Gingerbread Waffles

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter took the train in for a weekend visit. On this crisp fall weekend, she decided to rise early to make a bountiful breakfast for the family. The Gingerbread Waffle recipe was on the menu. The aroma in the kitchen was enough to pull everyone out of bed saying, “What is that delicious smell coming from the kitchen?” Sure enough, she had a tall stack of delicious looking waffles perched on the kitchen counter and ready for the taking. Eggs, coffee, and hash browns rounded out the meal. It’s always fun to have M come home for the weekend! She’s an excellent cook and we so enjoy seeing her.

We’ve made this recipe several times over the last couple of weeks. They are great to keep in the fridge to microwave for weekday mornings. Top them with homemade apple butter for an autumnal treat!

This recipe is from the cookbook entitled, Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts, by Kitty and Lucian Maynard. I’ve made some changes to the recipe to add a little more flavor and of course, to substitute our own homemade maple syrup; removing the corn syrup in the original recipe.

My daughter doesn’t have a waffle iron of her own… So, guess what Santa may be bringing to her this year? Ho,ho,ho… gingerbread waffles!

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Seven Can Spicy Chicken Taco Soup

When planning an informal work lunch this week, I reached out to several catering companies to provide the meal. This became tricky because the luncheon was being held off-site, roughly three hours from my home, and my budget was tight. When I quickly added up costs related to preparing and delivering food for the group, I realized that ordering from a local caterer was going to be a far too expensive option. As I searched my mind for an alternative, I was reminded of this recipe for a hearty soup that would hit the spot as the weather forecast predicted rain and 45 degree temperatures for the day. Adding a few other lunch items to the menu would round out the meal.

I ended up ordering a 4-ft. long sub sandwich from the deli department of the area grocery store. I picked up a large vegetable tray and a case of bottled water. Finally, I headed to the store bakery and purchased a box of freshly made oatmeal cookies for the group. I paired this soup with all of the other items that I had purchased and covered the tables with seasonal table clothes. Returning to our meeting room, I quickly popped all of my purchased items in the fridge and plugged in my trusty, 6-quart crockpot. I opened all seven cans and popped them into the slow cooker. Lunch would be served in three hours, so I had plenty of time to warm the soup and meld the flavors. Last, but not least, I crumbled up a bag of Frito’s Corn Chips and opened a package of sharp cheddar cheese to sprinkle over the top of the individual bowls of soup. This step is the game changer; bringing this ridiculously simple soup over the top. The warm hearty soup, paired with a topping of slightly melted cheese and crunchy corn chips really makes for a mighty good, super quick and easy lunch idea.

Seven Can Spicy Chicken Taco Soup

1 can black beans, drained and well rinsed(15.5 oz)

1 can pinto beans, drained and well rinsed (15.25 oz)

1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15 oz)

1 can diced tomatoes, do not drain (15 oz)

1 can mild enchilada sauce (10 oz)

1 can chicken broth (15 oz)

1 can chicken breast, drained and flaked with a fork (12.5oz)

1 package low sodium taco seasoning mix

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Directions

Combine all ingredients and cook using preferred method below:

Crockpot – Cook on medium temperature for 3-5 hours

Stockpot – Cook on medium-high heat for 25-35 minutes

Instant Pot – Cook on “Manual” for 4 minutes with quick venting method

Serve topped with crushed Frito or Dorito Corn Chips and shredded cheese.

Note: Can sizes listed above are approximate; this is a very forgiving soup recipe. Add water or extra broth, if needed. Also, use lower sodium versions of the canned products, if your concerned about salt. If you’d prefer to use fresh chicken breasts for this recipe, use about 1 1/2 cups of cooked, diced chicken.

Simple Crustless Mexican Quiche

I really try to keep my carb intake to a minimum. Here’s a great recipe that fits the bill when I want something flavorful, fluffy and delicious to start my day. After this casserole has slightly cooled, I slice the dish into 3” squares so that I can quickly pop a portion into my lunch bag or to have as a mid-morning snack. My family can slip a square or two between two slices of wheat toast for a tasty little sandwich.
Simple Crustless Mexican Quiche
10 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (7 ounce) can green chilies
2 cups cottage cheese
1 lb. Pepper Jack cheese, grated
Using a whisk, beat the first four ingredients until smooth. Stir in melted butter. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased, 9 x 13″ baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes.
Slightly adapted from Kitty and Lucian Maynard’s recipe list below. One of my favorite cookbooks, Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts

