Cheesy Mexican Ranch Dip

Cheesy Mexican Ranch Dip is an impressive change to salsa when you’re serving chips.  It’s just perfect for fresh veggies or crackers too.  It has all the flavor of a Southwest taste with out the heat.  This Mexican dip is especially good to offer when you’re serving young children or those who can’t  tolerate the spice and heat of traditional salsas.

My good friend,  Karen Robison brought this dip to a church function a few weeks ago and,  the bowl was empty in no time.  I called her immediately and she said I could share this tasty Mexican Ranch Dip with you.


The ingredients are simple:  1.   Two  8 oz. packages of Cream Cheese.  2.  1/2  large sweet red pepper.  3.  1/2 large sweet green pepper.  4.  Two green onions.  5.  One can of black olives.  6.  One can Fiesta Corn (or Mexicorn.)  7.  One package of Ranch Buttermilk Dressing.     (Pick up large peppers ’cause you’ll want to make another batch.)


Slice the onions… including the tops.   Slice the olives thin.  Chop the red and green peppers fine.

Place in a bowl the two packages of Cream Cheese and allow them  to soften.   Add the ingredients in the following order, mixing each ingredient well before adding the next one.  1.  Ranch dressing mix.  2.  Onions and Peppers.  3.  Fold in Black olives.  4.  Fold in Fiesta Corn.


Chill the Cheese Mexican Ranch Dip for at least two hour so the flavors will blend well.    Doesn’t it look good?  Yep… it is!

Serve with Chips… Crackers….or Veggies.

This is a dip you won’t be able to leave alone … so get plenty of ingredients so you can make a second batch…. quick!

Below is a four minute video… if you want to see the process in action.

Mmmmm.  Please enjoy!

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Serve up this Cheesy Mexican Ranch Dip soon…. It’s a great pick-me-up during these last drab days of winter.  It will bring a brightness to your table and get you excite for Spring…. Or should I say… More Excited For Spring!

P.P.S.  Thanks Karen.


Super Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe

Just imagine, a Chocolate Cake so rich and moist… you’ll want to eat it all yourself and not share it with anyone.   Folks ask for this 40 year old family recipe more than any other cake recipe I have in my collection.   The truth of the matter is… besides being the best chocolate cake ever… it’s a hit with the cook,  because it’s so easy to make.  If you’re like me… time is short and I need recipes that are quick and easy.


By the time you finish reading this recipe,  you’ll agree this is one of  the easiest  chocolate cake recipes ever.


The ingredients for this ultimate chocolate cake are:  2 1/2 C. sifted Flour…. 2 tsp Soda… 1 tsp Salt … 1/2 C. Cocoa…  1 3/4 C. Sugar… 2/3 C. Shortening…  2 Eggs…  1 tes. vanilla… 1 C. Buttermilk…   1 C. boiling Water.   The reason this recipe is so easy… is that you dump all of the ingredients into one bowl.  You might call this a Chocolate Dump Cake.   Tip: Some stores are carrying 1/2  pint cartons of Buttermilk… just perfect for this recipe.   Just to be on the safe side… keep a can of powdered buttermilk on hand.  When you get a hankering for a good piece of moist, rich chocolate cake… you’ll be prepared.


First, add 1 3/4 C. Sugar to your mixing bowl.   Add 1/2 C. Cocoa to the bowl.


Mix well.  The sugar granules will help to break up the cocoa nicely.

Take a minute out now… and place a couple of cups of water into your microwave.  Bring the water to a boil.


Add the rest of your dry ingredients to the bowl.  2 1/2 C. sifted Flour… 2 tsp Soda… and 1 tsp Salt.


Mix well with a wire whip.


Place on top of your dry mixture… 2/3 C. Shortening… 2 Eggs… 1 C. Buttermilk… 1 tsp. vanilla.    Begin to mix.


When the batter begins to get a bit stiff… add 1 C. of boiling water.  Finish blending.  I don’t over blend this cake.  Just mix until all the ingredients are mixed well.


