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Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


My kids love hot chocolate. In fact, it has been the number one requested beverage around here for a few weeks. It has been  cold here in the northeast, and they love the warm mugs of cocoa when they get home from school. This is my go-to recipe for homemade hot chocolate. What I love is that I can sub out the french vanilla coffee creamer for seasonal flavors, like pumpkin spice or peppermint mocha  and flavor the hot chocolate for gift giving. This year I made a batch of regular and a batch of peppermint mocha to give as gifts to neighbors, our mailman and the boys teachers. You can use any size jar or container you like. I had pints on hand this time! Enjoy! 

Homemade Hot Chocolate  ( for gift giving)

6 c sugar

1 (2lb) box nonfat dry milk

2 (13 oz) containers malted milk powder

1 (15 oz) container  french vanilla non-dairy coffee creamer (or any flavor you want)

1 (13oz) container chocolate malt mix

1 (8oz) cox unsweetened cocoa powder


In a very large, deep bowl, combine the sugar,non fat dry milk, malted milk powder, coffee 

creamer,chocolate malt mix and cocoa. Mix well to combine.Store in airtight containers at room 

temperature.

Yield : approximately 27 cups

Southern Cheese Straws

Sunday, December 17, 2017


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As a little girl growing up, these were a common sight at my nana's house. She made cheese straws all the time because she knew everyone loved them. She did that often. She spent hours in her kitchen, humming songs under her breath that I am sure she learned by listening to her mother and grandmother hum those same notes so many years ago. Along with lemon bundt cake and homemade chex mix, these cheese straws were on a constant rotation on her kitchen counter. I can still see the old, rectangular Tupperware container in my mind. She layered the straws in wax paper ( wrinkly and thin from the last time she made a batch. She was an avid recycler long before it was the cool thing to do ;) ) and you could see the deep orange straws through the container and we all knew what she had done all afternoon. She knew it made us all happy and she  baked these with love every time . In the later years of her life, she still made them. Only my papa would step in and help her. He would pipe them onto a cookie sheet while she watched. The visual in my mind of the two of them together, working their old, tired hands in the dough, will forever be a part of me.  When I grew up  , married and moved away, they both knew that my kids had developed a love for them as well, and they would trek to their home town an hour or so away and they would pick up  a half block of aged cheddar cheese from the country store that has supplied my family with nourishment for decades. From cheese to sausage to old fashioned candy, the store holds as many cherished memories as the food itself. I still remember climbing in their big old Cadillac , all the grandkids in the back seat, and taking a road trip to that old homestead and the old store on the way back home. So when they got word we were on our way, they would go on a cheese run. And my kids learned quickly what that old Tupperware container held and they appreciated it and looked forward to them each and every time we would venture home. I havent had any cheese straws in many months. My nana passed away  a few years ago. Needless to say, that is also when my heart shattered into a million pieces. I haven't made a batch of cheese straws since she left us. So today I woke up and made a batch of her cheese straws. I didn't have her cheese. I don't have the same container to put them in. But they are made. They are waiting on the counter for my babies to enjoy when they walk in the door. And I know when they see them, they will smile. And their bellies will be full. Not just food full, but soul full. And for that I am thankful. So here is her recipe. With a twist. I hope she is looking down today and smiling.


Cheddar Cheese Straws

1 lb (16oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika



Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing  bowl, add the cheese and butter. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix until smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt, cayenne and paprika. Mix well and gradually add the flour to the cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. Your batter should be a slightly sticky and smooth. If it separates and looks dry, you have added too much flour. Just add a tsp or so of milk and soften it up again. I never use the whole 3 cups of flour, there is always about 1/4 cup left.
When you get a smooth dough, press a bit of dough into a cookie press fitted with the star shaped disk. Pipe the dough into straight lines on the cookie sheets.
Repeat until all of the dough is used.
Bake until lightly browned, @ 12 to 14 minutes ( depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them) Let them cool on the pans. Carefully remove off the pans and store in an airtight container.


** If you  do not have a cookie press you can roll aout the dough and cut strips with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Or you can make small cookies. Just flatten slightly and adjust the cook time.

Norwegian Cookies

Saturday, December 16, 2017



These cookies are awesome! My nana made these every year for Christmas. They were always on her cookie table. She would make so many batches of them and she would stack them between wax paper in a Tupperware  container. She called them Norwegian cookies. I have no idea why she called them that, I am thinking maybe she got the recipe from someone else throughout the years that had given them the name. They are the same as snowball cookies or Mexican wedding cookies. Simple ingredients , easy to make and great for gift giving. I made these this year for the first time since she passed away and they are just as good now as they were in my childhood.

