Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Food, Uncategorized

Easy Breakfast Sausage Balls

While looking through one of my older cookbooks last week, I stumbled across a recipe for a breakfast sausage ball that would make for a welcome addition to my brunch menu. I had the few required ingredients on hand and I was in the mood to try something new.
Talk about an easy recipe… 3 ingredients are combined with an optional dash of water to moisten the mix. Adding a side of scrambled eggs, coffee, orange juice and fresh fruit rounded out the meal. This is a plentiful recipe. If you make the full recipe, you’ll have extras to warm up for weekday quick fixes. I throw them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and they are ready to eat. They freeze well too. A win-win for my busy family!

I’ve include the original recipe link below… along with the adjusted recipe that I am using instead.

Easy Breakfast Sausage Balls

4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups baking mix
1 (1 lb) package ground sausage

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Mix well with your fingers. The mixture will be very crumbly.

Form into 1 inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls.

Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking.

Adapted from: https://www.pauladeen.com/recipe/sausage-balls/

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Desserts, Food

Glazed Pear Cake

I recently purchased a bag of pears, brought them home and placed them in the fruit bowl on my kitchen table. Those pears sat there all week as the family seemed to choose every other fruit in the bowl when snacking. I watched as the pears began to get overly ripe. Not wanting to waste the fruit, I remembered an apple cake recipe that I frequently make during the fall months. I thought I could easily substitute the pears into the apple recipe. So, I peeled and chopped the remaining pears and tossed them in. I was making a Father’s Day meal and thought this would be a lovely dessert.

Well, I was right… this cake was super moist, and tasted delicious pared with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I’ll definitely be making this one again!

Glazed Pear Cake

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup oil

2 teaspoons  vanilla

3 cups  flour

1 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon  baking soda

2 teaspoons  cinnamon

4 cups pears, peeled and diced (apples work well too)

1 cup chopped walnuts

TOPPING:

1⁄2 cup  brown sugar

1⁄4 cup  milk

1 stick of  butter

Cake:

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9X13” baking pan.   Mix all cake ingredients by hand in order the  listed. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes; remove.

Topping:

In small saucepan mix topping ingredients; bring to a slow boil for 3 minutes.

Pour over hot cake and return to oven for 4 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Casserole, Casseroles, Dinner, Food

Creamy and Crunchy Mac and Cheese

Comfort food at its finest!

My daughter is a healthcare worker and was able to get a few days off this past week. She decided to come home to enjoy the peace and quiet of our tree-lined property. A brief get-away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded city…

While she was home, I decided to reorganize my pantry and she noticed a box of elbow noodles on the shelf. She remarked that a Mac and Cheese dinner would be a delicious treat. She said, “Mac and Cheese comforts my soul.” Naturally, I gathered the ingredients and I cooked up a huge baker filled with delicious cheesy goodness. I was sure to pack up the leftovers so she could take them back home with her and munch on them after a long night at work. I got a text shortly after she arrived home thanking me and letting me know how great it was to be back home. And, to reiterate her love for this Mac and Cheese recipe.

Layer in ingredients…
Top with breadcrumbs…
Bake until golden brown and bubbly…

Creamy and Crunchy Mac and Cheese

4 tablespoons butter

1 lb. (16 oz. box) elbow macaroni

2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

1/3 cup milk

2 eggs

3 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Frank’s Hot Sauce)

2 teaspoons all purpose seasoning (I use Jack Stack Barbecue – Kansas City, all purpose seasoning)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

16 ounces Mozzarella, grated

Topping

½ stick butter, melted

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-x-13-inch glass baking dish; set aside. Cook macaroni according to package directions; until al dente. Drain well and return to pot. Add butter to noodles and toss until pasta is coated and butter has melted; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the  evaporated milk, whole milk, and eggs. Stir in the hot sauce,  all purpose seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper; set aside. In another medium bowl, combine the cheeses; lightly toss and set aside.

For topping- In a small bowl, mix melted butter with breadcrumbs; set aside

Spread one third of the macaroni in an even layer in the prepared baking dish; cover evenly with one third of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and shredded cheeses. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the contents of the baking dish, sprinkle with topping and bake until the top layer is lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Posted in Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Food, Uncategorized

Banana Nutter Butter Pancakes

We recently spent a week in Walt Disney World for their Annual Marathon Weekend and festivities. Record high temperatures made for a tough course. My daughter looked so relieved when she finally crossed the finish line. We are quite lucky as our Disney Vacation Club membership has allowed us to visit “the mouse” quite often over the last twenty-something years. We usually only travel down when attendance is low and crowds are at a minimum. In my mind, this is the only way to really enjoy all that WDW has to offer.