Pour the batter into  a greased and floured 9 x 13 dripper pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.


Frost the cake with a butter cream frosting… Cut… and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Your probably wondering where you can get a hard copy of this Super Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe.  I hear you loud and clear… Simply fill in your name  and e-mail… and I’ll send you a download link immediately.  You’ll get two sizes to choose from.   When you sign in… I will automatically send you all future free goodies and newsletters.  You will not have to sign in again.

Bake this easy chocolate cake for your family this week-end and you be the judge whether this is not one of the best, rich, moist chocolate cakes you’ve ever put in your mouth.


Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. Notice… I’m including a helpful video for this easy Chocolate Cake. So, now you can choose between reading the above recipe or seeing the quick process for yourself.


Recipe For Chocolate Brownies – Cooking For A Crowd

This recipe for chocolate brownies has been in our family for over 40 years.  Usually brownie recipes are quite small… but this recipe is a “Cooking For A Crowd” deal.

These chocolate brownies are perfect to take to a gathering.  But don’t expect to take any left-overs home… because they will vanish off the plate in no time at all.  If you want any… you better consider taking a few brownies and hiding them someplace before you leave the house.  Mmmm.  So Good.

Here it goes.

This chocolate brownie recipe makes about sixty 2″ pieces… and is so delicious.  Not only are they good… but they are easy to make and the recipe uses ingredients you already have in your kitchen.  No extra special chocolate.

In a bowl, sift together 2 3/4 C. of flour…  1 C Cocoa…  1 1/2 tes. Baking Powder… 1 1/2 tes. Salt.  I use a wire whip to sift my ingred. together.  Works just fine.

In another bowl put 3 C. Sugar.  I use quite a large bowl because all of your ingredients will in up here.

Measure 1 C Shortening in a small bowl.

Melt the Shortening in the microwave.

Add melted Shortening to the Sugar Mixture and mix well.

Add 6 Eggs and 1 tes. of Vanilla to the Sugar and Shortening mixture.  Mix well.

Add the dry ingred. to the Sugar and Egg mixture.  If you want to add nuts, add them at this time.  About 3/4 Cup is good.

The batter will be thick.  Don’t add any extra liquid… even if your tempted to.  Grease your cookies sheet.

Spread the batter on a 12″by 17″ Cookie sheet.  I use a professional cookies sheet with 1″ sides.  It’s called a “Half Sheet.”  You can purchased them at a kitchen specialty store.  However, I have seen them at Costco and Sam’s club.

Bake at 300 degrees.  This temperature is not as hot as cooking a regular cake.  I bake them from 25 to 30 min.   Don’t over bake…  As soon as a toothpick comes clean from the center of the brownies… they’re done.

Allow them to cool… and top them with the frosting of your choice.  My family like white and chocolate frosting… so I do half and half.  (I do notice the chocolate frosting goes first.)  Maybe it’s just me who likes the Cream Cheese frosting.  You can cut them into about sixty 2″ squares.

Mmmm. So good!


Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  I’m convinced… once your try this recipe for Chocolate Brownies… .you won’t want to use anything else.  If you want to see me in action, making the brownies… watch the video below.

If you want a printable copy of the Chocolate Brownie Recipe… just fill in your information below and I’ll send you two sizes of the recipe.  Once you’ve given me your information… you won’t have to give it to me again. I’ll automatically send you recipe updates and other fun stuff.


Oatmeal Cookie Recipe – Cooking For A Crowd

This cooking for a crowd, oatmeal cookie recipe, is a winner in our family.  It’s a nice variation from the traditional oatmeal cookie recipe because it’s filled with chocolate. Mmmm…. good.

The ingredients for these oatmeal cookies are simple and your probably have everything in your kitchen pantry.

Place 2 Cups of Butter… or 4 cubes of butter in a large bowl with 4 Cups of Brown Sugar.  (No Margarine)

Cream the Butter and Sugar together and add 4 Eggs.  Cream again.

