The only thing better than a good recipe is a good recipe that comes with good memories. All these recipes were shared with me by friends and family. I may have made my own adjustments to suit my own tastes, but the flavor of the friendship is always intact.


January 2008

Pat is my bestest Pal. She’s been with me through thick and thin for thirty years, give or take. Thanks, Pat!

Pat’s Hot Chicken Salad

* 4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
* 4 cups diced celery
* 1 cup toasted almonds
* 1 tsp salt
* 4 tsp grated onion
* 4 tsp lemon juice
* 1 cup real mayonnaise
* 1 cup water chestnuts, sliced
* 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
* 1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips

Combine all ingredients except chips in a 3 quart flat baking dish. Sprinkle with chips. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Serves 8-10

NOTE: I usually cut the recipe in half, hold back the potato chips, and bake this in the toaster oven, putting the chips on after I put the casserole on the table. The dish is too close to the heating element in a toaster oven, and the chips scorch. It can also be heated in the microwave and served in a glass bowl or a bread bowl.


February 2008

This wasn’t actually given to me by Mr. Minton, but by Barbara, a friend of his. I love hand-alongs: recipes that pass along a chain of friendship the way they pass down the chain of generations.

Minton’s Veggie Casserole

* 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
* 1/2 to 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
* 2 cans mixed vegetables, drained
* 1 can sliced water chestnuts (or raw celery, if you don’t like wc)
* 1 cup mayonnaise (NOT SALAD DRESSING OR MIRACLE WHIP!!!)
* 1 to 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I like more, and I use sharp cheddar)
* whole Ritz crackers

Grease casserole dish. Mix butter and crushed crackers and press into bottom of dish and partly up sides.

Mix veggies, water chestnuts, mayo, and Worcestershire sauce; add other seasonings to taste, such as salt, pepper, minced onion). Layer mixture, cheese, and whole Ritz crackers.

Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.

Even better left over!


March 2008

This was given to me by Kelsea P. Smith, a fellow attendee at Ball State University’s Midwest Writers Workshop way back when it was held on campus. Kelsea, if you read this, contact me so I can thank you for a salad my family has enjoyed for many years. Kelsea said she got this from a celebrity cookbook, and it was attributed to “Mrs. John Denver”.

Kelsea’s Mandarin Orange Salad

Prepare topping first (takes time to cool)

* 2 packages (or 2/3 cup) sliced almonds
* 6 Tbs sugar

At low heat, becoming gradually warmer, place nuts and sugar in non-stick skillet. Stir gently with plastic or rubber spatula until all sugar has crystallized on nuts, and they become light golden color. Place these on aluminum foil, wrap, and place in refrigerator. They will crumble apart easily to be layered on top of salad. [Note from MA: Hide them well–your husband will snack them all up, if you aren’t careful.]


* 1/2 head lettuce (torn or cut into bite-sized pieces)
* 4 stalks celery, diced
* 4 long green onions cut into ringlets
* 5 sprigs fresh parsley
* 1 large can and 1 small can Mandarin oranges, WELL drained

Dressing [Note from MA: I cut the proportions of the dressing WAY down]
warm slightly so sugar will dissolve–add just before serving, toss salad, then sprinkle almonds on top

* 1/4 cup oil (MA: I use sesame oil)
* 1 Tbs vinegar (MA: I use rice vinegar)
* 2 Tbs sugar (MA: I use Turbinado or raw sugar)
* salt, pepper, oregano to taste


April 2008

My late and beloved grandfather, George Kelley Leister, took over shopping and cooking when my grandmother, Ruby Goodman Leister, had a heart attack. We had years of good times together at the grocery and swapping recipes. This is one he gave me. It’s everything I love–simple, quick, looks and tastes fancier than it is, and it reminds me of someone dear.

Ham with Raisin Sauce

* 1/2 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup water
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
* 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Simmer raisins in boiling water until tender. Add sugar and cornstarch, stirring constantly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter or margarine and lemon juice. Serve over warm ham.


