Friday, December 18, 2015

"This Stuff is Ridiculous" Snack Mix



It's true . . .

This stuff is ridiculous!

It's absolutely perfect and you want to keep eating it to see if the next bite tastes as good as the last bite.

It's crazy thinking, I know.

But we can't seem to stop ourselves with this stuff around!

Matter of fact, I've put it in the pantry so that it's not sitting out in plain sight!

Not that this has helped curb the desire to have "just one bite,"

but maybe it's helped us to not devour the entire snack mix in one day!

This is from a friend of mine in Texas.

She makes this year 'round, I believe.

That would be dangerous too!

She calls it "Maple Munch,"

but we've affectionately renamed it,

"This Stuff is Ridiculous" Snack Mix

2 cups brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup Karo Syrup (white corn syrup)
1/2 tsp. vanilla*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
 1 small bag pretzels (I used gluten free and I only used 1/2 of a bag)
1 bag corn chex
2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 bag hulless pouffed corn, plain or butter flavored (I find this at Aldi's) **

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and spray with pam, or use a silpat liner.

In a large bowl, put the pretzels, chex cereal, and hulless puffed corn.

In a sauce pan, add the sugar, butter, and syrup and melt together, stirring often.  Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and baking soda.  Stir in the ingredients to incorporate well.

Pour the caramel ingredients over the ingredients in the bowl and, working quickly, stir together to evenly coat the cereal mixture.

Divide the coated mixture between the 2 baking sheets.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes.  At the end or the time, gently stir the mixture around and return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove the mix from the oven and allow to cool.

Break apart and place in a container for enjoyment.

*I used King Arthur's Vanilla Butternut flavoring.  Maple flavoring could easily be substituted.

**My friend uses the caramel mixture and simply omits the pretzels, nuts, and corn chex and only uses 2 full bags of the hulless puffed corn.

***You may check your local grocery store or Walmart for the puffed corn.

 




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brown Sugar, Banana, and Walnuts with Grits



My sweet cherubs . . .

they're spoiled!

Not necessarily spoiled in the way you might think.

They're spoiled in their thoughts about . . .

breakfast!

Yes!

Breakfast!

If they have to eat cereal more than 1 morning, they grumble.

Or, if they have to eat the same thing twice in week, they mope.

For example:

Two days ago, my girl cherub made one of her favorite breakfast wraps.

It had been a l.o.n.g.  time since she had one and she whipped it up for breakfast.

The next morning, we were in a hurry to get out the door, so I made her another breakfast wrap.

Here's how it went:

  • "Mom, what's for breakfast?"
  • "I made you a breakfast wrap, like you made yesterday."
  • "Anoooother wrap."
  • "I'm sorry; I thought  you liked them?"
  • "Yeah, but not day after day."
Really?   . . ."day after day?"

I hardly consider that "day after day!"

They're really good kids:

compliant,

helpful,

obedient,

trust-worthy,

and picky when it comes to breakfast!

They're very happy when the Mr. or I cook a hot breakfast every morning!

With that in mind,

here's today's breakfast option!

Brown Sugar, Banana, and Walnut with Grits 

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
5 TBSP butter, divided
3 TBSP brown sugar
2 bananas, sliced (but not thin)
grits, prepared according to directions for 4

While grits are cooking, prepare the sweet banana topping.

In a skillet, add the chopped walnuts and toast a bit, to bring out their natural flavor.

Add 3 TBSP of the butter and melt in the pan.

Toss in the brown sugar and the sliced bananas.  Stir to coat the bananas and walnuts and melt the brown sugar and incorporate the melted butter.

When the grits have cooked, add the remaining 2 TBSP of butter and stir to melt into the grits.

Scoop warm grits into 4 individual serving bowls and top with the banana mixture.

Enjoy warm.



 




Friday, December 4, 2015

White Chocolate Cherry Crunch



It's the holiday season . . .

and it's time to bake!

Who doesn't love the change of routine that the holiday season brings?

True, it can be crammed pack with shopping,

and decorating,

and wrapping,

and parties.

But it can also be full of laughter,

and family,

and friends,

and memories.

This morning, while the cherubs were busy with school,

I was busy about the house.

Sometimes, when I'm cleaning, I try to think of other things to do.

Today, while I was doing both of those things, I thought about making a little treat.

A treat that would use the white chocolate bark I bought.

3 packages of that stuff!

I had absolutely no idea what I was going to use it for, but I've been busy coming up with solutions!

Today, I melted a package of it and scooped out these little crunchy treats!

I think next time I will add a cup or two of mini marshmallows to the mix!

If don't like something in the recipe, just leave it out and add a little more of something you like!

White Chocolate Cherry Crunch

1 package, 24 oz white almond bark*
2 cups rice chex cereal
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup dried cherries (or craisins)

Melt the bark and and remove from heat.

Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is well coated.

Place a long sheet of wax paper on the counter.

Using a large table spoon, scoop out a descent dollop of mixture onto the wax paper.

Allow the white chocolate bark to set up.

Remove from the wax paper and enjoy!

I was able to scoop 24 treats to serve.

*Almond bark comes in a variety of sizes.  If yours is a little less than 24 oz, that's ok, it might just mean that your coating will be a little thinner.  But that doesn't affect the taste!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rustic Greek Chicken Salad



Now that the cherubs do their school from home, lunch time is a little more . . .

involved.

