Produce & Pots and Pans – Beets!

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I have eaten beets throughout my life, but in my time as a cook, I don’t recall using beets fresh from the farm market. If I have attempted at some point in my life to prepare them for a meal,  they must’ve been such a disaster, I blocked it from my memory. ūüôā

‚ÄĘBeets are high in many vitamins and minerals. Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. …
‚ÄĘBeets cleanse the body. …
‚ÄĘBeets help your mental health. …
‚ÄĘBeets are used as a stomach acid tester. …
‚ÄĘBeets are a high source of energy.
~ Fullcircle.com

This week, when I saw a bundled bunch of beets in the farm market for a good price, I thought, ‘Why not?’ Beets are full of vitamins and minerals, and are something different to serve with meals…at least in our house. I often make RED BEET EGGS as a side dish, but use canned beets for that recipe.

Because I am sensitive to red food coloring, I wanted to try a red velvet cake recipe of some kind using the beets as the coloring agent. I found a link for a good Red Velvet Beet Cupcake. Yummy, Healthy Easy’s Blog – Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes. This recipe turns out well and has great directions for roasting the beets in the oven.

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I roasted an extra beet and devoured it when it was cool. Delicious! I will be roasting beets for our dinners in the near future.

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Roasted beets processed according to the cupcake recipe directions. What a yummy pink the beets created.

I modified the recipe a bit to suit what I had on hand, substituting cake flour, apple cider vinegar for white vinegar, sugar in place of stevia, and dark chocolate cocoa powder in place of regular. The use of the dark chocolate is probably why there is no trace of the red beet color in my cupcakes. I also did not use food coloring as this was the point in me using the red beets.

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Simple Cream Cheese/Sour Cream Frosting

  • One 8-ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese, such as Neufchatel
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

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Blend together with beaters until smooth. I like to refrigerate these cupcakes to keep the frosting fresh.

Delicious…give this recipe a try, easy and healthier than boxed cake mix.

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Produce, Pots and Pans & Product – Plums, Cheesecake Cupcakes & Peas in a Pod

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The choices in the supermarket were slim this week for sampling a new fruit or vegetable. There were a few novelties such as dragonfruit, but at 7.99 each, I passed on this one. I chose instead yellow plums. I’ve eaten golden plums in the past, but these were a brilliant lemon yellow when I purchased them. I set them on my windowsill to wait for them to ripen. Little did I know they would sunbathe and “tan” to a beautiful coral color. The flavor was delicious, but since plums are rather an ordinary fruit I wanted to do something different with them. I decided to stew them down until just tender, caramelize them and sprinkle with coarse salt.

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I didn’t have a recipe to follow. I peeled the plums since they were imported (possible unknown pesticides) and sliced them. I added a bit of water to the saucepan and lightly simmered the fruit until they were barely soft. At this point I added brown sugar and cooked them until the water and sugar became syrupy. I turned the heat off and sprinkled with coarse salt and let everything cool.

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I decided to make my recipe for cheesecake cupcakes and place the cooled plums on top. The recipe calls for a vanilla wafer, but I used half an oreo, minus the cream, in the bottom of the cupcake liner. The recipe for cheesecake muffins follows:

CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

6 Oreos halved, cream removed
2 8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2 Cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Fruit Preserves ( I used my carmalized plums)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in 12 regular sized muffin tins. Cover bottom with Oreo half. Combine cream cheese and sugar in bowl. Beat until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat again until blended and without lumps. Scoop into muffin tins. I use an ice cream scoop. Fill about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes…a few minutes longer if they are too loose in the middle. Chill in the fridge. Top with preserves.

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I also top with chocolate chips when hot. These melt and create a chocolate disc on top.

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These are super easy, delicious, and low in sugar. I can’t say they are low in calories, but they are VERY good!

The adorable Peas in a Pod Salt and Pepper Shakers in the first photograph in post can be found at Amazon.com. I bought several of them at Christmas and everyone who received a set loved it.