Sift together the dry ingredients.  2 1/2 Cups Flour, 2 tes. of Salt and 2 tes. of Soda.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

Add 6 Cups of Oatmeal.  I use Quick Oats.

Mix together well and form a Oatmeal Cookie Dough.

Press 1/2 of the Oatmeal Cookie mixture into the bottom of a greased 12″x17″ pan.

In a bowl, add 1 Can of Condensed Milk, 1 tes. of Vanilla, 1 Tb. of Butter, and 1   12oz package of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chip.

Melt the the microwave.  Stir the mixture frequently… so the chips don’t burn.

Pour the Chocolate mixture onto the Cookie Dough and spread evenly.

Take 1/4 to 1/3 Cup of the remaining Cookie Dough and pat flat.  Place on top of the Chocolate Mixture as seen in the photo.  Repeat the process until the chocolate mixture is covered.. A top crust.

When the Chocolate Mixture is covered, bake in a 350 oven for 20 to 25 min.  Don’t over bake.  As soon as the top crust browns lightly… it’s done.  Remove from the oven and cut into 2 inch squares.

Serve with ice cream or a cold glass of milk.  Mmmm. Good.

Hope you enjoy!

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  If you’re not cooking for a crowd.. and want a smaller batch of Oatmeal Cookies….. simply cut the Oatmeal Cookie dough portion of the recipe in half.  Use the entire Chocolate recipe as is… You will have a thicker Chocolate layer… which alright with me… I love chocolate.  This Oatmeal Cookie Recipe fits in an 11″ X15″ pan.


Holiday Chili Dip Recipe

This Chili Dip Recipe is a quick and easy answer for a Holiday crowd.  It’s so easy, I’m almost embarrassed to give it to you.  I said… “Almost.”  Why would I keep any secret back that would make your life easier during rush of the holiday season?

If you keep the ingredients on hand… you’ll be ready for any last minute invitation  to join a party.  You can actually say… “May I bring something,” and mean it sincerely.   This dip recipe has been one of our family’s favorites… for over 30 years.

All you need is one can of Chili Without Beans.  No Beans allowed here.  Yes, they do carry it at your local store.  1  12 oz  package of Cream Cheese.   Thats it… really.  Oh…. and you can pick up the chips on your way to the party.

I usually put mine together on top of the stove… but you can use the microwave… just check it often and stir it a lot.  Plop the cream cheese on top of the chili.

And stir and heat until all of the cream cheese it melted.

Serve with your favorite chips.

This ones a “no brain-er” but a good one.


Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  I’ve even been know to take all the ingred. to a gathering and mix it up there so it’s served piping hot.


The Dill Pickles Are Ready

Yep, the dill pickles are ready.  If you remember, we taught you how to make dill pickles last August… with a “Hands Off” warning.  No opening the jars until late fall.  Well, here it is… the first of December… and the dills are ready to eat.

The minute I took the first bite… the pains of putting them up was well worth it.  They are so crisp and good.  So… If you canned dill pickles in August, and you’ve forgotten they’re in storage… run right now and grab a bottle.

Great Eats!

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  First of December… Hmmmm.  Holiday recipes are coming right up.


Perfect Whipped Cream Recipe

Here’s a perfect whipped cream recipe for your files. It has come to my attention that many cooks don’t use whipping cream because it never thickens properly. There are a couple of little tricks you can apply to be successful in whipping your cream for your desserts and pies.

There is a richness in flavor in thick whipping cream that you just can’t get when you use whipped toppings. Whipped toppings have their place… especially when you combine it with other ingredients. It holds it’s firmness better, if refrigerated over time, and does not separate as real cream will.  But, when your dressing a dessert or pie… there is nothing like topping it with real whipped cream.

1.  You will need one half pint of thick whipping cream.  If you purchase your cream by the quart, you will use 1 cup.

2.  Use 3 TB of sugar.  Most recipes call for 1/4 C… but that’s a bit sweet for me… especially if your dessert is particularly sweet.

