Monday, October 5, 2015

Green Chili Enchaladas by Mel's

Yet another great find from Mel's kitchen cafe. This was fun. Next time add a tad more milk and sour cream. It was just a tad dry but tasty.

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

  • 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
  • 2 (4 oz.) cans of green chiles, lightly drained
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 can white or black beans, rinsed and drained (you can really use any type of bean you prefer here)
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (7 ounce) green chile enchilada sauce
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Assembly:
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 medium (soft taco size) flour tortillas
  • Handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and green chiles. Mix well. Add the chicken and black beans. Mix to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. As you whisk and the mixture cooks, the flour will get less lumpy around the onions and the mixture will become smooth. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the enchilada sauce and sour cream.
  4. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Fill each tortilla with about ½ cup of the chicken/cream cheese filling. Top with a small handful of shredded cheese, a couple tablespoonfuls for each enchilada. Save at least 1/2 cup cheese for the top of the enchiladas. Roll the tortillas up and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue filling enchiladas until the dish is full (I can easily fit 8 enchiladas in one pan).
  5. Pour the white sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the enchiladas are bubbling, hot and lightly browned. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over the top and serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

ABC Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

For my avid bakers challenge this month we made Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake. This was a fun layered cake. I had read my fellow bakers posts and saw that most bakers said to bake it I did. The cheesecake layer was done but the cake bottom layer was over done! Drat...double drat.

 Flavor was good and the idea was fun. I got to use my 6 inch spring form pan. I am always in awe of one bakers ability to cut down a recipe (Paula) so I wanted to try to half the recipe. It turned out great. Using half an egg was really my only challenge.

 The recipe can be found here: Thanks Scientifically Sweet for some fun recipes.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mac & Cheese Smackdown

Well, who doesn't love Mac and Cheese? We eat it every Sunday. Most of the time we enjoy Great Value Thick and Creamy from the box!! Yes, we love it. We have even gone during phases where we have mixins on the table (peas, tuna, extra cheese, sliced hot dogs, chili). Most of the time it is just wonderful plain mac and cheese. Maggie for her birthday dinner wanted mac and cheese and I could not help myself in trying 4 different kinds. 2 boxed and 2 homemade from scratch. Pictured from top to bottom Baked Mac & Cheese, Skillet Mac & Cheese, Kraft Boxed, and Great Value Thick and Creamy Boxed.

The 2 winning recipes in my book are Mel's Skillet Mac and Cheese which was super creamy and Joel's aunts Baked Mac & Cheese. The kids liked the baked mac and cheese and Boxed Thick and Creamy.

Mel's Skillet Mac & Cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded ( I would use Sharp-it needs more flavor)
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
  2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn’t need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. 

Baked Mac & Cheese
Aunt Marion's Recipe (North Carolina Robinson's)
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper 
  • 2 1/2 cups milk  
  • 8oz (1 3/4 cups cooked) elbow macaroni, cooked 6 minutes, drained
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 Tb margarine
  1. In medium saucepan combine first 5 ingredients. Add milk and stir till smooth. Add margarine.
  2. Bring to boil over med heat, stirring constantly and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup cheese. Stir all other cheese into milk until melted. Add cooked noodles. 
  4. Place in greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered in 375 oven for 25 minutes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal

This was a fun change and really did taste like carrot cake with an oatmeal texture. This recipe was a pinterest find from FiveheartHOMe. Thanks for sharing such a fun change.
 Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal

  • ½ cup pecans, chopped (plus additional for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 cup almond milk (OR whole/2% milk), at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup (packed) grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. Spread chopped pecans on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 4 to 6 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together milk, eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in carrots and raisins (if using). Blend in oats, toasted pecans, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, and salt; stir until mixture is well-combined.
  4. Spread oatmeal into prepared baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set and light golden brown on top. Allow to cool in the baking dish for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with optional garnishes: warm milk drizzled over the top, additional toasted pecans, maple syrup, or fresh fruit.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Health Smoothies

I am trying something new. I found some recipes online for different smoothie recipes. I am trying to bag the ingredients and freeze them. I have a weeks worth of morning smoothies ready to just dump in the blender, add wet ingredients and go! I don't know how things will freeze but let's try this thing. Let the school year begin.

Metabolism-Boosting Smoothie


6 ounces vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
8 almonds
1/4 cup broccoli florets, stems cut off
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup cannellini or garbanzo beans
3/4 cup iced green tea
1 teaspoon flaxmeal
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top. Enjoy immediately.

