Saturday Sursee :: Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread 3

I am dashing off to a wedding of the daughter of a dear friend and sending you this Sursee for Pumpkin Bread.  This is a fantastic recipe that I make for Fall,  package up for Thanksgiving Sursees for Neighbors and then bake again during the Christmas season.  I love that I have the card in the handwriting of the cook, Shirley.  Such a great lady.  Such a great recipe that she wrote down for me once.

It is not the most healthy.  But.  It is good.  So try it?  Make it today and think of all the things for which you are thankful.  Then share with your family or a friend.


Pumpkin Bread

 Pumpkin Bread


  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbl vanilla
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 16 oz can pumpkin


  1. Whisk all the dry ingredients together
  2. Mix all the wet ingredients together
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
  4. mix well and then pour into 2 Loaf pans greased and floured (9 1/2 x 5 1/2 pans)
  5. Bake at 325 for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
  6. Test with a toothpick in center
  7. Freezes well
  8. Can add a cup of chopped pecans if you want!


What to Fix for Dinner? A Yummy Salad with an Amazing Dressing that is a Go To Meal


Carol's Amazing Salad

When it is time to have people over or just prepare dinner for your own family, do you find yourself fumbling around- indecisive about what to serve? I think it is important to have a few recipes that are your Go To Meals.  These are the  meals that you are proficient in preparing- the ones you don’t have to think about much.  The ones you take to the new mom or a neighbor.  The ones you prepare when you are having folks over, but don’t have much time or mental energy to try something new.

Having these Go To Meals helps us to practice hospitality.  A Go To Meal makes hospitality much easier and more doable in our minds which is where hospitality begins.

This salad is one of those meals.  One of my Go-Tos.  Easy.  Yummy.  People always ask for the recipe afterward.  You can make it as a main dish by adding chicken or it can be a lovely side dish.  Your choice.  So how about this week you practice a little bit of hospitality and invite someone over.  What is one of your Go To Meals that you could use?


Carol's Amazing Salad

Carol's Amazing Salad


  • Dressing
  • 1/3 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Combine the above ingredients in a jar and shake.
  • For salad use :
  • Mixed Field greens- I use the box of salad
  • 1 cup Blue cheese or feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1 cup toasted pecans


  1. Shake the dressing ingredients up in a mason jar/jelly jar. Keep refrigerated.
  2. Prepare your salad. Sometimes I serve the Blue Cheese and the pecans on the side so guests can add their own. Also helps if you want to save the salad to not have the cheese and pecans in there.
  3. I also shake and then pour the dressing into a pretty, small pitcher for guests to drizzle over their salad
  4. To make this a main dish, grill and slice chicken breasts. Serve the chicken on the side.
  5. This recipe makes enough for 6-8. You can double this easily.

What to Cook Tonight :: Lessons in Hospitality

Pork Tenderloins  Lessons in Hospitality

Received a text from one of the kids:

I am trying to think of things to make this week for dinner.  Any ideas?

How many times have you asked a friend that very same question?

This is one of the reasons I like watching cooking shows.  I feel like they inspire me when I need a little inspiration.  They get me out of my box, rut, cooking doldrums.  And they are so calming as I watch them cook through the 30 minute meal and then taste that first bite. Yes.  Looks good.  I am making that tonite! Thank you Giada, Pioneer Woman, Ina!  I am always talking back to the TV- “Yes, that does look delish.”

Friends help, too.  I love hearing what my friends are cooking up at their  house.

What her go to Company Meal is.

How she is celebrating this summer with food.

What is on her table tonite.

We need each other, gals.  Let’s speak life by speaking food to each other.  Let’s ask each other, what are you cooking?  Better yet, let’s invite each other over.  Share a meal and share life.  We are starting something new over here – Dinner with Friends. I am excited about it and will share later.

Today I will share with you a little Summer Sursee of what I am cooking around here.

