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

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake

Banana Streusel Swirl Cake

  The grocery store was packed with holiday shoppers yesterday.  The warm sun and mild temperatures brought people out in light jackets and cropped pants.  I’m so happy that Spring has arrived in our part of the world.  

Like many of you, I’ve been baking goodies for the Easter weekend.  The local grocer had a huge display of overly ripened bananas on hand so I picked a decent selection of fruit and carted it home with me.  I headed to my trusty file to find one of my spring-time favorites. This scrumptious Banana Streusel Swirl Cake is absolutely delicious. I hope you have a chance enjoy this crunchy, sweet, delicate cake made with pecans, cinnamon, mashed bananas, and a convenient cake mix.  Happy Easter, Everyone!

Banana Streusel Swirl Cake

Streusel:

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cake:
1 package Yellow, Spice or Banana Cake Mix 

1 package vanilla instant pudding mix

4 eggs, slightly beaten

3-4 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup canola oil

1/4 cup water

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10″ bundt pan.  
For the streusel: combine all 4 ingredients and stir well.  Set aside.

For the cake:  combine all 6 ingredients and mix by hand or with a mixer for 2 minutes.  Batter should be thick and well combined.

Pour half the batter into bundt pan.  Sprinkle streusel over batter.  Spread remaining batter over streusel. Gently swirl the batter with a butter knife in a circular motion.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 25 minutes.  Loosen sides of cake from pan and invert on a cake plate. If desired, frost with glaze and sprinkle with chopped pecans.



Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Kids in the Kitchen, Main Dish

Finger-Licking Pizza Roll

A sheet of Pillsbury crescent dough and a few spicy ingredients make this recipe a snap to pull together for a weekday dinner or afternoon snack. 

I’ve seen (and tasted) a version of this recipe posted elsewhere using a traditional bread dough loaf.  I found the dough to be dense and heavy… Frankly, the “dough to filling” ratio was a bit overwhelming.  

Here, I have used Pillsbury crescent roll sheets to bundle up the tasty Italian ingredients to make this undeniably delicious roll.  I just love the way the traditional filling sits within the light and flaky crust.  This Finger-Licking Pizza Roll recipe is incredibly hard to resist! 

Finger-Licking Pizza Rolls

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheets

1/2 6 oz. package pepperoni rounds

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup pizza sauce 

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Lightly flour counter surface.  Unroll dough.  With a rolling pin, flatten dough evenly to stretch dough to 13×9″ rectangle. Spread pizza sauce over surface.  Layer on pepperoni, overlapping rows. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. 

Starting with one short side, roll up rectangle; press edge to seal. Place cut side down on cookie sheet.

Bake 25-35 minutes or until roll is dark golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Slice roll into 3/4″ slices. Serve warm with leftover warm pizza sauce for dipping. 

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

Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Cake

I have to admit, there is nothing healthy about this delicious cake but I sure love the ease at which this recipe falls together and it’s not difficult to make a healthier version, if you’re so inclined.

One can easily substitute the white flour for a mix of whole wheat or oat flour,  cutting the sugar really wouldn’t be a problem for the integrity of the end product, and substituting the sugary topping for a honey glaze or adding a sprinkle of whole oats would certainly satisfy most.

I found three golden apples at the bottom of the produce drawer this morning.  Usually  I bake on Saturday mornings, but I was out of town yesterday reading to a group of young children, as we were promoting the importance of literacy and introducing young parents to some really great children’s books.

So… Today is my baking day.  I am crafting this post as this delicious cake continues to rise and brown in the oven.  The smell of the cinnamon-sugar and vanilla mixed with the golden apples is simply irresistible.  After chopping the apples, I realized that I had prepared enough for two cakes so I will keep one and share one.  I’m sure the lucky recipient will be happy to take one of these sweet treats off of my hands (#care-package)!

Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Cake

Batter:

1½ cups brown sugar

⅓ cup oil

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2½ cups flour

1½ cups chopped apples

Topping:

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray, a 9X13″ baking pan.  Mix batter ingredients in the order listed.  In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients, cutting butter into sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Evenly sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake for 45 minutes or until center is set.

A few quick pics of the cake baked in a slightly different pan…

To top each of these cakes, I used a combination of whole oats and a honey glaze.  Cheers!

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Cake, Cooking In Disney World, Desserts, Food

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

After vacationing this past week, I wanted to share a great recipe that I often make when I’m traveling. As I’ve mentioned before, my family frequently travels to our Disney Vacation Club time share to rest and relax.  I often pack a bag full of munchies, packaged mixes, peanut butter and jelly and a tin of homemade cookies for the road.  This year I put a box of angel food cake mix and a can of crushed pineapple in the food bag, along with all of the other essentials needed for a week’s worth of meals.   I was anxious to whip up this tasty treat for a late night dessert with the family. You’ll find this cake to be light and airy and full of flavor.  The tiny bits of pineapple are barely seen in the finished product but they pack a flavorful punch.  Unbelievably, the recipe includes only two ingredients (with the exception of an optional sprinkle of powdered sugar for a bit of pizzaz). Pair the cake with a handful of sweet berries and you’ve got a winner!

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

1 (16 ounce) package angel food cake mix

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray a 13X9″ baking pan. Simply combine cake mix and entire can of pineapple in a large bowl.  Mix until well blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool before topping with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or whipped cream.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Casseroles, Chicken, Dinner, Food, Main Dish

Creamy Chicken Lasagna



This is an adaptation of a recipe that I found in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine many years ago.  I had received the magazine as a “free trial” but I rarely had time to read it as my 3 children were young and my life was busy.  I did, however, make it a point to visit the recipe contest page to see what recipes had been selected as “winners” for each monthly issue.  

One month, a recipe for a white chicken lasagna was chosen.  It was a bit more complicated than the adaptation I have submitted below. The white sauce was elaborate…starting with a classic roux.  Managing a busy household, I had no time for that so I decided to use a purchased sauce.  This eliminated a few time consuming steps and made for a quick and tasty alternative.  It was a big hit in my household so I’ve been making it this way ever since.

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli

3 boneless chicken breasts, poached and diced

2 (16 ounce) jars Alfredo-style pasta sauce

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (16 oz) container cottage cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9X13″ baking dish.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well.  In a medium bowl, combine cooked chicken, broccoli and one jar of Alfredo sauce, garlic powder, and pepper; stir together. In a separate bowl, beat egg into cottage cheese.  Add Italian seasonings; stir well.  Pour 1/3 of the jar of remaining Alfredo sauce in bottom of the pan, spread evenly.  Place one layer of lasagna noodles, edges overlapping, into the baking dish.  Pour 1/3 chicken, broccoli, and Alfredo sauce mixture over the noodle layer and spread evenly. Spread 1/3 cottage cheese mixture over chicken, broccoli, and Alfredo sauce mixture.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella over chicken mixture.  Continue to layer two more times, ending with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. Tightly cover with foil.   Bake 30-35 minutes.   Remove foil and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.



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

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

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Spring is in the air and I’m happy to report that the temperatures are on the rise. We are finally beginning to see pavement and green grass through the mounds of melting snow. It seems the topic of conversation with family and friends frequently focuses on the hope for sunny skies and mild temperatures as we usher in the start of one of my favorite seasons.
Saturday is baking day so I am up bright and early chopping apples for the muffin recipe that I have selected. This batter produces a wonderfully moist muffin that is topped with a crunchy streusel mix. The combination of pumpkin, apples, and walnuts with a delicious cinnamon streusel topping make the muffins a favorite in our house.

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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients and set aside. In medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, and oil. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Stir in apples and nuts. Spoon the batter into muffin cups; sprinkle streusel topping over batter.

For streusel topping:

2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon old fashioned oats
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. butter

In small bowl, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until done.

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