Flat-Belly Smoothie (popsugar fitness)


3 ounces vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup kale
3/4 cup water


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix until smooth.
  2. Enjoy immediately.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Durango Cookie

I have a recipe for chocolate granola that I love. It comes from my cookbook Food & Wine Best of the Best. A gift from my amazing sister, Dawn. I loved the recipe so much that I wanted to buy the original book that the recipe came from, Sweet. It is a beautiful book. I love it! These cookies are the second recipe I gave a go. They are outstanding. Well, adult outstanding. The kids did not like them..could be the cocoa nibs or hickory smoked salt. I found them to be so fun.

Durango Cookies
Excerpted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (11 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (10.5 ounces) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (1 pound) large milk chocolate chips
1 cup (4.4 ounces) roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa nibs
Durango smoked salt for sprinkling ( I used smoked salt)

1. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
3. Using a fork or small whisk, beat the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and eggs and continue beating until the batter is smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat for an additional minute. Add the chocolate chips 1 cup at a time, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the almonds and cocoa nibs and beat until combined, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the batter to a large bowl (if it’s not already in a mixing bowl), cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper, and chill for 1 hour.
4. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two large heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
5. Using a 21/2-inch ice cream scoop (or a 1/3-cup measure), scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, spacing the cookies 3 inches apart (the cookies will spread considerably while baking). Sprinkle each ball with Durango salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly golden on the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets on cooling racks for 10 minutes.
6. Using an offset spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes 30 large cookies
Storing: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days or transferred to Ziploc freezer bags and frozen for up to 2 months.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Wonder Cookie

This cookie is called Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookie at Mel's Kitchen Cafe blog. Joel is calling it the "ONE". He asked me why I would ever make another cookie recipe because of this "Wonder" cookie. It is really good. So when it cools down and is not 100 degrees outside we will make these again. Maybe it should be the Winter Wonder Cookie.

Wonder Cookie
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 25-30 squares)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups coconut
  • 2 cups (1 package) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (Sadly, nut allergies!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk and butter until smooth. Add graham cracker crumb mixture; mix well. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe Source:
from Debbie R. via Aunt Marilyn

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Supposedly the "Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie"

I found a "best" recipe for chocolate chip cookies and wanted to see if it really was the best. Joel's opinion is that it most definitely is. The flavor is excellent. Great texture..but my gripe is that it is only good fresh. Next day not so is okay but not amazing like the chocolate rye cookie. But for a cookie that you are needing right now this is really yummy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure an oven rack is in the center of the oven.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until well mixed. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Mix well until the batter has lightened slightly in color, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips at the same time. Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Form dough into tablespoonful-sized balls and place on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheets. Frozen cookie dough can be stored for up to 2 months in the freezer.
  5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until the edges are set and just lightly browned (keeping in mind that ovens can vary in temperature so use your best judgment). Don't overbake or else the cookies will be tough and hard. If baking frozen cookie dough, add 1 to 2 minutes onto the baking time. Store the baked cookies in an airtight container (or baked cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months).

Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Quinoa Salad

Another great recipe from The Family Cooks. I have made it numerous times. I add things as I have them and change things because it is so flexible. I just love it!

Quinoa Salad

1 1/2 cup quinoa (rinsed if needed)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds ( I have added raw pumpkin seeds also)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsely (I didn't use)
1/2 cup dried berries (cranberries, blueberries, or raisens)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Huge hand full of spinach, sliced thin (recipe calls for Kale)
I added cooked broccoli
1/4 scant cup olive oil
1/4 scant cup lemon juice
1 tea salt

1. Cook quinoa in salted water (I used chicken broth). Cook until tender 10 min. Drain well and cool on baking sheet about 15 minutes.
2. Combine all ingredients into bowl while quinoa is cooling.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste..or lemon juice as needed.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Family Cooks Individual lasagna

One of my favorite cookbooks is the Family Cooks. They have a fun website also. We have made numerous recipes that we have loved but this one is a favorite of ours. It is personal lasagna made in a cupcake tin. You can put it in a 9 X 9 and bake if you like but they individuals are so fun. Children can make this recipe! Bonus.