You know, for years, I'd send my cherubs off to school with the packed lunch.

A sandwich, a bag of something crunchy, some resemblance of fruit, and a dessert.

They never really complained.

Matter of fact, I never remember hearing a grumble about their lunch.

But now that they're home for lunch, it's like they've forgotten that a sandwich is sufficient!

It's not long after I get the kitchen cleaned up from breakfast, they're asking what's for lunch!

I'm seriously creating 3 meals a day!

Sometimes I just don't have it in me . . .

but today!

Today, was a lunch success!

Using left-over grilled chicken, and a few other ingredients, this lunch hit the lunch win!

I started out just making this little lunch for my girl cherub.

After I tasted it to see if it was seasoned right,

I decided that we would all have it for lunch!

I love that I can just chop and throw the ingredients together, making whatever size portion is needed.

I used a Tuscan Herb olive oil but you can use whatever olive oil you have.

But with oil and vinegar shops popping up everywhere, having a flavored oil is easy and adds effortless creativity to your cooking.

If you don't have an oil and vinegar store in your area, check your grocery store for a flavored option

Rustic Greek Chicken Salad

chopped grilled chicken
chopped tomatoes
thinly sliced onion
rough chopped pitted Kalamata olives
crumbled feta cheese*
drizzle of olive oil
sprinkle of salt
dash of course ground pepper

I varied the size of the chopped ingredients to add visual contrast.

I "rustically" layered all of the ingredients in individual bowls in the order listed and served cold.

*We adore feta cheese, especially great feta cheese!  If you can find feta cheese in the brine, then spring for it!  You'll be amazed at the flavor difference!  We buy Dodoni feta in brine and we can easily find it at Sprouts Market.




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chicken Marinade



It really doesn't matter what the outside temperature is doing;

we like to grill!

Since it's the Mr. that stands out in the cold,

or heat,

or mist,

or snow,

or rain,

I'm always game to throw something on the grill for dinner!

The other day, when shopping for groceries, I noticed the store didn't carry my favorite marinade.

But they had another marinade from a brand that I like that sells BBQ sauce.

Plus, it is a local brand, and I like shopping local.

So I bought the new brand marinade.

But I didn't like it.

Matter of fact, the Mr. and cherubs didn't like it either.

Not that it was bad, because we wouldn't know.

Because it had no taste.

None.

I'm not into tasteless marinade.

So now, with no marinade in the house and chicken thawed out,

I needed a marinade.

I remembered a teriyaki  marinade that I used to make,

but couldn't find the recipe.

Then I remembered another one.

This one is delicious.

I tweeked it just a bit, because I wanted to.

You can do the same if you feel like it.

I think this might become my new favorite marinade,

even over the other favorite marinade!

At dinner, everyone commented on how yummy it was!

The next day, I made a double recipe to store in the refrigerator,

just so that I'd have some when we I wanted to grill!

Chicken Marinade

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used gluten free)
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (I used gluten free)
2 TBSP water
1 TBSP brown sugar (or white if you're out of brown)*
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground ginger**

Place all of the ingredients in a jar and shake to mix.

Pour desired amount over your favorite meat and marinade.

Discard any marinade after using.

*If this amount seems too sweet for your taste, just reduce by 1/2.
**I omit this occasionally.  Not everyone prefers the taste of ginger.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Double Corn Spoon Bread



The other evening, we were having friends over for dinner.

I wanted to make bread to serve with dinner.

But we were having corn as a veggie and I didn't think we needed bread and corn.

Oh, don't get confused . . . I didn't say we didn't want bread and corn . . .

just that we didn't need both!

I thought just a moment and decided I would combine the bread and corn and make a spoon bread.

Now, in case you're wondering what "spoon bread" is, I'll tell you.

"Spoon bread" is a Southern dish and could be considered a savory pudding.

But spoon bread isn't "smooth" like a dessert pudding, as it is usually made with cornmeal.

So, with the idea to combine the want of bread and the need of a veggie, we had spoon bread with our grilled chicken dinner.

It was so yummy!  The cherubs really liked it and the girl cherub went back for seconds.

Which is unheard of for her!

Double Corn Spoon Bread

1 15oz can corn, drained
1 15 oz can cream corn
1 7oz-8.5 oz package cornbread mix**
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup shredded cheese (or more if you'd like it)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For a "thin" spoon bread, spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray.
For a "thick" spoon bread, spray a 2 quart pan with cooking spray.  I wanted a "thick" spoon bread.

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.  Pour into your desired size pan and place in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes for a 9X13 pan, or until set in the middle and golden on the top.

If using a 2 quart casserole dish, bake for 5--60 minutes, or until set in the middle and golden on top.

Serve warm.

**Martha White Gluten Free cornbread mix worked great.  You can use Jiffy Cornbread mix if you can have gluten.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Peanut Butter Bars




It's turned nice and fallish around here and we have enjoyed the perfect days!

We have opened the windows.

We have watched the deer come into the clearing on our land.

We have started searching for our favorite fall recipes.

My sweet girl cherub got the notion to make peanut butter bars.

Since it was Halloween evening, and we needed a little treat,

we grabbed the ingredients and made these delicious bars!

These are great because they require no baking and they're quick!

If you like Reese's, then you're going to love these!  I say, "so long" to buying those peanut butter cups; these are a classic snack treat!