Pots & Pans – Amish Piggies in a Blanket

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Once in a while I stumble upon a meal that is so yummy in appearance, I have to disengage my “Eating Healthy” rule and give into the joy of bacon or other unhealthy food. This week the food that enticed me was “Piggies in a Blanket,” purchased at the local Amish Market.

The sweet Amish lady at the counter told me to bake the piggies at 375 degrees for one hour. I did so, and my husband and I were really pleased with the taste. Even better, they were very inexpensive. I bought the piggies in a blanket premade, but they would be easy to put together. The inner layer is loose sausage shaped into a half sausage shape. The next layer is stuffing, packed tightly around the sausage and held in place with tightly wrapped bacon. I baked the piggies uncovered for an hour. They bacon got a little dark, and dried out a tad, so next time I will cover the pan for about a half hour, and uncover for the final half hour. The bacon keeps the inside moist. Delicious!

Pots & Pans – Twice on Tuesday/Pumpkin Cookies

It’s a perfect day for a rerun blog post. Many people bake these delicious cookies during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I bake them whenever the craving for pumpkin grabs ahold of me. They are delicious and the pumpkin makes them very nutritious. They are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!

My Grandmother Broadwell always baked these amazing pumpkin cookies for family and friends. I can’t bite into one without thinking of her. Every year, especially around the holidays, I bake up a batch or two. They are scrumptious, and best of all pumpkin is loaded with vitamins.

Pumpkin Cookies

Sift together:

2 Cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together:

1 Cup shortening (I use butter)

1 Cup sugar

1 Cup pumpkin (canned)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:

1/2 Cup nuts, and/or 1/2 Cup raisins

Mix together. Add nuts or raisins if desired. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

While the cookies are baking make up your frosting.

3 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons milk (2% is okay)

1/2 Cup brown sugar

Heat this and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook for 2 minutes taking care not to burn. Cool. Add 1 Cup powdered sugar (add more if needed, icing should not be thick, but rather runny) Add 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla and spoon over cookies.

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Pots & Pans – Bobby Flay’s Soup

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In the January issue of Food Network Magazine you will find a terrific recipe for Bobby Flay’s Spanish Chorizo, Kale and Cranberry Bean Soup.

I cooked up a batch of this soup last week and it was delicious and hearty. I did make some changes though. I used leftover sparkling cider in place of the wine. I also substituted chicken cutlets, marinated for several hours in a strong vinegar, olive oil and spice solution, in place of the chorizo. After I baked the chicken and cut it into small cubes, I added it to the soup for a minute or two before serving. Next time I will use boneless thighs, the breast meat became a bit dry.

I also cooked the beans and kale separately to cut the cooking time for the other vegetables down a bit. When everything was cooked through I combined the ingredients in a big pot. Scrumptious!

Pots & Pans – Fidget Pie

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One of my goals for 2015 is to sort through all the outdated magazines I have stored in my closets. Some issues of Victoria are over twenty years old. I know there is a market for vintage magazines, but I have been down that road in the past, and it’s not worth the aggravation to me. Instead, I’m determined to take a look at each page before I recycle them.

At night, while watching television, I do double duty and leaf through the contents. The beautiful¬†photographs are fading, but there are still good ideas to be found. One of these is a recipe for “Fidget Pie.”

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There are only a few ingredients in Fidget Pie, a fact I love, and better yet, it is a good way to use leftover ham.

‚ÄĘ1 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 and I use Yukon Gold)
‚ÄĘSalt and pepper to taste
‚ÄĘ4 chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
‚ÄĘ1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
‚ÄĘ3 cups diced cooked ham (12 ounces)
‚ÄĘ1 medium onion, thinly sliced
‚ÄĘ1 pound cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 3)
‚ÄĘ1 1/4 cups chicken broth or stock
‚ÄĘPastry for single crust 9-inch pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a deep, 2 quart casserole. Layer potato slices in the bottom of the casserole. Season with salt, pepper, sage, and nutmeg. Continue layering and seasoning. Cover with pie crust. Cut vents for steam to escape. (I used premade piecrust) Bake at 425 for 15 minutes ( I added 15 more minutes to this and covered with foil for those minutes, I find potatoes take longer to get soft than most people realize. Remove foil for last hour.) Lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 45 minutes more.

