A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Best Chicken Pasta Salad

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A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

My husband and I love a really good pasta salad, so I tweaked and experimented and created the Best Chicken Pasta Salad, which I named after me:) 

With it’s creamy perfectly balanced flavored dressing, crisp  tart apples, smoky Gouda cheese, velvety avocado, crunchy almonds; combined with the other scrumptious ingredients, we think you will agree too that this is the Best Chicken Pasta Salad!

This will generously serve 4-6 adults with a loaf of crusty bread.

It’s a great recipe for a picnic, just be sure to keep it cold because of the mayonnaise and the chicken.

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2-3 green apples, cored and cut into small bite-sized pieces; my handsome hubby prefers I peel the skin off, so that’s a personal preference too (the tart balances the other flavors and compliments the smokey cheese)

3-4 cups of cooked chicken,  A rotisserie chicken is fabulous here and what I generally use.

3/4 – 1 cup celery, chopped into small pieces

8-12 oz. Gouda cheese, cut into small pieces (the package of sliced is the usually the most cost effective, just dice it up)

2-3 avocados, diced

2 cups seedless red grapes, cut in halves (they look pretty, but can use green grapes if they are sweeter and in season)

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled

16 oz / 1 lb. package of Rotini style pasta (corkscrew type to hold all the good dressing in and sturdy enough for the other ingredients – use a GOOD brand or it falls apart when you add in the other ingredients.  I prefer Barilla pasta)


Dressing Ingredients:

16-18 oz. light mayonnaise (2 – 2 ¼ cups), only real mayo here, please don’t use Miracle Whip.  You can use regular if you’d prefer over light

1/2 cup light sour cream (you can use regular instead of light)

1 ½ Tbl. poppy seeds

2 Tbl. honey

5 Tbl. lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

3 Tbl. seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning

1/2 – 1 tsp. roasted garlic seasoning, optional, but balances the sweet nicely – I use McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb

1/2 tsp. Emerill’s original seasoning


First toast the nuts as shown below*

Cook pasta as directed on package.

When the pasta is al dente (not mushy or too soft), rinse and drain to remove the starch so it isn’t sticky and clumpy later after it sits.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Pour the dressing ingredients over the salad ingredients and combine gently.

Gently toss in the pasta and fold till all mixed through.

 It is best to serve this salad chilled for at least an hour. It sits well over night too.

Carrie's Chicken Pasta Salad *To toast nuts, pour them into a non-stick pan and cook over medium to high heat, stirring constantly until the nuts are a slightly browned.

It only takes a few minutes but it brings out a delicious deep flavor.


My Carrie’s BEST Chicken Pasta Salad would be perfect to take to a neighbor, friend or family member in need.  If you’d like to know more, I have this post:  What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

And even more information at    How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show I Care?

A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015, 2018

Copyright and recipe by Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018

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Caramel Apple Cake

Scrumptious Caramel Apple Cake


Caramel Apple Cake

Caramel Apple Cake

   Can you taste a slice of this AMAZING cake filled with chunks of tart apple wrapped in a moist tender cake?  Drizzle with a warm sweet caramel sauce over the top – and there you have food for angels.   

Scrumptious Caramel Apple Cake


1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix

1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jell-O Vanilla or French vanilla flavor instant pudding & pie filling – leave DRY, do NOT prepare with liquid

1 cup water

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

4 Granny smith apples, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 pkg. caramel bits (such as Kraft)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously coat a bundt pan with spray release OR butter well and coat with granulated sugar.

To make sure your cake does not stick (sometimes it can be difficult to get a cake such as this out of the bundt pan), use a 9×13″ or a spring form pan that is lined with parchment paper and coated with non-stick spray release or butter and sugar. Caramel Apple Cake 1


Caramel Apple Cake 2

Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, water, eggs and oil in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until blended, then on high speed 2 minutes. Caramel Apple Cake 3Gently fold in apples and caramel bits. Caramel Apple Cake 4 Pour into prepared pan.Caramel Apple Cake 5

Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 20 minutes; remove from pan.

Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes; cover with saran wrap and cool completely.

Serve cake with sauce warmed bottled caramel sauce.

