Archives For Extraordinary Home

Enchilada Casserole

January 15, 2013 — 3 Comments

101_4994A very easy casserole that is a favorite at our house.  Although, my son loves spice so he has requested I add a jalapeño or two in the future.


1 pound meat, browned and drained

1 small can of green chilis

1 package soft taco shells

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 container sour cream (8 ounce)

2 cups shredded cheddar or taco cheese


1.  Mix sour cream, soup, and chilis.

2.  Spread half of mixture in bottom of 9×13 pan.

3.  Roll the meat into soft shells and put in pan.

4.  Spread remaining sour cream mixture over shells.

5.  Top with cheese.

6.  Bake in preheated 350° oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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Easy Lasagna

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes


©2013 Connie Davis Johnson


Easy Lasagna

January 8, 2013 — 3 Comments

My mom found it necessary to stretch the food budget and the meals she cooked as she fed 5 kids, a husband, and many friends.  A favorite creation for all who dined at our house was my mom’s lasagna.  Now I make it for my family and friends and want to share it with you!


1/2 pound lasagna noodles

1 pound meat

2 (23.9 ounce) jars Ragu Meat Sauce (I usually use a different brand but nothing beats Ragu in this lasagna)

4 cups cheddar cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese


1.  Prepare noodles according to package directions

2.  Brown meat and drain.

3.  Combine meat and sauce.

4.  Layer in lasagna pan in the following order:

  • Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Cheese
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Cheese

5.  Place in preheated 375° oven.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

You may also like:

Weeknight Taco Chili

Little Cheddar Meatloaves

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©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Turtle Bars

December 27, 2012 — 2 Comments

Chocolate, pecans, caramel?  Yes please!!  Of course, I could have stopped at “chocolate” and been happy!


1 package crescent roll dough (8 count)

2/3 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

8 ounce chopped pecans

12 ounce package chocolate chips


1.  Press crescent roll dough in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Be sure to pinch edges together.

2.  Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute.

3.  Pour mixture over crescent roll dough.

4.  Sprinkle chopped pecans over dough.

5.  Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes.

6.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then swirl to melt.

7.  Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting.

8.  Cut into bars and store in refrigerator.

You may also like:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Bars


©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

I have a wonderful husband who makes this pie for me each year on my birthday in December.  Although it would probably be more appropriate at Thanksgiving, I’m not complaining.  This is my favorite pie.  Unfortunately, my kids love it too.  So I always request 2 pies and he happily obliges – once a year.


3/4 cup cold milk

1 package (4 serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups Cool Whip whipped topping (thawed)

1 (6 oz.) ready-made graham cracker crust



1.  Pour milk into mixing bowl.

2.  Add vanilla pudding and beat with wire whisk until well blended (about 1 minute).

3.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

4.  Blend in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, chocolate chips, and the whipped topping.

5.  Spoon into pie crust.

6.  Chill for 4 hours.

Store in refrigerator.

You may also like:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter Marble Brownies

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©2012 Connie Davis Johnson


These don’t last long around our house.  A true favorite!

101_4852Brownie Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted          1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar                                   1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla                          1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs                                            1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup cocoa

Peanut Butter Filling Ingredients:

1 package cream cheese                 1 egg

1/2 cup peanut butter                       2 Tablespoons milk

1/4 cup sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 350°.

2.  Grease 9×13 pan.

3.  Prepare Brownie mix by stirring together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla.

4.  Add eggs and beat well.

5.  Add cocoa and beat until well blended.

6.  In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add to brownie mix.  Beat well.

7.  Stir in chocolate chips.

8.  Remove 1 cup batter.

9.  Pour remaining batter into pan.

10.  Prepare Peanut Butter Filling by combining all ingredients and beating until smooth and creamy.

11.  Spread Peanut Butter Filling over batter in pan.

12.  Drop reserved chocolate batter by teaspoonfuls over filling.

13.  Using knife, gently swirl for marbled effect.

14.  Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean.

15.  Remove from oven and cool.

16.  Hide some for yourself because your family will eat all of them before you have the chance to eat any.  (Experience talking).


You may also like:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies (Can you tell we love peanut butter and chocolate?)

Savory Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Chocolate Caramel Bars

December 4, 2012 — 1 Comment


These bars are a family favorite and taste like candy bars.


1 package German Chocolate cake mix

3/4 cup melted butter

1 small can evaporated milk

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup nuts

50 caramels


1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Remove wrappers from caramels and set aside.

2.  Mix together until smooth, cake mix, butter, and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk.

3.  Pat half of the mixture into 9×13 cake pan.

4.  Bake for 6 minutes at 350°.

5.  Meanwhile, melt caramels with 1/3 cup of evaporated milk, stirring constantly over low-medium heat.

6.  Remove pan from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over cake in pan.

7.  Cover with caramel mixture.

8.  Place remaining cake mix on top of caramels.  (Note: It’s thick enough, I flatten it with my fingers and place on top.)

9  Bake an additional 10 minutes at 350°.

10.  Cut when cool and store in refrigerator.

Makes 24 bars.

Recipe from my amazing mother-in-law, Darlene Johnson


©2012 Connie Davis Johnson


These are my family’s favorite cookies.  If you love chocolate and peanut butter, you’re sure to love them too.


1 cup butter, softened                         2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sugar                                       3 cups flour

1 cup packed brown sugar                  1 cup baking cocoa

2 cup creamy peanut butter, divided     1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs, lightly beaten                         1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar


1.  In large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars, and 1/2 cup peanut butter.

2.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.

3.  Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda; add to creamed mixture and mix well.

