Sunday, December 28, 2014

Monkey Muffins

Sal and I are making Monkey Muffins for Sunday Brunch today.  Very simple and makes the house smell so good!

Monkey Muffins

1 tube Pillsbury Grands
3 Tbs. butter
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Spray pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired).  Spray your muffin pan. Cover the bottom of each muffin mold with a little of the syrup mixture. Then sprinkle a pinch of the brown sugar mixture on top.

Cut the biscuits into small pieces with a kitchen scissors.  Roll them in the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and lay the biscuits in the molds, overlapping edges (closely together). Cover each with the remaining syrup and sugar mixtures.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool a little before serving.

Have a great Sunday and may God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Mousse

Made this today for the first time to see if it is a keeper.  I played with it and made some changes.  It is a light dessert and I liked it.  Great for the season.

4 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla 
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) of your favorite whipped topping

Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spices, vanilla, and brown sugar until it becomes smooth and creamy.

Gently fold in the whipped topping. Spoon the mousse into individual serving dishes.  Top with a ½ of a pecan and sprinkle with a little cinnamon for garnish.

Taking some to my mama.  Have a great day.  May God bless you and yours. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Aged Top Sirloin Roast

It is Sunday and I’m fixing a beautiful aged top sirloin roast I got on sale for only $4.90 a pound at Fareways.   I’ve been saving it for traditional Sunday dinner.   Some people don’t realize aged beef is the best you can buy and won’t buy it because of the color.  If you are lucky and watch for it, you can pick it up locally cheaper than fresh.  In the big city you would be paying a pretty penny for it. 

One 3 to 5 pound aged top sirloin roast
Salt and black pepper
2 or 3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. of butter
1 large onion
1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs. chopped garlic 
8 peeled potatoes
2 cups of fresh mushroom of your choice
2 small cans beef broth
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 275° (low and slow).

Generously salt and pepper the roast on both side and let it rest.

Peel and slice your onion.

In a large skillet or fry pan, melt your butter and add your oil over medium heat.  Add your onion and cook until soft and caramelized.

Add your garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add your sliced mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce.  Simmer until the mushrooms are soft.

Peel your potatoes and cut in half if too large.  Set aside.

Pour your onion and mushrooms into the bottom of your roaster.  Add two small cans of beef broth (3 cups if you are lucky enough to have homemade for a good soup bone).  Add your potatoes.

In the same pan that you fried your onions and mushrooms in, add a bit more olive oil and butter and put in your roast sear.  Turn up the heat to help with the searing. Do not clean the pan. You want all that flavor added to your meat.  Sear and brown well on both sides.

Remove the browned roast and place in on top of the potatoes, onions and mushrooms. 

Deglaze the pan with a bit of the broth, scraping the bottom to get every browned bit up.  You do not want to waste any of the goodness left in the pan.  Pour it over the roast. 

Add the fresh herbs to the top of the roast.

Put the lid on and roast for 3 hours.  The roast is ready when it's falling apart tender.  It will take longer if you have a large roast.

You may wish to add carrots.  I didn't have any today.  If you do don't use those little pre-cut ones. They are preserved in a chemical that you should not consume.

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday.  May God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rice Pudding with Lemon Sauce

This dish was served at my last book club’s luncheon and it was delicious so I had to make it and try my hand at it.  The recipe was from a cookbook that was written by President Clinton’s cook when he was governor in Arkansas.  I put my own spin on it of course.

Rice Pudding with Lemon Sauce

Cook 1 ½ cups of Arborio rice.  Use the directions on the package.  It should take at least 20 minutes to cook the rice until tender.  You may use another rice if you wish but do not use instant rice.  It should yield at least 2 cups of cooked rice.  If you have a little more than 2 cups, go ahead and use it all. 

½ stick butter
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 qt. milk
2 cups cooked rice
2 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. nutmeg (I grated it but you can use ground nutmeg)
½ tsp. salt

Melt ½ of stick butter in large baking dish. I put it in the baking dish to save dishes and then put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  In a separate bowl, beat 3 large eggs. Add gradually the next 6 ingredients to the eggs. Pour mixture into melted butter and mix well. Bake covered at 300° for 1 hour.  Take the lid off and stir well and turn up the heat to 350°.  Bake for another 1/2 hour or until set and turning a little brown on top. It will serve at least 8.

Lemon Sauce
½ cup of melted butter
¼ cup water
3 tbs. lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Beat your egg well. Combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until boiling.  Strain it to make sure there are no lumps from the egg in it.  Set aside covered until it is time to serve.  Serve warm over warm rice pudding. You can refrigerate and reheated.  It should yield 1 1/3 cups of sauce.

The smell tells the story before you even taste it.  It is such a great comfort food.

Have a great Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rosemary Cookies

I picked fresh Rosemary from my herb garden yesterday and thought I'd make a recipe I got from P. Allen Smith TV show years ago.  