Norwegian Cookies

Ingredients
2 sticks ( 1 c) unsalted butter
1 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 c pecans, finely chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Using a mixer, cream the butter and the sugar. Add in the vanilla and salt and mix well. Slowly add in the flour, about half a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the pecans and mix well. 
3. Make balls using @ 1 T of dough. Place on baking sheet about 1" apart. 
4. Bake @ 15 minutes, until the cookies are slightly browned.
5. Cool for 5 minutes and roll the cookies in the powdered sugar and set on a sheet of wax paper. When the cookies are fully cooled, roll the cookies once more in the powdered sugar.
6. Store in an airtight container.

Candied Pecans


These candied pecans are a must have  for the holiday season. I end up making these about three or four times over November and December  because they get eaten before they make it into cookie trays for gifts. They are super easy to make. You can make them with half a cup of granulated sugar and half a cup of brown sugar as well . 

Candied Pecans

Ingredients
4 c (1 lb)  pecan halves
1 large egg white
1 T water
1 c white granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place the pecans in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix the egg white and water. Pour the egg mixture over the pecans and stir until all of the pecans are coated well.
3. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pour the mixture over the pecans and mix well, until the sugar is all incorporated into the pecans.
4.Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes , stirring every 10 minutes or so. 
5. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. 


Italian Ricotta Cookies

Thursday, December 14, 2017




     Over the years, I have added and subtracted cookies and other baked yumminess in my annual Christmas Cookie trays for friends and neighbors. I stick to three of the same every year and build off of those. Candied pecans, cheese straws and these ricotta cookies. Living in Pittsburgh , I learned real quick that every respectable hostess offers an array of cookies for every get together known to man, from cookouts to birthdays to weddings. And y'all, I am talking tables of cookies at some parties. Days of preparation . It is just the way they do it. These cookies are on every cookie table I have ever seen. And for good reason. They are subtle, with the sweetness of the icing and the sprinkles to take it over the top. Don't let the ricotta cheese in the recipe fool you, these do not taste cheesy at all. It is a good , soft , mellow cookie that will have you coming back for seconds. I suppose you can use any sprinkles you have on hand, but I have only seen them done with the small round sprinkles. You can find them in the bakery aisle at your local grocery store with the icings and colored sugars.
     Make sure you check back in the next few days, as I am going to post other goodies for your Christmas trays.


Ricotta Cookies

Ingredients
2 sticks ( 1/2 pound) butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 container (15oz) ricotta cheese
2 T good quality vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

glaze:
5 T milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
sprinkles

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese  and vanilla. Mix well.
3.In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder. 
4. Add the flour mixture to the ricotta mixture and mix well. 
5. Roll the batter into 1 tsp sized balls and place  on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2" apart.
6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes  or until just lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes  on the baking sheet, then transfer  to  a cooling rack to cool completely.

Glaze:
Beat the milk, extract and powdered sugar until smooth.
Place the sprinkles in a shallow bowl, for easier dipping.
Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the glaze and them right into the sprinkles and place on wire rack for a few minutes to let the icing set.


Liz

Eggnog Pound Cake

Saturday, December 9, 2017


I love the holidays. One of the best parts is all of the baking I do. This year I  decided to concentrate less on cookies and more on cakes. I found this pound cake recipe in an email  and immediately knew that I had to make it. So glad I did. This pound cake is perfect! Soft, spongy and egg nog tasty! And...it is easy! When I went to pick up egg nog at the store, there were different flavors of egg nog on the shelf, like pumpkin egg nog and red velvet egg nog. I think I might pick up a pumpkin one  and make this using that to see if it changes up the flavor a bit.  This recipe is a keeper for parties and to give as gifts. 


Egg Nog Pound Cake

recipe from Southern Living Magazine

 1 box pound cake mix

1 1/4 cups eggnog

2 eggs

 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixture on medium speed, mix all of the ingredients together until

incorporated, about 2 minutes. Pour into the bundt pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is

 cooked through. Let cool and release from pan.
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Weeknight Baked Chicken Spaghetti

Monday, November 27, 2017




This chicken spaghetti recipe is one that I have been making since my babies were small. It is full of flavor and is filling, especially when you add a side salad and a loaf of italian garlic bread. I usually reserve this meal for those busy weeknights when everyone has sports, meetings or are working a bit late. You can prep it in the morning, or even the night before and refrigerate it until it is ready to bake off. The cream of mushroom soup and the dry packet of Mccormicks spaghetti sauce mix makes it a breeze to mix together and get into the oven. You can find the dry spaghetti mix next to the chili seasoning packets at the grocery store. And if you have leftovers,  you can make a chicken spaghetti fritatta for breakfast the next day ;) Happy Eating!