May 2008

I only met Sue a few times–she’s a friend of a friend. I love these meatballs, though, and they always make me think of the dear friend Sue is a friend of. I especially love the title Sue gave the dish.

Meatballs–Cheap Meal

* 1 lb hamburger [ground turkey or crumbled veggieburger might work, too–MA]
* 1/2 cup bread crumbs
* 1 egg
* 2 Tbs Prime Choice steak sauce
* 2 Tbs oil
* 1/3 cup Prime Choice
* 2 Tbs brown sugar
* 2 Tbs butter

Combine meat, bread, egg, 2 Tbs Prime Choice; mix; shape in balls-1 inch; brown in oil in skillet; drain.

Sauce: Melt last 3 ingredients in saucepan then pour over meatballs; cover and simmer 15 minutes.


June 2008

Sara is our youngest daughter, and also my friend. This is her recipe, just as she shared it with me.

Sara’s Pineapple Tofu Stir-Fry

* 2T olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, minced (or a buncha garlic powder, if you’re like me)
* 2 medium carrots, sliced
* concentrated vegetable broth
* the larger regular-sized can of pineapple chunks (with juice) (I forget how many oz., sorry)
* 1 package extra-firm tofu
* 2T soy sauce
* 2 tsp. sesame oil
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (or ground)

First off, don’t throw out the pineapple juice! :) Press the tofu (in case you haven’t ever done that, all you have to do is put it on some paper towels on a flat surface and put something kinda heavy on it, like a big cookbook, for about ten or fifteen minutes). Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic & carrots. Stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes. Add a few T vegetable broth, all the pineapple juice, & the tofu, and saute for 5 to 10 minutes (ten is probably best). Add soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, red pepper, the pineapple, and a few more T of vegetable broth. Heat 3 to 5 minutes. (Personally, I like to add the pineapple five minutes after I put in the tofu, but it depends on how soft you want the pineapple to be.) You can serve it over either rice or noodles–we found some plain ramen noodles, and it was really good with those, but I think authentic Asian noodles would be much, much better. ;) If it looks like it needs to be saucier at any point, you can just add more vegetable broth and some more soy sauce.


July 2008

Annie is our oldest daughter, and also my friend. She lives next door, and is generous enough to share her recipes and, even better, her cooking!

Annie’s Crab Meat Quesadillas

* soft flour tortillas
* grated or shredded cheese (Mexican mix or cheddar & mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
* imitation crab meat–chopped
* green onions–diced
* dried apricots–chopped
* slivered almonds–toasted
* parsley–chopped
* vegetable oil
* salsa

Layer cheese on tortillas, then all other ingredients except oil and salsa. Sprinkle more cheese on top. Heat oil in skillet. Put another tortilla on top of assembled tortilla. Brown in skillet until cheese melts, then turn and brown other side. Serve with salsa.


August 2008

Kathie was my housemate for a brief while. She taught me to love cats, and she gave me this recipe, which is SO good and SO easy!

Kathie’s Refrigerator Pickles

  • 8-12 cucumbers, sliced not to thin
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3-4 green or red peppers
  • 4-6 large onions
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups vinegar

Sprinkle vegetables with salt and let stand at room temperature. Boil sugar and vinegar. Chill. Pack vegetables into sterilized jars. Pour sugar and vinegar mixture into jars. Refrigerate for 12 hours before using.


September 2008

Beth is our #2 daughter, and also a friend. She’s shared many wonderful recipes with us, but his is one of the easiest and yummiest.

Beth’s Fluff Pie

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (one block)
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 12 oz. cool whip
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Whip together well, pour into graham cracker crust and chill 3 or so hours. Top with fresh fruit.


October 2008

Leslie is our #3 daughter, and also a friend. Although she’s a good cook, she doesn’t enjoy it. She likes eating, though, so I’m always happy to have her to dinner. She gave me this recipe.

