Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Food, Homemade Mixes

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts



As the cool winds blow down the length of Lake Michigan, they usher in autumn showers and chilly temperatures.  This weekend we are experiencing “lake effect rains” and the cooler temperatures have me searching through my files for all of my favorite “comfort food” recipes. 

This irresistible snack is great for a fall tailgate party or family get-together.  Roasted cashews mixed with a blend of sweet and spicy ingredients make this crunchy finger-food hard to resist.  Nearly everyone that has tried these spiced nuts find them irresistible.  Make a couple of batches because they’re usually gobbled up rather quickly.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts

1 1/2 lbs. cashew nuts

1½ tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 teaspoons brown sugar 

½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread cashews in a single layer on a jelly roll pan.  Roast the cashews for 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly toasted and golden brown. 

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine fresh rosemary, brown sugar, cayenne, and salt; add melted butter, mixing well.Remove the nuts from the oven and carefully add hot cashews to the spice mixture.  With a large spoon or spatula fold in the nuts to completely coat with the spice mixture. Cool cashews in a single layer on a piece of foil or parchment. Serve warm or  transfer to an airtight container and keep at room temperature for a few days.

(adapted from the Food Network)

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Posted in appetizers/snacks, Dinner, Food, Homemade Mixes, Salad, salads, Sauces

Sweet Italian Dressing

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I’ll bet that you have noticed that I post loads of recipes for sweet delicious baked goods on a regular basis… What you might not know is that I don’t eat any of them. They are all lovingly made for family and friends, but I stay away from them completely. You see, several years ago, I decided to give up eating carb laden goodies with lots of sugar. Oh, I still enjoy the sweet taste of sugar but I have found some great substitutes over the years. A few of my latest favorites are monk fruit extract, stevia in the raw, or coconut palm sugar.

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Sure, there is quite a bit of controversy circling artificial sweeteners, but these are the few I choose that seem to work for me. When I’m looking for something sweet, I engineer things for myself so that the carbs are low and the fiber content high.
A sweet revelation…
This salad recipe idea came to me after having a similar salad at a recent Christmas party. It was a carry-in party where my co-workers and I were asked to bring beverages, salads, side dishes and desserts. One of my co-workers brought in a fabulous pre-made salad that she bought at Cosco. There were 7 different greens, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and dried cranberries. A pre-made dressing was included. Everything delivered in a sizable package. Here’s the kicker…all for just $5.00.

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Well, I went back for seconds…and thirds on the salad. I raved about it all afternoon. It’s called the Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad Kit. It’s made from a blend of kale, broccoli, shaved Brussels sprouts, green cabbage and chicory. Seven “super greens” are blended within the salad to provide a wide variety of textures and flavors. One drawback here…is the dressing. My taste buds are highly sensitive to the sweet taste of sugar and I tasted a lot of it in the pre-made poppyseed dressing. The other drawback…I don’t live near or have a shopping card for Costco.
So, I did the next best thing…I made my own salad. It’s a bit different because of the availability of some of the salad items in my grocery store. When I priced out the cost of purchasing all of the different “super greens” needed to make the salad, the bill really added up quickly. My next idea meant looking for salad blends that had been prepackaged to save a little “green”. I found a blend made with broccoli stalks, red cabbage, romaine lettuce, and green onion. I found another mix with mini kale and Brussels sprouts so I combined the two. Then, instead of the poppy seed dressing, I added my own sweet Italian dressing and topped the salad with 1/4 cup of finely diced lean meat and a light sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese. I often add sunflower seeds, walnuts, or slivered almonds.
The Sweet Italian Salad Dressing is sort of a copy cat recipe of the Olive Garden salad dressing recipe. The important thing here is to find a mix of greens that you enjoy that are packed with vitamins and nutrients, lots of texture and flavor. Chop the greens up finely, mix in a little of your favorite dressing, add a few flavorful toppings and eat more vegetables!
Here’s to the new year…here’s to your health!

Sweet Italian Salad Dressing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 (2/3 ounce) package Good Seasons Italian dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar or 2 packets sugar substitute

Combine all ingredients. Shake vigorously. Store refrigerated in an air-tight container.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Beef, Dinner, Main Dish

Copy Cat White Castle Sliders

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My mother-in-law gave me this recipe when I was a newlywed. She had served these delicious mini-burgers for a friendly gathering and I was hooked the minute I tasted them. In the Chicagoland area, there is a fast food restaurant that serves these bite-sized burgers in large quantities. It’s fun to make a load of these for tailgating finger food. I often pack the foil wrapped, pre-cooked burgers in the crockpot to stay warm at the tailgate party. They are always a crowd-pleasing hit!

Copy Cat White Castle Sliders

2 pounds ground beef
1 (1.25 ounce) envelope onion soup mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
24 dinner rolls, split
1/2 cup sliced hamburger pickles, drained

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef; drain. Mix the onion soup mix, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese into the ground beef mixture. Cover, remove from heat. Lay the bottoms of the dinner rolls on a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap and seal in the burgers. Spread the cheese and beef mixture on the bottom half of each roll. Top each burger with two pickle slices. Replace the tops. Cover and completely wrap the burgers with the aluminum foil. (The idea is to steam the burgers enclosed in the foil.) Bake until the burgers are heated through and cheese melts, about 30 minutes.

Below, I’ve included a few step-by-step photos….

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

Old Fashioned Thousand Island Dressing

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When we lived in Chicago, there was a local neighborhood restaurant that served the most delicious salad with greens, cucumbers, chicken breast, croutons and thousand island dressing. Every Sunday we would treat ourselves to their delightful salad along with one of their tasty pizzas.
When I tried to duplicate the salad at home, bottled thousand island dressing just didn’t make the grade. In those days, the Internet was not as extensive as it is now so I scoured my collection of cookbooks for a basic dressing recipe. My old Betty Crocker Cookbook (fifth printing,1988) had the perfect recipe because I had all of the ingredients on hand and could make the dressing with little effort. While I have altered the original recipe a bit, this Old Fashioned Thousand Island Dressing recipe has become a favorite in my house.

Old Fashioned Thousand Island Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon finely chopped onion
1 hard boiled egg, chopped

Mix all ingredients; cover and refrigerate before serving.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Food

Aunt Peggy’s Corned Beef and Spring Onion Spread

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Here’s another quick recipe for a tasty appetizer that can be whipped up in no time. There’s only three ingredients in this flavorful cheese spread.
I first tasted this recipe over 20 years ago, at a wedding shower for my oldest brother and my (then, soon to be) sister-in-law. At the time, I was living at home and my recipe file was pretty slim. You can’t know how thrilled I was when she shared the easy recipe with me. I think our family has made this staple cheese spread every Christmas Eve since then.
This weekend, I declared Sunday evening as Appetizer Night. We prepared our favorite appetizers instead of a big Sunday meal. Everyone pitched in and we had quite a selection of snacks in no time at all. This cheese spread was the first to be gobbled up… it is always a favorite in our house!

Aunt Peggy’s Corned Beef and Spring Onion Spread

1 8 oz package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 2 oz package of Buddig Original Corned Beef, chopped
3 green onions, sliced thinly

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, corned beef and green onions; mix thoroughly. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Scoop the spread out of the bowl and pile in the center of the plastic wrap. Shape the spread into a disk shaped loaf using the plastic wrap to help shape the loaf.
Chill until ready to serve.