Last night it was Pork Tenderloin grilled out, Roasted New Potatoes with Rosemary and a yum-oh salad with lots of goat cheese and avocado and an easy swoosh of olive oil and white Balsalmic vinegar over the top.  It looked pretty because I also added red grapes sliced in half and tiny cherry tomatoes sliced.   I used this marinade  for the tenderloins that the Pioneer Woman told me about.  Remember, don’t cook your tenderloin too, too long or they will be dry as dry.

Here also is what I sent to all the sons who are living on their own.  I tried to think of easy things with a combination of some store bought, some home made that a guy would actually like and try.  Maybe it will spur you on or give you a spark as you think about what to cook for dinner.

Buy a rotisserie chicken and eat. Then next day make a big salad with it. Or quesadillas. Or fajita. 

Make a pasta and put summer veggies in it that you grilled on your grill pan. Like zucchini. Squash. Cherry tomatoes. A little cheese on top.  Serve with green salad

Panini with mozzarella, basil and tomato

Shrimp Summer Pasta we made in Red River. Look up on pioneer woman. 

Grill a flank steak or tri-tip steak. Roast new potatoes and steam green beans

Buy chicken picatta at Whole Foods already made. Serve with pasta. 

What are you making this summer?  Do share the SURSEE.



Israel Sursees :: Looking for Surprises on Vacation

Here are some more SURSEES from Israel.  Thought you might like to see some more of the beauty and fun of this country.

Mint Lemonade

Mint Lemonaide

One day for lunch we had this SURSEE.  It was so refreshing and it is easy for you to make for Summer.  I watched the guy make it in the restaurant where we ate in Old Jerusalem.  Basically it is frozen concentrate lemonade with a handful of mint tossed in and then blended up.  We have a frozen slushy machine which makes it all frozen and thick,  but I think you could make it that texture in the blender by adding ice instead of the 4 1/2 cups of water.  Then you could have this drink and lift your glass-Cheers  and L’Chaim!

Garden of Gethsemane Olive TreesGarden of Gethsemane

Loved seeing the garden where Jesus prayed.  Especially loved the gnarly bark of these ancient olive trees.

Salad for Breakfast

Salad for breakfast

Our hotels all over Israel had an amazing spread for the Breakfast Buffet.  One thing that I really liked was having Salad for breakfast.  Who says you can’t do that?  It just felt fresh and light and lovely.  They also had big bowls of fresh fruit each morning and I loved, loved the two kinds of grapefruit.

Fresh fruit sursee

Look at the beautiful fruit and the loverly serving bowls.  This leads me to the next SURSEE

The Beauty of the Armenian Pottery

Armenian Pottery Sursee

The pottery in Israel was beautiful and everywhere.  Multi-colored, happy, full of life.  I loved how the hotels where we stayed used bowls like this, and it made me want to use beautiful serving bowls when I got back to Texas.  Use my best.  I am worth it and so are you when you come over.

Synagogue in Gamla in the area north of the Sea of Galilee

Synagogue in Gamla

The reason I include this photo is that it was the ruins of a synagogue from the time of Jesus.  Our pastor taught one of our daily lessons here, and it was so wonderful to think that Jesus maybe taught here when he travelled in this area.  Most things from his day are buried under so much history and ruins, but this synagogue was not.   A great SURSEE to see.

 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  Mark  9:35


What SURSEES are you seeing in your travels or everyday?  Do tell.



Sunday Night Suppers :: Easy Hospitality at Home

Popcorn Supper

We hada little tradition around here on Sunday nights.  For dinner we ate popcorn and apples. Yep, that was it.

Sometimes we even served the boys  Coke-y Milk, as we called itwhere I would pour a little Coke into their milk.  Super exciting I know, but it is the little things.

It was a simple meal for the end of a busy weekend.  I didn’t have to think about what was for supper.  A break for me.  A break for Craig.  And the boys loved cutter

I used this super cool Apple Slicer.  With one Swoosh,  the apple was cut and I was done.

When I was feeling healthy, I added some sliced cheese to the mix.