Rosemary is regarded as the herb of remembrance and friendship so it is nice to use when gathering with friends and family. Give out as a gift or take to friend’s homes when you are invited.  This recipe begins with a basic butter cookie recipe.  You can use your own favorite recipe if you like.

1 cup soft butter
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

Blend together the butter, sugar and eggs until creamy.  Sift flour into the mixture then add the other dry ingredients; the cream of tartar, soda and salt, and blend together. Next add the most important ingredient at least when it comes to flavor, 2 light teaspoons of fresh very finely chopped rosemary.  Make sure the teaspoon is level and not over flowing with rosemary.

Form the dough into small balls and place them on an un-greased baking sheet. Press the balls flat with the bottom of a drinking glass that has been dipped in sugar (dampen the bottom of the glass a bit). This gives them a nice crunchy glaze.

Bake them in a pre-heated 350° oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown on top. It's a good idea to loosen the cookies with a spatula as soon as you take them from the oven. 

I prefer a silpat in making cookies so there is no sticking.  With the cost of butter, I cut the recipe in half and it made 2 dozen cookies.  

This is a great way to enjoy both the flavor and aroma of rosemary.  Have a great week.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

You still need recipes for those tomatoes from your garden or the zucchini and tomatoes people are giving you?  Here is one.

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin 

2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini)
4 large sliced tomatoes
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs. butter
Seasoning salt recipe below

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Begin by making a pesto of:

2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 cups loosely packed basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Place garlic in food processor; pulse until chopped. Crush your pistachios first a little.  Add pistachios, basil, lemon juice and salt; pulse until nuts are finely chopped.  Add your favorite olive oil gradually through food chute and process until well combined. Add cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times.

Set aside.

Spray a 9 X 9 baking dish.  Slice your zucchini about ¼ of an inch thin.  Slice your tomatoes about ¼ of an inch thin.  Fill the bottom of the baking dish with the zucchini and then a layer of sliced tomatoes.

Seasoning Salt
Make a seasoning salt with teaspoon of Kosher salt, ½  tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. of garlic powder, 1 tsp. of onion powder and ¼ tsp. of nutmeg.  Mix in a small bowl and sprinkle some of it on top of the tomatoes. 

Sprinkle a little pesto on top of the tomatoes.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and begin another layer. 

Top with your favorite bread crumbs (Italian seasoned would bring extra flavor or make your own) and more Parmesan cheese. Dot with 2 tablespoon of butter cut into small bits and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.

Variation -  Add chopped pistachios on top to show you are using them in the pesto.  You can also chopped Kalamata olives on top for more color and flavor.  It can be an entire meal by itself or a great side dish.

You can also serve it as a side with pasta with your left over pesto.  Make a simple angel hair pasta.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil for the pasta.  You can use any pasta but angel hair cooks quickly so is simple and quick.  Cook the pasta in the boiling, salted water until al dente, about 3 minutes. While you are cooking your pasta cut some cherry tomatoes in half and set aside. 

In a large frying pan that will hold the pasta, take a small ladle of pasta water and add a ladle of pesto to thin the pesto down.  Add your chopped tomatoes.  Drain your pasta and to the pesto sauce and toss. Taste for salt and pepper, and drizzle a little of your favorite olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. 

Variation – Don’t add the tomatoes.  Add shrimp instead and you get a whole new meal. 

More rain today and the grass is turning green again.  Can't believe what difference a little rain can make.  I don't have to water those tomato plant now.  

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Miss Lucile’s Tomato Sandwich

Got tomatoes?  How about a tomato sandwich?  This is the perfect tomato sandwich that was made famous in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  It is a sandwich created by Lucile Wright a caterer in Savannah, Georgia who has passed away.  She was made famous not only from her catering but also by the book and movie.  Miss Lucile’s delicate tomato sandwich is perfect.  If you follow the recipe you will not have a soggy sandwich.  I’m sharing it the way it the way she made it.

Use thin slices, whole wheat on the top and white on the bottom. Cut the bread into circles with a biscuit cutter or other shapes with cookie cutters that just fits your freshly picked tomato. I like to use a rim from a mason large mouth mason jar.

Mix a little finely grated sweet onion (too much makes it bitter).  You really just want a little juice from the onion so use the smallest grate on your grater. Add a teaspoon and then taste and slowly add what you like to taste. Add black pepper and Accent to your Hellmann's mayonnaise.  No other mayo will work or it is not her recipe.  No measurements here... make it to taste. Spread the bread a day ahead, cover and refrigerate.  Don’t skimp on the Hellmann’s. 

Pick your tomatoes and clean them the same day you are going to make the sandwich.  Pick a nice round ripe tomato that has ripened on the vine.

Carefully drop tomatoes in a big pot of boiling water for 20 seconds. Immediately transfer to a big bowl or sink of cold water.