I used a deep dish and did not need to put it on a tray to catch overflow and drips.

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A good step by step recipe with lots of tips can found at Welcome Company.

The pie smelled sensational while it baked. The juices did stay very thin as the recipe suggested. Will I make it again…you bet! It is a delicious meal for a wintry night. The recipe is also very budget friendly.

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Pots & Pans – Red Sauce Recipe

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I thought this would be a great time to share my favorite red/spaghetti sauce recipe. (Recipe at bottom of post) Years ago, I began experimenting with a good recipe I had found on the Internet. My family rated it a thumbs-up. Over the last decade I have adapted and changed it many times, until the recipe is my own.

The brand of tomatoes, jarred sauce and tomato paste has little to do with the finished recipe. Use your favorite brands, or what is on sale. If my local supermarket has a $1.00 a can sale on crushed tomatoes, I will buy as many as a dozen at a time. You see, the secret for my sauce isn’t in what brand I buy; the secret is in the onions.

I live with a husband who absolutely will not eat much of anything that has chopped pieces of onion in the recipe. I’ve learned how to cook without having pieces of the “offensive” onions in the finished dish. Sometimes that means using onion powder, or in the case of my spaghetti sauce,¬†pulverizing the onion.

First, I chop the onion and “sweat” it. I’ve found that cooking the onion down in oil adds a harsh taste none of us likes. Although it goes against most advice on how to sweat an onion, I use water instead of oil.¬†I¬†gently heat¬†the chopped pieces¬†on a¬†very low setting, in a non-stick pan,¬†with a lid on¬†to keep the moisture in.¬† Stir often until the onions are translucent and soft.

In the meantime, add all sauce ingredients to a LARGE crock pot or an equally large cooking pot. The ingredients will almost reach the brim of the crock pot. You can cut easily cut the recipe in half, or even in thirds. I like to use fresh herbs, but dried will do just as well.

While you’ve been mixing the ingredients the onions should have softened. Remember to lift the lid and check them during the sweating. You don’t want them to have too many crispy edges. Excessive browning will add a bitter taste to the sauce.

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Place cooked onions inside a food processor, add a cup of the sauce you have mixed. Blend them until they are completely liquified. This is the secret! The onions exude sweetness and flavor into the sauce when they are blended. Add this mixture to the sauce and whisk together.

Now simmer the sauce for 2-3 hours on low in the crock pot, or at the lowest temperature possible on the stove top. When the sauce is finished I FREEZE* it in quart sized jars or in BPA free containers. The mixture usually makes 6 Р8 quarts. If you like meaty spaghetti sauce, add up to 3 lbs browned hamburger to the sauce after you blend and add the onion mixture. I prefer the sauce without the meat.

*Frozen liquids expand. Leave at least a 1 1/2 inch cushion of space at the top of your containers.

RED/SPAGHETTI SAUCE RECIPE

2 large or 3 medium onions chopped (sweated until soft and blended
with sauce in food processor)
3 29 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
3 24 ounce jarred spaghetti sauce
3 6 ounce cans tomato paste
3/4 C sugar
3 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp dried basil, or several leaves fresh chopped
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like very spicy sauce)
1/1/2 tsp salt (You can add more as you adjust the taste)
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasonings (or a blend of fresh oregano
parsley, marjoram)
* Optional 3 lbs browned hamburger for a meaty sauce.
(If you add hamburger, red sauce mixture must be heated 1/2 at a time.
The amount of sauce will be too large for one crockpot to handle)

Mix together, heat for 2-3 hours on lowest temperature. See directions & tips above.

(This recipe easily reduces by half or thirds)
6 – 8 quart canning jars. Freezes well.