We have an awesome popcorn making machine called the Detonator- extremely gifted in its ability to make great popcorn.  I have since learned about PopCorn Salt, read about it here.

It is the simple things we do as moms and families that build into our kids.  The simple things are what your kids will remember.  Eating together around the table, laughing, having a Special Sursee of a meal like Popcorn and Apples.

What  SURSEE do you serve on Sunday night?  Do you have a special, traditional meal that you always have that will create memories for your kids?  Try one this weekend.


Pretzel Yummies :: Easy Snicky Snack Dessert

Time to cook again.  Time to make an easy dessert snack that changes with the seasons.

Pretzel yummies

I keep theses ingredients in the pantry so I can make whenever.  All you need to change is the color of the M&Ms.


Christmas Pretzel Yummies

Here they are dressed for Christmas.

It makes a bunch, so sometimes I bag it up and give it away as a SURSEE.  It is the perfect Salty-Sweet combo that makes a snicky-snack great.  Also great for parties or for movie night.  Enjoy!

What is your easy snick-snack dessert that you make?

Pretzel Yummies :: Easy Snicky Snack Dessert

Pretzel Yummies :: Easy Snicky Snack Dessert


  • 16 oz pkg of Rold Gold Tiny Twist Pretzels
  • 20 oz pkg of Almond Bark
  • Bag of M&Ms (12.60 oz)


  1. Heat the almond bark in a microwave safe bowl---needs to be big enough to hold pretzels.
  2. Once the almond bark is melted, stir in the pretzels and coat all of them.
  3. Let it cool a minute then add the M&Ms, stirring into the pretzels.
  4. Once all pretzels and M&Ms are covered, pour mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper on countertop
  5. Let cool
  6. Break into pieces to serve. Eat!


Go to Desserts- Easy Peach Cobbler :: Lessons in Hospitality

Easy Peach Cobbler

A hospitality trick I have learned is that I need a dessert that is my “go to, easy-peasy, don’t have to think about it” Dessert.  Sometimes a gal just needs a dessert that she can make without too much thought.  But you also want one that tastes good.  This is it.  I think you will like it.

So this Lesson in Hospitality is about making an Easy Peach Cobbler.

I keep all the ingredients for this one in the pantry, and I can whip it up in a flash.  I can make it when I am running late and people love it. Comfort food at its best.  The key to this recipe being easy is I have made it so many times.  Over and over.  I’ve made it for family, friends, small groups, supper clubs, bible studies, pot-lucks, new moms,  ladies lunches, summer bbqs, and high school events.  Shwoo.  It has gotten a lotta mileage at our house.

This is also a great recipe for teaching to a college student who needs an easy dessert to try out on roommates or friends.

Go try it yourself.

What is your Easy-Peasy Dessert?  Do tell.

Easy Peach Cobbler

Easy Peach Cobbler


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 large can of sliced peaches
  • cinnamon and sugar, you decide how much you want to sprinkle on top of partially cooked cobbler


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Melt one stick of butter in 9 x13 pan in the preheating oven.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the milk and mix together.
  5. Pour the batter over the melted butter, don't mix.
  6. Pour the can of peaches and juices over the batter and butter, don't mix.
  7. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Then take out of oven and sprinkle the top of the cobbler with cinnamon and sugar. Bake around 10 minutes more, checking the cobbler to see that it doesn't brown too much.
  9. Serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Lessons in Hospitality :: Meal Planning Magic

Eating around the table with family is important.  You know that.  You also know that it can be rather difficult when you have a bunch of kids or even one kid!  It is hard to get it all going the same direction around 5:00 pm.  We are supposed to have these balanced, nutritional , economical and yummy! meals that introduce new wacky veggies and sometimes it just is not working!  At least it was hard around the Johnson house.

I want to share some of the survival skills I learned over the years to make the Supper Hour and meal planning madness not quite so hard.

  One tip I have learned over the years is: I pace myself when it comes to planning meals and setting up the week.