Peanut Butter Bars

1 /4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
4 full-size Hershey chocolate bars, melted (or 1 cup melted chocolate chips)

To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and peanut butter and stir until well combined.

Use a large spoon to stir in the powdered sugar, in small scoops until all of the ingredients form a ball of dough that leaves the side of the bowl.

Pat the peanut butter dough into an 8X8 (or 9X9) square pan, as evenly as you can.

Break the chocolate bars into pieces into a microwave safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted. Spoon over top of peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.

Allow to cool completely at room temperature until chocolate hardens again or place in the refrigerator for faster hardening.

Cut into squares and serve to some to your family, who's been asking, "When will this be done?"

This recipe can easily be doubled; just use a 9 X 13 pan!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cowboy Sausage Casserole



Sometimes I hate having just a little bit of "something" in the fridge.

Like "a little bit" of onion left . . .

 . . . or a little bit of lettuce . . .

 . . .or a little bit of cheese.

You know; the amounts where you can't throw it out, because there's too much,

but you don't really have enough for what a recipe calls for.

That's kind of how I came up with this casserole we had for dinner the other night.

There was just "a little bit" of some ingredients, so I combined them with other "whole" ingredients.


If you want to make this, but you don't have the amount of the ingredients listed, that's OK.  Just make due!

If you have more than the amount listed, that's OK too!  You have a choice!  Do I use "a little bit" or the whole thing?

Cowboy Sausage Casserole

"a little bit" of breakfast sausage (maybe 1/2 pound or so) (substitute ground beef if desired)
"a little bit" of onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can Bush's chili beans
1 package Martha White gluten free cornbread (or regular)
1 can creamed corn
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)
"a little bit" of grated cheese

In a 10 inch skillet that is oven proof*, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic together until the sausage is no longer pink and browned a bit.  Drain grease.

To the meat mixture, add the chili beans and stir until combined.

In a bowl, add the cornbread mix, creamed corn, egg, buttermilk, and whatever amount of grated cheese you have.  (It doesn't take much, actually).  Stir until combined.

Pour the cornbread mixture over the meat.  Place in oven and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the cornbread is done.

Serve hot with Tabasco sauce, if desired.

*If your skillet isn't oven-proof, transfer meat mixture into a 8X8 square baking pan, and proceed as directed. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mummy Wrapped Candy



It's getting close to trick or treat time and I wanted to do something creative!

Our neighborhood is not "traditional."

By that, I mean it is very small and off the beaten path.

If you talk to my mom, you'd think we live off the grid!

But truth is, by most standards, we might be considered "in the country."

But by those who really live "in the country," we are close to city-dwellers.

Regardless of such, we won't have a lot of little trick or treaters running up to our door.

Matter of fact, I had to tell our neighbors to come see us that night!

And with that, comes the fact since we won't have too many kids I wanted to go BIG!

I bought BIG candy for the kids!

Who doesn't love getting full-sized candy bars when they trick or treat?

I mean, really!!

To make your candy mummy, you'll need:

  • any kind of full-size candy bar
  • strips of white cloth; muslin, cheese cloth, even crepe paper if you have it.  (I used cheese cloth)
  • wriggle eyes
  • hot glue
Cut or tear the cloth into strips.  I used about 48" of cloth per strip.  I wanted to wrap it so that the wrapper didn't show through.

Start on the back of the candy bar, using a finger, hold the end in place, then begin wrapping the bar, over-lapping the edges of the fabric just a bit.  Try to end with the fabric piece in the back, simply tuck it under the already-wrapped fabric.

Turn the mummy over to the front and place the eyes where you want them.  I kind of tucked the bottom edge of the eyes under an edge of the fabric to have it appear to be "peaking."  Hot glue the eyes in place.

Enjoy giving your mummy wrapped candy!

Here are some Halloween funnies:

"What kind of music do mummies like?"

Wrap music!!


"What's the most important subject a witch learns in school?

Spelling!

"What is the favorite food of a ghost?

Spooketti!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Peanut Butter and Nutella Apple Dip



While it may not feel like it outside, the calendar tells me that it is Fall.

There are so many things about this season that I absolutely love!

I like the falling leaves,

and to watch the squirrels gather their food,

and where we live, we have deer . . .

so now I like to watch them too!

I also love Fall food.

One of my favorites are apples!

I'm not really sure, but in the Fall, I love to nosh on apples.

It's the strangest thing!

Maybe it's because they are more crisp,

or their color is more appealing.

Whatever the reason, I'll go with it!

Today, both of the cherubs were wanting an "after school snack."

Looking at the apples on the counter, I offered apples and dip.

Since I didn't have any dip, I made some!

I took three things that my girl cherub really likes and I mixed them together.

I just mixed; no measuring!

If you like these ingredients, just mix yourself some dip and and enjoy an apple!

Peanut Butter and Nutella Apple Dip

1 small spoonful Nutella
2 small spoonfuls of peanut butter
2 small spoonfuls of marshmallow cream

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and serve with sliced apples.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Homemade Pizza Sauce



We love pizza.

When we were thrown into gluten free eating, we had trouble finding good gluten free pizza out in restaurants.

Which leads to me to ask the question, "Why is pizza so crazy expensive?"

I honestly don't understand!

While we do like "calling in a pizza," we also really like making them at home more!

We all hang around and prepare different ingredients for the pizza bar.

Some of us like pineapple.

Some like garlic.

