Charlene Sands Drops In For a Visit

Western Winter Wedding BellsHello Darlings,

Woo-hoo! Miss Charlene Sands, our old friend and former Filly, has saddled up and will ride this ride way on Saturday.

Many of you will remember her interesting blogs here at the Junction. Miss Charlene set the bar pretty high for the rest of us. Ah know you’ll be thrilled to get a chance to chat with her again.

Our dear friend is going to talk about the new anthology that she’s written with Cheryl St. John and Jenna Kernan. The three of them make a wonderful partnership.

Miss Charlene isn’t coming empty-handed. No siree. She’s toting a $10 Amazon gift card for one lucky commenter.

Ah know you’ll want a chance to win that. So shake the wrinkles out of your bustles and get over come Saturday.

We’ll be waitin’ on you!

Fool’s Gold Salad

Love and Laughter in the Old West



Confession time:  Cooking is not my thing.  I came to that realization the day my then five-year-old daughter rushed home from kindergarten raving about the cafeteria food.  To add insult to injury she couldn’t believe that the Jello kept its shape.  That was the day I stopped slaving over a hot stove and took up writing, instead. She’s now a certified professional chef and has cooked for U.S. presidents.  This only proves one thing; if you want to raise a chef, stay out of the kitchen.


Which brings us to recipe week at Wildflower Junction: My daughter saved the day (and probably national security) by generously offering to whip up a recipe to share.   You and your health provider will be glad she did.  Incidentally, if you need help with menu planning, holiday party tips or simply have a cooking question, you can reach Chef Robyn at  Just mention burnt orange juice.  She’ll know her mom sent you. 

Chef Robyn


Fool’s Gold Salad

By Robyn Fennessy  C.C.









2 medium cans of black beans, drained and rinsed in cold water

2 medium cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed in cold water

2 cups frozen corn (Trader Joe’s has frozen roasted corn). Use either white or yellow.

*If roasted corn is not available: place corn in skillet. Heat and stir until roasted.

1 medium red onion. diced

1 medium tomato, diced

1/8 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

2 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

2  teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup red vinegar

¾ cup of salad oil

2 whole limes (squeezed)

1 whole avocado diced


Gently toss beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro together.  Combine vinegar, oil, limes, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a jar and shake well.  Pour over bean/corn mixture.  Toss until all ingredients are coated. Chill.  Add avocado just before serving



A Suitor for Jenny (A Rocky Creek Romance) 

When looking for a husband it’s best to go where the odds are in your favor.

Texas Hot Tamale Stew

The stew I want to share today is absolutely the easiest recipe ever created.   Whether you’re cooking for just you and your DH or the church choir, hopefully, it’ll become one you’ll add to your recipe box.  How many of you still have recipe boxes anyway? 

Texas Tamale Stew

Serves 2 to 200 … depending on the size of the cans used.

Put the following, with juices, in a heavy stew pot:

1 can               Chili

1 can               Tomato (crushed or diced)

1 can               Pinto Beans

1 can               Corn, whole kernel

1 can               Hominy (optional)

Heat until it’s hot, then add:

1 can               Tamales, cut into bite size

 Heat only until tamales are hot or they will break down.

Serve with cornbread.

Can Size Number                 Volume of Food         Weight of Food

No. 1 picnic                             1 1/4 cups                   10 1/2 to 12 ounces

No. 300                                    1 3/4 cups                   14 to 16 ounces

No. 303                                    2 cups                                     16 to 17 ounces

No. 2                                        2 1/2 cups                   20 ounces

No. 2 1/2                                  3 1/2 cups                   27 to 29 ounces

No. 3                                        5 3/4 cups                   51 ounces

No. 10                                      3 quarts                       6 1/2 pounds to 7 pounds and 5 ounces

Cowboy Gumbo

I love to cook (it’s the cleaning up after part I hate!).  And I confess, too, that I like to experiment in the kitchen.  I call it being creative.  My less generous friends call it my inability to let well enough alone. <g>    Anyway, I especially like hearty dishes that I can make a big batch of and freeze portions of for later use.  The recipe below is one such.

Gumbo is, of course, known as a cajun favorite, and every cajun cook has her own recipe.  For instance my momma’s gumbo was quite different from my grandmother’s, and mine isn’t like either.  And this version is different from any of the above.  For this one, I’ve added a bit of chili powder and tomato paste to give it a little western twist (not entirely my idea – I saw the concept in a magazine and then added my own spin to it). 