Peel, slice as thin as the bread and drain thoroughly between layers of paper towels. Soggy tomatoes make soggy sandwiches. Sprinkle the tomatoes with Lawry's Seasoned Salt before assembling the sandwiches.

See if you don’t agree that this is the tastiest tomato sandwich you have ever eaten.  I like to use a good heirloom tomato with a lot of flavor to make it even better. 

It's a great day to play in the kitchen with it raining outside.  The rain is making me very happy.  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chocolate Banana Nut Bread

It’s what’s for breakfast……..I made Chocolate Banana bread yesterday and tweaked to be gluten free and dairy free.  You would never know it by the taste.  This recipe made 3 small loaves.   

1 1/2 soy cups flour (You can use regular flour if you wish )
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 large bananas)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
½ cup walnuts (optional)
1 cup dairy free mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the first six ingredients.  Combine bananas, oil and egg; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the nuts and/or chocolate chips. Spray small bread pans ¾ full. You can also use this to make muffins.  If making muffins fill paper lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are done.

I did not put in the chocolate chips since I added nuts.  Next time I’ll do the chips for Saylor.  You don’t have to take my word for them.  Josh came home and ate a half a loaf and never knew it was gluten free.  

Have a great Tuesday, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dried Beef Dip or Spread

Had a trip to my herb garden today and cut some fresh chives and parsley for this dried beef recipe.  I love this dip or spread and thought I’d share the recipe with you. You can play with it like I did or use this recipe.  I changed up on the original recipe and am happy with my changes. 

1 pkg. chopped dried beef
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Pinch of pepper (no salt because beef if salty)
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
½  cup Mayo or salad dressing (I used Mayo)
2 tsp. fresh chives
1 tsp. fresh parsley

Using my kitchen scissors, I cut up the dried beef into small pieces.  I also used the kitchen scissors to cut the chives and the parsley.  Toss them all in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Fold together and sprinkle the top with a few chives for presentation.  Serve with crackers, crusty bread or bagels.

Works as an appetizer or great for a dish to carry to a pot luck.  Hope you enjoy it.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Magic Bar Remake

Always looking for a simpler way or easier way to make a recipe. I remade this to suit my likes and simplified it.  First I’ll give you the recipe that caught my eye and then I’ll share my remake.  Warning:  They are extremely rich so cut your pieces small. 

2 cups crushed graham crackers or chocolate cookies
1/2 cup butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 ½  cup peanut butter/butterscotch or white chocolate chips
1 ½  cups shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14 ounces

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper fir ease in removing bars after baking for cutting.

Combine graham cracker or cookie crumbs and melted butter until evenly moistened. press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan to form the crust.  

Layer the chocolate chips, pecans, chips you have chosen, and then coconut evenly over entire pan.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over top of the coconut layer until completely covered and all of the milk is used.

Bake for about 25 minutes, just until coconut starts to turn golden on edges. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Remake into Magic Pie 

2 chocolate pre-made pie crusts 
1 bag of your favorite chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 ½ cups shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Layer ½ of the chocolate chips, pecans, white chocolate chips, and coconut evenly over each pie crust. Then do the second pie crust.

Drizzle ½ can of sweetened condensed milk over the top of each coconut layer pie until completely covered and all of the milk is used on both. As a last touch, I'm sprinkling a pinch of Kosher salt on top to cut the sweetness just a bit.  That is optional.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the coconut starts to turn golden on edges. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.  Remember they are extra rich so cut 8 small pieces.  Store in an airtight container.

You can play with this and use butterscotch chips or even your favorite candy bars.  It is super simple for a dessert people won't forget.  A real plus is you don't have any dirty bowl or dishes to do.  Got to love that.

Hope you have a great Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Beef Jerky and Beef Roll Ups

Have made this quite a few times now and am happy with the flavor.  I have Fareway meat department slice a beef roast in thin slices for me and I marinated it in a homemade teriyaki marinade.  They did charge me 20 cents a pound more though to cut it today.  They didn’t last time.  I bought 4 pounds of sliced beef and using 3 for the jerky and playing with a new recipe with the last of the slices.  I’m making beef roll ups.  I’m marinating the slices also.

Oven Beef Jerky

3 pound rump roast (not too fatty)

Teriyaki Marinade

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tbs. onion powder
1 tbs. garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional but I’m using)

You can use this marinade for other meat such as chicken or pork also.

Beef Teriyaki Jerky

If you do not have a butcher to slice your roast, partially freeze your roast for easier slicing, and slice your steak into thin strips.  Cut off any fat.

Mix you marinade by putting all of the ingredients in a large baggie, seal and shake until well mixed.  Put the meat strips in the baggy with your marinade.  Marinade it 6 hours or over night.   The longer you marinade it, the more flavor it will have.  You need to have enough marinade that it covers all the meat.