Baked Chicken Spaghetti

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts *
1 lb spaghetti , cooked al dente and drained
1 T canola oil
1/3 c green peppers,chopped
1/2 c onion,chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 (10oz) can mild Rotel tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 packet McCormicks Spaghetti Sauce mix
1tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Boil or bake the chicken breasts. Dice into bite size pieces and set aside.
3. Break spaghetti noodles into thirds and cook to al dente. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
4. In a medium skillet on medium heat, heat the oil. Add the chopped green pepper and onion and cook until soft.
5. Add the green pepper and onion to the bowl with the pasta. Add all other ingredients except the chedddar cheese. Mix well.
6. Transfer the spaghetti to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more. Serve hot.


* you can use rotisserie chicken to make this recipe even easier. 

Hot Chocolate Cream Cake

Friday, November 24, 2017



Liz

Cranberry Crumble

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


I am trying to find easy recipes for Thanksgiving. My husband has a sweet tooth and after a big dinner, he is always looking for something sweet. I tried this cranberry crumble using fresh cranberries on a whim, and he said it was one of the best desserts I have ever made. So... it is going on the turkey day menu.This is so easy to put together. Just mix, throw into a pie pan and bake. Tart cranberries in a sugary, cakey crumble. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Happy husband :)

Cranberry Crumble 

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter , melted ( 1 stick)
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 c chopped pecans
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" pie plate and set aside.
2.In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir in the cranberries and the pecans and toss to coat. Stir in the butter, the eggs and the almond extract. Spread the batter into the pie pan.
3.Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the center is cooked through. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.


Coconut Macaroons

Friday, November 17, 2017


If you are looking for a great cookie for your holiday cookie tray this is the perfect recipe.So easy to make with little effort and very few ingredients. This is my husbands favorite! I love that I can make the batter and in 30 minutes have warm macaroons for my hubby. It makes him very happy. You can add an almond on top or drizzle with chocolate. Enjoy!

Coconut Macaroons
14 oz bag sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 whole egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Grease and flour a large  baking sheet.Mix together coconut,sugar, flour and salt until well blended.Mix in the 4 egg whites and the almond extract.Mix until the the batter is moist. Drop spoonfulls of the coconut mixture onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sausage and Kale Soup

Monday, November 13, 2017




I love recipes that use minimal ingredients that I usually always have on hand. And I especially love ones that are full of flavor. This recipe is both. Rustic, homemade goodness.  This tastes like the zuppa toscana you get at the Olive Garden Restaurants.

Sausage and Kale Soup
1  lb package hot  italian  sausage
3 red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 cup chopped onion
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups kale - washed, dried, and shredded
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
1 quart water
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream



DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Layer the sausage links onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until done. Cut in half length-wise, then cut at an angle into 1/2 inch slices.
Place onions and bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear.
Remove bacon and crumble. Set aside.
Add garlic to the onions and cook an additional 1 minute. Add chicken base or bouillon, water, and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes.
Add crumbled bacon, sausage, kale, and cream. Simmer 4 minutes and serve.

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

Friday, November 10, 2017



So let me first start by saying that there is no chinese food that my kids will not eat. From General Tso's Chicken to Beef and Broccoli to this Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken, they all clean their plates. There are weeks when I experiment with new recipes every night of the week. And some of those recipes are duds. We have been known to resort to pitching whole meals and making soup and sandwiches. Such is the life of a foodie . So when the kids have had enough of weird recipes , I make it up to them with homemade chinese. With lots of rice. And chop sticks. And fortune cookies ;) This chicken dish is a tried and true dish that is easy to make and brings smiles and clean plates. Double the sauce ingredients if you like sauce on your rice (like me).



Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken
Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 T olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
fresh black pepper, to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 small pineapple, cored and diced
1 green pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
cooked white rice
Directions

1.Cook the rice according to package directions and set aside.
2.In a skillet over medium heat,add the oil .
3. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add the chicken to the oil and cook the
chicken until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Drain any liquid from the skillet.
4.Mix together the teriyaki sauce and the cornstarch. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the skillet.
5. Add the pineapple and the green pepper to the chicken mixture and toss to coat. Warm for a few
minutes.
6. Serve pineapple chicken over rice.