Scrumptious Granola Clusters

We recently took a weekend visit to Northern Ohio. We wanted to spend time with family, watch our nephew play some amazing high school football, and enjoy the rolling hills and colorful treelined byways while visiting a few local Amish community shops.
When in Ohio, I try to take the opportunity to stop at Marc’s, a local discount store that can offer some amazing deals. It’s “hit or miss”, but I often stock up on coffee, staples and seasonal trinkets that are placed on entry area shelves listed at rock bottom, close-out prices. 
After carefully searching the bountiful shelves, I ended up buying a few color coordinated cutting boards, silicone trivets, and pin-striped double oven mitts to give as Christmas gift sets this holiday season. I often pair kitchen items with wholesome baked goods for a more personal holiday gift. I also bought large boxes of flavored k-cups, cereal, and oatmeal.
I purchased several boxes of this low-sugar cereal with this granola recipe in mind… Kashi Original GoLean has lots of fun shapes and textures nestled within the box.
I also use our own maple syrup to sweeten the mix and it’s sticky properties help to form the crunchy granola clusters. Pair this delicious granola with Greek yogurt and sweet crunchy apples for an awesome breakfast combination. What a way to start the day!
Scrumptious Granola Clusters
4 cups dry, sugarless breakfast cereal ( I use Kashi GoLean Original pictured above)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large, jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cereal, nuts and seeds. Stir to blend.
In a small saucepan, combine the oil, maple syrup and/or honey, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot mixture into dry cereal mixture. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will continue to crisp up as it cools.
Let the granola cool for 10 minutes before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the (optional) dried fruit. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer.

Easy Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf

This week, I scheduled a community meeting that was to take place at a local library. After rechecking my calendar invite, I realized that I had arrived a bit early, so I took this opportunity to stroll through a selection of cookbooks that had been carefully selected for a main aisle display. My eyes immediately fixed on an older book showcasing recipes from quaint country inns and bed & breakfast establishments. Thumbing through the pages, so many of the recipes seems quick, easy, and scrumptious. Knowing that my meeting would be starting soon, I grabbed my library card and borrowed the book entitled Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts by Kitty and Lucian Maynard.

Returning home, later that day, I realized that I wanted to make so many of the recipes, I simply had to purchase the book. I typed the title of the cookbook into the Amazon search bar… low and behold, they had several used copies for purchase (priced very low). I bought the first and second editions and I am waiting on their arrival.

This recipe comes from the page pictured below. The only change that I made was to add a handful of chopped walnuts to the already simplistic ingredients. I am always looking for recipes that will help to use up the stash of overly ripe bananas that I have tucked in my freezer. This one fit the bill. Lots of flavor with very little fuss…

This is a great loaf to freeze or slice and package. My daughter was heading back to Chicago on the train, so I sliced her a few pieces to nibble on throughout the week.

Speckled Monkey Bars

Bananas have always been a staple ingredient for lunch bags/boxes in our household. When selecting fruit to add to my weekly shopping list, bananas always take center stage. I often choose far more than needed for a week’s worth of lunches as I love having a few extra over-ripe bananas to add to tasty quick bread and snack recipes, such as this one. These delicious bars have few ingredients and highlight some of my family’s favorite flavors. My three (not so) little monkeys have enjoyed these flavors for many years.

Speckled Money Bars

4 medium (over-ripe) bananas, mashed

2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9” baking pan.

Mix bananas with oats and peanut butter; add vanilla and continue to mix until well blended. Carefully, spread the mixture in prepared pan making sure to evenly distribute to the corners. Top with chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool before cutting into delicious squares. Wrap individually for a lunch bag treat or store in an airtight container.

Note: Lately, I’ve been using the Copper Chef brownie pan to make perfect portions while baking. Depending on your oven, you may have to reduce cooking time when using this pan. Cool completely before removing insert.

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

My daughter recently called to ask if I could share an easy appetizer recipe as she needed to assemble a quick item for a coworker’s going-away party. She had already looked through the recipes on my blog and couldn’t find one that she could easily make ahead of time and store in the fridge. My mind quickly turned to a simple recipe that I used to make when our children were young. I made this recipe for our annual St. Patrick’s Day Party when we lived in the southwest Chicago area. The yearly parade (and party) was always a fun event for all of the Irish families living in the neighborhood. Slices of pumpernickel cocktail bread are loaded up with a spiced cream cheese mixture and a thick slice of fresh cucumber. A quick sprinkle of dill adds a layer of flavor. Drawing the tines of a fork down the side of the cucumber before slicing, adds a unique design to the appetizer.

Cucumber Finger Sandwiches

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

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

1 (1 pound) loaf sliced pumpernickel party bread

2 English cucumbers

2 teaspoons dill weed or dill seed

Mix cream cheese and Italian salad dressing mix in a bowl until well blended. Draw the tines of a fork down the sides of the cucumber before slicing (Make sure to pierce the skin of each cucumber.) Spread cream cheese mixture atop pumpernickel party bread and top each slice with a cucumber slice. Sprinkle with a light dose of dill weed or dill seed.