The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 9, 2012

Cheryle Finley:Takes lots of friends, family to light 60 candles

By Cheryle Finley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — As you are reading this, my 60th birthday is a fond memory. But, as I am writing this, I have not reached the actual day, yet I have already partied like a maniac. My daughter, Sarah, with lots of help from friends and relatives, planned the best surprise birthday party ever at the Granny Shafer’s banquet center on Range Line.

Thanks to Pam and Mike Roets, Shontell Harris, Shasta Hatton, Nikki Brown, Betty Saferite, Crystal Jones, Stephanie Mason, Chris Horine, my husband, Chris, and especially my mother, Wilma Evans, for making it such a wonderful celebration.

So many friends and family were able to surprise me. I couldn’t have had a better time, and we have the pictures to prove it. There was a picture area set up where everyone could dress up, have their picture taken, then decorate a scrapbook page for me to put the picture on and make a keepsake book. Duke Mason and Waylon Schultz provided the music, and I danced to just about every song, which actually turned out in the long-run to be a good idea. I fell flat on my backside in the parking lot at work on Friday afternoon and was already sore, as well as a little stiff, when it was time to head out the door for my supposed ticket-taking duties that evening. Had I gone home to bed like I wanted, I probably would not have been able to get out of bed on Saturday morning. Instead, I kept moving all evening and actually felt great the next day.

This really is birthday week around our house. That Joplin Woman will celebrate an important birthday Thursday and my grandson, Atlas, turns 7 on Friday. So I will continue to party for a few more days. Thanks to my friend Julie Smith for the fabulous idea we are using Saturday at a party Atlas is planning for his classmates. Most of us are familiar with an ice cream sundae bar where everyone piles their favorite toppings on scoops of ice cream, choosing from numerous offerings. For her son Jamohn’s birthday party, Julie served up a new variation of that with a cupcake bar made up of several different frosting and topping choices. She said the kids loved it and so did the adults, so that’s the plan for all the kids. Crushed Oreos, sprinkles, M&Ms and crushed peanuts are just a few of the ideas for toppings. Use your imagination and see what you come up with. This might be a fun thing to do for a bridal or baby shower or even this weekend for Mother’s Day when lots of families get together.

And speaking of Mother’s Day, I absolutely couldn’t ask for a better mother than mine. Always there when I need her, she’s been a source of strength and inspiration, and I love her dearly. There’s been times when she saw what was coming and could have told me what to do, but instead let me make my own decisions -- some good and some not so good. She never tried to change me, partly because she loves me unconditionally and partly because she thinks that I’m second only to my dad in the stubborn department. She’s a great cook, and it’s probably due to her many meals that I have such a love of food. I hope for her, That Joplin Woman, my daughter Sarah and all the many wonderful mothers a happy Mother’s Day. Cook her breakfast or dinner, or treat her to a nice restaurant. Make her day as special as she is.

The busy intersection at 96 Highway and Route D in Oronogo is sure to get busier as word gets out about the good food at Brad’s Convenience Store in the northwest corner shopping center. Owner Brad Edge served me a grilled-to-order cheeseburger and suzies for a delicious lunch I can’t wait to repeat. There’s a humongous menu with something for everyone, but I say try the burger first and you will see why I’m anxious to return.

If you like cabbage, the cabbage saute from the Taste of Home cookbook is just about perfect as a side dish and is ready in 30 minutes or less. With some sliced carrots added to the mix, it’s as colorful as it is tasty. Our main dish recipe for today comes from the “Rival Crock-Pot Cookbook.” The Swiss chicken casserole is extra easy while being special enough to fix for Mother’s Day. The directions call for spraying the slow cooker, which is a good idea, but not as good as using the slow cooker liners. Having used them for two or three years, I can’t be without a couple of boxes of these great liners. This week’s dessert recipe is a cocoa cream pie from “Hershey’s Cocoa Easy Baking.” I think a chocolate crumb crust would really amp up the chocolate value of this pie, as would a sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips. This dessert would be ideal for this weekend because you can make it so far ahead of time. Happy Mother’s Day and happy eating.

 

Cabbage saute

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

4 medium carrots, thinly sliced

6 cups chopped cabbage

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 teaspoon each salt and sugar

In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender. Add carrots; cook and stir for two to three minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yields 8 servings.

 

Swiss chicken casserole

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

6 slices Swiss cheese

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup milk

2 cups herb stuffing mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Arrange chicken breasts in slow cooker. Top with cheese, layering the cheese if necessary. Combine the soup and milk and stir well. Spoon the soup mixture over the cheese and sprinkle with the stuffing mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over stuffing mix. Cover; cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for four to six hours. Yields 6 servings.

 

Cocoa cream pie

1 baked 9-inch pie crust, cooled or 9-inch graham cracker crumb crust

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups milk

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped cream

Stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust.  Press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate 6 to 8 hours. Serve with whipped cream. Yields 6 to 8 servings.



Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.