Leslie’s Favorite Pumpkin Dump Cake

  • 15-oz can of pumpkin–not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 5 or 6-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 9-oz box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first six ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle cake mix on top. Cover with pecans. Pour melted margarine over top. Bake about 45 minutes to an hour.

Whip together well, pour into graham cracker crust and chill 3 or so hours.


November 2008

T. Lee Harris is a good friend and a super writer. She’s also a fantastic cook. This is great for garlic lovers–even people who usually don’t like hummus like this.

T’s Hummus for Garlic Lovers

  • 2 C. (One 15oz can) chick peas, drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed (Less or more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp. (Approx.) tahini, (sesame paste) *
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Put chick peas, garlic, herbs and olive oil in food processor and pulse to make a paste. Add lemon juice and process thoroughly until smooth. Add more lemon juice a little at a time if the mixture is too dry. When it’s well mixed and smooth, add a little of the tahini at a time until the hummus thickens to the desired texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a bowl, garnish with chopped onion, chive, cilantro or the like and you’re ready to go.

* Tahini = 4 parts sesame seeds to 1/4-1/2 part sesame oil (scant 3 Tbs sesame seeds + 1 tsp sesame oil = approximately 3 Tbs)


December 2008

My terrific granddaughter, Jessica, brought this recipe over and we made it together. Fun AND yum.

Muddy Buddies

  • 9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter (do not use soft spreads)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Measure cereal into a very large bowl (or use your largest pot). Heat chocolate chips, peanut butter and margarine in 1 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal in bowl. Stir until evenly coated. Pour into a large plastic food-storage bag; add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container.


I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

One thought on “Recipals

  1. Dean Diaz

    January 4, 2012 at 3:57am

    Sounds like interesting, and gives me determination to learned how to cook and discover its amazing world!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 4, 2012 at 8:18am

      Cooking is a joy to me, Dean. I hope you do try your hand at it, and that you enjoy it as much as I have. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dean Diaz

    January 6, 2012 at 2:51am

    I will try it, thank you so much for sharing your interesting passion in life. For sure you can give me more great ideas, may I ask what are some easy dishes for first time cook just like me? I would do appreciate your recommendation ma’am 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 6, 2012 at 8:36am

      Look in my Food section under Alligator Sandwiches. Those are not really recipes for alligator sandwiches, but for quick and easy dishes. It’s a joke around here to call quick and easy recipes alligator sandwiches because alligators snap their jaws at you, and “make it snappy” is slang for “do it quickly”. 🙂 And, Dean, just because you asked, today’s Friday Recommends post will be quick and easy recipes for the beginning cook. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Dean Diaz

    January 9, 2012 at 2:57am

    Thank you so much ma’am for your recommendation, I really love sandwiches! they are easy to do and to be true its my first time to hear and read about your recipes under ‘alligator sandwiches’ I enjoy reading and knowing some dishes. Also I would like to sat thank you again in giving answer to my request with quick and easy recipes for beginner’s in this great passion of cooking 🙂
    Looking forward to know more interesting information.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. analy

    July 24, 2012 at 6:55am

    hi Marian Allen,

    i love your site making me more inspired on my kitchen everyday doing different ideas and recipes. That make my friends happy too for every recipes i
    made for them to taste … thank you so much

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  5. Kale

    May 27, 2013 at 3:23am

    I never eat chicken salad but i will have this recipe for my kids or friends.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 27, 2013 at 6:58am

      I hope they enjoy it, Kale. We seldom eat chicken, either, these days. Or any meat, for that matter.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  6. matt

    July 11, 2013 at 12:43pm

    I am in cooking school in this article has given me great hope and strive to get through school and become a great chef. Thank you sharing your love of cooking

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 11, 2013 at 3:18pm

      I have my doubts that this list of simple recipes is just what you needed to spur you through school, but I love your site, so I’m leaving the comment and link. Dog! Cake! Recipes!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  7. Asia