Some like black olives.

Some want meat,

while others don't.

That's why make-your-own-pizza night is fun!

It gets you in the kitchen together,

talking,

laughing,

and making fun of your family members!

The other night, we were going to make pizzas but I had no pizza sauce.

Stop there.

I really don't like buying pizza sauce.

I actually don't really like the way it tastes and since we don't use it all at one time, there are left-overs.

I don't like using the left-over sauce.

I know, I know!

I use mayonaiise after it's been opened.

I use bbq sauce too!

 . . . and salad dressing,

and mustard.

But pizza sauce?

I just grosses me out!

That's why making my own is really the best option!

We use what we want and then I freeze the rest until the next family pizza night.

What's also great is the sauce tastes yummy!

Like . . .sauce!

It's good to dip your crust in or a bread stick!

Pizza Sauce

1, 15oz can tomato sauce
1, 6oz can tomato paste
1-2 TBSP Italian seasoning*
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder*
1/2-1 tsp. onion powder*
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar

Place all of the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Stir until the paste is dissolved.  Lower the heat and simmer 15 minutes.

You can use the sauce right away.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to use later in the day.

Freeze any remaining sauce for another time.

You can also place all of the ingredients in a small crockpot, on low, and heat until ready to use. I would not cook in the crock pot longer than 4-5 hours.

*Not knowing if you are using flavored sauce and/or paste, or just plain-jane canned goods; the seasonings are suggestions of where to begin to season the tomato ingredients.  It's so much easier to add spices; we all know you can't remove it once it's in there!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tomato Paste Woes

Removing tomato paste from the can might be a wee bit of pain.

The cans are small.

The spatula needs to be smaller than the standard spatula size.

Sometimes you might cut your finger trying to "clean out" all of the tomato paste.

It would be nice if tomato paste was a bit easier to get out of the can; don't you think?

I've been doing this trick to empty the tomato paste can for many years now.

So it's neither new nor my own invention!

Perhaps you already do this nifty little trick.

But in case you don't, I wanted to post it for you!

Yes, you! 

You may be the one person who needs this handy-dandy kitchen trick.

And you'll love it next time you open a can of tomato paste!

You will feel like you have conquered the world!

OK -- maybe not to that extreme.

But you will do it and you will say to yourself,

"Well, huh!  That's pretty neat!"


Below are pictures and a brief description.

Not that you couldn't look at the pictures and figure it out . . .

but words are nice.

Sometimes!

Start with your can of tomato paste.

Remove the top lid; as in "totally remove."


Turn the can upside down and cut the lid, but do not remove.

Using your finger, gently and steadily push the bottom lid through the can.

Viola!  You did it!  The tomato paste is removed with very little effort or waste!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Crustless Apple Pie



I'm tired of unpacking.

I'm tired of heat.

 I'm dreaming of Fall.

I drive down the street and there are beautiful pumpkins at the garden centers.

Gorgeous pots of mums line the drives.

I'm beginning to think about Fall food . . .

And I have the air conditioner on!

Something is wrong with this picture!

I want to wake up and throw the windows open and have a long sleeve shirt on.

I want the days to warm to the perfect temperature.

And I want to be able to sit with the family around the uncluttered table to a great bounty of fall food.

But that's not happening right now.

As I'm dreadfully unpacking yet another box,

I had the idea of a "crustless apple pie."

One reason for this is I have no time to make a pie right now.

Another reason for this thinking is back to line #4 -- I'm dreaming of fall food.

Apple pie is Fall!

The third reason for this idea is being gluten free; I haven't attempted a gluten free pie crust.

Right now, I'm scared to try . . . there's not enough patience left in me right now to try something new!

But a crustless apple pie?

Yes!  I can do that!

When this is made, it's really just the warm, cinnamon-y, yummy filling of an apple pie.

Scooped into a dessert dish and topped with some delicious vanilla ice cream.

Fling open the back door and enjoy a sit on the patio as you devour your dessert . . .

 . . . and dream of the coming Fall!

Crustless Apple Pie

4 apples, cored and sliced.  Peel on?  Peel off?  You decide!
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt
2 TSBP butter
2 1/2 TBSP water
1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp. cold water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. boiled cider, optional*

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, place the apples, brown sugar, spices, butter and the water.  Cover and cook stirring occasionally for 4-6 minutes or until slightly softened.

While the apples are cooking, in a small dish combine cornstarch and water. Once the apples are to the slightly softened stage, remove the pan from the heat and add the cornstarch/water mixture.  Return the pan to the heat and bring to a gentle boil while stirring.  Continue to cook until apples are soft (not mushy) and filling is thickened. Let bubble 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla and the boiled cider, if you desire.

Allow the apple filling to cool a bit if you are going to enjoy it warm.

Otherwise, cool and store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Possible uses:

Top waffles, french toast, or pancakes.
Put a dollop on warm oatmeal
"Apple Pie" sundae topping
Serve with pork loin or grilled chicken
Mix into your breakfast vanilla yogurt, topped with chopped pecans and dry oats

*This is boiled cider, from King Arthur.

 Image result for king arthur boiled cider


Monday, September 21, 2015

Saucy Chocolate Cake

Last Christmas we spent a week away.
It was a wonderful gift!
We did very little while we were gone.
We played games and watched moves.
We made ourselves get ready and leave the condo 3 times during our 8 days.
We weren't gone very long on those excursions . . . .
we were rather content in the condo watching moves and playing games!
One day, the Mr. made reservations at a restaurant on the campus of  The College of the Ozarks.