4.  Put this mixture in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

5.  Blend confectioners sugar with remaining 1 1/2 cups peanut butter until smooth.

6.  Divide and roll peanut butter mixture into 48 balls.

7.  Remove chocolate dough from fridge and divide into 48 pieces; flatten each into a 3 inch circle.

8.  Place 1 peanut butter ball on each circle; bring edges over to completely cover it.  Dough will probably crack.

9.  Place cookies with seam down on ungreased cookie sheets.

10.  Flatten each cookie slightly with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar.

11.  Bake in preheated 375° oven for 7-9 minutes.  Do not over-bake.

Note:  If using a cookie scoop, 1 level scoop of chocolate to 1/3 level scoop of peanut butter mixture comes out about right.

Makes 48 cookies


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Savory Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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©2012 Connie Davis Johnson



Christmas Organization Tip

November 20, 2012 — 2 Comments


©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Do you have a box of family heirlooms?  Unfortunately, heirlooms cannot be enjoyed when hidden away in a box.  Wouldn’t it be nice to put them on display?  They can then be appreciated by everyone in the family.  And the next generation can learn more about their family.  But how can we bring them into our living spaces without making our homes look like a giant garage sale or a bad episode of Hoarders?

I had several meaningful family heirlooms that I wanted to display but I despise clutter.  So I came up with a plan to use them tastefully as decorations.

My mom owned several sets of paper dolls as a child and loved them.  She kept them into her adult years to remind her of her childhood.  On special occasions, my mom would allow my sisters and me to play with her paper dolls.  We knew their emotional worth so we were always careful while playing.  Once my sisters and I were grown and on our own, she decided to pass along her precious collection.  We each took the ones we liked the most.

The last thing I wanted was to hide them in a box in the basement.  The goal was to enjoy them.  The simplicity of their grandparents toys is also a good lesson for my kids who often take their own toys for granted.

Four frames came in handy in the basement as I prepared to display my precious heirlooms.

  • Once the back of the frame was removed, I placed the paper dolls on the glass of the frame.
  • Rather than replacing the back with the same cardboard backing, I replaced it with the glass from another frame.
  • Sandwiched tightly, the dolls have not moved since finishing this project.  The frames will be painted at a later date.My mom also passed down some beloved doll furniture and toys.  I bought a shadowbox and some hook and loop Velcro.
  • I kept the hook and loop parts of the Velcro attached to each other and cut them into pieces to fit each toy.
  • Peeling off the back of one side of the Velcro, I attached the entire piece to each toy.
  • Then I arranged the toys to my liking on the backboard of the shadowbox.
  • After that, I peeled off the remaining tape from the Velcro and attached the toys according to their placement.

Another shadowbox displays a few other items I received from my parents and grandparents.  All items are attached with hook and loop Velcro as described above except the handkerchiefs which are pinned to the back with a few straight pins.  The items included are:

  • My paternal grandma’s glasses.  She always had a chain attached so she wouldn’t lose them.
  • My maternal grandpa’s watch.
  • Two of my great, great, great grandma’s handkerchiefs.
  • My paternal grandpa’s keys.  He had many keys due to his position in the community along with owning his own business.
  • A recipe for Pumpkin Bread written in my paternal grandma’s handwriting.
  • A small new testament filled with notations of my dad’s.

I inherited two of my paternal grandpa’s bibles, the black and brown bibles in the picture.  These are my favorite heirlooms.  Grandpa read his bibles until they fell apart and liked to write in the margins.  I love reading his notations regarding certain verses and speculating what may have gone on his life at the time.

The bibles sit on my dresser along with a few other meaningful items that include:

  • A white bible engraved with my name given to me as a baby.  It was later used at my wedding.
  • One of my great, great, great grandma’s handkerchiefs.
  • A framed letter my sweet daughter wrote for my birthday.
  • The purse I carried to all my proms.
  • My wedding veil.

My husband’s maternal grandpa served as a paratrooper in World War 2.  We were blessed to hear some of his stories before he died.  My husband’s parents and I tracked down replicas of the medals and ribbons he earned and I attached them along with his military picture inside a shadowbox as described above.  This was one of my husband’s favorite Christmas gifts of all time.

Shadowboxes, frames, and creative table displays allow heirlooms to be showcased.  We can honor our older generations while educating the younger generations within our families.  What heirlooms would you like to remove from storage and enjoy in your living space?

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

November 6, 2012 — 3 Comments



4 large or 8 small baking potatoes            Dash of pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup milk                                  1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)

1/4 cup real unsalted butter, softened        1 tablespoon chopped chives

1/4 teaspoon salt


1.  Prepare potatoes.  Scrub clean.  Pierce each all over with fork.  Spray each with cooking spray.  Wrap each in wax paper.  Cook in microwave on high until potato can be pierced easily with fork, flipping them over when halfway done.  This is the Connie way of making baked potatoes but feel free to make them your usual way.

2.  Preheat oven to 400º.

2.  Cut potatoes lengthwise in half; scoop out inside, leaving a thin shell.

3.  Mash potatoes in medium bowl until no lumps remain.  Add milk in small amounts, beating well after each addition (amount of milk needed to make potatoes smooth and fluffy depends on types of potatoes used).

4.  Add butter, salt, and pepper.  Beat vigorously until potato is light and fluffy (I use a potato masher but a mixer can be used).  Stir in cheese and chives (notice the picture has no chives.  I aim to be real and I was out of chives. 🙂 Still tasted great!)

5.  Fill potato shells with mashed potato.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

6.  Bake at 400º about 20 minutes or until hot.

Suggestion:  Goes great with Little Cheddar Meatloaves.