Take a cooling rack that's safe for oven and put it on top of aluminum foil covered baking sheet or use your broiling pan. Put your strips of meat on the rack.  Bake as low as your oven will go. Bake it for 4 hours in a pre-heated oven of 150°.  Rotate and turn them over half way through the baking. 3 pounds made 4 racks of jerky.  If you don’t have 4 racks, you may wish to cut the recipe in half.  Bake slowly until they start to look like jerky. Be careful not to overcook. To be safe keep in the fridge after baked.

This made over 3 dozen pieces of jerky.

Variation – You can use any marinade you like for seasoning.  You can use a store bought marinade if you like.  Add heat by adding pepper flakes, or smoke flavor by adding liquid smoke, or add sweetness by adding brown sugar.  Make your own marinate with all of your favorite flavors. Marinate and follow same instructions for slow baking.  You can also use a dehydrator rather than a stove.  Follow the directions of the dehydrator.

Beef Roll Ups

Left over larger slices go in marinate also over night.

Thinly sliced beef
Marinate recipe above
1 caramelized onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional, I’m leaving it out)
1 tsp. Soy sauce
1 cup brown rice
Large can of beef broth
Sesame seeds
Kosher salt and pepper
3 packages of Beef Ramen noodles
Chopped bacon (optional)

Caramelize your onions until they are sweet and browned.  You can use bacon grease or olive oil to brown them. I brown them in my case iron skillet.  Once they are caramelized, add your mushrooms and a splash of beef broth to keep moist. Stir until the mushrooms are completely done. You may add some chopped bacon for more flavor if you like.  I like.

Cook your brown rice until it is done.  Follow the directions on your package.  Use beef broth and not water though.  Salt and pepper the rice before boiling.  Cook until tender.

Add your fully cooked rice to the onions and mushroom with a splash of soy sauce.  Taste to make sure seasoned well with soy sauce, salt and pepper.  You can use white rice if you like, but I like the texture of brown rice and it is healthier.

Boil your thinly sliced beef in beef broth until it is tender. 

Lay your piece of beef out and put your rice stuffing mixture on 1/3 of the beef.   Roll it into a roll and use a tooth pick to keep it closed.  Put the rolls into the cast iron skillet to keep warm with a little butter and oil and a splash of beef broth and some sesame seeds for texture and more oriental taste.  Keep in the low oven until serving.  Serve on top of beef Ramen noodles.  Cook your Ramen noodles according to the package. Use the broth left from boiling the beef slices to add more beef flavor.  It will also have a little of the marinate flavor and make some awesome beef Ramen noodles.  

Variation -  If you don't want to fuss with the roll ups make it simple on yourself and cut up your sliced beef in bite sized pieces and boil them until they are tender.  Serve over brown rice or Ramen noodles.  Taste and season to you liking.  You can add a bit of onion powder, sesame seeds, etc. to the beef broth you are using for the rice or noodles.

Beef is a treat for me because of its price.  This helps extend the beef and I get several meals out of it.  Hope you enjoy this and it is a treat for you.  

Have a  great Saturday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oreo Rice Crispy Treats

Josh loves Oreos.  What person doesn't?  I have some in the house and thought I’d use them for a new and quick treat by adding them to an old treat.  Josh loves Oreo pudding dessert.  It is his favorite dessert so I thought I’d make both the pudding and the Oreo Rice Crispy Treats for his late night snack and lunches.  I've done something similar just by adding chocolate chips to the mix in the past but this is a new summer snack experience.

Oreo Rice Crispy Treats

6 cups Rice Crispy Cereal
½ package of chopped original Oreos
5 cups mini marshmallows
3 tbs. butter

Spray a 9 x 13 dish with cooking spray.

Crush the Oreos by putting them in a Zip Lock bag and set aside.  I mashed the whole bag of Oreos and am using the rest for Josh’s Oreo pudding. 

Melt the marshmallows and butter together in the microwave by heating for 1 minutes.  Stir together until well combined.

Pour in your cereal and Oreos and use a spatula sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to quickly combine all the ingredients.  As soon as all the cereal is combined, spread mixture into the prepared 9 × 13 inch dish. I wet my hands and gently push down on the mixture to flatten.

Let sit until completely cooled.

Variation – What other combinations can you think of to goose up the bars.  Try crushing or chopping your favorite candy bar like Snickers or Heath.  For color just add some M & Ms. 

Hope you have a great Thursday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

I have rhubarb and am making my Grandma’s rhubarb cake.  It is a very old recipe with a bit of a twist on it.  It reminds me of a fruit cobbler/coffee cake/bread pudding/dump cake.  It is all those yummy desserts in one. You can pick what flavor you want but I love it with rhubarb and it is a great way to use up your rhubarb.