On a side note, this college is founded on amazing principles.  If you have time, you ought to take a look!
 https://www.cofo.edu/

College of the Ozarks, Keeter Center
Image from the internet

We had a great lunch and we even ordered dessert.

Two reasons:

  1. We were on vacation; when on vacation we can do whatever we want.
  2. They had a gluten free option.
When you eat gluten free, it is always exciting to go to a restaurant and have "normal" options!

We ordered the chocolate something or 'nother dessert.

It was served warm in a cast iron skillet.
It was yummy!
It also reminded me of something I had eaten in the past.
That began my search!
Viola!  Here's a recipe for you to try!
Actually, this is an old recipe . . . just renewed!
Saucy Chocolate Cake
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cup gluten flour blend*
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1-1/4 cups hot water
Ice cream or whipped cream (optional)


Heat oven to 350°F.

Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, butter and vanilla; beat until smooth.

Pour batter into ungreased 9-inch square baking pan, or you can distribute evenly among individual-sized baking dishes of your choice.  Stir together remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa; sprinkle mixture evenly over batter.

Pour hot water over top; do not stir.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

If you baked this in a 9-inch square, serve in dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of pan over top. Garnish with whipped topping, if desired.

If you baked the dessert in individual dishes, invite your friends over to enjoy this warm, delicious dessert.  Garnish with whipped topping, if you wish.

Makes about 9 (1/2 cup) servings.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Vanilla Pudding

It is so simple, and often overlooked.

But honestly, I love pudding.

Seriously!

Good, no, Great pudding is awesome!

I really only like the boxed stuff in recipes.

Just to make a dessert of boxed pudding isn't really appealing to me.

But make homemade pudding, count me in!

One reason why I like pudding is that most of the time I have the ingredients on hand.

Especially for vanilla pudding.

The ingredients are pure and simple.

If it's been awhile since you've had "great" pudding, try this soon!

I might just make a believer out of you!

Vanilla Pudding

2 1/2 cups milk, divided
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP cornstarch
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBSP butter

Place 2 cups milk and salt in a saucepan. Sprinkle sugar and pinch of salt on milk and do not stir; heat over medium-high. Quickly combine cornstarch with remaining 1/2  milk; add egg yolks and mix well. When milk comes to a full boil, remove saucepan from the heat and stir in cornstarch mixture. Pudding will begin to thicken. Return to the heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and butter until the butter is melted and well incorporated.  Pour into individual dishes. Serve warm, my favorite way to have homemade pudding.  Yield: 4 servings.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Back Home

Image result for oklahoma signs


It's been awhile since I've posted.

One might think that we haven't been eating! 

While we surely haven't been trying new recipes or being creative in the kitchen, we have been maintaining a caloric intake!

What's really been going on is that we've been in the process of moving!

"Process" is a long word!

And so is "moving!"

In late Spring, we put our home on the market and it sold rather quickly.

That was the easy part!

The Mr. took a month off between job changes; we had hoped it would be a time to unwind.

It was anything but that!

Since June 1st, we have:
  • made inspection repairs on our Dallas home
  • cleaned our Dallas home when we moved out
  • met movers to pack our Dallas home
  • moved into temporary housing
  • moved out of temporary housing
  • cleaned our temporary home when we moved out
  • gone on vacation
  • started homeschool for the cherubs
  • bought a house
  • cleaned the new house so we could move in
  • painted rooms at our new house
  • took a Labor Day get away
  • started looking for a new church home
  • had fun hanging with family and friends in Oklahoma
  • gone to several fun events as apart of the new ministry we work with
  •  . . .and this past weekend, we met movers to deliver our belongings
This means that we are currently spending every minute we have to unpack!

We are beyond excited to be "back home" in Oklahoma;  I can't wait to get settled! 

I'm ready to get back into our "home routine!"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Watermelon Salad






I was away when the Mr. and the cherubs went to lunch.

My boy cherub called me afterwards, all excited about this salad he had eaten.

"Mom, it's so good!  You're going to have to make it!"

Mind you, he had a general idea of the ingredients.

By general, I mean what he could see!

No thought of the ingredients that might be in it, but unseen!

This week at the store, I bought the ingredients to make this salad he has raved about.

To be fair, I want you to know that I've doubted this as remotely being something I would want to eat.

It doesn't sound good.

But he and the girl cherub say it is!

I even splurged on real Greek Feta cheese.

The one in the brine.

Just like we had while in Greece.

It DOES make a difference!

I had no idea, but that's for another post!

I measured nothing, but went my sight and the cherub's taste.

I am delightfully surprised and I actually like it.

I will be making this again, that's for sure!

Watermelon Salad

1 small seedless watermelon, cubed
1/4 red onion, sliced thin and chopped (I had 1/2 moon pieces)
feta cheese, crumbled
Kalamata olives, chopped (I used about 6 of them)
olive oil, drizzled
dried oregano, just a sprinkle
fresh mint leaves, chopped (I used about 8 leaves)

Toss everything in a bowl and allow the flavors to meld together.

Serve cold.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Gluten Free Hummingbird Cake



The Mr. loves hummingbird cake.

He always requests it for Easter and for his birthday.

Since we have become gluten free, I've been avoiding this cake.

