Cheesy Potato Pancakes with Sausage


Cheesy Potato Pancakes with Sausage 

INGREDIENTS


  • 1 (12 oz.) package breakfast sausage patties
  •  Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup Hungry Jack® Complete Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix (Just Add Water)
  • 1 1/2 cups Hungry Jack® Instant Mashed Potato Flakes
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Hungry Jack® Original Syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese


Preparation how to make Cheesy Potato Pancakes with Sausage

1.COOK and crumble sausage patties in large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain, if necessary.

2.SPRAY skillet or griddle with no-stick cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°F.

3.COMBINE pancake mix and potato flakes in large bowl. Whisk together milk, eggs, oil and syrup, if desired, in medium bowl. Add liquids to dry ingredients, stirring just until large lumps disappear. Blend in carrots, onions, Parmesan cheese and cooked sausage.

4.POUR 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto hot skillet or griddle. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Place 3 or 4 pancakes on dinner plate. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese before serving.

NUTRIONAL INFORMATION

Serving Size (1/6 of recipe), Calories 430 (Calories from Fat 210), Total Fat 24g (Saturated Fat 9g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 105mg, Sodium 720mg, Total Carbohydrate 38g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 9g), Protein 17g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 40%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 30%, Iron 8%.

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats This "recipe" couldn't be easier, faster or tastier. In this batch, I added 3/4 cup of miniature chocolate chips to the final mix stage, but the straight peanut butter squares are to-die-for delicious!! They are excellent for snacking, for bake sales, for lunch boxes and especially for "whenever"!!


1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter

Mix the above ingredients in a sauce pan that has a nice heavy bottom. Heat (on medium) until you JUST START to see bubbles around the edge of the pan (watch and stir,  because this mixture wants to scorch if you heat it too fast).

As soon as you see the little bubbles around the edges of the pan, remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla; mix well.

Pour over 6 cups of Rice Krispie cereal and mix well. If you are going to add the miniature chocolate chips; add them after the peanut butter mixture has coated the cereal; the heat of the mixture will melt them just a little, so don't add the chocolate too early.

Pour into a lightly buttered 11" x 7" dish. Pat down with slightly dampened hands. Allow to cool completely and cut into squares.

NOTE: I don't butter my dish, I spray it with vegetable spray and then use a paper towel to wipe out the excess, that way the squares don't have a "greasy" side and the squares DO NOT STICK to the pan.

NOTE: If you have any treats left, after your family descends upon these, store them in an airtight container, or cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Fruit Crumb Bars Recipe



Fruit Crumb Bars Recipe - This is one of those wonderfully versatile recipes that is just as good with apple filling, as it is with cherry filling, or blueberry; whatever your family likes the best.

The crumb crust/topping goes together in just a couple minutes with the food processor and if you can wait long enough for the bars to cool down to room temperature, they cut beautifully. We (obviously) couldn't wait that long (in the photo below).

Fruit Crumb Bars Recipe


CRUMB CRUST/TOPPING
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup COLD butter (cubed)
1 egg, beaten

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder salt and cubed butter into the food processor and pulse until well mixed.  If you don't have a food processor, do it with a pastry cutter and work it until the butter is well mixed. Add egg and mix well (it will look like coarse sand).

Press HALF of this mixture into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish.  Top with fruit filling and top with the other half of the crumb mixture.

Bake at 375° if you are using a metal baking pan or 350° if you are using glass, for 40 minutes or until top crumbs are light golden.

If you cool the bars completely before you cut them,
they will cut very neatly (it is not necessary, but it
makes for a prettier presentation.
CHERRY FRUIT FILLING (or use your favorite filling)
(2) 14 ounce cans tart pie cherries packed in water
1 1/2 cups sugar 
4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (do not leave out)

Drain the cherries, but save the juice.  Put one cup of the juice in a saucepan and add HALF of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until nice and thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the OTHER HALF of the sugar, the cherries and the almond extract. 

Glaze   (optional)
2 tablespoon butter melted
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (do not leave out)

While bars are still a little warm, mix 2 tablespoons melted butter with 2 cups powdered sugar, about 3 or 4 tablespoons of milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Whisk until smooth and drizzle over fruit bars.

Baked Brie with Cranberries and Pears


Baked Brie with Cranberries and Pears


INGREDIENTS


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, or frozen cranberries, thawed and drained
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped fresh pears
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening, melted
  • OR 1/2 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening, melted


PREPARATION 


  1. HEAT oven to 325ºF. Combine cranberries, pears and granulated sugar in 2-quart baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl; spread over cranberry-pear mixture.
  2. BAKE about 1 hour until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.