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

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Streusel Bars

Apple Pie Streusel Pie Bars

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Streusel Bars

Apple Pie Streusel Bars

I love a good piece of apple pie, but sometimes I don’t want to mess with making a pie crust and such. I found this recipe that has a type of shortbread cookie crust, topped with perfectly spiced fresh apples, a bit of the crust on top and then a fabulous glaze on top.  It turned out marvelous!  Come on and give it a try.

Apple Streusel Bars

 Sweet Pastry –


2 cups flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup real butter (2 sticks), do yourself a favor and don’t skimp here, it’s not near as good with margarine or a butter substitute

1 egg, beaten well

Apple filling-

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1  1/2 tsp. cinnamon pinch nutmeg

5 cups peeled, sliced baking apples (about 4 medium-large Granny Smith works well)


3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1-2 Tbl. milk  


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper and coat with spray release.Apple Pie Streusle BarsTo prepare the crust, mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking power in a medium bowl.

Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or two knives,Apple Pie Streusel BarsUntil there are pea-sized crumbles.Apple Pie Streusel BarsGently mix in the beaten egg.Apple Pie Streusel Bars

Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish and set aside.

To prepare the apple filling combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Toss with the peeled and sliced apples.Apple Pie Streusel BarsPour the apples onto the crust and arrange to be an even layer.Apple Pie Streusel BarsSprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the apples.Apple Pie Streusel BarsBake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. or until a toothpick stuck in the apples is soft, but still gives a bit of resistance; do not overcook.     DSC_1490Allow to cool completely To prepare the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and a little bit of milk at at time to achieve desired consistency.Apple Pie Streusel BarsUse a spoon to drizzle over the completely cooled pastry.  Allow the glaze to set up and harden.  Cut into bars and serve.  Keep leftovers chilled.Apple Pie Streusel BarsRecipe adapted from Our Best Bites Recipe. Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

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Sour Cream Apple Bars

Sour Cream Apple Bars

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Sour Cream Apple Bars

Sour Cream Apple Bars

I happened on this old recipe and it was so unique that I just had to give it a try.  The outside layers are made up of crunchy layers of oats, walnuts, brown sugar and a bit of cinnamon for great flavor.  The inside is the most unusual combination of sour cream, shredded apple and some sweetness to bring it all together.  My family was very surprised and tasted a piece, then asked for another, and another, then more…and then they were gone!  These have a bit of tang from the sour cream, shredded apple is fabulous and the texture of the outside layers make this treat extraordinary!!!


Crust  1 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

1 cups chopped walnuts


1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

3 cups of shredded Granny Smith apples that have been peeled and cored

Instructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper and coat with spray release. Combine the butter and brown sugar in a bowl.Sour Cream Apple Bars 1Beat at medium speed until creamy.  Add in the flour, soda, cinnamon, allspice, oats and mix well.Sour Cream Apple Bars 2Add in the oats and blend. Sour Cream Apple Bars 3Stir in the nuts until combined.Sour Cream Apple Bars 4Press HALF of the crust mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cut apple into quarters, peel and shred to make 4 cups.

In a bowl combine the sour cream, sugar, egg and shredded apples; mix well.Sour Cream Apple Bars 5Pour the filling over the partially baked crust.Sour Cream Apple Bars 6Crumble the remaining crust mixture over the sour cream apple filling and press down lightly.Sour Cream Apple Bars 7Bake 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center is set.  Cool completely.Sour Cream Apple Bars 8Store in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from Land O’ Lakes. Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

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Halloween Food Collage 1

Halloween Family-Friendly Foods

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Halloween Food Collage 1

Halloween Friendly Food

Boy do I have some FUN food for YOU!

Yummy pudding cups topped with crushed chocolate cookies to make a silly Frankenstein.  Click HERE for instructions

Want an appetizer or main dish that is savory and not sweet?  This Boazone is perfect!  Click HERE for the tutorial

It’s hard to find a treat that’s healthy at this time of year – but here it is!  Click HERE for the easy recipe.

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Apple Turnovers

Homemade Old Fashioned Apple Turnovers or Tarts

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Apple Turnovers

Apple Turnovers

Here is a wonderful old fashioned, easy and quick dessert that the whole family will enjoy.  The crust is flaky and tender.  The apple filling is a fabulous blend of tart and sweet. Give it a try with sugar sprinkled on top, or even a thin glaze.  This recipe can easily be made into tarts too!