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Pieroghi Soup

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


This is  the number one requested soup recipe at my house. It is a spin off of chicken noodle soup and it is outstanding. You can find frozen pierogi  in the freezer section of your grocery store. Plan on oohs and aahs from your dinner crew.The pierogi cook down while they simmer and the soup has a thickness to it that is perfect comfort on cool autumn nights.  I serve these with cheddar garlic rolls . A definite staple in the cooler months. Especially after an afternoon outside in the chilly air.* note - I double the recipe for my crew of 5. Everyone always wants seconds.

Pierogi Soup


Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) boxes frozen pierogies, potato and cheese filling

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 cup finely chopped cabbage, packed

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Directions


  1. Cut each pierogie lengthwise, then 3 times crosswise, so each will be cut into 8 pieces.( partially thaw them for a few minutes and they will be easier to cut)
  2. In a soup pot, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and cabbage; sauté for 5-7 minutes or until onions are translucent. Do not brown.
  3. Add the pierogies and chicken broth.
  4. Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika.
  5. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the milk and cheese. Cook and stir over low heat until heated through and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.


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Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

Sunday, November 5, 2017




I get all giddy when the weather starts to turn cooler. My  favorite  seasons are fall and winter, so I am totally in my element from September to April! I am a huge sucker for comfort food.  Roasts, casseroles and other heartier foods is definitely what I  prefer. One of my   favorite, and a favorite of my family, is chicken pot pie. The flaky crust and hot,creamy  filling loaded with veggies  is  always a welcome addition to our table. Laden with calories, but good for the soul! This recipe is very forgiving.You can add any veggies you have on hand. I usually add carrots, peas,green beans,potatoes,broccoli,onion. Anything goes. The filling is creamy,thick and perfect to nestle the veggies in . Can easily be doubled. I made 12 of these one year to feed our church congregation. So yummy!


CHICKEN POT PIE

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup diced onion
2/3 cup sliced or diced carrots
1 teaspoon salt (or more, depending on taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup frozen peas
2/3 cup frozen corn
2/3 cup diced potato
2/3 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 refrigerated pie crust (from a pack of 2)


1. In saucepan on stove top, combine butter, garlic, onion, carrots,potatoes, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until carrots and potatoes are tender
2. When carrots and potatoes are tender, add peas and corn and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Whisk together the flour and milk. Add to boiling mixture and return to a boil, stirring constantly; boil for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken and stir.
4. Pour filling into a pie dish.
5. Roll out the pie crust and place over the chicken mixture,sealing the edges.Cut slits in the middle for ventilation.
6. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is hot and bubbly.


Loaded Baked Potato Chicken

Monday, October 9, 2017


My household eats alot of chicken. I wouldn't say that they are picky eaters, but they do have their favorites. And chicken is high on that list. I sometimes have trouble coming up with different  ways to prepare it, so that they don't get bored. This recipe for loaded baked potato chicken is a perfect meal. Because the potatoes are on the chicken, I just make a side ( usually green beans) and a small salad and dinner is served. You  can make this recipe your own by switching up the cheeses and adding other traditional baked potato toppings, like sour cream.  I think adding small broccoli florets would be great as well. I will do that the next time I make this dish. And I will definitely make it again!
*I use reduced fat cheddar (Cabot brand) and turkey bacon to lighten it up a bit.

Loaded Baked Potato Chicken
Ingredients


8 medium red potatoes, diced

1/3 c olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 c sharp cheddar cheese. shredded

1 c cooked crispy bacon, chopped

1/2 c diced green onion

Directions


1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a 9x9 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.


2.In a large bowl, add potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder,kosher salt,paprika and black pepper.Toss to combine.


3. In a medium pan, add the remaining oil and heat to medium. Cook the chicken until cooked through. Take off of the heat and keep warm.


4.Place the potatoes in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes  until the potatoes are done, but not falling apart.


5.Place the chicken in the casserole dish .Top the chicken with the potatoes and sprinkle on the cheese and bacon.


6.Broil until the cheese is melted. Add green onion to serve. 