Pots and Pans – Penguin Appetizers

I repost this every year because they turned out so CUTE! They’re delicious too…

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These adorable penguin appetizers were a big hit at Christmas dinner yesterday. Peel and cut carrots into medallions, cut a notch out of each medallion for the feet which automatically creates a beak to place in the large end of a small pitted black olive. Using a large pitted black olive, cut a small slit in the front, open and place about a quarter teaspoon of cream cheese inside. (I used the already softened variety of cream cheese in a tub) It helps if you shape the cream cheese a bit on a plate or wax paper before you place it inside the olive. Take a toothpick, insert through head, into the larger cream cheese body and into the feet with the notch pointing frontwards. So easy, not expensive, and so much fun!!!

I found this idea on Pinterest. Click here to visit Pinterest

I wish I had taken a photograph of my little flock, but in the busyness of the day became distracted and forgot. They are even cuter when you have a dozen or more standing at attention on a serving plate.

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Pleasures & Pots and Pans – Meyer Lemons

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Finally, after years of reading and hearing about the superiority of Meyer Lemons, I finally spotted a display of the elusive citrus fruit in my local supermarket. Perhaps they have been there before, and I passed right by them, thinking the yellowy-orange fruit were unripe tangerines, but this time the sign over them caught my eye. I snapped up three of the beauties even though they were steeply priced at 1.00 each.

What did I do with them? Well first, being me, I created still life compositions for photographing all over my house.

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The next thing I did was search out a good recipe to use them in. I found the winner at Tutti Dolci All Sweets Blog: Meyer Lemon Cloud Cookies. I followed the directions as written. The cookies were easy to mix up and bake, and delicious as a lemony cloud…really! The one thing I would change would be to double the recipe. Why make only twenty cookies when forty cookies would be just as easy and almost as quick?

The cookies would most likely be scrumptious using a regular lemon too. Happy Baking!

Pots and Pans – Plantains

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I didn’t experience eating plantains until I visited Jamaica. I have since learned to cook them as a side dish/dessert for family and friends. Plantains have good fiber content. They have more vitamin C and A than bananas, are a richer source of B-complex vitamins, and provide minerals such as iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Plantains contain more potassium than bananas. Cooking Plantains is an easy and rewarding task. The only additional ingredients I use are two pats of butter and some brown sugar.

Step One

Slice plantain on the diagonal.

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Step Two

Melt two pats of butter in pan.

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Step Three

On medium heat begin to fry in the butter. Brown on each side and check tenderness with a fork.

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Step Four

Sprinkle brown sugar over plantains. Don’t be alarmed if the brown sugar falls between the slices and bubbles up on the pan. This gives the edges a crispy crunch of sweetness. Cook only until sugar is dissolved and begins to firm up a bit.

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Serve and eat warm…very delicious!


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Pots & Pans with a Quick Tip – Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie (With Detours)

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Last week I received my November issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine. The cover photograph immediately intrigued me, and I promised myself I was going to attempt to make each one of the pies featured.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie with Gingersnap Crust

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Detour Number One РI didn’t count out the 23 required gingersnaps, choosing instead to process them in my small food processor, measuring out about a cup and a half to two cups as the cookies crumbled. Since I have made many cookie crusts I know this is a good ratio for a medium thickness. I also cut back the sugar to one tablespoon; gingersnaps are sweet enough on their own. I followed the rest of the recipe instructions as written.

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Detour Number Two ‚Äď I own a very small food processor. I realized the impossibility of processing all the filling ingredients at one time, so I opted to use my mixer instead. I had no problems substituting the mixer for the processor. I followed the filling instructions as written. The Pumpkin Cheesecake baked perfectly!

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Detour Number Three ‚Äď No one in my family likes meringue topping on a pie. Although it looks pretty, the ingredients and the time involved in whipping it up would be a total waste. Instead of the meringue I used large marshmallows masquerading as an elegant topping.

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Quick Tip ‚Äď To give the marshmallows a prettier appearance I cut them in half and notched the edges.

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I placed them, cut side down, on a piece of parchment and toasted them in the toaster oven. Ah, lovely…they began to brown and give off the aroma of campfire marshmallows. I took them out when they deepened in color to golden brown.