One way I do this is to plan a week’s worth of menus on Saturday or Sunday and then shop for the whole week. This planning helps you take advantage of what is on sale at the grocery store and paces How Often you actually cook during the week.   This planning helps in many ways.

For instance, if I grill out chicken on Monday night, I use some of the leftover for a delicious salad topped with chicken.  Or I use the chicken in tettrazini  or a pasta dish.  Chicken Redux looks pretty good that way.  And this also saves time which is  good.  Very good.

I plan out what I am cooking and how I will use my leftovers.

Planning how I use my leftovers means I am not COOKING something big and complicated  every night.  I am pacing myself.

Another benefit of planning is that I make sure that every recipe for one night is  not a new, complicated recipe.  Maybe only one component to the meal is new to me, the other players are easy to me recipes  or I am using leftovers.

If I am planning out the week, I see these relationships in black and white and I am a better planner.

Tip #2 : I Always have a green salad.

Or almost always.  Five of the seven nights.  Kids almost always like a green salad.  So I can give myself a Check +  on the vegetable that night.  I also can introduce one new veggie that may or my not be a favorite. Cheesy, creamy baked spinach comes to mind. It comes to mind as a Not Favorite.  But I know they like the salad I am serving and are eating one green Something that night.  And I am also introducing something new.  Or something that was not their favorite.

When I do introduce a new veggie, I remind them of Our Rule-

You have to have a bite.  One Bite.

I tried not to have squash, spinach and lima beans all on the same night.  My nutritionist friend told me long ago you had to introduce foods 25, 50, 75 times before kids would acquire a taste for it. I can’t remember the number, but it was a lot!   So let your kids drown their green salad in Ranch dressing and try tastes of the newer stuff.  Eventually, they will like their broccoli.  Brussel sprouts, I can’t promise.

Tip #3: Make a schedule and have the same thing over and over.

Yep, that is right, when you make your menu plan for the week,  you can make Monday-Meatloaf night.  Tuesday -Chicken night.  Wednesday-Left-overs. Thursdays-Sandwich night. Etc.  Make the things your family likes.  No worries if you have the same things over and over.  Make things that are easy for you to get on the table.  This is also another plug for doing a meal planning schedule on Sunday night. As you look at your week, make sure you factor in when you will be gone all day or have doctor appointments, nights you might need to have Sandwich and Soup night.  Planning is the key.

You can also spice up the meals each week with more adventurous side dishes.  I felt like I didn’t have enough brain space to make one more decision about what is for dinner,  so having it on the rotating schedule helped me.  Remember, too, this schedule is for a time. Your kids won’t always be little or you won’t always be so so busy.  Having a set schedule helps get you through a busy season.


My last tip is: When I have a Leftovers Meal, I try to make or buy one thing new.

So here you are trying to make-over the chicken or the meatloaf you had earlier that week.  Well introduce something new- maybe a new bread or have a different yum-oh sauce to go over the leftover chicken.  Or try a new side dish.

I try to have one thing new or special when I serve the same or redone meat dish.  This way I am not cooking everything, every night, and we are not bored with the same exact meal.

I love this Sea Salt Cibiatta bread from Whole Foods!  Sea salt ciabatta bread

This bread was sometimes the splurge I made to make the meal look new again.  Think of it as an accessory for your plate.

Or try a new recipe on  Left-Over Night.  Serve leftovers with a new Veggie dish or pasta side.  Here are some ideas for side dishes.

Yummy potatoes or Corn Saute

What is your favorite way to make leftovers look new? Do you have a schedule that you follow?  Do Tell and give me a SURSEE!


Tomatillo Pork Tacos

Need an easy recipe for dinner for your starving family?

Need a recipe to share with a college kid who wants to learn to start cooking?

Need a Sunday lunch meal that will be done when you walk in the door hungry from a morning at church?  Look no further.

Try this Tomatillo Pork Taco meal.  Tomatillos are found in the produce section and have a papery skin on them.  Take that covering off before you chop them up to go into this SURSEElicious meal.


