pot, and place them in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Pour barbeque sauce over ribs. Cover dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature of pork has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).