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I placed the whole tray in the freezer and let them harden. Believe me when I warn you touching them right out of the oven will firmly attach them to your finger or the knife you are using. When they were fairly frozen, I flipped them and let the sticky underside harden in the freezer.

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The marshmallows turned out to be a pretty good stand-in for the meringue.


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I also left a portion of the cheesecake edge bare.

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The marshmallows are cute, but I prefer whipped cream on almost all the pie I eat.
Whoops! Almost forgot to mention the taste of the pumpkin cheesecake is fabulous! Definitely a recipe to keep. The recipe is on the Martha Stewart Living Website – Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie with Gingersnap Crust

Pots and Pans – Jam Breakfast Bars

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I love the site Budget101.com, another terrific site is:

Grocery Budget 101

I recently tried one of their recipes: Jam Breakfast Bars. I followed the recipe as written,¬†but left¬†the walnuts out of my bars because of a grandchild’s peanut and tree nut allergy. The bars turned out fine without the nuts added. You can find the entire recipe, wonderful photographs, and descriptions here: Grocery Budget 101 Jam Breakfast Bars *

I am very impressed with the information provided by this terrific site. They not only give you the recipe but also great photo directions and break down the cost of making the recipe into dollars and cents. Check it out!

As I was mixing up the topping for the bars, I was a bit apprehensive about the lack of sugar. No problem! The sugar in the jam beneath the topping was plenty sweet.

Here are a few tips I am adding after baking the bars: I taste tested the bars right out of the oven, at room temperature, and cold from the fridge. Surprisingly, I liked them best out of fridge. The jam firms up again, and the bars have a nice texture. I usually prefer baked goods warm but not this time. I also used a 7 x 9 pan instead of the suggested 8 x8, and they bars came out perfect by following the same suggested baking time.

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Don’t be tempted to skip the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan!

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I had to chisel my way through the side of the bars after cooling with a paring knife. The baked jam really adheres to the baking pan. I was SO glad I had followed the directions and used the parchment on the bottom. (No need to grease this way) I am sure that to leave out the parchment would completely ruin the recipe. By the time you scraped the bars away from the bottom of the pan the whole recipe would be crumbled. Next time I bake them I will carefully run a paring knife around the sides while they are still warm.

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After the bars were cool I flipped them out onto a cutting sheet and cut through them upside down. This kept the top of the bars from falling apart during the cutting.

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The bars are sticky so I stored them in the fridge between layers of waxed paper.

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I had everything I needed to make these bars in the pantry except the jam. I used Smuckers Strawberry. In the future I will stock up on jam when it goes on sale and the recipe will be even more budget friendly. Why does costing only pennies per serving¬†somehow make the bars taste even better? Happy Baking! ūüôā

* If I don’t know the source of a recipe I use I will include the recipe in my post, if I do know the source I include the link to it in my post. If the link is broken or takes you to the wrong post let me know through the comments section and I will fix it! Thanks.

Pots & Pans – Throwback Thursday/Patriotic Muffins

It’s the perfect time of year to reblog one of my favorite recipes. Fresh fruit is plentiful, and happily, for the Fourth of July blueberries and luscious red strawberries can still be found. I baked a batch of these up last night, and amid my family’s, “yums,” and “ahs,” knew it was time to post the recipe again. Enjoy!

Years ago, many, many years ago, when I was a new bride, my cousin Norma hand-copied dozens of her favorite recipes and put them in a binder as a wedding gift. I have cooked up many of these recipes, but my all-time favorite remains her muffin recipe. It is a very basic recipe that makes about 18 muffins. I have added all kinds of fruits and without fail the muffins turn out. Once in a while, when I am feeling in the need of cooking even healthier, I will use half wheat flour in place of the white. These muffins are good for using the harder strawberries the supermarkets often sell at a great price. The berries soften and the flavor is intensified when they bake. I’ve included Norma’s recipe at the bottom of the post. Happy Baking!