Homemade Old Fashioned Apple Turnovers or Tarts


1 tsp. grated orange zest

2-3 Tbl. freshly squeezed orange juice

1 ¼ lbs. tart apple

1/4 cup butter

3 Tbl. craisins or dried cherries, opt.

3 Tbl. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top

1 Tbl. flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg pinch salt

1 package (17.3 oz, 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrostedApple Turnovers 1


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and then cut them in ¾” dice.Apple TurnoversMelt the butter and toss with the sliced apples.

Cover a baking sheet with either parchment paper and place one layer of the apples on the sheet. 

Bake in the preheated 400 degree oven.Apple Turnovers 2Bake until browned, approx. 15 minutes, however this will depend on the size of apples. 

When the apples are browned on one side, turn over to brown on the other. 

Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a bowl. 

Very gently toss the browned apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well.

Apple Turnovers 3

Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of pastry to a 12×12” square. Apple Turnovers 4

Cut each sheet into 4 smaller squares and keep chilled until ready to use.Apple Turnovers 5Brush the edges of each square with an egg wash or water and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a form (but not thin or it will burn).Apple Turnovers 6If you are adding in the craisins or dried cherries, add them on top of the apple mixture and brush edges with beaten egg as pictured above.Apple Turnovers 7

Fold the dough over the apple mixture to form a triangle.

Using the tines of a fork, press firmly to seal the edges of the turnover.Apple Turnovers 8Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits Apple Turnovers 9Bake for 20 minutes in the 400 degree oven, until browned and puffed.

Serve warm or at room temperature.Apple Turnovers 10

To make tarts:

Roll the puff pastry to about 14”, then cut into 16 squares.

Put a bit of the apple mixture in each, and a couple of craisins, if using, in each tart.

Poke holes with a fork to vent instead of slits due to smaller size.

Copy­right Car­rie Grone­man, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014

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Pumpkin Fondue

Pumpkin Fondue

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Pumpkin Fondue

Pumpkin Fondue

This is a complex and distinctive appetizer or hors d’oeuvre .  The flavors combine sweet and savory perfectly, to delight your taste buds in a sophisticated culinary experience.

Pumpkin Fondue


1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon

2 Tbl. flour

1 Tbl. lemon juice

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. montreal steak seasoning

8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Dash hot pepper saucePumpkin Fondue 1


Combine the combine puree, water and flour. Mix until all the lumps in the flour have dissolved (use whisk or hand mixer).Pumpkin Fondue 2

Pumpkin Fondue 3Pour into a 2 qt. sauce pan over medium heat.

Add in all the other ingredients and stirring constantly, cooking until the fondue thickens and the cheese is fully melted.Pumpkin Fondue 4Pour all the pumpkin mixture into a fondue pot to keep warm.

Serve with sliced apples, pears, sliced baguette or crusty bread.

Carrie’s recipe adapted from Chef Tom, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013

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Festive Baby Green Salad

Festive Baby Green Salad

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Festive Baby Green Salad

Festive Baby Green Salad

I crafted this salad for the holidays, using baby greens, pears, apples, honey roasted nuts, parmesan and a wonderfully luscious dressing incorproating cranberries.   Not heavy but healthy, easy to put together for any gathering and sings of festivities and holidays.

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Festive Baby Green Salad


1/2 cup canned cranberry sauce, whole-berry or jellied

2 Tbl. fruited vinegar (such as raspberry), or red wine vinegar

2 Tbl. water

1 Tbl. olive oil

1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon or regular mustard

1/8 tsp. salt, or to taste

1/8 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning

6-8 oz. baby greens – or a mix of baby greens and spinich

2 medium pears, ripe, but firm, cored and thinly sliced OR apples

2 oz., about

6 Tbl., honey roasted almond or walnuts or pecans, chopped

1/2 cup craisins, or desired amount

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shaved or shredded, or as desired amount  Festive Baby Green Salad 2  Festive Baby Green Salad 1

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Process in a small chopper or whisk very well in a medium bowl the cranberry sauce, vinegar, water, oil, balsamic and mustard, salt and Montreal seasoning. This dressing can be kept overnight in the refrigerator.Festive Baby Green Salad 3When ready to serve, place greens in a large serving bowl. Add desired amount of dressing, pears and nuts; toss to mix and coat. Scatter shaved or shredded Parmesan on top.Festive Baby Green Salad 4Serve immediately.Carrie’s recipe, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013

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