1 cup sugar
2 cups  flour
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of rhubarb and 1 cup simple syrup
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Milk Topping
1 can condensed milk
1 stick of butter (I cut to ½ stick of butter)
1 tsp. vanilla

Begin by making your simple syrup and rhubarb.

2 cups of rhubarb
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar

Add water and sugar in small pan and heat over stove on medium heat. Make sure when you heat the simple syrup that you do it just until the sugar melts.  You do not want to over cook the fruit and have it fall apart.  Let it cool.  Make sure that it has cooled when you add it to the batter with eggs or you will scrabble your eggs. 

Cake Batter
Mix the sugar, flour, salt, soda, eggs and cooled rhubarb together and pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and one cup chopped pecans. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

After the cake has been baked and still hot out of the oven, pour the milk mixture over the entire cake.

Milk Mixture
Heat the condensed milk and butter in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir it to incorporate the butter.  Add the vanilla last and poured over the cake.

Refrigerate the cake. This is an extremely sweet, dense, and moist cake. 

I made mine in two 9 X 9 inch pans so only baked it for 25 to 30 minutes.  

Try this rhubarb recipe.  People that don’t like rhubarb even like this.  If not you can always substitute another fruit with it or try rhubarb and strawberries (1 cup each) for a rhubarb strawberry cake. 

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Need something for my son's lunch tomorrow so trying a new recipe.  He loves peanut butter to a point of taking tablespoons full of it and eating it plain.  He also loves chocolate chips cookies so when I asked him if he wanted peanut butter cookies or chocolate chip he said both. So I made a peanut butter chocolate chip bar for him. It made it easier on me than making cookies and pleased his love of chocolate and peanut butter.  I'll send a whole plate for his co-workers.

2 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ sticks of butter
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (you can use chunky if you like)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.  Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray.  I like to use the aluminum ones so I can turn it upside down and cut the bars.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugars until combined. Use a whisk or a rubber spatula to mix in the eggs,  peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined (be careful not to over mix the dough or the bars will be tough). Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan, pressing and smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until the top is slightly golden and firm to the touch and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely.

Lift up on the foil overhang to remove the bar from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board.  Cut 2 inch squares.

Variation - You may add additional peanuts for more crunch if you like.

They are roofing and in the heat, these should give them the energy they are going to need for the job.

Hope you have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Since this week was Cinco de Mayo, I made enchiladas for book club yesterday and thought I’d share.  I made beef/chicken enchiladas (fickled and could not make up my mind J) .  You can make just beef or chicken if you like.  Saylor is spending the weekend and he can’t have dairy so he made his own without cheese.  They are already gluten free.

I have simplified the dish by using salsa instead of chopping onions, tomatoes, jalapeño, etc.  Pick your favorite salsa.


3 tbs. olive oil
1 pounds chicken (I use both dark and white meat.  You may use chicken breasts if you like)
1 pound lean ground beef
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tsp. cumin powder x 2
1 tsp. garlic powder x 2
1 tsp. chili powder x 2
1 cup salsa 
20 corn tortillas
2 cans enchilada sauce (you can pick hot, medium or mild)
2 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses (Mexican blend)

Sour cream
Green chilies
Green onions
Black olives
Chopped tomato and lettuce

Coat large sauté pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and chili powder before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow it to cool.  Shred it or cut into small pieces.

Brown your ground beef adding the cumin, chili powder and garlic powder.  When done add your chicken to it.  Add your salsa and sauté for a minute.  Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Let cool.

Microwave your pile of tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable so they don’t crack when you roll them.  I set up an assembly line of tortillas, sauce, meat, cheese and your pan.

Coat the bottom of 2 (13 x 9 inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce (I did one 9 x 13 inch pan and two 9 x 9 inch pans with the recipe so I could freeze the 9 x 9 for another day). Using a large shallow container, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup meat mixture in each tortilla.  Add a small amount of cheese.  Fold over the tortilla and roll.  I placed 10 enchiladas in the larger baking dish with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and lots of Mexican cheese.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a preheated 350° oven until cheese melts.  Have individual garnishes such as chopped scallions, sour cream, guacamole, black olives, green chilies, shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes for each person to garnish the way they like.  I like a little sour cream, lettuce, tomato and black olives on top of mine.

To top it off I made churros cheese cake for the dessert. 

Churros Cheesecake

1 package of Pepperage Farm Puffed Pastry (use both sheets)
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) whipped cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup sugar (divide in half)
2 tbs. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Unroll pastry dough and press one sheet into the bottom of a greased 13 × 9 inch baking pan. 

Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, vanilla, egg and 1/2 cup of the sugar well until completely blended.

Spread it evenly onto the bottom crust.

Mix ½ cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Top the cream cheese mixture with the remaining pastry dough.   Sprinkle it with ½ cup of sugar and the 2 tbs. of cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

I served mine with homemade chocolate syrup at the table.