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Tempting Tip: Always slice a muffin vertically rather than horizontally. That way you get a bit of the muffin top in every bite. Delish! These muffins taste even better when lightly toasted and buttered.

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Norma’s Muffins (I think I have shared these in a previous post but the recipe is worth repeating)

3 Cups flour ( you can substitute half wheat flour, makes a heartier tasting muffin)

1 Cup sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 beaten eggs

1 Cup milk ( can be 2%)

1/2 Cup salad oil

Mix all ingredients together. Do not over-mix. (causes toughness) The batter will be a bit lumpy. Bake at 400 degrees for twenty minutes. Makes about 18 muffins. The recipe can also easily be halved or doubled.

Pots & Pans & Plants – Crockpots and the Joy of an Herb Garden

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Over the years I have grown herbs, both culinary and medicinal. I use my fresh herbs constantly. During the last few winters I have been able to purchase organic herb plants in the produce section of my local grocery store. I now use fresh herbs year-round.

In the summer I am often busy and need to make a quick meal that will not heat up the house. To cook a delicious and super-easy dinner, I place four turkey legs and a dozen small red potatoes into my crockpot. I add about a cup of water to these ingredients. As the turkey cooks juices will mix with the water and create a delicious broth for gravy. Salt, pepper, a touch of garlic powder, and some wedges of onion complete the meal. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or at high for 5-6 hours. The house will smell like Thanksgiving even if it’s summertime. An added bonus for me is heaping the top of my food with freshly-picked herbs. The herbs in this photo are: chervil, oregano and thyme. (Sage & parsley are¬†great additions too.) The smell is intoxicating. Happy Cooking!

‚≠ź This crockpot meal will feed four adults. It is easily halved for two people. The amount of water added should stay the same.

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Pots and Pans – Fresh Pineapple and Cheese Casserole with a TWIST.

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Pineapple on sale…only $1.99 apiece. Terrific! Only problem is I don’t like eating pineapple by itself…hmmm…grandchildren over for dinner, how best would they like to eat the pineapple? I decided on baked pineapple casserole. When I looked for a recipe on the Internet all I found were recipes for canned pineapple. Not an option when you have a gigantic pineapple waiting to be eaten. Finally on the site Big Oven, I found a recipe for a fresh pineapple casserole. You can find that recipe here: Fresh Pineapple and Cheese Casserole

I cut the pineapple up into small chunks as instructed, and began putting the casserole together, only to discover I did not have the proper ingredients. I had no Ritz crackers, and my shredded cheese was flavored for Tacos. RATS! What to do with all the pineapple I had cut? I decided to use what I had on hand. Soda crackers and the Taco flavored cheese would have to stand in for the proper ingredients. I also chose to add a bit of brown sugar to the recipe to mimic the richness of the Ritz Crackers.

Oh MY! The casserole was delicious. Everyone from young to well, hmmm…older, enjoyed the pineapple cheese casserole and asked for more. Here is my altered recipe. I am sure Big Oven’s recipe is terrific too since most of the ingredients listed were also in my casserole.

1/2 c Sugar
1/2 c Butter (melted)
1 c Fresh pineapple; chunks ( make the chunks smaller rather than larger, a few of mine stayed a little hard)
3 tbs Flour
1 1/4 Cups soda crackers; crushed into small and large crumbs
1 Cup shredded Taco seasoned cheddar cheese
2 TBS brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 x 9 baking pan or dish. Mix sugar and flour together. Stir pineapple into the flour and sugar. Pour into a greased baking dish. (I like glass for this recipe, you can also use a large round casserole dish) Sprinkle with taco cheese in an even layer on top. Add 1/2 cracker crumbs dry, spaced evenly. Drizzle with half the melted butter. Mix remaining crackers and butter in small bowl. Sprinkle this evenly over top of casserole. Sprinkle 2tbs brown sugar evenly over the top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the topping is crispy and slightly golden brown with bubbly edges. Remove and cool till set. (10-20 minutes) The casserole can be served hot or at room temperature. This recipe reheats easily in microwave or stovetop. You also could bake it a bit, but it might dry out.