Ravioli Cupcakes
Makes 12

2 Tb olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed but not dry)
24 large round frozen ravioli (I used cheese)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cups tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella

1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
2. Boil ravioli for half the time given in the directions. Drain well.
3. Heat olive oil and add spinach and garlic together. When warm take off heat and let cool. Add egg and Parmesan cheese into spinach.
4. Spoon 1 Tb of sauce into muffin cups. Top with ravioli. Top with spinach then mozzarella cheese. Tuck a ravioli on top and finally a spoonful of sauce. I added more spinach on top.
5. Bake 20 minute until bubbly.
6. Serve with remaining sauce that is heated up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Coconut Whole Wheat Cookies

Mel's Kitchen Cafe shares another great recipe. This is a fun change with great flavor from the coconut oil. I love anything whole wheat. These cookies are best same day.

I have a baking helper today. She is great in the kitchen. We made cookies, brownies, and muffins today for Maggie and Sadie's open house concert. They are raising money to go to Europe on a school art tour. So exciting.

 Coconut Oil Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, soft but not melted (see note)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups (11.5 ounces) white whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oatmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and coconut oil until light in color, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and whip the mixture for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and oatmeal until barely combined - there should be a lot of streaks of dry ingredients remaining. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined.
  3. Scoop and roll the cookie dough into 1-inch (or so) balls and place 1-2 inches apart on a lined (with parchment or a silpat liner) or greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are lightly golden and set but the middles are still soft.
  5. Let the cookies sit for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets after removing them from the oven before using a spatula to place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sausage and Pesto Ziti Bake

This is so wonderful! My coworkers thought it was a leftover from a restaurant. My neighbors thought it was so good that it was the main menu item on our church brunch and the next Sunday ladies knew me as the ziti recipe lady. Another great recipe find on Mel's blog.

Baked Pesto Ziti with Sausage

  • 1 pound ziti noodles
  • 1 pound Italian turkey or chicken sausage, casings removed (I used regular sausage)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 3-4 cloves)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 9 ounces baby spinach
  • 15-ounces ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ziti and cook until al dente. Drain.
  3. While the pasta is boiling, in a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat, add the turkey sausage, onion and garlic and cook until the sausage is cooked through, adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste (the amount will depend on the seasonings in the sausage). While it cooks, break up the sausage into smaller pieces. Drain any excess grease if needed.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, pesto and salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add the spinach, stirring until it cooks down a bit into the hot sauce, 1-2 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and 1 1/4 cups of the Parmesan cheese.
  6. In the prepared baking dish, pour in the drained noodles. Dollop the ricotta mixture over the top of the noodles. Spread the sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese (1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan).
  7. Bake until heated through and golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5-7 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from the Food Network by way of Mel's friend Kim in MD (best food advice giver ever!)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The King's Whole Wheat Brownies

I thought I have found my favorite and go to brownie in my brownie challenge. That was until I made King Arthur's Flour Whole Wheat Brownies! WOW. I love these brownies. Great texture and flavor. The only thing is they are an overnight wait brownie!! That is hard to do. I am not a planner and when the brownie need hits me I usually want them right this moment. These are worth the wait till the next day.
King Arthur's flour is a great baking resource. They have a blog, call in baking support, wonderful cookbooks, and wonderful online store with supplies.
 The Baking King's Whole Wheat Brownies
These whole-wheat brownies are the treat we serve when we're trying to convince folks that baking with whole grains doesn't have to be an exercise in deprivation! Moist, rich, and deeply, darkly chocolate, these brownies are the ones to go through life with. We discovered something interesting when sampling these. Their texture is greatly improved if you wait 24 hours before cutting them. Why? The wait gives the wheat bran a chance to soften and "disappear," texture-wise.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I use 1/2 tea folger's decaf)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour  (I grind my own wheat)
  • 2 cups semisweet chips


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan; line the pan with parchment paper if desired.
  2. 2. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine.
  3. 3. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly just till it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F) but not bubbling. Don't worry if it separates; just stir it briefly to recombine a bit. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  4. 4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder if using, and vanilla.
  5. 5. Add the eggs, stirring till smooth.
  6. 6. Then add the flour and chips, again stirring till smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. 7. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, until a cake tester or sharp knife poked into the center reveals wet crumbs, but not raw batter. The brownies should feel set on the edges and in the center. Remove them from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.
  8. 8. Cover and let sit overnight before cutting and serving; this gives the bran a chance to soften and become "invisible" in your mouth.
  9. Yield: 2 dozen 2" brownies.