Queso Dip

Thursday, September 28, 2017




We love to entertain. Having friends and family around us is so important, for both my husband and I and our boys. Normally we just double or triple what we are making and have people over to eat. One of the favorite themes we like is Mexican. It is so easy to  make  a big batch of chicken or beef for tacos, nachos or enchiladas. If you prepare the fixin's (lettuce, cheese, guacamole, etc)  ahead of time it is a low stress way to entertain. I have been making this super easy slow cooker queso dip for awhile now and everyone raves about it. Super flavorful and creamy. And did I mention it is super easy ? :) Seriously just dump all the ingredients into a crock pot and in an hour you have queso perfection. You can find white American cheese in the deli at your local grocery store. Just ask for 1 lb and cube it . OR you could buy a package of individually wrapped white American cheese , but unwrapping all those pieces of cheese is a pain . And you can buy a can of hot rotel tomatoes for a spicier version. Or even add diced jalapeno. Lots of options. Serve with warm tortilla chips and be prepared for compliments and no leftovers :) 
* I have a smaller crockpot that I use for dips and sauces. I found it at Target and recommend having one on hand if you make lots of dips. It is the perfect size , and you don't have to lug out a big one.

Slow Cooker Queso Dip
Ingredients
1 8oz block cream cheese, cubed
1 lb white american  cheese, cubed
1 T salted butter
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
4 T milk
2 T chopped , fresh cilantro

Directions
1. Combine cream cheese, American cheese, butter, and drained rotel tomatoes in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low 1 hour. Stir until well combined and add the milk, 1 T at a time until you reach a desired consistency. I usually use all 4 T.
3. Stir in chopped cilantro right before serving.
4. Keep warm in slow cooker.

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

Friday, September 22, 2017



One of the foods I love to make for neighbors, teachers and friends during the fall season is this old fashioned caramel corn. Growing up, this popcorn was always at my nana's when we could pop over to visit. She would make  a double {or triple) recipe and store it in a large Charles Chips tin. My sister, cousins and I would sit around the kitchen table and eat handfuls of it until nana cut us off. As we got older, she would put bowls of the corn  on the table as we played Scrabble . It brings back so many great memories. Don't you just love when food sends you into reminiscing about childhood?
This recipe is easy, once you get the hang of it. It is rich and buttery and makes a great snack. Keep it in  an airtight container , otherwise it will get soft. I would make a double batch if I were you .It goes quick!

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn
Ingredients
2 cups brown sugar (packed)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 quarts popped corn


Pop corn and keep warm in two shallow pans (however, I recommend using one large roasting pan versus cookie sheets) in 250 degree oven. Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in sauce pan on stovetop. Bring to a boil slowly and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour immediately over popped corn and mix well. Place back in oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.Let cool and break up. Store in container.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


This is one of my very favorite meals to make. The flavors of the cranberry balsamic sauce over the pork tenderloin is fantastic. The woodsy rosemary, the tart cranberry and the sweet balsamic...heaven. This would make a great meal for holiday guests, and it is easy enough for a weeknight meal as well. I usually serve this pork with maple pecan sweet potatoes. Any type of sweet potatoes will do for this recipe. The potatoes really compliment the flavors of the pork.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Directions
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes.
Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and rosemary; sauté until onion softens, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes. Transfer pork to work surface. Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture.
Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Slice pork and serve with sauce.
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Coconut Milk Chicken Thighs

Saturday, September 9, 2017



Chicken dishes are one of the staples on our dinner table. I usually cook with chicken a few times a week. This recipe is one I came across a few years ago from Amy over at She Wears Many Hats . I love the flavor profile of coconut milk, garlic, lime and basil. This recipe uses all of those, plus the added bonus of ginger. If you do decide to add this recipe to your menu plan, make sure you prep ahead. The chicken is better if it marinates for a few hours ( or overnight). But if you don't, that is ok too. I have made it late in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so before baking it and it has been yummy. No complaints from any of us. Also make sure that you buy canned coconut milk , and mix it well before you prepare the marinade. Coconut milk tends to separate while shelf stable in the can. In the summertime, if you can find fresh Thai basil, I highly recommend mincing a few leaves and garnishing the chicken before you serve it. It gives it a subtle spicy kick.
* you can use any type of chicken, but I love the bone in, skin on chicken thighs. It absorbs the flavor and the chicken doesn't dry out when baking . You can always take the skin off before serving.

Baked Coconut Milk Chicken Thighs
{Adapted from She Wears Many Hats)

Ingredients
1/2 c canned coconut milk
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
thai basil leaves , for garnish ( optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450*
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together except the chicken thighs and thai basil, if using.
Transfer the marinade to a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken thighs and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the chicken in an oven proof skillet. Discard the marinade.
Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes , or until the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with minced thai basil, if desired.