3.  The next ingredient is flavoring.  The most common flavoring is vanilla.  Use 1 tes.  However, other flavorings can add an extra zing to your cream.  Maple flavoring is a delightful addition to your whipped cream… especially if your serving pumpkin pie.  I use about 1/2 tes. of maple flavoring.

Tip #1:  Chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 15 mins. before you whip your cream.  Real cream takes a bit longer to whip than commercial toppings.  If you chill your bowl and beaters, your cream will whip faster and will hold the peaks longer.

Add your cream to a deep or large bowl.  If your bowl is too small, you’ll find that the beaters will flip cream all over the place… and on you.  As a child… we had a “whipping cream” bowl that was not wide but deep.  Cream was the only ingredient it ever held.  That ancient bowl, from my childhood, is in the possession of my sister Sheila… and is used for the same purpose.

Now… here is the important tip:  Do not add the sugar or flavoring to the whipping cream until you have whipped the cream a bit.  Turn your beaters on high, and whip the cream until it begins to thicken.  When you see a change in the consistency of the cream, or a thickening,  beat for a few seconds more before adding the 3 tablespoons of sugar.  If you add the sugar and flavoring to the cream at the beginning… your cream will not whip properly… if at all.

Add 1 tes. of vanilla or 1/2 tes. of maple flavoring.

Continue to whip the cream on high speed until it forms firm soft peaks.  Don’t over whip… It can change to a butter consistency very quickly.

If by chance you do over whip the cream, and it looks a little like soft butter…. don’t despair…. there is a way to recover it.

Just add more whipping cream.  You can fold it in by hand… your give it a quick run through with your beaters.  Just  don’t over beat again.

There you go.  Fresh whipped cream for your dessert or pie.


Till later

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  I love to lick the beaters after whipping the cream.  Don’t you?

P.P.S.  Remember now… don’t add the sugar and flavoring to your whipping cream too soon.  It’s the key to perfect whipped cream. I’ve added a video below so you can see the process in action of you want.


Make Carmel Popcorn

Make this carmel popcorn, and watch your family’s faces when they take their first bite.  I promise, they won’t be able to stop with just one bite. As soon as the weather turns a bit chilly, my family starts begging for carmel corn.  I try and hold off cooking up a batch until around Halloween… but I never seem to make it.

My daughters call this Sticky Carmel Popcorn recipe “evil.” I agree.  “Just one more little bite,” I say to myself… and pretty soon I’ve overdosed.  You’ve just got to try this carmel corn recipe.  No kidding… it’s the best carmel corn you’ll ever put in your mouth.  Mmmmm…. gooey…sticky, and I promise, you won’t be able to stop with one bite.

This Sticky Carmel Popcorn recipe has been in our family for over 40 years.  I’m excited to share it with you.

Here are the ingredients:  1.  Popcorn… I like Orvalle’s the best because the kernels pop so large.  2.  Corn Syrup.  3.  Brown Sugar.  4.  Condensed Milk.  5.  Butter (not margarine).

Yep… I’ve had this popper for over 40 years and it still works great.  The glass lid broke years ago… so I just use a lid from one of my pans.  I like an oil popper better than air popper because… what can I say?  It just pops the corn bigger.

Pop your corn ahead.  This recipe is a large one… I use about 8 quarts of popped corn which I measure in a two quart pitcher.  You’ll need a very large bowl… or two smaller ones for mixing.  (Mine is about 12″ across and  6″ deep).

Notice this popcorn gizmo… I got it years ago.  After the corn is popped, I dump the corn into this bowl that has a trap at the bottom.  I shake it a bit and the unpopped kernels sink to the bottom.  Neat huh!  But, if you don’t have such a gizmo… shake your corn well and let the unpopped kernels sink to the bottom of your bowl.  Carefully lift the popped corn off the top and place it in another bowl, then discard the unpopped kernels.

Put all the ingredients in a 3 Qt. pan:     2 C.  Corn syrup.  2 1/2 C. Brown Sugar (which is 1 lb. or 1/2 of a 2 lb. bag).  1 can of Sweet Condensed Milk.  1 Cube of butter.

