Chicken a la King

1/4 cup butter, melted
3 Tbsp. four
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked chicken, cut up
Pepper to taste
Chopped carrots and peas

In a medium saucepan, blend the butter and flour. Slowly add broth and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the sauce is thick. Add salt, pepper, vegetables, and chicken; heat through. Serve over rice, patty shells, or baked potato.


US Navy Birthday


Easiest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 package spice cake mix
1 15-oz. can pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips*

Mix cake mix and pumpkin with nothing else added. Add chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet (I use Silpat sheets). Bake at 375ºF for 12 minutes.

*Try substituting butterscotch chips or adding bacon...


Pumpkin Pancakes

1/4 cup pumpkin purée1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of nutmeg 

Whisk pumpkin and egg together until smooth. Add in remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fry batches in a cast iron skillet for a tasty fall breakfast treat.


Winning Apple Crisp

1 cup all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

4 cups chopped peeled apples

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, combine firs four ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press half into a greased 2-1/2 quart baking dish or 9-inch square baking pan. Cover with apples.

In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thick and clear. Pour over apples. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake 60-65 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm, with ice cream if desired. Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional information: 
1 serving (1 each) equals 426 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 31 mg cholesterol, 127 mg sodium 79 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 gr protein.

Originally published as Apple Crisp in Taste of Home Country February/March 1993, p 47 


Easy One-Pan Dinner

In a 9x13 pan, cut 3 chicken breasts in half, add 2 cans green beans on one side and cut up red skin potatoes on the other. Sprinkle a packet of zesty Italian dressing mix over the top. Drizzle a stick of melted butter over it. Cover it with aluminum foil and bake at 350º for 1 hour.


Tuesday Tips & Tricks

If you kids are afraid of monsters, make some anti-monster spray. Squirt it under the bed, in the closet, etc. and everyone can go back to sleep!!


Working on "OLD" Together

Three sisters age 92, 94 and 96 live in a house together.
One night the 96 year old draws a bath, puts her foot in and pauses.
She yells down the stairs, "Was I getting in or out of the bath?"
The 94 year old yells back, "I don't know, I'll come up and see."
She starts up the stairs and pauses, then she yells,
"Was I going up the stairs or coming down?"
The 92 year old was sitting at the kitchen table having tea
listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says,
"I sure hope I never get that forgetful." She knocks
on wood for good measure. She then yells,
"I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see
who's at the door."


Tuesday Tips & Tricks

Need a place to put your kid?
Make a hammock with a blanket tied around a table.

Fast and Easy Way to Cut a Watermlon


Removing Paint-covered Hinges

Norm Abram's Best Trick of the Trade

Q: We're planning to refinish the original cabinets in our 1930s kitchen, but the hinges are buried under layers and layers of paint. How do we remove the hinges without damaging them or the surrounding wood?

A: In order to take off the hinges, you'll have to back out the old straight-slot screws that hold them in place. That requires clearing the screws' paint-clogged slots. Given the age of your house, there are probably layers of lead paint on the hinges, so before you start, put on a respirator and lay down a wide piece of plastic sheeting under the work area to catch any paint chips.


Removing a Section of Baseboard

Norm Abram's Best Tricks of the Trade III 
Q: I need to remove a section of baseboard to install a cabinet in my kitchen. Can I do that without prying off the entire board?

A: Sure, that's very doable. The key is to make a perfectly plumb cut so that the cabinet's side will butt tightly against the baseboard. All you need is a level, a handsaw, a sharp chisel or a utility knife, a nailset, and a hammer or a screwdriver.

Step 1: Use the level to mark a plumb line on the baseboard (a square is unreliable because you can never assume the floor is level). If there are any nails in the baseboard where the cut will be made, drive them all the way through with a nailset.

Nail or screw a 14 scrap block along the line on the side of the baseboard that will remain. This block serves as a guide to prevent the saw blade from wandering and to help you achieve a clean, straight cut. Tape a thin piece of cardboard to the floor to protect it from being hit by the saw.

Step 2:
Place the blade of a fine-tooth handsaw against the scrap and start the cut, going straight up and down. Once you get a kerf started, turn the blade very slightly so that the cut angles behind the block. This "back cut" helps you get a tight fit with the cabinet. As the saw sinks into the wood, tip it forward so that you don't gouge the wall. The kerf won't go all the way to the floor, so finish the cut with a chisel or a utility knife. Pry off the baseboard on the waste side of the cut, then remove the guide block and fill the holes left by the fasteners. Now the fun begins: installing your cabinet.