Pots and Pans – Cabbage & Kale Casserole

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Grocery stores are full of cabbage and kale this week. The gorgeous green colors of both these superfoods enticed me to purchase them. I wanted to find a recipe that would combine them. I found a good choice in the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook,  contributed by Edwina Stolzfus of Narvon, PA. I was sure I could tweak the recipe a bit to include kale. This casserole is created for cooking in a crockpot. The ingredients could easily be adapted to bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45- 60 minutes.

Here is my version of the recipe. I added kale and mustard and a touch less cheese than the original. This recipe is a perfect choice for St. Patrick’s Day.

CABBAGE CASSEROLE
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
1/2 bunch of kale, torn away
from stem in bite-sized pieces

Boil cabbage and kale in salted water
for about five minutes.
The pan will be full,
but as the cabbage and kale cook and
soften they will reduce in size. Drain.

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2  8 oz. block of cheddar cheese,
shredded, about one cup
1/2 to 1 tbsp gourmet mustard
(I used champagne dill mustard, it is a
very delicate mustard, if your mustard
choice is strong in flavor use a bit less)

In a saucepan, gently melt the butter, do not
allow to burn. Stir in flour, salt and pepper.
Whisk until they thicken a bit. Add milk,
stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture
thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and
mustard. Pour sauce over cabbage and kale.
Place in crockpot. Cook on low 4-5 hours.

Delicious! Even my seven year old grandson loved it!

Pots & Pans – Valentine Goodies

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I found a terrific idea for Valentine Tarts in Sunday’s Parade Magazine. For those who aren’t familiar with Parade, the magazine is an insert in many papers in the U.S.A. I doubled the recipe and used four sheets of pie dough. Do not double the filling recipe below as it makes a large amount.

You can find the recipe here: Parade Magazine Homemade Valentine Heart Tarts

The basic instructions and recipe are on this site, along with some filling ideas. I searched around the Internet and found a cream cheese and raspberry filling recipe that I adapted for my tarts. A step by step photo tutorial is pictured below that will show you how I put my tarts together. I also added any little quirks or tips I thought might be helpful.

Filling:

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Beat these ingredients together.

Heat jam on stovetop until smooth. A wire whisk works well.
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

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I was able to get eight to nine tarts out of two pie sheets.

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Just a little filling, less than a tablespoon, was plenty. I realized I had made WAY  too much filling early on.

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If possible leave some wiggle room around each heart, especially near the edges of the pan, my crimping with a fork was very cramped!

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The egg wash did add a nice finish to the top of the tarts.

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Oh my! I definitely overfilled. The filling bubbled out. The raspberry baked like glue onto the pan. I had to soak them and work at the burnt areas with a teflon safe spatula.

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The burnt raspberry jam turns rock hard in moments. Remove the tarts to a cooling rack immediately upon completion of baking.

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Let the tarts completely cool before frosting. I should have made a double batch of the frosting. I forgot I had doubled the amount of tarts I had baked.

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I had so much filling left over, I crushed some vanilla shortbread, added some butter, and made some small cheesecakes. They turned out terrific.

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Although it is a bit expensive to make this special dessert. I will definitely make them again. The tarts are a departure from the normal cookies, large pies, and cakes.

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Pots and Pans – Chocolate-dipped Pretzels

 

Chocolate-covered pretzels are a perfect project for children primary-aged or older. Yesterday, my grandsons and I covered pretzels with Ghirardelli Chocolate and some rainbow sprinkles.

The supplies we used were: chocolate melting pot, 1/2 a bag of Ghirardelli baking chips, Herr’s sour dough pretzels, and candy sprinkles. It’s a good idea to place several layers of newspaper or other protection in your work area.

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My first step was plugging in the chocolate fondue pot and adding the half bag of chips. I bought the fondue pot several years ago for about ten dollars. I have been very happy with the results it produces. Anyone who has ever heated chocolate with microwave, double-boiler or stovetop pot has also probably heated it to a temperature that is too high. The resulting mass of hardened, rocky chocolate is beyond saving. This small pot melts the chocolate perfectly…although a bit slowly. I begin melting chocolate about a half hour before I want to dip the pretzels.