Gumbos are very versatile – I just use whatever meats I have on hand (For instance, it’s a great way to use leftover turkey from those holiday meals!)



  • 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 5-6 cups chicken or seafood stock (can substitute water if this is unavailable)
  • 1 can (12-15 oz) diced tomatoes (if you’d like an extra kick, use the kind with chopped green chilies or southwestern style)
  • 1 can (6-8 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespons Worchestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb sliced okra (best if sauteed separately with ½ teaspoon vinegar until ‘slime’ is gone)
  • 4 lbs meat – any one kind or a combination of your favorites.  Meats that work well in a gumbo are Sausage (cut into ½ inch slices), deboned chicken or other fowl, pork, shrimp, crawfish, crab or even game meats
  • Tobasco sauce or liquid crab boil to taste (optional)



  • Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux. 
    Do this by combining the two ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat,  stirring constantly until the mixtures turns the color of a copper penny (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Add garlic, onions, green onions, celery and bell peppers.  Cook until tender
  • Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT okra (and shellfish if applicable) and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes
  • Add okra (and shellfish if applicable).  Return to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes.
  • Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.

Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.

Frying Pan Bread or Bannock

I’ve got a true frontier bread recipe for you to try today. I wish I could claim this was handed down from mother to daughter from my great-great-grandmother, but I can’t. Since Linda beat me to biscuits, and Cheryl has a delicious-looking cornbread recipe coming on Friday–and I rarely plan far enough ahead to make yeast rolls–I had to go hunting. Luckily, there are some excellent cowboy cooking sites on the internet. So here’s Frying Pan Bread, from the Legends of America site, to go with Pam’s Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup and Elizabeth’s Stampede’s Comin’ Chili. I added a few suggestions of my own [in the brackets], but the link for the original recipe is at the end. Enjoy!

Frying Pan Bread [also called Bannock]

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt


Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. Add just enough cold water to make a stiff dough. [something under ½ cup for me]. Now let the dough rest while you heat up your skillet to medium, then add a little butter or bacon fat so the bread doesn’t stick.

Working dough as little as possible, form a 1-inch thick cake. Lay the cake on a greased, pre-warmed skillet. Brown the bottom of the cake lightly and flip or turn with a spatula to brown the other side. When both sides are lightly browned, prop the skillet in front of the fire [or slide it into a 375-400 degree oven] and let it bake [for 10-15 minutes]. Test for doneness by thumping the cake with a spoon handle or stick. A hollow ringing sound indicates doneness. An alternative test is to jab the cake with a twig or matchstick. If the twig comes out clean (no clinging dough), the cake is done.

Stampede’s Comin’ Chili

This recipe is fast, easy, healthful and tasty.  I keep the ingredients on hand for unexpected company.  My family loves it.

1 pound ground meat (I like ground turkey, but beef works)

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 16 ounce carton fresh cut salsa (I like Rojos Garlic but your favorite will do)

2 16 ounce cans low sodium beans with liquid (1 can red, 1 can black is nice) 

Brown meat with chili powder, drain off fat.

Add salsa, beans, and a little water if needed.  For variety you can add some frozen corn.

Mix and simmer about 20 minutes.  Mash some of the beans with a fork or potato masher to thicken and flavor the liquid.

Serve and enjoy (you won’t believe how good this is).

Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup

I don’t reckon most cowboys in the Old West had ever heard of tortellini, and I’d bet my favorite western it was never eaten out on the range.  But I do know sausage and pasta has been a favorite through the ages, so here’s a soup I’ve made for my family many times over that I’d love to share with you.  Add some crusty bread or  garlic breadsticks for a delicious meal!

1 lb. Italian sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 – 14 1/2 oz. cans beef broth

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup dry red wine

28 oz. can Roma tomatoes

1 cup sliced carrots

1/2 tsp. basil leaves

1/2 tsp. oregano

8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 pkg. tortellini, cheese or meat

1 green bell pepper

1 cup zucchini, sliced

Parmesan cheese

If sausage is in casing, remove.  Brown sausage in 5 qt. Dutch oven.  Remove from pan, reserve 1 Tb. drippings in pan.  Saute onion and garlic in drippings until tender.  Add next 8 ingredients, plus sausage.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Stir in tortellini and green pepper.  Simmer until tortellini is cooked.  Add zucchini last 15 minutes.  Top with Parmesan cheese.