One of our new favorite dining spots is the Kona Café, located in the Polynesian Hotel and Resort. The restaurant is known for its Tonga Toast and Macadamia Nut Pancakes entrees.

This morning, I wanted to duplicate the pancake recipe but didn’t have the correct ingredients. I opted for a basic banana nut recipe as I have a freezer full of overly ripe bananas that I wanted to use. You’ll love this delicious and easy recipe. We top the pancakes with a dollop of butter and our very own maple syrup.

Banana Nutter Butter Pancakes

2 cups flour

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups milk

4 overripe bananas, mashed

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix flour, walnuts, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Next, whisk in eggs, milk, bananas, melted butter, and vanilla extract; stir until just combined.

Heat a lightly buttered skillet over medium-high heat. Drop batter into the skillet. Cook until bubbles form and the edges are firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Food, Gifts, Homemade Mixes

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Loaf

There is nothing quite as special as a homemade gift. Giving this holiday loaf mix is sure to make anyone smile. Pour the ingredients into stylish jars in the order suggested. Then, creatively attach the bread making instructions for a quick and delicious holiday treat.

Make a day of it… Turn on the Christmas music, gather your bulk supplies, and make an abundance of jars for the special people in your life.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, breakfast, Food, Toppings

Homemade Farmer Cheese

When my children were young, I used to watch all of the PBS cooking shows during their afternoon nap. I’d fold clothes, wash dishes, clean-up the toy rooms, or catch up on laundry while some of my favorite TV cooking personalities demonstrated current techniques along with new and unique recipes. When I saw a recipe that I wanted to try, I quickly jot down the main ingredients and search the library for similar recipes to combine and develop. One such recipe, Homemade Farmer Cheese…

I recently ran across this hand-written recipe in my recipe binder and decided to revisit the idea of making my own cheese. I had pots of beautiful fresh herbs that needed to be trimmed and used before the cold weather made its way to the Midwest. The result was a creamy, flavorful, spreadable mixture that beats the flavor of any store bought variety.

A word of caution… Don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk as it will not curdle as needed for this easy recipe. Also, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk.

Homemade Farmer Cheese

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup lemon juice or vinegar

Pour the milk into a large pot, and stir in the salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pot.

When the milk begins to simmer and then reaches 190 degrees, turn off the heat. Stir lemon juice or vinegar into the milk. The acid will make the milk curdle. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Line a sieve or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth, and pour the milk through the cloth to catch the curds. The solid within the cheese cloth is the cheese (curd) and the liquid released from the mixture is the whey. Gather the cloth around the cheese, and squeeze out as much of the whey as you can. Tie up the cloth to form a cheese ball or disk, refrigerate in cheesecloth for several hours. Remove from cloth and wrap in plastic, or place in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator.

Before serving, drizzle with good quality olive oil, sprinkle with course salt and fresh chopped herbs of your choice. I usually use basil, rosemary, and oregano. You can also use crushed red pepper flakes or chopped green onions. Serve on toasted Italian bread or hearty crackers.

For a sweeter flavor, drizzle with honey and serve with bagels, jam, and fruit.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Cake, Desserts, Food

Apple Cider Donut Cake

Several weeks ago, a local orchard hosted a day of free apple-picking. Our family took a leisurely ride out to the farm and picked oodles of gorgeous red apples in the late summer sunshine. After it was all said and done, we had picked nearly seventy pounds of apples. Our canvas bags were overflowing as we loaded them into the car and headed to the farmhouse for a hearty lunch. As we waited for our table, I thought about all of the delicious treats I could make with our lot. I would make applesauce in the pressure cooker, several spicy applesauce quick breads, a special Bundt cake that holds an array of wonderful fall flavors, peanut butter and apple slice sandwiches, and lots of other apple flavored items.

This cake is one of our family favorites. I often bring it along to various outdoor parties hosted during the autumn months. It’s a great Thanksgiving dessert. Served up with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee, this one is a winner!