Tips from our bakers

  • You can add 1 cup of nuts, or try other flavor combinations that appeal to you: toffee chips, or white chocolate, peanut butter, cappuccino, or mint chips. The total volume of mix-ins shouldn't exceed 3 cups, and may increase baking time by 3 to 5 minutes.
  • If you want to cut shapes out of the brownies, line the baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Use a paper or metal spring clip to secure the parchment to the edge of the pan so it doesn't flop down on the batter as it bakes. After the brownies are cool, you can use the parchment to lift the slab of brownies out of the pan, making them easier to frost or glaze, and cut.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tupelo Honey Garlic Ranch Dressing

Now that summer is here with sweltering temperatures, we have started eating wonderful salads. This recipe for Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, Peppered Bacon, and Garlic Ranch Dressing is another amazing recipe from my Tupelo Honey Cookbook. I use canned beets and feta cheese. I do love what peppered bacon adds to a salad. This dressing recipe is amazing!!

 We have added Mandarin oranges and green beans to our spinach salad too. Other wonderful recipes from this cookbook are:
Pinto Beans
Triple Berry Pie
Cookbook Review
Sweet Potato Pudding
Best Chicken Pot Pie

Garlic Ranch Dressing
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup mayo
2 Tb chopped fresh parsley (I used dried)
2 Tb chopped fresh chives (I didn't have)
3 Tb roasted garlic puree ( I didn't use)
1 clove garlic, minced ( I used double because I didn't have the paste)
1/2 tea sea salt
1/2 tea fresh ground pepper

Recipe says blend all in a food processor for 30 seconds. I whisked mine in a bowl. I also halved the recipe for us. The garlic flavor gets stronger as it sits to if you can make a day ahead or just have some on had that is best.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mini Cream Puffs

I saw amazing pictures of mini cream puffs on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I was in my math class and had taken a break to check out dinner options and found the recipe. I have always loved cream puffs and eclairs. These are mini and have a layer of whipped cream with the pudding mixture. Yum.

My favorite eclair/cream puff recipe is still from King Arthur.  I posted my favorite puff pastry and filling recipes when I made hoodoos. I really like the flavor of all components in my previous post a lot better.

I did like the addition of whipped cream (the below recipe for that is a keeper) and the fact that they are minis. So fun.

The recipe did not call for chocolate but I think they were a tad bland and needed some Zing! Ganache is the perfect zing. 

 Mel's Mini Cream Puffs
    Cream Puff Shells:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs 
    Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    Sweetened Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
  1. Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin (or a 48-cup tin if you have one; otherwise you'll bake two batches of cream puffs).
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Scrape the warm mixture into a mixing bowl (or into the bowl of an electric stand mixer) and beat with a handheld electric mixer until the dough has cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Scoop a heaping 1/2 tablespoon into each mini muffin tin (about 1/2 full). I use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon and do it the old-fashioned way (using my finger to scoop it out into the muffin tin). I tried a pastry bag but it was messy and hard to approximate how much I needed for each little tin.
  5. Once the mini muffin cups are filled, wet your fingers and dab them on the top of the mounded dough to smooth out any rough spots and even out the dough (this will help them bake into a pretty rounded top).
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops of the shells are lightly golden and they are baked all the way through (if there is any doughy moisture inside the shells still, they will probably collapse).
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, use a thin wooden skewer to pierce the side of each cream puff and pull it out of the tin and onto a cooling rack. Piercing a little hole in the cream puff will allow any steam to escape. I try to poke the cream puff shell right in the middle where I'll be splitting it anyway to add the cream.
  8. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough.
  9. For the vanilla cream filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk and 1/4 cup powdered sugar to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Slowly ladle or drizzle in the hot milk mixture to the bowl while whisking constantly (this tempers the eggs so they don't curdle and cook into hard bits). Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and/or whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
  11. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this part is optional but can help remove any lumps) into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the top and refrigerate until cold. The vanilla cream filling can be made up to a week in advance.
  12. For the sweetened whipped cream, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks (I like to use my Blendtec for whipping cream; super simple and takes just a minute or two).
  13. Split each cooled cream puff shell in half right at the seam where the puffy top meets the smooth bottom. Spoon vanilla cream into the bottom of each shell and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and place the top back on. Lightly dust all the cream puffs with powdered sugar.
  14. The cream puffs can be fully assembled up to a day in advance (they actually taste better if assembled ahead of time). I store them uncovered in the refrigerator up to a day before serving.