3/4 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugars to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in the cocoa powder, salt, and corn syrup, whisking until all of the solids have dissolved.

Allow the mixture to simmer until it has slightly reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and cool to room temperature.

If you want it to taste more like a Mexican chocolate add a pinch of cinnamon to the cocoa powder.  I didn't because I was putting it on a lot of cinnamon already.  This goes great on ice cream or use it to make chocolate milk.  

Pour into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.   

Had a wonderful day with friends.  Hope your day is as full and great.  Have a wonderful Mother's Day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lobster Pizza

Sam and I made lobster pizza today for lunch.  It is our version of something we had similar at Red Lobster sometime ago.  We loved it and I’ll be making this again.  We put our own spin on a copy cat recipe that I had saved. 

4 thin crust pre-baked pizza crusts
Alfredo Sauce (use your favorite store brand to save work)
1 medium tomato
Sprinkle of dried basil or chopped fresh basil (what ever you have)
2 lobster tails 
Shredded Italian 5 blend cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice

Boil lobster tails and cut the shell in half to pull the lobster meat out of the shell. Chop into bite sized pieces.  Add a small splash of lemon juice (1/2 tsp.) and a pat of butter and let it melt.  Set aside.

Dice and drain your tomato on paper towel.  Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 450°.

Spread a bit of olive oil on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle a very small amount of Kosher salt and a bit of pepper on top of the oil.  Lay down 2 pizza crusts.  Lightly spread 3 cheese Alfredo sauce on top. Sprinkle the blend of cheeses on top. 

Spread the diced tomato evenly on the top.   Sprinkle a small amount of fresh or dried basil over the top. Top with pieces of lobster.

Bake it for five minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned a bit.   Everything is already cooked.  You just need to heat and serve allowing you to make up in advance and just heating before serving.

Slice the pizza into eight pieces.  Recipe made 4 small pizzas. 

These make great individual pizzas or appetizers. 

Variation - You can substitute the lobster and use crab, imitation crab or small shrimp.  I will be buying the thin crust pre-baked pizza crusts again in the future and making my own little mini pizzas with my own twists on them. 

They  would make a great appetizer for a Kentucky Derby party this afternoon.  Hope you have a great Saturday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coney Dogs

Since it is throw back Thursday I thought I would share a 1966 and 67 memory.  When I lived in Milwaukee on the near South side, there was a little dive called Coney Island.  Living on a very limited budget and it being very near where I worked as a VISTA volunteer, I visited it often and always ordered the Coney dogs. 

I saw this recipe and had to save it for the memory and for future use.   It is super simple and a wonderful memory.  You can’t beat that.

1 ¼ lbs. hamburger
1 large onion
½ cup sugar
½  cup chili powder
½  cup ketchup
1 ½  cup water

Chop your onion in a food processor.  Brown hamburger and onion until done. Drain well and place back in the skillet. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Simmer 1 hour, stirring from time to time. You can also freeze it for later use.

Steam your hot dogs.  I use 100% beef.  Brown your buns a bit.  Pile lots of chili on top of your hot dog.  What a meal.  What great memories.  

Make some memories today and make it a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bunny Buns

Want to have a little fun with your Easter brunch or dinner.  Try these bunny buns I made yesterday.  They were really quite easy and not that much extra work.  They will be a real conversation piece over your meal.  Serve them with a great jam, jelly or honey butter.

2 tsp. active dry yeast plus 1 tsp sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk
1 tbs. melted butter
¼ cup sugar
 3 ½  cups flour plus a little extra for dusting
1 egg
1 tsp. salt

Add yeast and 1 tsp. sugar to the warm water (not over 110 degrees F). Set aside.

Place milk in microwave for 45 seconds. Add butter to milk and stir in until butter is completely melted. Check the temperature of the milk; it should be lukewarm, if not then allow it to cool until it is lukewarm.  If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

Once the yeast has doubled in volume, add the yeast mixture to the milk and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and about 1 ½ cups flour and mix until it reaches the consistency of a muffin batter. Let rest for 10 minutes.  This is allowing the yeast to do it’s job.

Add the egg and salt to the mixture. Beat well. Add 2 cups of remaining flour until the flour forms a soft dough ball.

Knead dough in mixer with dough hook until smooth and satiny.  You can knead by hand if you do not have a mixer.  Make sure you knead for about 10 minutes if you do by hand.

Leaving it in the mixer bowl, cover and let rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size (about 2 hours).  I put on top of my stove and turned my oven on.  Don’t put it over the vent of your stove though or it may begin to bake.  Put on the front of the stove and cover with a dish cloth.  I let it rise for 2 hours using this method.  It may take longer to double if you do not have a warm place to place it.

