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 appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Uncategorized

No-Bake Snacking Crackers

While enjoying the 4th of July holiday with family, we took advantage of all of the festivities happening around town. Local vendors celebrated by keeping shops opened late on Friday evening while providing live music, street food and a festive atmosphere. I love supporting local vendors so we headed over to the town square to visit all of the unique boutiques, bakeries, and kitchen shops. One of the shop owners had a few taste testing stations and a selection of dry mixes that could be combined to make various snacks and dips. I purchased one of the packets but I felt I probably could make a similar mix on my own. So when I returned home, I scoured some of my cookbooks and settled on a recipe that I changed up to work with ingredients that I had on hand. Boy oh boy, these crackers didn’t last long! Everybody loved the mild spiced flavor. I’ll certainly be making these again!

No-Bake Ranch Snacking Crackers

1 – 1 ounce package ranch dressing mix

2⁄3 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon dried dill seed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 (10 ounce) package oyster crackers OR 1 box Ritz crackers OR 2 boxes Premium Minis crackers

In a small bowl, combine ranch dressing mix, oil, dill and garlic powder. Mix well.

In a large air-tight container (Tupperware), pack crackers. Then, pour oil mixture over crackers and toss well until coated. Cover.

Flip mixture every 10-15 minutes for 2 hours. Store in the air-tight container.

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

Cherry Jubilee Scones

I just love when the kids return home for the weekend. After graduating, they seem to have settled into different parts of the United States. This weekend, our town held their annual spring run making this a great kickoff to one of my favorite seasons.

Friday evening, after a long week of work, I was disappointed in myself as I hadn’t had the opportunity to plan a few meals and gather some groceries. This morning, as my pack of runners was out enjoying the spring race, I jumped into action and scoured the freezer, fridge, and pantry. To my surprise, I actually had the fixings for a great mid-morning breakfast. My pantry was chocked with items that I had unknowingly pushed to the back of the shelf over the course of many weeks. A tall container of old fashioned oats, an unopened package of dried “cherries jubilee” and some turbinado sugar sat on the shelf. I quickly opened my baker’s cabinet and scooped up the flour, sugar, almond extract, and leavenings. I remembered a blueberry scone recipe that I had so I rummaged through my blog of past posts and tweeted the recipe to make it work. To round out the breakfast, I found a bag of frozen hash browns, a pound of bacon, a carton of eggs. Opening the carton, there were only three… Grabbing my phone, I quickly sent a text to the group requesting they stop by a mini-mart to purchase two cartons of eggs. Scurrying around the kitchen, I completed each dish. I would then quickly cook the scrambled eggs as everyone showered after returning home. Laying everything out on the kitchen counter, plates were filled and tummies were satisfied.

What a delight… the scones were a hit… everyone enjoyed the meal as they slathered a good dose of butter on the warm scones and gobbled them up. Before they disappeared, I set aside a few for a Sunday visit with extended family. I’m sure I’ll be making these again.

…Great memories shared as we welcome the first days of spring!

Cherry Jubilee Scones

1 1/2 cups whole oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons butter, cubed

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Combine oatmeal, flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks and cut in the butter with the flour mixture until crumbly and well blended. Stir milk and extract into the flour mixture until just combined. Lightly fold in the pecans and cherries. On a lightly floured surface, collect the dough into a ball and pat into a large circle about 1″ thick. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of turbinado sugar (optional). Cut into 8 wedges, and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, cookies

Hearty Oatmeal Brownies

This recipe takes a (slightly) healthier spin on a traditional bar brownie. A couple cups of old fashioned oats act as a substitute for a hearty helping of cocoa. When munching on these tasty squares, I am often reminded of a few other family favorite recipes. The flavors are a cross between a sweet crunchy oatmeal cookie and the hearty texture of my baked oatmeal. Adding a hearty helping of chopped walnuts adds a bit of crunch to an ooey-gooey oat-filled center. Pair this sweet treat with a tall, cold glass of milk, or a piping hot cup of tea.

Hearty Oatmeal Brownies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Grease a 13×9” baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. In a medium bowl, mix salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, flour, rolled oats, and chopped nuts. Mix to combine all ingredients, and spread into the prepared baking pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Baked goods, Baking, Chicken, Dinner, Food

Spicy Chicken Roll

On Sunday afternoons, I often set up my crock pot to cook several pounds of chicken to be used for various meals during the work week. I load up my slow cooker to let the chicken simmer away for 8 hours and then chop or shred the poultry for chicken salad, chicken lasagna, spicy buffalo chicken sandwiches, or to be used as a green salad ingredient. This is a complete time saver when trying to juggle a full work day and a lengthy commute, while working to get a decent meal on the table in a timely manner.

I usually serve this Spicy Chicken Roll with a fresh green salad. My children will often take a slice for their lunch bag, to be eaten cold or heated. The mild spicy flavor is a family favorite.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 1/2 cups chicken breast, shredded

1/2 cup hot sauce. (I use Franks brand)

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 cans crescent rolls

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small saucepan, mix cream cheese, hot sauce, chicken and shredded cheese. Heat on medium-low until combined and cheese has melted. Cool.

Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 16 triangles. On cookie sheet, arrange triangles in ring so short sides of triangles form a circle in center. Use a small oven- safe bowl to guide and maintain a circle. Dough will overlap. Dough ring should look like a sun.