In my mind, if I'm going to make this cake, I want it like it is supposed to be.

But with gluten free, things aren't always like that!

Sometimes gluten free baked goods are drier.

Or gritty.

Or disappointing.

That's truth!

The Mr.'s birthday was this week and when asked what he wanted for our traditional "birthday dinner," he picked two things that I've been avoiding since we've been gluten free!

I'm gonna kill him!

Silly me, tackled both!

Here's my take-away!

If there's enough time between the gluten version and the gluten-free version, your mind forgets what it is "supposed" to taste like, and then the gluten free version is very satisfying!

14 months is a good amount of time to wait!!

There are lots of gluten free versions of hummingbird cake on the Internet.

But, like "regular" recipes, you can kind of tell if it's going to be worth your effort or not.

I took two different days to search.

This recipe was a winner for us!

This may not be my "for keeps" hummingbird cake recipe, as there is one other that I want to try, but this was definitely worth it!

Gluten Free Hummingbird Cake

1 1/4 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup  corn starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup light buckwheat flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (or guar gum)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups canola oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
2 cups diced bananas
1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350° F

Use two round 9-inch cake pans, one 9x13 pan or muffin cups for this recipe. If using cake pans, lightly grease and dust with sweet rice flour. Line cupcake tins with paper cups.

Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use a large whisk to thoroughly combine.

Add oil, eggs and vanilla and use an electric mixer to combine. The batter will be stiff.  Stir in pineapple with juice, bananas and pecans and stir to combine.

Allow the batter to sit for 30 minutes.  This is an important step to gluten free baking.  This allows the flours to become hydrated, which in turn, makes a better baked product.  Don't skip this . . . you'll thank yourself later!

Pour batter evenly into pans or muffin cups.  Place pan(s) into preheated oven. Bake batter in cake pan(s) 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of cake comes out clean. The top of the cake with be golden brown.

If making cupcakes, depending on size of cupcakes, bake cupcakes for about 25-35 minutes or until done.

Cool cakes before frosting. Remove round cakes from pans by carefully running a thin spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen the sides of cake from the pans. Invert pans with cooled cakes on a wire rack before frosting.

 CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups gluten-free powdered sugar

While cake or muffins are cooling place butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually and beat until smooth and creamy. When cake is cool frost.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sweet and Salty Fritos



There was a sale on Frito Corn Chips some time ago at the store.

I over-estimated my family's need for Fritos.

Truth be know, outside of the occasional Frito chili pie in the winter,

and corn dip in the Summer,

We are not big consumers of Fritos.

That's why we still have 2 bags of the corn chips on the shelves.

I searched for recipes using Fritos.

This one sparked my interest.

Mainly because it was drastically different.

That, and I had all of the ingredients,

and frankly, I wasn't wanting to crush up the corn chips and roll chicken in them.

So I made this.

Surprisingly, we liked it.

I think that's because it is so different . . .

and we like Payday candy bars.

When I say "we," it is not a collective "we."

The Mr. is not participating.

The Mr. claims he doesn't like peanut butter.

Says it "messes with his allergies."

I say who in this world does not like peanut butter?

It's like saying, "I don't like bread."

Or "I don't like jelly."

Or "I don't like salsa."

Everybody likes peanut butter.

Because everyone likes peanut butter, be adventurous and try this recipe!

Sweet and Salty Fritos

1, 9-10.5 oz package Fritos
1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray.  Spread the corn chips on a single layer onto the cookie sheet.

In a pan, place the sugar and corn syrup.  On medium heat, stir the two ingredients together until the sugar is melted and it begins to boil.  Boil for 1 minute.

Stir in the peanut butter.  Mix thoroughly until the peanut butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour evenly over the Fritos.

If you desire, randomly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot peanut butter mixture.  Allow the chocolate to soften, then gently smooth it out, or leave it in "dollops" on the corn chips.

Allow the mixture to cool and set up before cutting or pulling apart.

We like to pull it apart as we munch on it.

(I personally prefer this recipe without the chocolate; but to each their own!)


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Texas Pecan Pimento Cheese



We honestly love pimento cheese.

I've told you that before.

But we are persnickety pimento cheese eaters.

We are somewhat connoisseur and somewhat know-it-alls about this Southern delicacy.

We do not like store bought pimento cheese.

I know; that's what we have grown up on;

Spent hours smearing the spread on white bread, so we can cut it into triangles and stack on a serving tray.

Taken to church socials.

And shared with our friends.


I'm not against any of that . . .except the actual store-bought pimento cheese.

I make pimento cheese a lot at our house.

It's kind of our go-to sandwich.

Partially it's because I don't buy deli meat and pimento cheese is easy.

When we are low on peanut butter or out of grilled chicken, I usually have the stuff to whip up a batch of pimento cheese.

Because I make so much of this yummy concoction, I sometimes play around with my recipe.

Sometimes the Mr. and the Cherubs don't like that.

The cherubs are kind of old-school flavor pimento cheese lovers.

However, the one I made today, I think they're going to love.

But secretly, I hope they don't.

Because I do!

And if they don't, that means I only have to share with the Mr.

That is . . . if I tell him I've got a new flavor to try.

I may just keep it between you and me!