NUTRITION INFORMATION

Serving Size (1/8 of recipe), Calories 420 (Calories from Fat 160), Total Fat 18g (Saturated Fat 3.5g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 4mg, Total Carbohydrate 64g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 44g), Protein 4g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 4%, Vitamin C 8%, Calcium 4%, Iron 8%.

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Ambrosia Fruit Salad ,Ingredients and Nutrition Information


Ambrosia Fruit Salad 


INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/3 cup Crisco® Pure Canola Oil
  • OR 1/3 cup Crisco® Puritan® Canola Oil with Omega-3 DHA
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 12 cups chopped fresh fruit, any combination
  • 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (6 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and cut in half
  •  Fresh mint sprigs (optional)


PREPARATION 

COMBINE orange juice concentrate, oil, honey, vinegar and ginger in blender or food processor. Process until thick and creamy.

2.TOSS fruit with dressing to taste in large serving bowl. Garnish with toasted coconut, pecans, cherries and mint sprigs. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving time.


NUTRITION INFORMATION

Serving Size (1/12 of recipe), Calories 300 (Calories from Fat 130), Total Fat 14g (Saturated Fat 4.5g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 10mg, Total Carbohydrate 46g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 38g), Protein 2g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 25%, Vitamin C 100%, Calcium 4%, Iron 6%.

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

PIZZA SAUCE

MUSHROOM  CHEESE STUFFED HAMBURGERS with HOMEMADE BUNS Spring is here (even here in Alaska) and thoughts turn to outdoor barbeque's and camping. I’m always on the lookout for easy recipes that will “hold up” well in the cooler and Mushroom Stuffed Hamburgers is a good one. You can make the patties ahead of time and freeze them solid (which will help insure food safety while you travel.) Just throw these frozen patties on the grill and pair them with homemade hamburger buns (recipe follows) and you have a delicious cookout!


MUSHROOM  CHEESE STUFFED HAMBURGERS with HOMEMADE BUNSCan you tell that someone in my house loves mayo? LOL
(makes 4 hamburgers)
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms (sautéed)
favorite cheese
Each of these hamburgers is made out of two thin patties with mushrooms and cheese sandwiched in between. So mix everything (except the mushrooms & cheese) and make 8 thin patties. Top four of the patties with sautéed mushrooms and your favorite cheese and then a 2nd thin patty, pressing to seal the edges well. Repeat for the other three hamburgers.

If you are going to freeze these, wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and lay them flat on a cookie sheet to freeze. When they are frozen, you can stack them in a freezer Ziploc bag. Whether you are taking these on a camping trip or just leaving them in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal, they taste great.

HAMBURGER BUNS

This recipe will make at least 2 dozen hamburger buns. Once baked, they freeze extremely well. I find myself using them for everything from breakfast sandwiches to peanut butter sandwiches.

  • 5 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 packets of dry active yeast (I use 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups very warm water

In an electric stand mixer, place 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, oil and salt (stir to combine dry ingredients) Add 2 ½ cups of very warm water (see note). Stir quickly while you add the water. Let this mixture sit for about 10 minutes.


Add the rest of the flour, about ½ cup at a time, scraping the sides of your bowl and dough hook each time. Every time you stop your mixer, turn all of the dough mass over. Let your machine knead this dough until it CLEANLY comes away from the side of your mixer. If you have added all 5 cups of flour and it has not come cleanly away from your bowl, you need to add just a little more flour.

Once the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of your bowl, let the machine knead it for about five more minutes. Remove the dough and grease the bowl. Return the bread to the greased bowl and grease the top of the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour (it will more than double in volume).

Punch the air out of your dough and let it rest (covered) for 15-20 minutes. This step is important because your dough will “behave” much better while you form it, if you follow this step. Pinch off pieces of dough about the size of a tangerine. Make each ball as round as you can. Roll each ball into a 5” circle. Resist the temptation to add more dough to make a thicker bun. At this stage, your buns need to be a lot thinner than you think. (about ½” thick). If you add more dough, you are going to end up with a burger bun the size of your face!

Place the formed buns on a greased baking sheet and spritz the top of the dough with just a little cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes. Bake at 400° for 15-16 minutes.