Spoon cream cheese mixture on the half of each triangle closest to center of ring. Bring each dough triangle up over filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around ring until entire filling is enclosed.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is golden brown and thoroughly baked. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before slicing into serving sized pieces.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch

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.

Posted in Salad, salads, side dishes

Summer Night Pasta Salad

As I was preparing for a weekend get together with some out-of-town visitors, I picked up a tray of precut vegetables to serve with ranch dip for a poolside snack. The tray included an assortment of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and snow peas. While the vegetable tray was a big hit among our guests, having other sweet and delicious snacks left me with a few extra vegetables when it was time to clean up. …No worries, as I could always use the left overs for a big summer night pasta salad. In fact, using the precut veggies can really save time in the kitchen. Searching the fridge for other left over ingredients, here’s the impromptu recipe that I pulled together:

Summer Night Pasta Salad

1 pound fun-shaped pasta

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, sun dried tomato mix)

1 (16 ounce) bottle Marzetti Sweet Italian Dressing, or to taste

2 cups tomatoes, diced (sprinkled with a little salt, optional)

2 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped broccoli

1/2 cup chopped carrots, optional

6 ounces precooked summer sausage, chopped

1 cup mozzarella cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente, rinse under cold water and drain. Whisk together the Italian seasoning and Italian dressing.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pasta, vegetables, and sausage. Pour dressing over salad; toss. Sprinkle with mozzarella and refrigerate overnight.

Posted in Chicken, Dinner, Food, Soup

Homestyle Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

This post goes out to all the folks that might be suffering from the effects of this year’s harsh cold and flu season…

My week began with a trip to urgent care as I woke on Monday with the symptoms of a bad flu. My chest felt heavy and I had a low hacking cough that shook my core every time it took a hold of me. After being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, I headed home with a supply of medication to help ease my discomfort.  I knew that a bit of rest and a pot of piping hot chicken noodle soup would certainly help me find relief.  

This is a quick and easy recipe that has become a family favorite over the years.  Chunks of onion, carrot, celery and chicken make for a hearty base while the steaming hot broth warms the throat and nestles down into the tummy.  Comfort food at its best. To save a bit of time, I often purchase a rotisserie chicken from the local grocer and shred up the juicy, well seasoned chicken before adding it to the broth.  My favorite stock base to use is L.B. Jamison’s.  I follow the directions on the back of the jar.  Perfect every time…  What a welcome recipe when you’re feeling under the weather.

Homestyle Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

8- 10 cups water

8 teaspoons chicken flavored soup base (or adjust to taste)

3 medium carrot, peeled and sliced

3 stalk celery, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

2 cup cooked noodles

Heat water to boiling, add soup base.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Add carrots, celery, onions, pepper, garlic, and parsley.  Simmer vegetables until tender.  Add chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep cooked noodles separate and add a small handful to each bowl of soup before serving.  This keeps noodles al dente.

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

Festive Cranberry, Pecan and Feta Salad

I recently attended a daylong training in Indianapolis.  A soup and salad lunch was served mid-day.  One of the local restaurants was asked to provide a bounty of fresh rolls, piping hot turkey chili and a fabulous cranberry and feta salad.  I passed on the rolls and chili but piled a healthy portion of the salad on my festive plate.  As I munched on the salad, I was reminded of a recipe that I used to make years ago and made a note to look through my cookbook collection to remake the dish for the Thanksgiving table (for some lighter fare.) Here is the version that I made… I don’t recall where the recipe originated, I have a handwritten note with the dressing ingredients loosely estimated.  We sure enjoyed this recipe. To save time, I’ve used a bottled raspberry vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing.  I have also added some freshly sliced pears to the mix. Super easy and delicious! Great for the upcoming holidays.

 

Festive Cranberry Feta and Pecan Salad

2 tablespoons raspberry or apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar or the equivalent sweetener

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

6 cups mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper; mix until sugar and salt dissolve. Slowly whisk in olive oil.  In a chilled  glass salad bowl, toss together the greens, cranberries, pecans, and cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, breakfast, Brunch

Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal II



While watching a local PBS cooking show last Saturday afternoon, I was captivated by a recipe that was shared by Ellie Krieger.  After further investigation, a web search disclosed that the original recipe was actually written by an author working for the Washington Post. I quickly printed the recipe and looked forward to baking the dish this weekend.  My children would be traveling back from college for a quick visit and I was anxious to assemble the baked oatmeal for Saturday breakfast.  I doubled and adjusted the original recipe as I wanted to send back to school with my daughter a portion of the dish to be warmed up for weekday meals.  

This recipe did not disappoint.  On my goodness, it is absolutely delicious! While I changed up the recipe quite a bit, here is the link for the original recipe.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/morning-glory-baked-oatmeal/15077/

My recipe is posted below…



Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal II

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats 

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 cups unsweetened almond milk

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 large egg

4 tablespoons canola oil

3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups apples, cored and diced  

2 cups carrots, shredded 

1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13X9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix together the pecans, cinnamon, the brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, baking powder. Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, oil and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture, stirring to combine, then mix in the apple, carrots and raisins.

Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the pecan and brown sugar mixture.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden at the edges and just set at the center. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe first posted by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post