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

Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts

As the summer garden begins to flourish, I find myself trimming down my rosemary plants a little too quickly these days. You see my family is addicted to this recipe for party nuts. The aroma and flavor of rosemary mixed with the kick of cayenne pepper makes for an irresistible treat. Buy canned mixed nuts when they are on sale because these are gone shortly after they come out of the oven. You’ll find yourself making a new batch quite frequently.

The original recipe developed by The Union Square Cafe’ in New York can be found here.

Union Square Cafe (Big Batch) Bar Nuts

4 cups lightly salted mixed nuts (2-8 oz. cans)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
4 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toast nuts on baking sheet until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter, chopped rosemary, cayenne pepper and brown sugar; stir until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, toss hot nuts with butter and spice mixture. Make sure to do this right away while nuts are hot. Season with salt and toss to coat thoroughly.

Posted in Casserole, Dinner, Food, side dishes, Soup

Easy Spaetzle

While recently visiting family in Ohio, I purchased a few pounds of Spaetzle at a local specialty store. The price was quite expensive so I thought I might try to make them myself. After reviewing a few recipes on-line, I came up with this simple basic recipe. I now freeze batches of this dumpling-like egg noodle for soups, stews, and casserole dishes so we can inexpensively enjoy them year-round.

Easy Spaetzle

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup evaporated skim milk

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Mix in eggs and milk. Stir until the batter is well combined and develops bubbles. Let the loose batter sit for 5-10 min. Stir again.
  • Bring a large pot of water over high heat to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water; reduce temperature to a simmer. Next, place a colander into a bowl to drain the cooked speatzle.
  • Press the batter through a spaetzle maker into the simmering water.
  • Working in batches, after using about 1/3 of the batter, let spaetzle cook until they float to the top. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the post. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the spaetzle to the colander so that excess water can drip off.
  • Serve the spaetzle immediately or saute them in butter to crisp. If you don’t serve or saute them right away, add 1 or 2 Tbsp of butter to the hot spaetzle to prevent them from sticking together.If desired, freeze in quart-sized freezer bags for later use.
Flour, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk
Prepare a loose batter.
Use a Spaetzle maker working in batches.
Stir in a pat of butter to prevent sticking.
Freeze in quart-sized freezer bags.
Enjoy in your favorite noodle dishes.
Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Cake, Food

Yummy Cake Mix Banana Muffins

Freeze your overly ripe bananas and pull them out for this delicious recipe!

Yummy Cake Mix Banana Muffins

3 overripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (15 oz) box yellow cake mix
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with muffins liners (or spray with nonstick cooking spray) and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the bananas, eggs and oil/butter until mixture is smooth. Add the cake mix and gently mix until combined. DO NOT over mix. Optional: fold in chopped nuts
Scoop batter into the muffin pan filling the cups 3/4 of the way full (use an ice cream scoop for ease). Top each with a sprinkle of streusel crumble and tap lightly into batter.
Bake for 18 – 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Streusel topping –
1 ¼ cup
½ cup light brown sugar tightly packed
⅓ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 Tbls.cold butter, cubed

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk or stir together flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Use a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients to make course crumbs. Scatter evenly over muffins, pie, or coffee cake before baking. Store left-over streusel in fridge or freezer for future baking projects.

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

Gooey Bars

Here’s a traditional gooey bar that uses a cake mix for its base. I’ve added pecans to the cake mix layer as I love the texture of cheese cake with an added crunch.

Gooey Bars

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 eggs. Pat into a 9×13-inch pan. Evenly press chopped pecans into batter.

In a clean bowl, mix cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar. Pour over cake layer.

Bake 35-40 minutes; cool completely before cutting.

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

Chewy Cake Mix Brownies

Even though I have plenty of made-from-scratch brownie recipes, this is my “go to” for a quick, easy, and tasty bar. It’s a jiffy of a recipe and one of my favorites.

Chewy Cake Mix Brownies

1 (15 oz) box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 7×11” baking pan. Combine cake mix, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl; mix until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Transfer the batter to a greased 7×11” or 8 X 8” baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting

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

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

While the blistering summer temperatures have risen to well above 90 degrees, I’m itching for cooler weather. I couldn’t resist making this delicious fall coffee cake while the kids were home this weekend. K whipped up the recipe and we sliced into the warm cake during Sunday breakfast. So good!

Cake
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 package yellow cake mix
1 package instant Pumpkin Spice Pudding
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Crumble
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 to 3Tablespoons milk

Grease a 9×13” pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the topping: In a small bowl, toss together the topping ingredients until mixed well; set aside.
To make the cake: In another larger bowl, mix the eggs, water and cake mix together until blended and smooth.
Add the dry pudding mix, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, oil, and sour cream; mix until combined.
Put half of the batter into the pan and then add half of the mixed topping. Carefully spread the rest of the batter on top and finish the cake off with the rest of the topping.
Bake the cake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until the cake tests done with a toothpick inserted in the center. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack.
When the cake is no longer warm, mix up your glaze. Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Add two tablespoons of milk. Drizzle the glaze over cake.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Chicken, Dinner, Main Dish, Salad, salads, Uncategorized

Chili Lime Chicken Salad

There’s a wonderful Mexican restaurant that I often visit when I head down to Purdue University for a day on campus. This salad is meant to mimic the delicious chili lime salad that is offered on their daily menu. The flavors are amazing as the mixture of the sweet mango and the chili garlic sauce play with the acidity of the lime to combine for a burst of flavor. I often make this at home for a week night meal. While we enjoy this recipe, I sure wish I had the original … it’s just so good!

Chili Lime Chicken Salad

For the salad:

In a large bowl, mix together:
3-4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 large mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup English cucumber, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced and lightly salted

For the dressing:

Using an 8 ounce mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Add 1/3 cup light olive or canola oil and mix in the following items:

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine all dressing ingredients in the mason jar. Shake until completely combined; taste. If needed, add more of any ingredient to suit your tastebuds. Refrigerate before pouring over salad.

To add a bit of crunch, crush 1 cup of tortilla chips to sprinkle over the dressed salad. Serve cold.

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, 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 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.