Tomatillo Pork Tacos

Tomatillo Pork Tacos


  • Pork shoulder roast or pork butt- You could also use a tenderloin
  • 1 large onion, rough chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 10 tomatillos, rough chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped (you don't have to add this if you don't like spicy!)


  1. Season your pork with cumin and salt and pepper.
  2. Can use more than a tsp of cumin.
  3. Throw pork into crock pot.
  4. Rough chop onion and tomatillos and throw in on top of pork.
  5. Rough chop cilantro and add.
  6. Seed and chop jalapeno and add to crock pot
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours in crock pot
  8. When done take pork out of crock pot
  9. Use two forks to shred pork meat and then put back into crock pot
  10. Serve with warm tortillas, sour cream, cheese and hot sauce.

Pizza Roll Yummyness

Pizza Roll is a great meal for the family, and it isn’t really that hard to make.  Just takes a little planning ahead, like all good things.  This is also a fantastic recipe for your college kid- not too hard and can be made ahead and shared with others.

I made it with a friend and wanted to share the pics with you.  Recipe follows.

Use this Hot Roll Mix to get started.

Pour the yeast into the flour mixture and whisk it around.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the water and warm in the microwave for a minute. Then add to the flour with an egg. Mix it well until it all comes together.
Next you dump it out on a floured cloth and knead it until it isn’t sticky anymore- around 3-4 minutes.
Then let it rest for a few minutes.
While it is resting, I brown the sausage with some chopped onions.
Next I make the cheese mixture for the inside of the pizza roll.  In a large bowl, I add these spices,
Parmesan cheese,
and Mozzarella cheese.
Add the cooled sausage and stir it all together.
Spray a cookie sheet with some Pam.
Take your dough and dump out onto your floured cloth.  Push and smash it into a rectangle with your hands.   I sometimes roll the dough with a rolling pin out on the floured cloth into a 12 x 10 rectangle.  But you can just smash it around with your hands.
Plop the cheese/sausage mixture on top and spread it out to the edges.
Roll the dough toward you and seal the edges, turning the ends down and pinching them closed.
Then pick it up carefully and transfer to the cookie sheet, seam side down.
Here is where I repaired the roll where I tore it a little.  Easy to add a pinch of dough to repair the hole.I always curve it a little and then brush it with a beaten egg to give it a nice shine when it bakes.

Bake the Pizza Roll at 350 for around 15-20 minutes, until golden.  Slice into 2 inch thick slices.

Serve it with some a warm bowl of Prego or your fav marinara sauce.  I usually let the kids ladle some sauce onto their plates and dip the Pizza Roll slices into the sauce.

You can also make this ahead of time and reheat for dinner, or you can even bake it and freeze it. To serve thaw in frig and then reheat it, wrapped in foil.

A Sursee for the Family.

1 lb sausage
1/4 cup chopped onions
Saute onions and meat and then drain and cool.

Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix
Prepare according to the directions on the box for hot roll dough-
Add 2 tbl soft butter and 1 cup of warm  water to mix.  Mix in the egg.
Knead and let rest, covered.

Mix together:
 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbl basil
1 tbl oregano
1/2 tbl garlic salt

1 egg, beaten, to swish on the roll before baking.

Combine cheese mixture with cooled sausage.  Roll out dough into 12 x 10 rectangle on floured cloth
Dump cheese/sausage mix on top of dough.  Starting at one wide end roll over and then seal edges by pinching dough.  Beat one egg in small bowl and brush the Pizza roll with it.

 Spray cookie sheet with Pam and bake the Pizza Roll at 375 for15-20 min or until golden brown. Check at 15 minutes as I can’t really remember right now-ha!

Hope your family enjoys this recipe.  It is also a great dinner to take to a new Mom or someone recovering at home and needing a meal.  Enjoy and pass on this SURSEE.

What do you take to a new mom or friend in need of din-din?  Do tell.