Mix all the ingredients together.  Heat is on med high.  Stir continuously so it won’t scorch.

Turn the heat down to low as it come to a rolling boil.  Bring to a full rolling boil before you begin timing. Stir continuously for exactly 5 min.  (I use a wire whisk).  Because it contains sugar and milk… it will scorch if you leave it!

To start, pour half of the carmel over half of the popped corn… toss as your pour.

Keep adding more corn and more carmel. Toss until all of the corn is well coated.  We love our corn pretty covered. You’ll have to be your own judge on how your family will like it.

Look at this…  Carmel Popcorn…  I know it will be hard but… mitts off until it cools a bit.

Use this delicious recipe and make carmel popcorn for your family… the weather is chilly and Halloween is coming.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Now, I have to let you in on a little secret here!  The recipe on the video was filmed a year ago…. and it differs just a little from the recipe given here.  It calls for 1 C  Corn Syrup.  However, several weeks ago…while at our Mt. Retreat in Tabiona, Ut… I had a hankering for a little carmel corn.  The air was a bit chilly… ya know!

I didn’t have my recipe and… I accidently used 2 cups of Corn Syrup instead of one.  Guess what… it turned out great and it covered more corn.  More Carmel Corn!!! Yea!!!  So, I’m sticking with the 2 cups of Corn Syrup.

P.P.S. If you want a printed Carmel Popcorn recipe for your Insightful Nana Cookbook, give me your name and e-mail address and I’ll send you a nice copy.   Once you’ve signed up you won’t have to do it again.  Besides all of up coming recipes… I’ll be sending all sorts of fun printables for you and your kids.. (and grands)…. all for freeee! The holidays are coming… and you won’t want to miss a thing!


White Trash Cooking: Yellow Squash and Zucchini Recipe

The phrase: White Trash Cooking is used lightly here… because my Grandma and Momma were far from being “white trash.” My Momma was more of a “Southern Belle.” My kin are from Georgia. I use to think I was raised on “soul food” but after I found a cook book in Arkansas called White Trash Cooking White Trash Cooking (Jargon)and I knew I had mislabeled Momma’s cookin’. Poor folks flavored their cookin’ with salt pork or bacon. It helped to make simple, plain, inexpensive vittles more palatable.

I was raised on this white trash recipe: yellow squash and zucchini. Momma, always used a bit of bacon in her veggies. I know…I know… not the best when your trying to watch those calories and fat intake. What can I say? All I know is… you won’t be leaving the bacon out once you’ve try cooking your yellow squash or zucchini using this tasty recipe…”white trash” or no.

This is all ya need. Simply, huh!

First… cut yourself off a bit of bacon. (abt 1/8 to 1/4 lb.) I keep mine in the freezer… so I get it out and cut off a few chunks. Now how much you use… depends on how many squash you’re going to cook. This pot (4 qt.) will hold about 14 to 16 squash that are about 8″ long. (Feeding my family..ya know.) I like them young and tender.

Fry your bacon so it’s nice and crisp. Watch it carefully now… I burned my kitchen down by leaving bacon cooking on the stove while I left my stove to check on an outside matter. (a story for another time)

Slice up your squash. I like to combine yellow squash with zucchini because it looks so colorful when you serve it… besides it tastes great.

Now don’t panic here. Do not remove the dripping from the bacon. If you get a bit nervous… you can drain off a little of the drippings.. but it won’t taste as good. Drop in all the squash and toss until the drippings coat the squash a bit. Important: Do not add any water or liquid! Add salt to taste.

With the heat on med. low…keep tossing the squash and bacon. You can put on the lid for a bit
but toss often so yellow squash will cook evenly. The cooking process only takes about 10 minutes or so. Don’t over cook so your squash will not become mushy.

Now take a bite. See how good it is? When my family comes over for dinner… you can bet your “white trash” bottom boots… the pan will be left empty.