Maple Chicken Tenderloins

Thursday, September 7, 2017



I have a confession. I am a recipe hoarder. Seriously. I am constantly printing, cutting out or jotting down recipes.Every day I add to my pile.It is so bad, I have to go through my pile every few weeks and downsize those recipes that I thought I would make at the time,but have since decided against. Now people, I am a spice snob. I tend to use Penzey's Spices on a regular basis and very ,very rarely do I buy any other. But looking through my myriad of recipes,I have always come back to this one, and it calls for Montreal Steak Seasoning. So I caved and bought a bottle. Made the recipe...and I am hooked! This recipe is ah-mazing. One of the best I have tasted in a long time.Plus, it is super easy to make,with very minimal ingredients and effort.I strongly suggest you make mashed sweet potatoes to accompany this chicken. Your taste buds with thank you. I know will have a bottle of McCormicks Montreal Steak Seasoning in my cabinet. Because I know I will be making this recipe often. And sharing it with anyone who tastes it . Now I am off to try to downsize the ever-growing pile of "to try" recipes. :)

Maple  Chicken Tenderloins
Ingredients
1 lb chicken tenderloins
2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 T butter
1/4 real maple syrup (splurge and use the real stuff.It is worth it. )

Directions
1.Lightly coat chicken with steak seasoning on both sides. Heat butter in a medium high skillet  and cook chicken 6-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
2. Stir the maple syrup into the hot skillet , scraping the seasoning from the bottom. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Put chicken back into the skillet  and coat with the maple syrup glaze. Simmer for a few minutes to rewarm the chicken.
4. Serve over mashed sweet potatoes.

Homemade Caramel Apples (Using a Slow Cooker)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Along with candied apples, we always look forward to caramel apples in the cooler months. These caramel apples are super easy . The caramel is melted in a slow cooker and the crisp apples are dipped into the caramel to set. I turn on the slow cooker to low and in about an hour , the caramel is melted and ready to use. The longest part of this recipe is unwrapping two whole bags of caramel.

Homemade Caramel Apples
Ingredients
2 bags caramel candies , unwrapped
1 T milk
10 small apples
10 popsicle sticks

Directions
1. Place all of the caramels into the slow cooker and put on low heat.
2. Meanwhile, clean and dry the apples and place a popsicle stick into each one.
3. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. set aside.
4. after about and hour , stir the milk into the caramel. It should be creamy and melted. If not, put the lid back on the slow cooker and heat a few more minutes.
5. Holding each apple by the popsicle stick, dip and turn the apples into the caramel, letting the excess drip off. Place each apple onto the greased cookie sheet to set.
* you have to work pretty quickly to get the caramel coated on each apple. I use a butter knife to spread the  caramel around the apple.



Homemade Roasted Jalapeno Salsa

Friday, September 1, 2017



With  the abundance of tomatoes we are  (and will be for the coming weeks) blessed with this year , I am canning salsa, tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce. My crew here goes through salsa very fast . We eat it with tortilla chips, add it to cream cheese for an awesome chicken enchilada base, added to  black  beans and chicken broth for black bean soup, and baked on top of chicken or pork for an easy weeknight  meal. The tomato sauce I use as a base for tomato based soups (green pepper soup,  hamburger soup etc) and the spaghetti sauce is for rigatoni,lasagnas and quick pasta dishes.I just add ground beef, turkey or sausage and simmer.

This recipe for canned salsa is very easy. I think the only tedious part is chopping all of the vegetables. but once that is done, it comes together quickly.I use the hot water bath method on all of my tomato based canning.My nana always made her canned tomatoes that way, and I am carrying on the tradition. I doubled  this recipe and came away with 12 pints of salsa. Stay tuned for pictures and recipes for other canned food.
*note -you can adjust the amount of hot peppers to make your salsa as hot or mild as you  like.I made one batch as written and the second batch with less peppers, for my younger boys.

Ingredients

    • 10 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
    • 5 cups chopped and seeded bell peppers
    • 5 cups chopped onions
    • 2 cups jalapeno peppers, roasted, chopped, seeded (more or less to your taste)
    • 1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
    • 3 teaspoons salt
    • 1 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except tomato paste in large sauce pot.
  2. Simmer until desired thickness.
  3. Stir in tomato paste.
  4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head-space.
  5. Process 25 minutes in a hot water bath.







Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Tuesday, August 29, 2017



School started a few weeks ago here in WV. The boys have already started their fall sports practices and we are carpooling and running all over to practices, scrimmages and games. 
We still like to sit down and eat as a family, albeit later in the evening. Slow cooker meals are a life saver for hurried weekdays. This potato soup is a staple slow cooker meal on our rotation. So easy to throw together in the morning.  I have used both frozen diced potatoes or the frozen hashbrowns. Both work well, but I prefer the hashbrowns. They cook down amd make the soup a bit creamier. If you like chunks of potatoes in your soup, go with the diced ones. 

SLOW COOKER POTATO SOUP

Ingredients 
 1 30oz bag frozen hashbrown potatoes
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cans low sodium chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package cream cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients except the cream cheese and shredded cheese in a slow cooker. 
2. Mix well and cook on low  6 to 8 hours .
3. The last 30 minutes of cooking, add the cream cheese. 
4. Stir well until the soup is smooth and all of the cream cheese has melted into the soup.
5. Spoon into bowls and add shredded cheese.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes

Wednesday, August 16, 2017







In my opinion,you can't get more kid friendly than sloppy joes. My husband and sons love these things.I have a few recipes that I use,but this one gets the most compliments from them.The perfect tangy ,tomato-y sandwich. This recipe used sweet relish,which I love in my sloppy joes. I double the recipe and there is enough for lunches the next day. ** The longer it simmers to meld the flavors,the better.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes

  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns, toasted
  1. Brown ground chuck and onion in a large nonstick skillet, stirring until meat crumbles; drain.
  2. Stir in ketchup and next 5 ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Spoon meat mixture over bottom halves of buns; top with remaining halves.

Beef & Broccoli

Wednesday, August 9, 2017




Summer is winding down , the kids have started football practice in the afternoons and school starts in a few short weeks. Which for me means slow cooker meals.  Fortunately  both kids are in the same school this year, so they will both be home at the same time, which will make dinner a whole lot easier than when they were home in shifts. I tend to rely on slow cooker meals to feed them a few nights a week. This beef and broccoli has been a staple dinner for us for years. Chinese food always gets smiles from them and this recipe is no exception. If my older boys are home I will double this recipe and use my large oval slow cooker, but now that there are just 4 of us at home, one recipe seems to work for us if I also make a salad and bread.
For the broccoli, I buy a bag of steamable broccoli and microwave it  for half the time it states  (you don't want the broccoli too mushy) and put the broccoli into the slow cooker the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking.  If you do not have fresh ginger , just use ginger powder. A few shakes to your taste. Or you can leave out the ginger altogether,  but I always use it. It makes the sauce super flavorful. Serve the beef over steamed rice and you have a great weeknight meal.

Beef & Broccoli

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic,minced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 brown sugar, packed
1 T sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 T cornstarch
4 cups broccoli, steamed
White rice, prepared

Directions

1.In a slow cooker, add strips of flank steak, onions, garlic and ginger.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved. Pour sauce over the steak in the slow cooker.

3. Cook on low 3 to 4 hours. After 4 hours, remove about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker and whisk in 2 T of cornstarch until smooth. Add back to the crockpot and stir.

4. Add the steamed broccoli and stir well. Cook for another 30 minutes and serve the beef and broccoli over rice.

Fire and Ice Pickles

Tuesday, August 1, 2017



You guys!  have no idea why I haven't shared this recipe with you before. I have made these yummy pickles for years and every time I do, I fall in love with them all over again. These pickles are so easy to make . Just mix, let sit and refrigerate. No canning involved. I promise these things are addictive. They are sweet and crunchy when you first taste them. But then the hot kicks in from the Tabasco and red chili pepper flakes. And oh man! You just can't  eat just one.  These make great hostess gifts and Christmas gifts for teachers and neighbors.

* note * use hamburger chips , not kosher dill slices. The kosher dills leave a weird aftertaste. I find the 32oz jars of hamburger pickles at Aldi . They are perfect for this recipe.

Fire & Ice Pickles
Ingredients
32 oz jar sliced dill pickles ( I use hamburger chips)
2 c sugar
1 T Tabasco Sauce ( or other hot sauce)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( I use a bit more. I like the heat)
1 clove garlic, whole

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and mix well.
2. Cover the pickles and let them stand for two hours.
3. Stir the pickles well and transfer all ( pickles and juice) to a jar.
4.Store in the refrigerator. Will keep for a few weeks .