Once it has doubled in size, punch down the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Press out and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a long rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half and then cut each half into 6 pieces making 12 rolls.  Pull the dough into round biscuit shapes and place on greased baking sheets or Siltpat.  Save a little of the dough for the tail and put a small tail the size of a raspberry on each round biscuit.  Let the biscuits rise until it has doubled (about 1 hour or more).  Make sure you sit the buns far apart on a cookie sheet so they do not touch once they have risen.  Put a dish cloth on top of them while rising.

Before baking take a tooth pick or skewer and poke holes for eyes.  Using a kitchen scissors cut ears.  Cut from the back of the body to the head and ears will pop up. 

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes. 

Practice and make some bunny buns before Easter so they are perfect for Easter.  Have fun.  Mine weren't too bad for the first attempt.  You can microwave them just before serving so they are warm. 

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had a bag of white chocolate chips since Christmas and thought I better use them up.  They are the cheap store brand that was on sale and I used them in this new recipe I have never tried before.  I will be trying it again in the future.  It is goosing up the regular chocolate chip recipe into a chocolate cookie and adding white chips.  It is as good as a chocolate chip cookie.  Still very moist and chewy ewy good.

2 ¼ cups flour
3 semi sweet Baker’s chocolate squares
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
¾ cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Melt you butter and chocolate together on low or over a double boiler.

Combine flour, melted chocolate and butter, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat your sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by heaping teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets covered with parchment paper or a Siltpat.  It made 4 dozen for me.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Do not over bake them.  10 minutes is just right in my oven. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  I store them in baggies to keep them moist.

Going to be a rainy day here so thought I’d do some baking and perfume the house with the smell of goodies.  Hope you have a great day.   

Friday, March 14, 2014

Corned Beef Brisket

Well Monday is St. Patrick’s Day and Fareway’s has brisket on sale for $1.89 so going to get some. You will need to get started on corn beef well before St. Pat’s day because it should be cured.  Great thing is you will probably be able to enjoy several terrific meals out of your work and effort.  At this price it would be a good idea for cold packing for those of you that have a canning pressure cooker.  I don't have one but I'm thinking about investing in one.  Great video on how to:


1 gallon water
2 cups Kosher salt
3 tbs. pickling spices
½  cup brown sugar
1 large bay leaves, crumbled


1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
1 tbs. pickling spices

The brisket comes with it’s own pickling spices, but you can use what ever you like. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the pickling spices a little (or the back of a spoon).   You can use the information on the package or add about 3 tbsp. of the spice mix (reserve the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured), plus add half stick of cinnamon, and 1 large bay leaf to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.

Place the brisket in a large flat container and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate. Alternatively you can use a 2 gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn't leak all over your refrigerator).  Place the brisket in the freezer bag and about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing. Place in the refrigerator and chill for up to 3 to 4 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.

At the end of the cure, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water. Place the brisket in a large pot that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least one inch of water. If you want your brisket less salty, add another inch of water to the pot. Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling), and cook 4 hours (or put in a cock pot) until the corned beef is fork tender. At this point you can store in the fridge for up to a week.  Remove the meat to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

You can also use the spiced cooking liquid to cook vegetables for a boiled dinner or corned beef and cabbage. Slice thinly against the grain to serve.

Left overs?

Make a grilled Reuben sandwich with rye bread, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese or make corned beef hash with potatoes and onion.  Yum.

I made this with left overs last year.  

Hope you have a great and safe St. Patrick's Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring Asparagus Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing

Fresh asparagus is only $1.28 this week at Fareways so thought this looked awful temping, simple and it says spring.

2 lb. new potatoes halved
4 to 8 oz. thin asparagus, steamed and chilled

Cut potatoes in half.  Leave skins on.   Cover with cold water. Bring to boil and boil for about 15 minutes or until cooked through and soft but still firm. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the potatoes your using.

Steam your asparagus until it is tender.  Get new thin asparagus.

Drain potatoes and asparagus and set aside to cool.

4 tbs. olive oil
4 tbs. mayonnaise
2 tbs. stone ground mustard or mustard of your choice 
2 tbs. honey
Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)

I got some beautiful local honey at the Trading Post.  My last bottle came from Bella Souls when she had her boutique open for Christmas.  This bottle is beautiful and will be recycled and refilled with honey in the future.  I’ll only use local honey and I do not buy that stuff in the grocery store.  It has been filtered so many times that it is a by-product of honey and has no honey benefits left in it.   Like so many processed food, the goodness is taken out and no longer a pure product.

Gently toss the cooled asparagus and potatoes together.  Whisk your dressing ingredients together.  Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss again. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.  Isn't it beautiful and it says spring is comin’.

Variation – Don’t like a grainy Dijon mustard, just use a yellow mustard.

Did you know that yellow mustard’s main ingredient is turmeric? Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, antioxidant packed, anti-bacterial and an anti-viral super food.  Try to put a pinch of turmeric in what ever dish you can slip it into.  The scalloped potatoes and chicken casserole from this week would take the spice very well and add even more yellow color to the dish.  I add it to my egg drop soup, regular potato salad, deviled eggs, and a lot of other soups.  I love honey mustard salad dressing and put mustard on all my burgers and brats.  It’s not that hard to increase turmeric into your diet.

