Derby Kansas Cinnamon Rolls

Have you ever seen those military signs you can customize with all the places you’ve been stationed? I’ve been stationed in many places that I made into our home. I’m constantly learning how cooking varies from region to region…and also how dishes vary. One of my favorite quirks from Derby, Kansas –right outside of Wichita, KS- is the Cinnamon Rolls. Believe it or not, the Derby High School served delicious cinnamon rolls right alongside their chili for years! Sounds strange? Not really! Think Mexican Brownies decadent with cinnamon, chili powder, salt and chocolate. Whether or not this quirky lunch stemmed from the Southwest or just a Midwestern quirk, Derby’s High School Alumni call it a tradition! Here’s the recipe that was printed by the Informer. While the rolls are no longer served as a part of school lunches, you can find them in doughnut shops, small cafes, and tea rooms throughout Derby and Wichita.

School Cinnamon Rolls


3 cups milk

¾ stick oleo

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 ½ Tablespoons of yeast

¼ cup of sugar

1 cup of lukewarm water

1/3 cup sugar (will be explained in directions)

6-8 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

Scald three cups of milk and add ¾ stick of oleo and vanilla. Beat 2 eggs and add them to the milk mixture AFTER it cools. In a big bowl, add yeast, ¼ cup of sugar and lukewarm water, allowing it to foam up. Add the milk mixture to the bowl, along with 1/3 cup sugar, 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon of salt Mix well. Add the rest of the flour, mix well and knead the dough for about two minutes. Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with wax paper and a tea towel and put in a warm place to let the dough rise. After doubled in size, punch the dough down and let it rise again. Roll out the dough on the floured surface. 


3 cups brown sugar

3 cups of sugar

3 Tablespoons of cinnamon

2 sticks of melted oleo

Mix sugars and cinnamon together. Roll out 1/3 of the dough. Spread melted oleo on the dough and then sugar mixture over the top.  Roll the dough up into a log and cut into two inch slices. Place slices into a greased pan to rise again. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Bake the rolls at 325 degrees for 2 minutes or golden brown.

FROSTING ( optional)

½ cup melted oleo

¼ cup of milk

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix all frosting ingredients together in a small bowl and spread over warming rolls. (Let rolls cool slightly or frosting will melt!)


Carne en su Jugo Soup

Having been a military wife, I have friends with different backgrounds all over the world. I’ve always found it very easy to make friends. I believe this is because of two things. One is that my parents raised me to believe that all people are equal and to treat people like I’d like to be treated. The second one is my love of foods. We have a rule in my house that all foods must be tasted with three bites. There’s no “ewww I don’t like the way that looks!” And, it’s a lot of fun to have dinner with friends and ask for their favorite recipes! 

    So, imagine my surprise when I went over to a neighbor’s house for a chat about our girls’ school  and I watched her prepare supper. It was a simple soup but the preparation was fairly easy, quick and uncomplicated. I had to have the recipe! Plus, the soup is very nutritious. Just add some nacho chips and guacamole or flour tortillas and a small salad. With Cinco de Mayo coming soon, you might just want to give this a quick try and perfect your cooking methods before May 5.

Carne en su Jugo Soup

A delicious combination of beef, tomatillos, beans and bacon blend together for a traditional Mexican soup straight from Guatemala, Mexico!


4-5 fresh tomatillos, husk and wash, dice

1-2 serrano chile peppers, seed and chop finely (The more peppers –the more heat.)

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

3 cups of water

6 slices of wright’s thick cut bacon, cut into bite size pieces

2 pounds of skirt steak, cut into ½ inch squares/bite size

4 teaspoons of chicken bouillon (I use “Better than Boullion” brand)

2 cans (15.5 oz. each) of pinto beans

½ of a medium onion, chopped finely

6 Tablespoons of fresh cilantro

Black pepper to taste

1 lime cut into wedges

Sour cream

Combine the tomatillos, peppers, garlic and water in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to simmer for about ten minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, set aside to cool. (Now is a great time to fix a pitcher of margaritas!)  After the mixture cools, pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside. (And you can taste the margaritas!)

Next, cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until bacon is crisp. While bacon cooks, line a plate with paper towels to drain bacon on. After draining and cooling, crumble bacon up. 

Now, place a heavy non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the steak until it is browned. Pour the tomatillo mixture over the beef and bring to a boil. Stir in the bouillon and turn your heat to low medium Stir in pinto beans with liquid and bacon bits. Cover and simmer until meat is tender…about thirty minutes or turn temperature a little lower and simmer for an hour. Pour soup into 4-6 bowls and garnish with onions, cilantro, and lime wedges. Delicious!     



Chicken Salad Days…


With the warmer weather upon us and picnics, bridal showers, baby showers and light suppers, it’s time for deliciously cool chicken salad. The good thing about chicken salad is how many variations you can make from a basic recipe. Plus, while chicken salad abounds in the fast food industry, there is nothing comparable to fresh, homemade chicken salad. I keep hearing a small voice in the back of my head, sounds a lot like my 94 year old grandmother, saying to always eat FRESH chicken salad. In fact, she would always give me “the look” when I ordered chicken salad out. Of course, refrigeration and health codes have improved from her tea room days, but I still hear “the voice.”   If you are in a hurry, yes, please pick up a rotisserie chicken and use it to save time; but when you cook your own chicken, you’ll have that delicious chicken broth to use as a side to your salad or for other recipes. And, there’s the new instant pots which make things easier. (Yes! We will be sharing recipes for those gadgets in the near future!)

Basic Chicken Salad

2 cups of cooked, cubed, cooled chicken

1 ½ cups chopped, diced celery (make sure to string it!)

3 Tablespoon minced parsley  

1 teaspoon scraped onion (on fine grater)

2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise (Hellmann’s or Duke’s)

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ cup of cooked salad dressing (see below)

In a large bowl, toss the chicken, celery, parsley and onion together. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Then add the cooked dressing and mayonnaise, blending all well. Chill until ready to serve. Optional add-ins could be cut up grapes, pecans, or you may wish to add sirachi for a spicier salad. Have fun, experiment. This salad can be used in a sandwich, a stuffed fresh tomato, or served with crackers. Like a classic little black dress, this can be used as a fancy dish or as a work day supper!


Cooked Salad Dressing for Chicken Salad

2 eggs, beaten well

½ cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of French’s yellow mustard

1 Tablespoon of butter

Put all of the ingredients except the butter in a heavy saucepan and cook over very low heat until the mixture has thickened. Be sure to stir constantly, but gently to prevent the eggs from scrambling.  (I use a whip for this…and gently stir.) After mixture thickens, stir in the butter until it melts…and you should have ½ cup of dressing when you are finished.