Note:  1 can of sliced carrots may be substituted.  Use the water in the can and omit the 1/2 cup of water listed.  Also, 3 cups of bow-tie or spiral pasta may be substituted.

Better Late Than Never

At least I’m hoping that it’s better late than never.  A family emergency has had me in its grip for the last 48 hours and so I was supposed to post one of my most favorite recipes in the whole world today.  But up until this very moment, there’s not been an inch of time.  So bear with me if you please.

What I’m about to share with you is an old southern recipe for chicken and dumplings.  My mother was a southern bell (I still think the wrong side won the Civil war) and she used to make this meal often — and I loved each and every one of those meals.  So you ready?  Here we go.

The secret of wonderful chicken and dumplings is in the broth.  This was very well known to the Indians of old, who always had a pot of soup boiling day and evening.  But the broth is what makes chicken soup so nourishing — it’s also what gives chicken and dumplings its taste.  It can’t be manufactured with chemicals, though I suppose some would try.

Okay enough said.  This is called bone broth soup — an American Indian staple of the past.  Start with a chicken — a whole one — cut up or not — it doesn’t matter.  I use a crock pot to make my broth, but you can make it over the stove.  Wash chicken and put it in a pot and cover with filtered water.  Add 2 tbls. of vinegar and let sit for a little while — maybe 15-30 minutes — the vinegar helps to pull the nutrients out of the bones and into the soup.  Add celery (3 stalks) and carrots (3).  You can also use onionns, but I generally leave these out because we have cats and dogs that I feed this broth to sometimes and onions can be a little poisonous for them.

Bring to a boil and scrape off the form that rises to the top and then simmer this for about 24 hours.  (This is why I use a crock pot.)

It will make lots of broth.  I use what ever I need for the dumplings and freeze the rest in mason jars.

After cooking the broth, bone the chicken and throw away the bones and veggies.  Add broth (about 6-8 cups) in a large pot and add cut up chicken that you just cooked from the broth.  Add a couple of stalks of celery, onion and carrots — this time I use onions as I don’t usually feed this to my animals.  Add about 2 teaspoons of salt, about 2 teaspoons of Thyme and about 1 teaspoon of Sage.  Simmer.

In the meantime put 2 cups of whole grain (hopefully sprouted) flour — or unbleached white flour if you can’t find any other, but know that white flour isn’t very good for you —  in a pan and add 1 teaspoon salt, a little parsley and about 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda.  To this cut in 4 tablespoons of butter.  Add anywhere from 3/4 to 1 cup milk — just enough to hold it together. 

Drop teaspoon fulls of the dumpling mixture to the simmering broth and cover.  Let cook for 20 minutes without lifting the cover.

Serve in bowls.  Usually my family eats this up immediately and there’s always people asking for more.  Another southern tradition is to serve the chicken and dumplings over mashed potatoes.  Oh my gosh, is that good!

Hope you’ll enjoy and excuse this very late post.

Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread

Old fashioned in every way (except the healthier olive oil choice), you won’t be disappointed with this yummy no-fail recipe for the best pumpkin bread you’ve ever eaten.  Tip: If you use fresh nutmeg, cut the recommended amount in half.

Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread

4 cups sugar

1 cup virgin olive oil

1 large can pumpkin

Stir the above three ingredients together

Sift together and add:

5 cups flour

4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

Chopped nuts, if desired

Mix well. Pour into greased bread pans.

3 large loaf pans: Bake at 350? for 1 hour 15 min

5 small loaf pans: Bake at 350? for approximately 1 hour

Serve warm and top with whipped cream.

Loaves will keep well if placed in plastic bags and stored in the refrigerator.

Keep the home fires burning and warm up your tummy…


This recipe that I lifted from a church cookbook was the winning chili in our family’s Super Bowl Chili Cook -off in 2008.  Tradition says the winner must take the “trophy” with him/her when they travel. So here she is at Wiamea Canyon, Kauai.



2 pounds ground beef

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 1/2 cups water

1 can (15 3/4 ounces) mild chili beans

1 can (15 1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

I can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained  (I use the pintos with jalapenos.)

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes

1 can (10 0unces) diced tomatoes and green chilis, undrained

1  can (4 ounces) chipped green chilis

SECRET INGREDIENT: 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

In a Dutch oven or large kettle, brown beef, drain. Add taco seasoning and mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or do the crockpot thing.

I’m also known to add a few chopped (jarred) jalapenos and a couple tablespoons of jalapeno juice. 


Yields 6-8 servings,about 2 quarts.