9/11: A Day of Giving

9/11 is an event that touched us all. Everyone remembers in different ways. At our house, each and every year, we eat pizza.

Down south of Denver, we’ve got a great local pizza place: Big Bill’s NY Pizza. Today is their 14th Annual 9/11 Day of Giving. Right after the events of 9/11, Bill hosted a fundraiser for families of New York firefighters who had lost their lives on that tragic day. After that first fundraiser it became an annual event held on 9/11, and a tradition at our house. All day, the staff works for free. And instead of paying for your food, you make a donatation. Since 2009, every penny that comes into the restaurant goes to support the JoAnn B. Ficke Cancer Foundation. Bill has taken this day of tragedy, and turned it into a day of hope. A day of giving.

Now, not everyone reading this post is within driving distance of Big Bill’s, so what does this mean for you? Well, what if we all took Bill’s idea, and everyone turned 9/11 into a Day of Giving? Give some money to your favorite charity. Spend some time with a lonely resident at a nearby nursing home. Help a neighbor with their yardwork. Collect food for a local food bank. Or what about doing small things throughout the day? Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. Smile and say hello to a stranger. Hold that door open for someone else. Sometimes it’s the little things we give to others that can have the biggest impact.

Spread hope and joy as you remember today. Make 9/11 your Day of Giving. And eat some pizza.

Easy Beef Chili

We love to cook soups, stews, and chili in the winter. I have a meatless chili that my husband and I have enjoyed for years. Last winter, my boys wanted to eat chili, but weren’t interested in all those veggies. Here’s what we came up with. I got the basics from The Pioneer Woman, and then we added our own spin.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Two 14.5-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • One 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup Guinness beer
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tobasco sauce (could use cayenne pepper)
  • One 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed


  • Shredded cheddar
  • Tortilla chips
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream


I used a big dutch oven to cook this. Put in the ground beef, onion, and garlic; cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off excess fat, then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, Guinness, and spices. Cover, reduce heat to low. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. If the chili looks too think, you can add water. Finally, add the beans and simmer another 30 minutes. Serve in individual bowls, topped with any desired toppings. Delicious with corn bread or beer bread.

Kentucky Hot Brown Bake

Someone just posted this on Facebook; I have no idea who the source is. I am posting here so I don’t lose the recipe. 🙂 Would like to try it later. One of my friends also made the comment, “Whoa you could mess with this and make all kinds of yummies – then cut them – freeze them individually and boom ! Lunches!” Great idea, Natalie!


  • 8 oz package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 lb. package smoked turkey lunch meat
  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs, beaten


Unroll the crescent dough and separate into 2 squares. Place one square in bottom of 8″ pan that is greased or lined with parchment paper. Press dough to fit pan. Layer with half the turkey, bacon, cheese and tomatoes. Pour half the eggs over the top.

Repeat the layers. Top with remaining dough square. Pour remaining eggs over top.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, covered with foil. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes. Let sit at room temp for 15-20 minutes before serving.

{in the kitchen} roasted red pepper and white bean dip

I need to try this. Looks delicious!

Last week I made a Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean dip for a NYE gathering at my friend’s house. The dip was so good that I had to make it again this week. Oh, and the best part? I used my new food processor from Christmas and it worked a MILLION times better than a blender. Big girl stuff. It’s funny how your love for things change over the years. When I was little it was friendship bracelets and dolls, now kitchen accessories. Real cool Katey.

roasted red pepper dip{KateyK Photography}

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Ms. Kay’s Southern Beef & Vegetable Soup

Here’s another recipe given to me by my second mother-in-law, Ms. Kay. She made this for us one night and it is a nice soup to have on a cold winter night. Her family crumbles the corn bread right into their bowl of soup to eat it. This makes a lot of soup, I freeze some of the leftovers for another night.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 – 6 potatoes – cut into small chunks (I use Yukon Gold)
  • 4 – 6 carrots – roughly sliced
  • 1 package frozen butter beans (Lima beans if you’re out of the south)
  • 1 package frozen okra (Kay uses canned okra, we don’t have that here)
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • 2 – 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup sugar (optional – Kay uses this to sweeten the tomatoes, I skip it)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups water


I use a large dutch oven to make this. On the stove, brown the ground beef until cooked through. Drain any excess fat. Add the vegetables, tomatoes, sugar (if using) and seasonings to the beef. Last add the water – cover the vegetables and get the soup to the consistency you desire. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for about 2 hours.

Serve with corn bread.

Ms. Kay’s Dessert

I suppose I should start this with who Ms. Kay is. I just realized that some may confuse her with another Ms. Kay currently on the A&E network. Our Ms. Kay is my second mother-in-law, and she enjoys cooking. Last time we were visiting, she shared a few recipes with me.

This is an easy dessert that Ms. Kay likes to bring to gatherings. I like it because you can pick whatever pie filling you’re in the mood for. (She usually uses apple, I like blueberry.)


  • 2 cans of crescent rolls
  • 2 – 8oz bricks of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can pie filling of choice


Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Open one can of crescent rolls, and unroll them, keeping them together. Place this layer of crescent rolls in the bottom of the dish. Mix the cream cheese with the sugar; spread on top of the crescent layer. Next, spread the pie filling on top of the cream cheese mixture. Now top this with the second can of crescent rolls to form the top layer.

Bake at 325Âş for 20 minutes.

Chicken & Rice Soup

Last spring we had a bunch of friends over for soups and stews, and I wanted at least one option to be something kid-friendly. I searched around on the internet for recipes, combined some ideas, made a few changes, and here was our result. I know a lot of people enjoy a nice chicken noodle soup; I’ve always preferred the chicken and rice variety. This is easy to make and doesn’t take all day to cook.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 – 5 carrots, bias cut about ½” thick
  • 4 – 5 celery heart ribs, bias cut about ½” thick
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs (or substitute with dry thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth, we prefer veggie)
  • 1 to 1½ cups of white rice – use more or less depending on your preference. I use about 1ÂĽ cups of rice.
  • 2 to 3 cups of water (double your selected rice amount)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Cooked shredded chicken – amount depends on your taste, see instructions below.

Shredded Chicken

You’ll want between ¾ pound to 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, depending on how much chicken you want in the soup. Boil some water and then add the chicken breasts to the boiling water. Continue to boil until chicken is cooked all the way through and no pink remains. I cooked the chicken about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken (make sure there is no pink!) and then let it cool. Shred the chicken using two forks.

To Make the Soup

Have a nice big pot (I use my dutch oven). Put your pot over medium heat and then add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook for 6 – 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add the veggie broth and water, and bring to a boil. Add in the rice and chicken. Cover and reduce heat to a lower setting to allow the soup to simmer. Cook until the rice is done, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove the bay leaf, and enjoy!