    April 14, 2014 at 9:32am

    For me, the best in November 2008 because I love garlic 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 14, 2014 at 10:22am

      🙂 I love garlic, too. I can’t believe it’s healthy — usually, if I love it, it’s bad for me. lol

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  8. Danielle

    May 29, 2014 at 5:22am

    I love hot chicken salad, this is my favorite dish. I am going to try it.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 29, 2014 at 8:31am

      Hot chicken salad is my favorite dish twice, Danielle: once because I love the tastes and textures, and once because my pal Pat gave me the recipe. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  9. Brenda

    March 26, 2015 at 11:52pm

    You are spot on, food and the recipes they are made from bring back great memories.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      March 27, 2015 at 10:49am

      They do, indeed, Brenda! I have some recipes written out by my late mother-in-law; cooking from them is like having a lovely visit with her. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  10. Showhan

    April 18, 2015 at 6:04am

    I just surprised !! What great ideas here you have presented. But especially, I love to get the chicken salad as it’s a different kind of salad, I think. So, it’s more attractive to me and will try it later. Thanks for sharing the great ideas.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 18, 2015 at 7:31am

      I hope you enjoy it. My husband and I are nearly vegetarian, and he doesn’t like this salad, but occasionally I’ll buy myself one small piece of chicken and make this salad just for me. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  11. Mario & Michelle

    April 27, 2015 at 10:18am

    YUM…Chicken Salad is one of my favorite food. There are many recipe for it but I tried and like your recipe that simple and easy to do.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      April 27, 2015 at 1:15pm

      Simple and easy is what I aim for, Mario & Michelle. Glad you like it. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  12. Carla Swan

    February 19, 2016 at 6:01am

    Hey Marian,
    I don’t know how come my twelve years daughter read the Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe over here and prepared it for my birthday.Took a little help from her father.. 😛
    But i must the taste was “DIVINE”. “YUMMLICIOUS”. Guess my daughter is growing up.
    All thanks to you. 🙂
    Cheers mate..!!!!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author
  13. Diana

    February 20, 2017 at 2:53pm

    I’ve been looking for a hot chicken salad recipe since I tasted it once in Florida–happy to have found it. Thanks for the awesome recipes!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  14. Bean Ground

    April 16, 2017 at 9:22pm

    Love the Meatballs Recipe from May 2008, I tried this last night; the Wife and kids loved it in my house! Going to try Beth’s Fluff Pie Recipe next!
    Thanks Mark

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  15. Tyler Heal

    November 22, 2018 at 9:11pm

    The hot chicken salad was quick and easy to make, we thoroughly enjoyed it last night! Thanks for sharing Marian.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  16. Veronika

    January 9, 2019 at 4:51am

    Hi MARIAN ,

    I love to read your blogs. I am a traveler & foodie. I am a food lover & really very happy to read lots of food recipes here.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 19, 2019 at 7:48am

      Well, now I need to look up Indonesian food! Thanks for the suggestion!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  17. Crab Dynasty

    April 13, 2019 at 7:29pm

    Hi Marian: We loved the crab meat quesadillas. My wife and I made them with fresh lump crab meat and king crab meat. They came out excellent. We modified the recipe a little by sprinkling some Old Bay seasoning on them. I enjoy your blogs and will try a recipe from time to time.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  18. Amna

    July 12, 2019 at 10:52am

    i always search for new recipes and your site is like gold mine… could you please explain about 1/3 cup Prime Choice in meat balls recipe… i want to try this but i dont know what is 1/3 cup Prime Choice.
    Thank you and keep sharing

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author
      • joey

        October 26, 2021 at 3:10pm

        Yes! I see! I bookmarked that, too. My mother in law does a brown sugar in cream cheese for Bosch pears and I will undereat dinner to eat more of those! Haha! I have all this. I don’t know why I’m not eating those right now….. Maybe dessert. Mmm 😛

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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