If you are going to freeze these buns, let them cool completely first and freeze as soon as possible. About 4 to 5 minutes in a 350° oven will heat a frozen burger bun and make it taste like it was just baked.


This recipe also makes excellent sandwich bread

Apple Cheesecake Pie Recipe

Apple Cheesecake Pie Recipe

Apple Cheesecake Pie Recipe

INGREDIENTS

CRUST
Double Crust Classic Crisco Pie Crust
CHEESECAKE FILLING
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon apple juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
APPLE FILLING
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups peeled, cored, sliced Jonathon or Granny Smith apples (about 2 lbs. or 4 large)
2 tablespoons butter, softened



PREPARATION 

1.PREPARE recipe for double crust pie. Roll out dough for bottom crust. Place in 9-inch pie plate. Press to fit without stretching dough. Trim even with pie plate. Heat oven to 375°F.

2.COMBINE cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg, apple juice and vanilla in small bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Spread evenly in unbaked pie crust.

3.COMBINE 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Place apple slices in large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar mixture and toss to coat. Spoon over cheesecake filling in pie crust. Dot evenly with butter. Moisten pastry edge with water.

4.ROLL out dough for top crust. Place over filled pie. Trim 1/2-inch beyond edge. Fold top crust under bottom crust edge to seal. Flutes edges. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to allow steam to escape.

5.BAKE 60 to 65 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack before serving. Store in refrigerator.


NUTRITION INFORMATION
Serving Size (1 slice, 1/8 of pie), Calories 420 (Calories from Fat 190), Total Fat 21g (Saturated Fat 6g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 10mg, Sodium 460mg, Total Carbohydrate 54g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 21g), Protein 4g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 6%, Calcium 2%, Iron 8%.

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

APPLE PIE CHEESECAKE FOR TWO

This is a wonderful (and super easy) dessert to top off that romantic Valentine dinner for two (and you can make it all ahead of time!!).  It is a creamy cheesecake, topped with a warm apple pie filling and cold whipped cream........best of the best!!


Preheat your oven to 325°F, and line a mini-loaf pan (6"x3"x2") with foil, then lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

CRUST
1/4  cup graham cracker crumbs
2    teaspoons sugar
2    teaspoons melted butter
1    tablespoon chopped pecans
pinch of cinnamon

Mix well and press into the bottom of your prepared mini-loaf pan.

CHEESECAKE FILLING
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons flour
1 large egg white

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until very smooth; mix in the flour and egg white and beat just until smooth (takes just a second).

Spread the filling, evenly, over the crumb crust. Set the mini loaf pan inside an 8" or 9" cake pan and fill the bigger pan with some HOT water (hot water should be about 1" deep). Bake 28-33 minutes (my electric oven takes exactly 33 minutes). The cheesecake should be just "set" and barely jiggle when you tap on the side of the loaf pan.

Remove from oven and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 or 3 hours (or overnight).

APPLE PIE TOPPING
This topping should be put on the cheesecake just before serving. You can serve it warm (which is how we like it) or cold.




  • 2 large sweet apples (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg


Melt butter and water in a medium saucepan and then add everything else. Saute on low heat for about 5-8 minutes or until apples are tender. Thicken the sauce with a slurry of 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of water.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.

You can use this topping after it cools down a little, or if you want to serve it cold, just store it in the fridge.

When it's time to serve, grab the ends of the foil in the mini-loaf pan and lift the cheesecake out.  Cut the cheesecake in half and place on dessert dishes; top each one with a large serving of apple pie filling (warm or cold). Top with sweetened whipped cream.


Apple Snacking Cake Recipe

Apple Snacking Cake Recipe  - This old fashioned, super moist, snack cake is quick, easy and only takes ONE apple!! It is the PERFECT snacking cake and goes wonderfully in a lunch box.



Apple Snacking Cake Recipe  

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1  1/2 cups flour
  • 1  3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large apple


Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan.

Core and peel the apple then pulse it in the food processor a few times until the pieces are about the size of a green pea.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and set aside. 

Beat white sugar and butter together until smooth and creamy; beat in eggs, one at a time; add vanilla, flour and baking powder and beat until smooth, then stir in the milk and chopped apples, until the batter is well mixed.

Place 1/3 of the batter in the loaf pan and top with 1/3 of the sugar-cinnamon mixture; do that two more times, ending with sugar cinnamon.

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes (my electric oven takes 40 minutes) or until toothpick tests clean.


Let cake cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it out on a rack to cool.

This snacking cake definitely does NOT need any frosting, ENJOY!!




Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Homemade Chocolate Pudding - I admit I have posted a lot of pudding recipes, but then again, I have tried many, many more pudding recipes than I have posted, so I've tried to hold back and post only the best ones...........Oh who am I kidding, WE LOVE PUDDING!!

With that said, today's chocolate pudding is BY FAR THE BEST ONE YET. It has a silky smooth mouth feel (important in pudding), a wonderfully deep milk chocolate flavor and it has a wonderful consistency.........it is REALLY good.


Homemade Chocolate Pudding

3 (slightly heaping) tablespoons bakers cocoa powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg YOLKS
2 level tablespoons corn starch
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
5 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk the cocoa, brown sugar and corn starch together and set aside.

Whisk the cream, milk and yolks together in a saucepan that has a nice heavy bottom (it prevents scorching). Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and whisk until smooth. Make sure you scrape the corners of the pan because the corn starch likes to "hide" there.

Cook on medium heat (stirring) until it gets thick and starts to bubble all over the entire surface of the pudding. TURN THE HEAT DOWN to a level where it still bubbles (but isn't going crazy) and cook/stir for another 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and add the butter, milk chocolate chips and vanilla; whisk until melted and smooth. Now, if you REALLY want that super smooth and silky mouth feel, pour the cooked pudding through a mesh strainer, it really makes a difference but isn't absolutely necessary.

Pour into dessert dishes and lay a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap right on the surface of the hot pudding (this will stop any "pudding skin" from forming). Chill for at least 4 hours.


NOTE: The quality of your milk chocolate chips makes a difference; make sure they are real chocolate, not imitation.

NOTE: Make sure you use unsweetened baking cocoa.

FRESH PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

FRESH PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKEI'm not sure WHY I've never thought of making a pineapple upside-down cake with FRESH pineapple before. Maybe it is because ALL of my cookbooks suggest canned pineapple? Maybe it is because canned pineapple is always in the pantry? Maybe it is because I'm not very adventurous? Well, this cake came about due to the rare combination of... "I want to bake something" + "what can I do with this very ripe pineapple?" + "the perfect window of time". 

The end result was this pineapple upside-down cake made with FRESH pineapple and it was delicious!! The difference is like night and day!!




Preheat your oven to 350 and cut a parchment paper liner for the bottom of a 9" round cake pan. Spray the pan and parchment paper with a light coating of cooking spray. The parchment paper is not absolutely necessary, but it helps if you have a "sticking" issue with the sweet pineapple glaze (you can use waxed paper in a pinch).


  • 5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 cups fresh pineapple cut into 1" cubes (see note)
  • maraschino cherries cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice (or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped medium-small


Mix melted butter with brown sugar and spread evenly in prepared 9" round cake pan. Set aside.

Cut pineapple into 1" chunks and blot them dry between several thicknesses of paper towel (press on them a little to extract excess juice).

For the batter, cream the butter and sugar until it is really fluffy. Under-beating the butter at this stage will give you a poor quality cake. When it is nice and fluffy, add the eggs (one at a time) and extracts and beat until its fluffy again.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternately with the pineapple juice (or milk) starting and ending with the flour. Set aside.

Assembly: Nestle the pineapple, pecans and cherry pieces down into the brown sugar mixture in the cake pan (arrange in pretty fashion because this will show). Pour the cake batter over the top and very gently spread it out.

Bake in 350 oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean (my oven takes exactly 45 minutes). Remove from oven and sit pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving plate and peel off the parchment paper. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: Traditionally, pineapple upside-down cake has pretty rings of pineapple with red cherries in the center of each ring. However, when the cake is baked like that, it is hard to eat. You either get a big unmanageable hunk of pineapple on your piece of cake or no pineapple at all (does that make sense?). Instead, I cut the pineapple into very small pieces (almost a dice) and arrange the cherries randomly over the cake. It is much easier to cut, serve and eat (even if it ISN'T traditional). If you use this diced pineapple style, it only takes two cups of diced fruit instead of three.

PIZZA CHICKEN

PIZZA CHICKENThis is the time of year that I get into a menu rut pothole and start pulling out my old cookbooks in search of new ideas on how to use that big bag of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer. Yes, friends, I have spring fever!!

I came up with this recipe a few years ago and it is not only super easy, but a quick and tasty week night recipe.