Texas Pecan Pimento Cheese 

8 oz grated cheddar cheese
8 oz grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 large roasted red pepper, drained and chopped (OR 1 small jar pimento, drained)*

1/2 cup mayonnaise
small shake of the salt
medium shake of the pepper

In a large bowl, place the grated cheese.  Obviously, if you only have one kind of cheese, just use that!  The important part is that you have 16 ounces of grated cheese.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans on the cheese.

Sprinkle the pimento over the pecans.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the pimento.

Then, glop the 1/2 cup of mayonnaise around the pile of ingredients.

As gently as you can, toss/stir the ingredients together.  Try to keep a light touch so that you don't end up with a smooshed pimento cheese.  However, if you like it smooshed together, then go right ahead!  It's your pimento cheese!

Place in a bowl that has a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.

*Pimentos are chopped roasted red pepper.  I prefer to buy jarred roasted red pepper and chop my own.  I don't know why I like to do it this way, but you do whatever you like and what's easiest for you!



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cole Slaw






I honestly can't believe I haven't shared this recipe.

It's not because I make it a lot.

Matter of fact, I haven't made it in a very long time.

But it is a good stand-by for those Summer dinners.

I first got this recipe more than 10 years ago.

We were living in Oklahoma City and the Mr. and I packed up the two cherubs and we went on a weekend get-a-way to cook for a "mature" crowd who was having a retreat.

There were about 70 "mature" friends that spent the weekend at the lake.

The guys fished and golfed.

The girls shopped or golfed.

At night, everyone sat around laughing and playing games.

That's where I learned to play "Jokers!"

I've got the best Jokers board around, thanks to a very talented wood-worker friend!

As our friends golfed, fished, or shopped, the Mr. and I prepared the meals.

3 meals a day for the weekend.

One night we served cole slaw.

After we ate, one of the ladies said she had a great, and easy, recipe for cole slaw.

I've been making it this way ever since!

It's perfect because I prefer a vinegar base rather than mayonnaise.

The original recipe calls for the oil mixture to be doubled, but I think the 1/2 cup measurements makes for enough dressing.

Cole Slaw*

1 package cole slaw; 16 ounces
1/2 cup of vinegar
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, place the cole slaw.

Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage and toss.

In a glass container, mix the oil, sugar, and vinegar together.  Heat in the microwave until the mixture is boiling.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Stir in the celery seed and pour over the cole slaw mixture.

Toss to coat.

Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

*In my opinion, this is best eaten the day it is made.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Apple, Cranberry, and Nut Salad



I love friends like this . . .

"Hey! What are you doing for dinner tonight?"

"I don't know . . .what are y'all doing?"

"I have no idea!  I've got chicken."

"O.K!  I've got bacon."

"I can bring some chips and ice cream."

"O.K!  I've got caramel sauce and tea!"

"Great!"

"Perfect!  Y'all come down about 6."

I looked in the cabinets to see what else I could bring to the table; literally!

I had a couple of apples.

I thought an apple slaw, or apple salad, or something with an apple sounded good.

I went pilfering and here's the result!

I just guessed at the measurements and went by sight on the cranberries and nuts.

You can make adjustments where you need and according to your taste and the number of people you are serving!

We did not have too much left over from our impromptu dinner with friends, but my girl cherub and I had the wee bit of left over apple salad the next day for dessert and it was still very tasty!

Apple, Cranberry, and Nut Salad

2 tart, crisp apples, chopped into bite-sized pieces
dried cranberries
walnuts or pecans, chopped. *
mayonnaise
sour cream
sugar

In a large bowl, add the chopped apples.  I used jazz apples.  However, granny smith would be tasty also!

Add in the dried cranberries.  I went by color ratio of the white apple flesh to red cranberries.  I wanted it to look pretty!  Maybe 1/2 a cup or more.

Add the chopped pecans.  Again, I went by preference.  I wanted to be able to have a fair representation of ingredients on the spoon!

In a small bowl, mix 2 heaping** tablespoons of mayonnaise, 2 heaping*( tablespoons of sour cream, and 1-2 heaping tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well.  Taste and make any adjustments as necessary.  You do not want to be able to taste the mayonnaise or the sour cream.  You are going for a homogeneous flavor here!

Pour the dressing over the fruit and nuts and toss well until everything is well coated.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  A good hour or so is perfect so that the flavors can meld just a bit!

*I sugared the pecans I used for this salad, but you don't have to do that.  You can use plain nuts, make your own sugared nuts, or use the package candied nuts you find on the baking aisle.

** By heaping, I mean h.e.a.p.i.n.g!  Don't skimp!  You don't want an excess of sauce, but you need enough to coat and flavor the salad.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Potatoes with Onion and Green Peppers







I was really wanting french fries.

Deep down in my heart, I love french fries.

I know . . . kind of childish, huh?

French fries and ketch-up.

But on this night, I couldn't really justify going to get french fries.

I mean, I "could have;"

After all, I was making a very kid-friendly meal.

This meal, my cherubs really like . . . and it is really not one of my favorites.

Sloppy Joes!

My internal compromise was to add french fries!

French fries would go perfect with the sandwich.

Instead of giving in, I made a very grown-up decision.

I decided to make a french fry alternative:  a pan fried potato.

Only I would make it better than a french fry!

I'd add some grown-up flavor!

But not too grown-up, because I still wanted to use ketchup.

Confession:  this conversation was really going on in my head!

Potatoes with Onion and Green Peppers

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
2-3 TBSP oil (or bacon grease, if you have it . . . and I had it!)
1/2 package of frozen hash-browns
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil.