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Herr’s makes a delicious, large and sturdy sour-dough pretzel. The pretzel holds up to dipping without breaking, but is not too hard or brittle for youngsters to enjoy.

We set aside the pretzels we intended to dip, poured the sprinkles onto plates, covered cookie sheets with parchment and began dipping. The pot is made for dipping so I didn’t worry about anyone being burned.

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The weather is chilly here, so instead of placing the cookie sheets in the fridge for a quick set, we put them on the back porch. Within a half hour the pretzels were ready to eat. This project was enjoyed by my grandsons. Happy dipping!

 

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Pots & Pans – Repeat Post/Penguin Appetizers

These turned out so cute for me! With all the parties and gathering going on for New Year’s Eve and Day, it’s a good time to repost.

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These adorable penguin appetizers were a big hit at Christmas dinner yesterday. Peel and cut carrots into medallions, cut a notch out of each medallion for the feet which automatically creates a beak to place in the large end of a small pitted black olive. Using a large pitted black olive, cut a small slit in the front, open and place about a quarter teaspoon of cream cheese inside. (I used the already softened variety of cream cheese in a tub) It helps if you shape the cream cheese a bit on a plate or wax paper before you place it inside the olive. Take a toothpick, insert through head, into the larger cream cheese body and into the feet with the notch pointing frontwards. So easy, not expensive, and so much fun!!!

I found this idea on Pinterest. Click here to visit Pinterest

I wish I had taken a photograph of my little flock, but in the busyness of the day became distracted and forgot. They are even cuter when you have a dozen or more standing at attention on a serving plate.

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Pots and Pans – Frozen Banana Bites

These are surprisingly good and very easy to make…a perfect candidate for re-blogging.

Oh my…oh my…oh my! Once in awhile I come upon a perfect recipe. I found a recipe for Frozen Banana Bites on Pinterest, pinned there from the blog of “(Never Home) Maker.” The recipe on her blog post was for Vegan Frozen Banana Bites. Since I’m not a vegan I adapted my banana bites in my own way. Here is my adaptation:

Frozen Banana Bites

2 whole ripe bananas

1/3 C peanut butter

1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghiardelli 60% cocoa)

Pecans for garnish chopped fine

The recipe is so EASY!!! Cut ripe banana into about 8 – 9 pieces. Set aside in a bowl. Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips 20 seconds at a time in the microwave. It only took me 40 seconds in all to melt the chocolate. Don’t heat the chocolate too much or it will seize up on you and turn into a big lumpy ball of useless junk. Stir the peanut butter and chocolate until they are mixed and smooth. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet, dab a bit of chocolate on parchment, top with a banana slice. Spoon chocolate over each banana slice until they are coated. Don’t worry if the chocolate puddles out a bit…this makes an interesting shape and delicious chocolate bite. Top with chopped pecans or leave plain. You can also use coconut or rainbow jimmies. Freeze for several hours. Take off of parchment paper and eat or put in a bowl and pop back in the freezer for a later date.

Don’t feel guilty as you enjoy this treat. The bananas are loaded with potassium and other good things. The chocolate is full of antioxidants and facilitates good moods, the peanut butter is loaded with protein, and the nuts are full of vitamin E and protein too.

I have a grandson who has a peanut allergy. I am going to try and make these with marshmallow fluff in place of the peanut butter and use jimmies as the topper. I hope they work. I’ll update with a blog post when I try them out. Check out Pinterest on the internet, so many good ideas!

Here is (Never Home) Maker’s Vegan Recipe:

FROZEN BANANA BITES

What you’ll need . . .
‚ÄĘ2 large bananas
‚ÄĘ1/4 to 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
‚ÄĘ1/4 to 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
‚ÄĘUnsweetened coconut flakes

Here is a link to her outstanding blog: (Never Home) Maker

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