Posted in appetizers/snacks, Food, Gardening, Salad, salads

Fresh Broccoli Salad

Looking over the side items in the deli case this week, I spied a tasty looking broccoli salad that I’d never purchased before. Although, I had tasted a similar salad during the county fair a few years ago. I had judged the 4-H home food preservation project and a kind group of volunteers had brought lunch in for those of us judging throughout the day. I told one of the volunteers that the broccoli salad was delicious and she replied, “It’s from Walmart, the best!”
This Father’s Day, I’m making my own version of this salad as all of the kids are home to celebrate and the steamy hot temperatures remind me to fill the table with cold salads, fresh fruit, grilled chicken, and icy beverages.
Happy Father’s Day to my sweet hubby, J. A wonderful father to our 3 children…

Fresh Broccoli Salad

For the salad: 6 cups broccoli florets
⅔ cup raisins
½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon
½ cup sunflower seeds
⅓ cup onion, diced finely 1 cup bow tie pasta, cooked, rinsed and cooled 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded thick


For the dressing:
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 ½ Tablespoon vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper


In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets, raisins, bacon, sunflower seeds, onion, pasta, and shredded cheese. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss well. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Posted in Chicken, Dinner, Food, holiday, Soup, Uncategorized

Creamy Chicken Rice Soup

During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, the weather turned cold. I had an idea to cook up a large pot of hearty soup; a comfort food that is always a good idea during the Midwestern winter months. I had plenty of leftover vegetables that I’d purchased to make stuffing and to season other dishes. So, Friday morning I threw a few chicken breasts into a pot of simmering water and set out to make a soup for those looking for a comforting bowl of deliciousness during the weekend.

While I could have used my leftover turkey for this recipe, I chose to leave it for sandwiches as the family likes to pile turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a hearty wheat bread for traditional turkey leftover sandwiches. I did, however, toast some super thin Pepperidge Farm’s bread to act as a crispy accent to the smooth and creamy soup. I hope you try this delicious soup as this one warms the soul…

Note: I keep chicken stock base in my pantry for times when I don’t have chicken broth on the shelf. Follow the directions on the side of the container to substitute this base for the canned broth.

Creamy Chicken Rice Soup

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup long grain rice, uncooked
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
2 cups chicken breast, cooked and cubed


In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; sauté carrot, celery and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook until vegetables are translucent. Stir in rice, seasonings and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered about 15 minutes, until the rice is tender. In a small bowl, mix flour and evaporated milk until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken and heat through.

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

Easy Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake

If you are looking for an easy coffee cake recipe that you can get to the table in no time at all, this is it! The base of the batter uses a boxed baking mix to add to the ease to which this coffee cake comes together. Great for the holiday season as you might have a few early morning guests in the house. It’s a winner!

Easy Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake


Cake:
2 cups baking mix
⅔ cup milk
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 egg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:
⅔ cup baking mix
⅔ cup brown sugar 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a deep 9-inch pie pan. Combine baking mix, milk, sugar, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Spread into the bottom of the prepared pan.
For topping, in a medium sized bowl, combine baking mix, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and walnuts. Using a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Spread topping mix over cake batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. (Optional: Drizzle with powdered sugar/water glaze.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Brunch, Cake, Food

County Fair Orange Cake

While rummaging through some piles of paper last week, I found a county fair cookbook that I had purchased many years ago. One of the dog-eared pages held this delicious recipe for County Fair Orange Cake. Looking further, I realized it was a cake that I had entered into the fair that year. While It didn’t receive the top prize, it’s always held a blue ribbon in my book. It’s incredibly easy to make and my family loves the bright citrus flavor of the orange juice, pudding mix and glaze. Yep, it’s a winner!

County Fair Orange Cake

1 (15.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3.5-ounce) package lemon instant pudding mix
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest


Orange Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon orange zest plus more for garnishing


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Add the orange juice, oil, eggs and orange zest; beat with a mixer at low speed to combine. Beat an additional 4 minutes with mixer on medium speed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter and poke holes all over with a skewer. Carefully, pour warm orange glaze over the cake. Garnish with more orange zest for serving.


For the Orange Glaze: Cook the sugar, orange juice, and butter in a saucepan over medium, stirring, until the butter is melted. Cook 2 more minutes and remove from the heat; stir in the orange zest.

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.