Add the chopped onion and green pepper.  Saute the veggies until browned.

Add the frozen hash-browns.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Stir to mix the veggies and potatoes together.

Cook until the potatoes are browned thoroughly, with at least one crispy edge on each little hash-brown!  Seriously!  That's what makes this tasty!

That . . .and some ketchup!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rotel Chicken




When the Mr. and I lived in Nashville, we were "adopted" by a great family.

John was my boss, both at my full-time job and at the church where he and I served on staff part time.

Ms. Kaye, his wife, was the church cook and was fantastic at everything!

We became fast friends with the two of them!

Ms. Kaye and I shared the love of good bargains, fun shopping, and cooking together!

It's been a lot of years since we have lived in Nashville, but we still keep up with our friends,

and on the occasions when we get to see John and Kaye, we always pick right up where we left off!


This recipe is one of the many I have from Ms. Kaye.

I like this for many reasons:

  1. It's easy.
  2. It's great for a crowd . . .or a family with guaranteed left-overs.
  3. It makes a lot.
  4. It's adaptable. 
That's enough reasons to make it!

Today, I had left-over turkey I had baked over the weekend that I wanted to use.  Because the poultry was already cooked, this delicious casserole threw together in a flash!  

Rotel Chicken

1 chicken, cooked, deboned and chopped (or use cooked turkey or left over baked chicken, etc)
8-12 oz of spaghetti pasta (I use gluten free)
1 onion, chopped*
1 green pepper, chopped*
8-10 mushrooms, chopped*
1/4 cup butter
1-2 pounds Velveeta cheese (to "lighten" add only 1 pound.  If you LOVE cheese, use 2 pounds!)**
1 can rotel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the chicken if you are not using left-over poultry.

Cook the noodles until done, reserve the cooking liquid.

In a large pan, add the butter to melt. Add the chopped veggies and cook until tender.

Add the chopped chicken (or turkey) to the veggies and stir.

Add the cooked noodles, Velveeta, cubed, and the rotel to the veggie/meat mixture.  Stir/toss to melt the cheese and incorporate all the ingredients together. 

Add a bit of the pasta water to thin, if desired.  I always add some additional pasta water when I am mixing this together because I like it a bit "loose" before I heat it in the oven.  Also, I don't want the casserole to be too thick from the Velveeta.

Pour into a casserole pan, a 9x13 baking dish, or two 9x9 pans. 

Heat in the oven until thoroughly heated.

Serve with a green salad.

* add more of these veggies if you desire, or omit if you don't desire!
**Honestly, 1 pound of Velveeta is ample, but 2 pounds is very tasty!




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oatmeal Jam Bars








Oh my, it's been awhile!


One might think that I have forgotten to feed the Mr. and the Cherubs!

While I haven't forgotten, I certainly haven't had the time to cook as I normally do.

I'm currently getting to do what I also love . . . and that's fulfill a long-term subbing position.

It is extremely rewarding.

However, when I do these, I have to put something to the back-burner.

Like cooking . . .

and other household work.

For example:  it's mid-March and I just took down my Winter decor.

Notice I didn't say, "Christmas."

"Christmas" -- as in tree, Santa, and presents, went away in January.

"Winter," on the other had -- as in snowmen, evergreen, and pine cones stay through . . .

well . . .Winter!

Thankfully, Spring decor doesn't take nearly as long to put out!

Unless you are like me and you re-do the look.

I really try not to do that, because it doesn't come natural or easy for me.

Take my mom . . .she's a whiz at that kind of stuff.

She can't cook -- but she can decorate.

Me . . . I can cook, but I can't decorate.

Pair us together and we can do a smash-up job!

Speaking of cooking, these oatmeal jam bars are delish!

Once I found the recipe, I've put it in a very special "make again" file!

Warning:  they're great as dessert.  They're great as breakfast.  They're great as a snack.

Summary:  they won't last long!

I make them gluten-free, but I'm thinking as easy as they are, you could use regular flour in place of the gluten free.

But I wouldn't know that!  If you try, let me know!

Oatmeal Jam Bars

1 1/3 cups gluten free flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (leave this out if you don't make it gluten free)
1/2 cup of butter, softened, cubed
2 TBSP packed brown sugar
1/3 cup nuts, chopped fine
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2-3/4 cup preserves**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using an 8x8 pan, line the pan with foil so that the edges hang over the pan.  This will allow you to remove the bars easily.

Using a mixer, blend the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and xanthan gum together.  Add the butter, a bit at a time, mixing until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Reserve 1/2 cup of dough.

Press the remaining dough in the pan, gently smooshing it evenly on the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until beginning to turn brown on the edges.

While that is baking, take the reserved dough, add the brown sugar, chopped nuts and oats together.  Use your fingers or two forks to work it together to make crumb topping.

Once the crust is beginning to brown, remove from the oven and top with the preserves.  Gently spread the preserves evenly over the crust.

Top with the crumb topping.

Return to the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan before cutting.

This will be a temptation . . .because you are going to want to try it!

But wait!  It's worth the wait!

** I have used Bonne Maman preserves.  It looks like this below.  You can find it at almost any place you buy groceries.

 Image result for bonnie preserves

I've also make my own strawberry topping, as in for ice cream, and I have used that as my preserves.  There is nothing wrong with either!