Recipe Source: cream puffs adapted from Sally’s tried-and-true recipe, which is very similar to this recipe I posted years ago, except made them into mini size, vanilla cream adapted slightly from allrecipes (used powdered sugar for a smoother, silkier pastry cream)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ABC Crackle Cookie Challenge

I love a good challenge. I especially love a food challenge. I have done some that I have blogged about but most of the time when I am cooking I just go crazy and make 2 of things..soup, salad name it. I love to know which is better. I have done a coconut cake challenge, brownie challenge, a funny bread challenge, and now this crinkle/crackle cookie challenge with my ABC baking group. Cookie 1 recipe comes from Scientifically Sweet. I have another recipe that I have used for years and was excited to make both recipes and see which one is better.

On the right (in this photo) we have the scientifically sweet cookie and the left my Crockett Chocolate Crinkle recipe. I got that recipe when we first got married at a church potluck. It is sentimental.

Helpful hint: All cookies that needed to be rolled never made my list to make. Too much work! But I found that I could put all the rolled cookies in a huge bowl and rolled them around all at one time. Presto! all done in one quick shake.

On the left in this photo we see the scientifically sweet. The powdered sugar doesn't stick as sinks into the cookie while cooking. Both are beautiful and bake nicely. Both smell divine. I have been loving cookies on Mel's Kitchen Cafe blog but didn't see a crinkle cookie recipe or would have made three batches. The craziness here is that one of the other ABC bakers, Karin. talked about a rye cookie recipe. I just pulled those out of the oven too! It is a sickness this baking challenge of mine.

Blind taste testers:
MT: Cookie 2 Loved my original recipe. She said it is "So much better than the other one"
JT: Cookie 1 (Scientifically sweet recipe) "This rocked my tastes more expensive. Is it?"
CT: Cookie 2. I love the powdered sugar one! Original recipe.
ST:  Cookie 2. I like the one with more powdered sugar. Original recipe.
ME: Why would I make the crinkle cookie now that I have had the rye cookie?

Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes, plus chilling time
  • 1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%), (I used 5 bars of LINDT)
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    ¾ cup whole-grain dark rye flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon fine salt
    4 large eggs, at room temperature
    1½ cups muscovado sugar ( I used 1 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3 TB molasses)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
     flaky fleur de sel, for topping
1. Melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the rye flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
3. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed, adding the sugar a little bit at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate-butter mixture and the vanilla. Mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, then add in the flour mixture just until combined. At this point the dough will be very soft and loose, which is normal; it will firm up as it chills.
5. Refrigerate dough until it just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. 

6. Place rolled balls 2 inches apart. Top each mound of dough with a few flakes of sea salt, pressing gently so it adheres.
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (I baked for 12 min), until the cookies have completely puffed up and have a smooth bottom and rounded top. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool slightly (the cookies may flatten a bit), then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies with keep up to 3 days in an airtight container. (cookies will be gone and you will not need to store)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lemon Bars Extraordinaire

On a recent adventure to Escalante Utah to go hiking we found an unexpected delight, Lemon Bars. We ate at the Kiva Koffeehouse and had what they called luscious lemon bars. They were amazing, life changing bars. We asked for the recipe and were told that she just threw things together and never used the same recipe.
When I arrived home I began a quest to find the best lemon bars. I really love Mel's Kitchen Cafe recipe but the Escalante recipe had a creamy dream like texture. I made lemon bars for 3 nights after work until I tweaked it to perfection. Luckily, I have great coworkers who were my taste testers.

Other adventures in Escalante included: Calf Creek Falls

Devil's Garden

Spooky Gulch

Spooky Gulch

Peek-A-Boo Gulch

Lemon Bars 
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe Recipe-added cream cheese and changed milk to whipping cream

    For the Crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on bars
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), at cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
    For the Filling:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, from 2 large lemons
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3 to 4 large lemons
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 block cream cheese (8oz at room temp)
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  1. Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment.
  2. Stir together the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt (in food processor). Add the pieces of butter and cut the butter into the dry ingredients and process in the food processor for 8 to 10 seconds until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer on the bottom and about 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  3. For the filling, process in food processor the eggs, sugar, salt, cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, whipping cream and flour  to combine.
  4. Pour the filling onto the warm crust (it's important that the crust is still warm!) and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until the filling feels slightly firm to the touch. Cool the bars to room temperature, place in fridge until chilled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crockpot Keilbasa and Cabbage

The Mable Hoffman Recipe can be found here. Her most fantastic cookbook can be found here. This is a winner crockpot recipe if you like cabbage and sausage. Easy and tasty.

