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 Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch, eggs, Uncategorized

Easy Ham and Cheese Quiche

I love using up ingredients from the fridge when pulling together a last minute breakfast. This quiche is one of my favorite go-to breakfast items because it’s so simple and delicious.
Actually, it a great lunch or dinner entree, as well. Just add a light salad and enjoy!

Easy Ham and Cheese Quiche

1 refrigerated pie crust
7 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cooked ham chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll pie crust and press into a greased 9″ pie plate, crimping the top edges, if needed.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, hot sauce and pepper. Sprinkle ham, cheese, and (optional) green onions into the pie crust and pour the egg mixture over top. Bake for 40-43 minutes until the center is completely set. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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

Oven Baked Maple Pancakes

On Saturdays, I usually make a big homemade breakfast for all those that may have returned home for the weekend. While it’s usually just my hubby and I, when the kids travel home for a few days, I enjoy the time we have catching up around the breakfast table.
When making pancakes, I usually use my old standby recipe, Oatmeal Pancakes, and stand at the stovetop griddle pouring individual mounds until I’ve cooked all of the batter into round-shaped cakes. Alternatively, this recipe is a lifesaver as I can mix up a batch of batter, pour it into a baking dish, and throw it into the oven while working on all of the other items that will need to be prepped and cooked.
During the late winter/early spring, we tap our trees to make our own delicious maple syrup. Our family loves its rich flavor and I use a healthy dose for this convenient recipe.

Oven Baked Maple Pancakes

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
½ cup maple syrup
1 ½ cups pancake baking mix
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar and the maple syrup until completely combined. Pour into greased 13X9” baking pan.

Mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, until well blended. Carefully pour over syrup mixture.

Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes or until top springs back when touched in center. Cut into 3-inch squares; turn each square upside down onto plate. Serve immediately.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, cookies, Desserts, Uncategorized

Quick Double Chip Bars

I quickly rushed home from work on Friday to pull together a family meal. After rustling up a salad and main dish, I searched the pantry for a few staples that would make a base for a quick dessert. I have a semi-homemade bar recipe that’s quite easy to pull together and these Quick Double Chip Bars would work for a simple ending. For a more festive occasion, a big scoop of French vanilla ice cream, a bit of chocolate syrup, and a dollop of whipped cream can make for a more decadent dessert. We opted to munch on these in their original state while watching TV after dinner. Make sure to have on hand – glasses of cold milk, hot tea, or coffee to wash down these delicious treats.

Quick Double Chip Bars

1 pouch chocolate chip cookie mix

Butter and egg(s) called for on cookie mix pouch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup butterscotch chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, mix cookie mix, butter, eggs, and vanilla with spoon until soft dough forms. Stir in butterscotch chips and walnuts. Using damp fingers, evenly press dough in pan.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

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 Beef, Instant Pot, Main Dish, One Pot Meal, Uncategorized

Chili Con Carne

I recently bought the Ninja Foodi XL and tried out one of its multi-cooker recipes for a spicy chili con carne. If you like chili, the depth of flavors in this recipe… simply amazing. If you’ve never used a multi-cooker before, follow the pictures below for a brief tutorial.

Chop your fresh ingredients…

This recipe uses corn tortilla shells to thicken and flavor the chili. Pulse in a food processor or blender.

Using the multi-cooker, sauté ingredients on high.

Add a few more ingredients to the pot and pressure cook as directed in the recipe below.

This recipe book accompanies the Ninja Foodi XL. One of my favorite chili recipes with a incredible depth of flavor.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Uncategorized

Banana Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chips

Our local market usually has a reduced-priced cart of day old bakery goods situated in the back of the store. I always make a point to stop to see what’s available to perhaps make a batch of fresh bread crumbs, garlic bread, or a bread casserole. Most times, I use the bread for a morning breakfast casserole that includes eggs, milk, sausage, vegetables and cheese. But today, I wanted to make something sweet to accompany a bit of vanilla bean ice cream that I had on hand. I also had a few bananas that were beyond their peak of ripeness.

This recipe is a keeper! Served warm with a few small scoops of ice cream, this has become a family favorite!

Banana Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chips

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 cups French bread, cubed

2 bananas, sliced (overly ripe, if possible)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 7×11″ baking pan. In a large bowl, combine and mix eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in bread, bananas, and chocolate chips, and let sit for 5-7 minutes for bread to soak up the liquid mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until pudding is golden brown and center is set.

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 Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Cake, Uncategorized

Our Favorite Pound Cake

I’ve had this recipe in my file for many years. This is absolutely a “no fail”, simplistic batter that turns out the perfect pound cake every time. While I usually add almond extract to the recipe, using lemon, anise, or rum extract will all work out great, as well. Actually, any extract will do…. Simply delicious!

Our Favorite Pound Cake

1/2 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2/3 cup water

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Beat in water and sour cream. Carefully, add and beat in the cake mix and flour. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.