Pound four or five boneless-skinless chicken breasts out a little. How thin you get them isn't really crucial, but just try and make them an even thickness (so the whole breast cooks evenly).
Salt and pepper the chicken meat and dust them with flour and fry them in a little butter until 99% done and then let them rest on some paper towels while you make the sauce.
In a saucepan, whisk the following until smooth:

INGREDIENT 

  • (1) 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 + 1/2 cans of water
  • 2 teaspoons of dry onion flakes (or equal fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Simmer slowly until the sauce thickens up (takes about 2 or 3 minutes).
Placed browned chicken breasts on a rimmed baking pan and top with a nice THICK layer of pizza sauce, then top with shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese and any veggies (if you want them). Just make sure the veggies are cooked.

Bake them until the meat is hot and the cheese is melted...quick and easy!!  You can also cut the raw chicken breast meat into kid size portions or even "nugget" size portions.




CHEESECAKE BROWNIE CUPCAKES

CHEESECAKE BROWNIE CUPCAKESThis recipe is a delightful combination of a brownie layer baked under a vanilla cheesecake layer; do I have your attention yet? 

They are delicious and seriously going onto my holiday dessert tray this year. If you like chocolate (duh!!) AND you like cheesecake (double duh!!) you will love these quick and simple treats.



Brownie Layer
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup flour

Heat chocolate, cocoa and butter (I use my microwave) just until melted, then stir well and set aside to cool while you do the next step.

In another medium size bowl mix sugar, egg and vanilla till smooth; add melted chocolate/butter and flour and stir just until it looks well mixed (I do this by hand - no mixer); set aside.

Cheesecake Layer
8 ounce cream cheese (room temperature)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is very smooth. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and continue mixing until creamy smooth.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pan with 12 foil liners. If you don't have foil liners, you can use paper liners, but you will have to mist them with a little vegetable spray.

Put a very lightly rounded tablespoon of brownie batter in each cupcake foil and roughly spread it around a little.

Top the brownie layer with the cheesecake mixture, dividing it equally between the 12 cupcakes.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven but do not remove from the cupcake pan. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill in fridge (still in pan) for several hours.



I topped these little gems with a ganache (but you don't have to).  To make that, I just mixed a large handful of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup very hot (but not boiling) heavy cream, stirring until thick and smooth.

These are also very pretty at holiday time, topped with cherry pie filling and a swirl of whipped cream; it's sort of an individual black forest cake idea.



MAPLE CANDIED BACON

MAPLE CANDIED BACON  -Now I know that bacon isn't on a lot of our low calorie diets, but once in a while, you just have to live a little!!

I've seen candied bacon recipes all over the Internet and often wondered what all the fuss was about, after all, what can be better than fried bacon? Well, I'm here to tell you that CANDIED BACON is the answer. Holy cow, this stuff is good!!




Some people are dicing it and putting it on top of maple frosted cupcakes, some people are dicing it and putting it into deviled eggs, and some people like me who shall remain nameless, just devour it right out of the warm pan!!  It's just THAT good!!

There's not much of a recipe, but there ARE several tips I can give you that will help a bit.

First of all, use a large cookie sheet that has a lip on it. Line it with foil (this will make clean up a breeze) and put an oven safe wire rack on the foil (make sure to spray both sides of the baking rack with cooking spray too...that will also help).



Now a word about which bacon to use. Quality thick sliced smoked bacon works best, but it takes a lot longer to cook. Regular thickness smoked bacon works well but you REALLY have to watch it like crazy so it doesn't burn.......it's your choice.  I think I like the thicker bacon better; I have had great success using apple wood smoked bacon.

Preheat your oven to 400° if you are using thick bacon and 375° if you are using regular thickness.

Mix 1/2 cup of REAL maple syrup and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Place the raw bacon slices on the baking rack, making sure that the slices don't overlap. Baste the raw bacon liberally (on one side) with the syrup-mustard mixture. 

Bake thick bacon for 20 minutes and regular sliced bacon for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, flip the bacon over and baste the other side with the syrup-mustard mixture. Put back in oven and bake the thick slices for another 20 minutes and the regular slices for another 10 minutes.

CAUTION: If you use the regular sliced bacon, watch it very carefully the last few minutes, because it can burn quickly if you leave it in too long.


When you take it out of the oven (the last time), sprinkle it very lightly with black pepper and TAKE IT OFF OF THE BAKING RACK.

I cool mine on parchment paper for about 15 minutes; unless I'm eating it right away I turn it over to make sure it cools/dries evenly.