Apple Cider Donut Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

¾ cup apple cider

½ cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup coarsely shredded peeled tart apples (2 medium)

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

3 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat together the first 6 ingredients. Stir in apples. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let stand 20 minutes; loosen Cake and remove from pan to cooling rack or large, round cake platter.

Brush top and sides of cake with 3 tablespoons melted butter. In small bowl, mix sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until blended. Carefully and generously distribute sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top and sides of the cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe found here:

https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-cider-doughnut-cake/7d9dadd5-834d-469e-9485-3356d8f028c4

A beautiful day for a drive…Beautiful red delicious apples…

Posted in Food, One Pot Meal, Soup

Country Corn and Chicken Chowder

Living in the Midwest, there is always an abundance of corn available this time of year. A short trip down a country road will lead you to several pop-up farm stands or an old Ford truck sitting with the tail open, piled high with beautiful ears of corn. The honor system is used when payment is needed. An old coffee or a clear mason jar sits atop the bed of the truck. Country customers put their dollars in and take change as they see fit. It always makes me smile to see trusting neighbors and friends supporting local foods.

This week, on my way back from the University, I expected to see the above mentioned vendors dotting the roads on my way home. Due to the late hour, all had packed up and headed home for supper. I had hoped to purchase a dozen ears of corn for a soup recipe I was planning to make. To my surprise, as I turned at a country crossroad, I spied an old truck filled with corn just waiting for my arrival. I grabbed a bag and filled it up. Inside the bed sat an old pretzel container with a twist lid. I popped in my cash and headed home. Here is the delicious recipe I love to make with fresh or frozen sweet corn. It is an adaptation to a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks.

Country Corn and Chicken Chowder

1 cup diced bacon (nearly 1 pound)

1 medium onion, chopped

4 stalks of celery, chopped

½ cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 can diced potatoes)

8 ears of corn, carefully remove kernels (or two bags frozen roasted sweet corn)

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon marjoram

2 teaspoons parsley

ground black pepper to taste

2 cups half-and-half (or whole milk)

Place the bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat, and cook until crisp. Drain and crumble, reserving drippings in the pot.

Mix onion and celery into the pot with reserved drippings. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Do not brown. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook for 5-7 minutes; do not brown. Pour in the broth, and stir in potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with marjoram, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add chicken, corn, and cooked bacon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover pot. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and carefully add half and half.

Posted in Food, Gardening

Harvesting Honey

Today we had the pleasure of experiencing our first honey harvest. Our bees have been busy visiting fields of clover and Queen Anne’s Lace over the past several weeks. After watching hours of video focused on harvesting honey and rendering beeswax, we finally took a leap of faith and carefully extracted the liquid gold produced by our very own bees.

Here’s a step by step look at the process:

We carefully swept the bees off of the short, capped honey frames to prepare for extraction.

We set up the extractor and a screened sieve to remove the honey and filter out the wax and other unwanted items. A clean and organized area is imperative. We had buckets of soapy water with sanitizer and tarped surfaces in the extraction area.

After the extractor does its work (we have a hand crank version), the gate can be opened to pour unfiltered honey into a clean, food-safe bucket. The sieve and filter will take out the impurities.

We cleaned and sanitized our honey containers prior to setting up our bottling station.

The filtered honey is ready for bottling. We used 12 and 16 ounce jars. We wanted to try a mixture of plastic and glass jars.

We were able to bottle 12- 12 ounce, 12- 16 ounce, and 2- 4 ounce jars. What a delight to get so much honey from just 8 short frames.

I order a few different labels from Amazon to finish off the process. I think I’ll order a set of more personally printed labels for next year.

Now, it’s time to render the filtered wax to make our own beeswax blocks for future projects.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Desserts, Food, Kids in the Kitchen

4 Ingredient Fruit Pops

As the temperatures rise and children return to outdoor play, this simple recipe provides a healthy dose of potassium, vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber. Adding a few tablespoons of local honey makes for a sweet and nutritious summertime treat.

If your family is anything like mine, these fruity popsicles won’t last long in the freezer!

4 Ingredient Fruit Pops

1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced (frozen bananas work best)

12 strawberries, cleaned, trimmed, and halved

1/2 cup pineapple chunks

2 tablespoons honey

Combine fruit and honey in the food processor. Purée until smooth and creamy. Fill and cap popsicle molds. Freeze for four hours. Loosen popsicle molds by briefly running under warm water. Serve immediately.