Making Room for Outlets in Drywall

Norm Abram's Best Tricks of the Trade III 
Q: How do I cut the holes in drywall to fit around outlet boxes when the receptacles are already in?

A: Typically, drywall goes up after the boxes go in but before switches and receptacles get installed. But because your receptacles are already in place, the tricks I'd normally suggest for locating drywall cuts—like using lipstick to outline the box—won't work. You shouldn't have to remove them, though, if you follow these steps. Just be sure to cut the power before you start working.
Step 1: Start by hanging the first sheets at the top of the wall. Place a level against one side of the box, overlapping the bottom edge of the drywall. Plumb the level and mark the drywall on the side that's against the box, as shown. Do the same for the opposite side of the box.

 Step 2: Measure from the top and bottom of the receptacle to the bottom edge of the drywall. Pencil those dimensions on the upper sheet for the next step. Now prop the bottom sheet of drywall in position against the studs and under the bottom edge of the first sheet.

Step 3: Measure down from the joint and mark the location of both horizontal cuts. Then use your level as shown to mark the side cuts. Pull the drywall away so that you can safely cut out the hole with a keyhole saw. When you put the sheet back against the studs, the outlet box should slip neatly through the hole.


Removing Tricky Hinge Screws

Norm Abram's Best Tricks of the Trade III 
Q: I'd like to remove a door, but three of the hinge screws simply spin in place when I try to unscrew them. Is there a trick to getting them out?

A: First, remove any screw that will come out the usual way. Then gently pry or pull on the hinge leaf to pull out the stripped screws a bit. Now when you push the hinge back into place, the heads of those stripped screws will stand out just enough for you to grab them with a pair of pliers, as shown. Pull each one out with a firm tug.

If the screws are still in good condition, with intact threads, remove any debris with a wire brush and reuse them.

If you plan to remount the door, you'll need to fill the stripped screw holes first. Whittle some small pieces of wood, put a dab of yellow carpenter's glue in the hole, and pack it full with the wood pieces. After the glue dries, trim off the excess bits of wood and you'll have solid material for the screw threads to bite into.


Cutting Molding on a Miter Saw

Norm Abram's Best Tricks of the Trade III 
Q: When I cut molding returns on my miter saw, the blade usually sends the return piece flying and ruins it. Is there a way to avoid this without losing my fingers?

A: The safest way to keep those little rascals under control is with a plywood backer that closes up the gap in the fence.

Start with a strip of ¾-inch plywood long enough to cover the entire fence. Secure it with washers and pan-head screws at both ends of the fence. Then set the blade at 0 degrees and cut completely through the backer. This creates a kerf, a small gap the same thickness as the blade, which indicates exactly where to place the molding before you make your cut.

Then when you do, the backer prevents the return from flying through the gap. Just remember to remove both backer pieces before making angled cuts.


Choir Notes

The Process of Life
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

When a young family moved into their first home, they decided to build a playhouse for the kids in the backyard. The parents and children threw their hearts into the project, carefully selecting the wood, the shingles, and all the supplies. Great pride and satisfaction swelled in their hearts as it took shape. When friends came to play, the children would proudly show them how the playhouse was coming along. And the first thing they said to Dad when he came home from work was, “When can we work on our playhouse?”

But when the playhouse was finished, the parents noticed that the children rarely played in it. They discovered “that having the house wasn’t really what motivated them. It was the building of it, and how they felt about their own contribution, that they found satisfying."1 Turns out it was the process that was important, not the finished product.

You’ve probably experienced this yourself. It’s a common phenomenon: A championship team rejoices when they raise the trophy, but they also cherish the smaller victories and defeats throughout the season. Parents feel proud on their son’s wedding day, but the memories that persist are of the smaller, simpler moments of his childhood. A college graduate is grateful for the diploma she receives, but what she’ll long remember are the long nights studying for finals, the professors who inspired her, and the excitement she felt every time she learned something new. It seems that getting there is indeed half the fun—and almost all of the memories.

So instead of waiting only for something to end, try to enjoy the moments along the way. Though there may be difficulties and wearisome effort, don’t be so eager for the destination that you miss the simple joys of the journey. Remember what the family learned from their playhouse—real growth and bonding and learning come in all of life’s ages and stages, not just at the end.

1 See Clayton Christensen and others, How Will You Measure Your Life? (2012), 37–38.


Squat Development


Christmas Countdown