NOTE: When I am out of REAL maple syrup, I've tried this recipe using pancake syrup. It works ok too, but it burns easier and the real maple syrup tastes a LOT better.


BRANDY SNAPS

BRANDY SNAPSIf you want to impress your guests, make some of these Brandy Snaps for them. They look so elegant and they are definitely not something you see on every dessert tray.

A hard candy shell filled with sweetened whipped cream...do I have your attention yet?  Pretty fool proof if you follow my extra tips below printed in RED, AND you can make them days in advance and fill them just before your guests arrive. 


Brandy Snaps are basically a crisp, sweet, lacy, candy shell that you can fill with sweetened whipped cream or your favorite mousse.

They look very hard to make, but it is an illusion; they are pretty easy if you pay attention to the tips below in RED.

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1/4 cup butter  (I used only 3 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons brandy (or) 1 teaspoon vanilla (I used rum extract)
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Since this whole process goes VERY fast, it is best to have everything ready before you start cooking the above ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 350° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (important). These candy shells REALLY spread as they cook, so only plan on making six of them on each cookie sheet.

Mix the sugar, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. STIR over medium heat until the mixture is good and bubbling, then remove from heat and stir in the flour and flavoring.

Drop one measuring teaspoon (per candy shell) of the cooked mixture onto the parchment paper. This will spread out into a circle about 4" in diameter as it bakes for about 6 to 7 minutes, but watch them very carefully after six minutes, as they can go from caramel colored to DARK very fast. It sounds tricky, but it isn't.

My candy circles were fairly pale in color until they hit the 6 minute mark in my electric oven, but they were a beautiful light caramel color at 6 1/2 minutes.

When they have turned a nice light caramel color, remove from the oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet for about 30 seconds. If they look a little oily, LIGHTLY dab them with a paper towel.

Use a pointed knife and lift the edge of the candy circle up a little so that you can grab it with your fingers (be careful, this is VERY  hot). One at a time, quickly roll the candy circle around the handle of a wooden spoon (they will cool almost immediately and hold their shape).

Once you form it around the spoon handle, it will instantly be cool enough to slide the candy tube off of the handle, and it's done!! 

If the other candies get too "hard" to roll, put them back in the oven for 30 seconds or so (but that shouldn't be a problem, as they stay fairly pliable as long as they are on the hot cookie sheet), they only become rigid once they cool off.






I didn't use a spoon handle, I used some metal cannoli tubes I have and they worked perfectly (no need to grease the spoon handle).

Keep the cooled candy tubes in an air tight container until you are ready to serve them. Fill them with sweetened whipped cream (the candy tubes can be filled up to about an hour before serving).

Don't be scared off by any of my "warnings' about this recipe, it may sound complicated, but it really is pretty easy and I hope you try it.

NOTE: I substituted rum extract for the vanilla, the candy tasted like butterscotch. I think ANY extract would work.

NOTE: You don't have to fill these with whipped cream. Almost any mousse like whipped filling would work wonderfully.


PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES


PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES - This glass cookie jar has been on my kitchen counter for the last 20 years. At least 75% of that time, it had peanut butter cookies in it. Our standard comment (“the kids like peanut butter cookies”) was obviously just an excuse, because the kids are all grown (with families of their own) and the jar is STILL full of peanut butter cookies. Needless to say, I don’t even look the recipe up anymore…I think I could make these cookies in my sleep.

Preheat oven to 375° Bake on un-greased cookie sheet
In large mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat until smooth:

  • 1 cup butter flavored Crisco
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Once the above mixture is smooth, add 2 ½ cups flour, 1½ teaspoons baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well. Cookie dough should be moist and hold together easily when you squeeze a hand full. If it seems a little dry or crumbly, add a couple tablespoons of water.
Roll the dough into balls about the size of walnuts, and then roll the balls in granulated sugar. Place on UN-greased baking sheet and flatten with fork tines in criss-cross pattern. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375°; cool on parchment paper.
NOTE: Cooking time depends on how large you make these cookies. Dough balls about the size of a walnut, bake for 11 minutes in my oven.
NOTE: The original recipe called for butter (instead of the Butter Flavored Crisco). The Butter Flavored Crisco makes a much lighter & crispier cookie than butter (and still provides the buttery taste).

DOUGHNUT MUFFINS

Last week, I was watching the cooking channel, and someone was raving about a bakery that sold donut muffins (a new one for me). A few days later, I bought a baking magazine and sure enough, there was a recipe for...doughnut muffins!! I don't need to be hit over the head THREE times in order to get the message...I needed to make doughnut muffins!! I'm very glad I did, they are delicious.