Kielbasa & Napa Cabbage

1 lb Kielbasa
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small head Napa cabbage, coarsely shredded (I have used regular green cabbage)
2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 tea salt
1 tea caraway seeds
2 cups chicken broth

Cut Kielbasa into 2- inch chucks. In slow cooker, alternate layers of sausage with onion, cabbage and apples. Sprinkle with salt and caraway seeds. Add broth, Cover and cook on LOW 5-6 hours until cabbage is tender. Drain liquid. Serve

Thursday, March 5, 2015

150 Best Lemon Thyme Biscuits

I love lemon and thyme..and who doesn't love a good biscuit. These are amazingly flavored. Another favorite recipe from my 150 Best Cookbook.

Easy to make with a food processor.

 Lemon Thyme Biscuits
Recipe found online here.



  1. Preheat the oven to 425*F.
  2. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  3. Place the butter pieces and lemon peel in a medium bowl or in food processor.
  4. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the butter.
  5. By hand or with the food processor, mix the butter into the flour until evenly distributed.
  6. Add the thyme and mix well.
  7. Add the buttermilk and stir or pulse briefly.
  8. The dough will be soft and a little sticky.
  9. On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a 9-inch circle that is about 1/2 inch thick.
  10. Slice it into six pie-shaped wedges.
  11. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with a little buttermilk.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, until the biscuits are firm and nice and golden brown.
  13. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pancake Tuesday Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

Another favorite pancake recipe, this one uses whole wheat berries. I like soft red winter wheat.

Blend the whole wheat berries and 1 cup milk in the blender on high for 4 minutes.

Everything can be blended in the blender but I like to mix it up in a bowl.

These have a nice little crunchy texture.

Whole Wheat Pancakes 
Pinch of Salt Lake Cookbook

1 1/2 cups whole wheat kernels/berries
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk, divided
2 eggs
1/2 tea salt
1/4 cup veggie oil
2 tea baking powder
1 tea baking soda
3 Tb brown sugar

Blend whet and 1 cup milk in blender on high for 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend. Cook on preheated griddle. Serve with apricot jam and sour cream! or with Honey Strawberry Syrup

Honey Strawberry Syrup
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 10oz package frozen strawberries, thawed and drained (1 pint fresh)

Combine butter and honey in food processor. Add strawberries and blend until all ingredients are smooth, about 8 pulses. Scrap into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chocolate Granola

My beautiful sister gave me a wonderful Christmas gift, a new cookbook: Food and Wine Best of the Best.  I already have a favorite recipe that I have made numerous times. The recipe is by Valerie Gordon from her book Sweet.  Joel eats it on ice cream and I love to snack on it plain.

Chocolate Granola

Ingredients (original recipe called for sea salt, more chocolate, hazelnuts, and vanilla paste)

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup cocoa nips
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
2 tea vanilla extract
1 sea salt Lindt bar


Mix oats, almonds and nips in a bowl. In smaller bowl mix cocoa powder, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and oil.  Once the wet ingredients are mixed well add to dry and mix together. Spread onto 2 cookie sheets with Silpad. Bake 250 degrees for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. It should look crisp and golden (nuts).  Immediately throw into a large bowl and mix with the broken up Lindt bar. Let chocolate bar melt then mix together. Let cool on pan. Can be stored in mason jar for weeks..but it will not last that long.

Tuscan Pasta Sauce

I stumbled upon a fun blog called Mel's Kitchen Cafe and found this great quick recipe for pasta. I added spinach because I love everything spinach. It was a good addition. Mel has something fun..she has a BEST link. It links to all of her favorites or "best" of the best recipes in her collection. It is very clever.

 Tuscan Pasta

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed
  • Diced fresh tomatoes, fresh basil for topping (optional)
  • I added a huge handful of fresh spinach
  1. In a medium pot or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Stir in the dried basil. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled at first, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it should come together to form a smooth, creamy paste. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes.
  2. Over medium heat, add the milk gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking quickly and constantly until each addition is incorporated fully into the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency, 5-10 minutes. (Then I threw in the spinach and cooked till wilted.) Serve over hot, cooked noodles.