Till Later
Kathy Griffiths

P.S. I will be sharing more “white trash” recipes with ya’ll. Just how trashy is your cookin’?

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Simply click on the book icon of your choice for purchase or review.


Canning Dill Pickles – Grandma Ella’s Recipe

Canning Dill pickles, using my Grandma Ella’s recipe, was just one of the many items I canned during the summer months, many years ago. I don’t do much canning anymore… due to time and expense.
However, it’s September, the canning feeling is in the air and I was at Farmer Grant’s produce stand day- before-yesterday… and a peck of cucumbers spoke to me.

In fact, before I knew it… the peck of cucumbers and two bags of fresh dill were in my car before I even had time to think about it. “What the…. I don’t have time for this and there is not one earthly nutritional benefit for having dill pickles in my food storage,” I said to myself.

Then I said, “I want to do this… just for me… for fun.” I never thought I would ever say that canning would be fun after “putting up” hundreds of bushels of produce in the past. But, at this moment in time… it’s fun.

So here we go. I want to share with you, my Grandma Ella’s Homemade Dill Pickle recipe. Mmmmm… they’re so good!

Here’s what you need:
A. 1 peck of cucumbers. Now I never buy the ones the farmer says are “Dills.” I go the next size smaller. They fit better in the bottle and are “cruncher.”

B. 1 gal. of white vinegar.

C. Fresh dill. You need a dill head for each bottle which should include stems and pieces. (this recipe will do between 12 and 14 quarts.)

D. Alum (that’s for the pucker.)

E. Salt ( don’t use iodized salt, it will cause the solution to become cloudy.)

F. 1 garlic bud or clove for each bottle.

G. One grape leaf for each bottle. (They say it keeps the pickles crisp. I don’t know if that’s true but Grandma Ella did it… so who am I to argue with success.) I raid my neighbors grape leaves, since I don’t grow grapes.

H. You will need clean wide mouth jars, rims and lids. (12 -14)

Make your vinegar solution: 1 Qt. Vinegar.  3 Qt’s water.  1 C Salt.  (This recipe is solution for 6 or 7 quarts.

In each jar, place a grape leave in the bottom.  Add one peeled garlic clove, 1 pinch of alum (that’s what grandma said.) but it equates to about 1/8 tes. of alum.  At least one dill flower head and a bunch of stems and pieces.  It looks like weeds in there but it’s okay.   (This is a lousy photo… but you get the drift.)

Now, put the cucumbers in the jar.  With these smaller cukes…I can get about 5 or 6 in a jar… just force them in there tight.

I place my bottles on top of my canner bottom and let the steam rise up around them. Or, you can just place the jars in a large frying pan with boiling water and let the steam come up around them.  My lids and rims are in a little pan of water… boiling away… and my solution is boiling too. Everything needs to be hot!

Fill one hot jar with the solution.

Take from the boiling water, one lid and rim.

Place it on the filled jar.  Tighten the hot jar rim and set your bottle aside.

Repeat the process until you have all the jars filled.

It’s important for you keep everything hot… cause we’re not going to process these bottles.  Nope.. No way.. makes the cucumbers soft… and Grandma Ella didn’t do it… and it works… and we’re not dead from any little micro bug.  Besides… with all that vinegar and salt… anything bacteria that would have been alive is now… long gone.

There you have it….Homemade Dill Pickles.  It’s not hard and they’re so good… BUT…HERE’S THE DEAL… you can’t open a jar until THANKSGIVING.  Nope… keep your mitts off until Thanksgiving day. I know it’s tempting.   Another reason to celebrate Turkey Day!

It takes that long for the pickles to cure in the brine… but it’s well worth the wait.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  I wonder what else is going to end up in my car… so I can do a bit of canning… just for fun.

P.P.S. If you want a printable recipe for your files, fill in the box below so I can send you the link.
Besides… once you sign in… You’ll be on my freebie list and I’ll be sending you all kinds of fun things… especially for the holidays. You won’t have to sign in again.