Light and tender, buttery and sweet, these muffins are more like a delicious cake doughnut than a heavy dense muffin. Another delightful thing about this recipe is that it makes four dozen muffins, AND you can keep this uncooked batter in the fridge for up to three days, which gives you plenty of time to bake them all off!!

DOUGHNUT MUFFINS

1½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups white sugar
4 large eggs
6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon +2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 + 2/3 cups milk
¼ cup buttermilk

Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl (stand mixer works best because it's a lot of batter). Beat in eggs, one at a time until well mixed.
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Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix the milk and buttermilk together and set aside.
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Mix the dry ingredients, into the butter-sugar mixture, alternatively with the milk mixture (add in thirds), mixing only until it is well mixed after each addition. Don't over mix.
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Grease and flour standard size cupcake pans and fill them 2/3 full. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until they feel firm to the touch.
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Remove the baked doughnut muffins from the pan and dip them (on all sides) in melted butter, then roll them in cinnamon sugar.
To make cinnamon sugar, just mix 2 cups of white granulated sugar with a tablespoon of ground cinnamon. If you are a BIG cinnamon fan, use two tablespoons. These muffins are extremely light and tender and taste like a very good cake doughnut.

ORANGE JELLY - A LITTLE BIT OF SUNSHINE FOR A WINTERS DAY

We woke up to 9 inches of fresh snow this morning and my hopes for an early spring flew out the window. This is the time of year that I get into a real cooking rut, so much so, that even my stock of homemade jam seems boring.
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To combat that, every year about this time, I make a quick batch of this orange jelly for our morning toast. All it takes is 4 oranges, 2 lemons and some sugar, to make this delicious taste of summer...it is not a marmalade.

I still remember the first time I bought marmalade for my family...they hated it. Well, they hated the "chunks" (and so did I), although the jam in between the chunks was tasty (does that make sense?). That is when I decided to create an orange jam that had no chunks...this is it.

4 medium oranges
2 medium lemons
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups water
5 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch Sure Jell liquid fruit pectin

Wash and dry the oranges and lemons. Using a very fine zester, remove the colored part of the fruit. Make sure you don't go deep into the fruit or you will get the white pith, which can be bitter. Set the zest aside.

Peel and cut up the oranges and lemons, then pulse them in the food processor until they look like this, then set them aside.

Put the orange and lemon zest into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add 1½ cups of water and the baking soda. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn it down to a simmer, cover and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 20 minutes.
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After 20 minutes, add the chopped oranges and lemons and simmer for another 10 minutes.
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Put the cooked fruit-zest mixture through a fine mesh strainer and measure off 3 cups of juice.
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Place exactly 3 cups of strained juice into a large heavy bottomed saucepan and add the sugar. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in liquid pectin and return to a full rolling boil for exactly one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
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Immediately pour into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8" of the top. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with 2-piece lids and screw bands on tightly. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

This jam is not only great for your morning toast, but it works excellently for glazing chicken.

NOTE: Because this is a citrus jam, it can take up to a week to full set, but it is SO worth the wait.

LEMON MERINGUE BITES

LEMON MERINGUE BITES - I am a new convert for the little pre-made phyllo cups made by Athens (found in the frozen foods section). I have found many sweet and savory uses for the little time savers.

These sweet little beauties went together in (literally) minutes, thanks to the phyllo cups.

This filling recipe will fill two packages of phyllo cups and since they are so small, they chill quickly and will be ready to serve in short order. Two packages sounds like a lot of lemon pies, but it really isn't (the filling recipe was originally for an 8" pie). Hubby ate four of these after a big meal, so keep that in mind.

2 packages of phyllo cups

LEMON FILLING
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup corn starch
1 cup water
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 drops yellow food color (optional)

MERINGUE TOPPING
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling, mix sugar, cornstarch and water in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil; boil and stir for one minute. Stir half of this mixture into the beaten egg yolks (whisking like crazy to keep the mixture moving). After well mixed, pour the whole thing back into the original pan and boil (and stir) for one more minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and butter. Spoon hot lemon mixture into phyllo cups.
For the meringue topping, beat (with electric mixer) the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy then sprinkle in the sugar, a little at a time, while you are beating; add the vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form when you lift the beaters out of the bowl.
Top the hot lemon filling with a spoonful of meringue. Bake in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes or until the meringue becomes golden and shiny (watch carefully). Cool on the counter until they are room temperature THEN put them in the fridge to chill.