Liz

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

Monday, July 31, 2017


This is one  of those go-to recipes I use when I really do not want to cook, but  I know that I will be  even more inclined not to cook as the day goes on. Every now and then I am a total sucker for convenience foods. In fact, I always make sure I have packets of italian salad dressing mix and a can or two of Healthy Choice reduced fat cream of chicken soup on hand so I can make this meal on days like today.  I first had this chicken stroganoff almost 12   years ago when our youngest child was born. A friend from our church brought us over   chicken stroganoff ,and my  husband and older sons loved it. So it became a favorite meal very quickly. I love that it is so versatile.You can add mushrooms ,onions,  or even broccoli florets.You could also use sour cream instead of the cream cheese. Or use  both to make it super rich. It can easily be doubled for a larger family. I use reduced  fat  cream of chicken soup  and cream cheese. Who doesn't love a tasty, kid friendly meal that cooks in the crock pot all day?



Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff


Ingredients

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed

 2 T butter

1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix

1 (8 ounce) package  reduced fat cream cheese (or you can use sour cream)

1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced fat condensed cream of chicken soup


Directions


Put chicken, butter and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and soup. Pour over the chicken and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.


Serve  with rice ,egg noodles or  pasta of your choice.


Smokey Paprika Roasted Potatoes

Monday, July 24, 2017



Liz

Easy Weeknight Korean Beef

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


This is a tried and true recipe that everyone in my household loves. Korean Beef. This is not authentic korean beef. But the flavors are close , even with it being Americanized. Sweet, spicy carmelized ground beef over steamed rice. So good. And it is so quick to put together and inexpensive to make. You can always add steamed veggies to the meat to make it more substantial. If I have fresh broccoli or cauliflower , I will usually serve it on the side. But it is just as good without the veggies. 1/4 c of brown sugar is enough for us ( and a scant one at that) , but you can add up to 1/2 c if you like the meat a bit sweeter. You can sub  the Sriracha sauce for crushed red pepper. I usually use the crushed red pepper, but my husband prefers the Sriracha. There are never any leftovers with this one.



Weeknight Korean Beef
Ingredients
1 lb lean ground beef
1 T vegetable oil
3 T brown sugar
1/3 c low sodium soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper (or Sriracha sauce,to taste)
1 bunch green onions

Directions
1.Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and garlic. Brown an drain off the fat.
2.Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, black pepper and crushed red pepper ( or sriracha sauce). Simmer for a few minutes to heat through, stirring well.
3. Serve overrice and top with sliced green onions.


Liz

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Florentine Pasta Sauce

Monday, July 17, 2017


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Ladies and gentlemen, you have been warned! This is a recipe that you will go back to and make for years to come! I have a few spaghetti sauces in my arsenal, like this one that my nana made in humongous batches when I was growing up. I make both of these sauces quite frequently , but this one is a quick, no fuss recipe that is perfect for weeknight meals. It is just that easy to whip up and not have to worry about dinner.Just brown the sausage and dump the ingredients into a slow cooker to simmer all day. Add it to your favorite pasta, pop in a loaf of garlic bread to crisp up in the oven and toss a quick salad and dinner is done.  The spinach in it is awesome! And...if you have picky eaters who eat by sight and you think that the spinach with deter them.... it cooks down and turns dark , so it blends in with the sausage and the tomato sauce. They won't be able to pick out the green stuff! Score one for mom !!!! Woot woot! (Just don't let them watch you drain the spinach and put it in the pot. ;) * You can sub the hot italian sausage with sweet sausage or a milder version. We like the hot variety. Whatever works for you. Happy Eating!!!!~Liz

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Florentine Pasta
2 lbs ground hot italian sausage
2 jars your favorite pasta sauce ( I use Classico brand  )
1 10oz frozen package spinach, thawed,drained and squeezed dry
1 box pasta , cooked al dente
grated parmesan cheese , optional
In a medium skillet, cook the sausage until cooked through and crumbly (drain fat if needed
Place cooked sausage in the slow cooker and add the two jars of pasta sauce.
After you thaw the spinach, squeeze it a few times to drain the juice and then place between paper towels to dry it out. Then add the spinach to the sauce and meat in the slow cooker.
Stir well to combine and cook on low 5-6 hours or high 2-4.
Spoon sauce over cooked pasta and sprinkle on grated parmesan cheese. (optional)
Serve immediately.