Keep it simple and healthy.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cheese Soup

So today it is snowing again and it is a good day to play in the kitchen.  Looking in the meat and cheese drawer I see I have some old cheeses I should use up so I’m making cheddar cheese soup to use as a base for other recipes.  

I also have several bags of chicken hind quarters that were on sale for 99¢ a pound and some huge Idaho potatoes that were on sale for 88¢ a bag.  I also have some left over homemade frozen noodles I made so I am putting together a couple casseroles to eat on the rest of the week.  I’m making a scalloped potato recipe I saw on FB, but they made it much too complicated so I’m stealing their idea and making it my style saving a step or two.  I’m also boiling up some hind quarters and making chicken broth to make a cheesy chicken casserole with the noodles. 

So here are the recipes:

Cheese Soup

6 cups of 2% milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese (or what ever you like)
3 heaping tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. butter

Warm your milk and add the onion powder, salt and pepper.  You can use grated onion if you like, but it’s so much easier to use the powder.  You can add more onion powder at any time if you want more onion flavor.

When it is warm, pour in your cheese and add the butter.  Today I also have some Swiss cheese and some American cheese so tossed them in.  You can also use sharp cheddar if you like, but the cheeses should total about 2 cups. Stir constantly.  When the cheese has melted and it is simmering, make a cornstarch slurry of cornstarch and water and mix well.  Add to the soup, stir and let it thicken.  The nice thing about cornstarch vs. a roux is you can always add more if it is not thick enough for you and it is just plain easier.

You now have the base for many different meals.  Try using it in a tuna casserole or pour over asparagus or add broccoli and have broccoli cheese soup.

I’m using it for scalloped potatoes and a chicken casserole.

Scalloped Potatoes

4 large Idaho potatoes
4 cups of cheesy soup
1 ring of smoked sausage
1 small onion
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Peel your potatoes.  If you like the skins on, you do not need to peel them.  Today I peeled them.  Slice them as thin as you can to cut baking time.

Cut your smoked sausage in half down the middle and then into bite sized pieces. 

Put your onion in the food processor and chop it very finely. 

Spray a large casserole dish and combine the potatoes, sausage and onion.  Mix well.
Pour the cheesy soup over the top. You can sprinkle some extra cheese on top if you like.  Put a lid on the top. 

Put in a pre-heated oven of 350°.  I put a piece of foil under it to prevent clean up when it boils over because it seems to always be the case for me.

Bake the scalloped potatoes for 1 ½ hours or until potatoes are tender and casserole is nice and golden on top.

Variation – I took the idea of smoked sausage from a FB recipe.  I have always used cubed ham or left over ham for my scalloped potatoes, but it got me to thinking I was being too limited.  Use bacon or Polish Kielbasa or Spam (I don’t like the product but my son loves it and so do many others).  Use your imagination.  How about hotdogs for the kids?

On to the next casserole dish I making using the cheese soup recipe.

Chicken Casserole

Bag of your favorite Amish noodles or homemade
Chicken broth
2 cups of picked chicken
4 cups of cheesy soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

I’m using chicken hind quarters today because that is what was on sale, but this would be good with chicken breast too.  It would probably better for you but more expensive.  I like dark meat the best so favor the hind quarters.

I covered my chicken in water adding an onion cut in half, a large pinch of Kosher salt, pepper and 2 bay leaves.  After the chicken was tender, I cleaned the chicken and refrigerated the several quarts of chicken broth for later dishes. When the chicken fat hardens, I pick it off and toss it away leaving an almost fat free broth. 

Boil you noodles in chicken broth to add favor.  Cook until they are al dente.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large sprayed casserole dish add your cooked noodles, chicken, cheese soup, and mushroom soup.  Taste test for seasoning.  Add Kosher salt and pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top. 

I cut the above recipe in half and still have a jar of cheese soup for another recipe and left over  chicken for a salad.

Put in a pre-heated oven of 350° for 30 minutes until golden on top.  It is already cooked so you just need to warm through and toast the top. 

Variations – Substitute the chicken with 2 cans of white tuna.  I like to crush some saltine crackers and put them on top when I make this. 

Add some chopped mushrooms, broccoli or asparagus to the chicken casserole to add nutrition, color and more flavor.

Now I have to clean up my mess, but in the long run I will save other messes, time, money and know what has gone into the dishes.  I try to stay away from preservatives and long word ingredients that I don’t even know what it is. 

With a small salad or a veggie, these dishes will feed me for the rest of the week and into the weekend. 

Temps are coming up and I see a much better week ahead.  Hope the rest of your week is great.  Be happy, healthy and may God bless you and yours.