NOTE: Be careful when you separate the eggs; even just a speck of yolk in the egg whites will stop them from whipping correctly. Also, make sure you do NOT whip the egg whites in anything plastic. Any traces of grease or oil in the bowl or on the beaters will stop your egg whites from whipping properly.
Thank you all for your well wishes, regarding our cat Tabitha. She is walking around today and even has found her kitty voice again!! Thanks to lots of "ear licks" from our dog Chloe, Tabitha is well on her way to a full recovery.

HUNGARIAN GOULASH + HOMEMADE PASTA




This is MY kind of comfort food…slow simmered beef until it is fork tender, in a rich, full-bodied gravy and served over homemade noodles; it does not get much better than that. If you make this on the stovetop, it is done in about 2½ hours, at most. If you cook it in the crockpot, it takes about 8 hours on low.

2 pounds of chuck roast
1 medium onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ cups beef broth (not bullion)
¾ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika (not the hot kind)
½ teaspoon dry mustard
healthy pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Trim all of the white fat parts from a 2 pound chuck roast and cut it into one inch cubes. Brown the meat, onion and garlic in the olive oil. Drain any excess fat.

Add the rest of the ingredients and heat to boiling. Stir well and reduce heat to a very gentle simmer. Cover and simmer until fork tender (about 1 ½ to 2 hours depending on how tough the meat is). While this is simmering, make the noodles.



PASTA FOR FOUR

I made the dough for this in my kitchen aid (with paddle attachment). I made this before I got my new pasta roller, so it is a little irregular, but it still tasted great.

2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil

I just put the wet ingredients in first, mixed for a couple seconds, then put in the dry ingredients and mixed until it turned into a nice soft dough. Depending on the moisture content of your flour, you might have to add or subtract a tablespoon of water to get the right consistency (so don’t add all of the water at once). Knead the dough by hand for five minutes (or by machine for 3 minutes).The dough should be smooth, elastic and a just a little tacky to the touch.

Wrap the dough in plastic and let it sit (at room temperature) for 20 minutes…this is the most important step. If you skip this step, the dough will not roll out right and will try to spring back on you. If you let it sit for 20 minutes, it will roll out much easier.

Flour your counter and roll the dough out as thin as you can get it (it is a very forgiving dough and will not crack or tear like piecrust). Keep in mind that when you cook the noodles, they expand, so whatever thickness you roll them out to…your final product will be almost twice as thick! Cut the noodles in thin strips and air dry for an hour or so (I dried my noodles on a baking rack).To cook, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (I added a tablespoon olive oil to the water) and cook the pasta for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it starts to float, it is very close to being done; remove a piece and taste it for doneness.
BACK TO GOULASH

When the noodles are almost done, and the meat is ultra-tender, turn up the heat under the meat and thicken the sauce with a flour-water slurry (¼ cup water + 2 tablespoons flour shaken in a jar). Stir vigorously while adding the slurry to the sauce and cook until thick, remove from heat. Serve goulash over cooked noodles.
NOTE: The first hour that the goulash cooks, the aroma will be strong, but never fear…the second hour, something magical happens and it all mellows out and becomes delicious.

TACO FILLING

TACO FILLING - I often look at the packets of dry seasoning and gravy mixes, at the grocery store, and wonder what is in them besides the main ingredient which seems to be salt. I see young cooks buying packets of taco seasoning mix and I have to resist the urge to tell them “save your money…you probably have the necessary ingredients at home already!”

This is a good, basic, kid friendly recipe for beef taco filling because it is more flavorful than spicy; I’ve used this recipe for many years. If you like more “heat”, just add some (seeded and diced) jalapeño peppers. Personally, I like more heat than my husband (who thinks black pepper is too spicy LOL), so instead of bumping up the seasoning in the whole recipe, I just add some pepperjack cheese to MY taco.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2/3 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon regular paprika (not the hot kind)
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pinch of dried red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • ½ cup water
  • (1) 4 ounce can of Ortega chopped mild green chiles


Brown the ground beef and onions, then drain well. Return meat to pan and add everything else. Simmer for about 15 minutes, using your spatula to chop the burger into fine pieces as it cooks. The water will help disperse the seasonings and then it will cook away. Turn heat down and keep warm until ready to use.

NOTE: If have an unexpected guest or two, just add some refried beans to the meat and mix well.