Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Whistle Dogs

Whistle Dogs

If you've ever eaten at a A&W, then you will for sure know about their Whistle Dogs.  Although they've been discontinued from many of the A&W restaurants, you can still enjoy them at home.

They are so easy to make, but definitely take a normal hotdog to another level.  Bacon......melted cheese......sweet relish......all of these combined bring you a hotdog that is amazingly delicious.

Whistle Dogs

Whistle Dogs

Hotdog Buns
Bacon Slices
American Cheese
Sweet Relish

Begin by cooking your bacon in a skillet, until it is crispy.  Remove and set aside.

Slice the hotdogs in half lengthwise, making sure not to go all the way through.  In essence, you are butterflying the hotdogs.  Cook them in the skillet for a few minutes, then remove them and set them aside.

In the same skillet, toast the buns for a minute or so, until warm.  Remove the buns and return the hotdogs to the pan.  Now take a slice of cheese and top the hotdogs.  Cover with a lid until the cheese gets all melted and gooey.  Place the crispy bacon on top of the cheesy goodness, then using a spatula transfer the hotdogs to the warm buns.

Top with some sweet relish and serve.

Quick, simple, AMAZING!!!

Whistle Dogs

Bacon, Corn and Shallot Spaghetti

This one came about purely out of what I had on hand.  I usually don't mix corn in with my spaghetti, but I wanted a pop of color and it did the job.

Bacon, Corn and Shallot Spaghetti

There is nothing to this spaghetti, no special sauce, or baking or anything involved.  Just a skillet, a couple of ingredients and a delicious pasta dish that everyone will enjoy.

Bacon, Corn and Shallot Spaghetti

Bacon, Corn and Shallot Spaghetti

12 oz Spaghetti noodles
6 slices of bacon
1 shallot, finely diced
1 can of whole kernel corn
Garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp or just tender, however your family prefers.  We all like crispy, except for my son, so I just cooked it until it was done so he would enjoy it as well.

Add in the garlic, the shallot and the corn and mix everything together.  Give it a stir and cook for a minute or two until the shallot is transparent.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, cook the spaghetti noodles until al dente, then drain and add to the skillet.  Toss everything together, check the spices, then drizzle on a little olive oil, giving everything a final toss.

Serve with a sprinkle of parsley (if you wish) and some shredded parmesan cheese.

Bacon, Corn and Shallot Spaghetti

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Sometimes you crave something sweet, but you don't want to go to a lot of trouble. You just want something quick and easy to throw together.

This is it. Not a lot of fuss, not a lot of ingredients, just delicious goodness that comes together pretty quick. I think it would be perfect for those days when company arrives without notice.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

1 cup oil
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
3 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl. combine oil, eggs, vanilla and milk together.  Add in the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. 

In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Pour half the batter into a 9x13 pan.   Sprinkle half of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, then top with the remaining batter.  Sprinkle the leftover streusel mixture on top.

Drizzle with the melted butter.  (I know it seems like a lot, but it really does make the cake)

Bake, uncovered at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

When I was growing up, one of our favorite meals used to be Spaghetti Bolognese.  Homemade Bolognese with wine and garlic and bay leaves and all that goodness.

I remember when my stepmother would call us for dinner, I knew immediately what we were having because that delicious aroma would waft in from the kitchen and into the whole house.  Homework was set aside, TV was turned off, and we gathered around the table, eager to sink our teeth into that yumminess.

My children have been blessed to have a mother who loves cooking.  You don't know how many times I've counted myself blessed to have been born into a house where the women were some of the best cooks around.

Down home filling, comforting good food.  I learned from a very early age that some ingredients went well together, and some didn't.  To this day my children, husband and family and friends will always say that they're amazed that I can come up with a delicious meal out of nothing, and always seem to know what goes with what.

Practice, and love.  Those two together can create amazing things.

Now as much as I love cooking and being in the kitchen, I'm not above using appliances that will make my meals come together faster, especially on really busy days.

Saturday was a busy one for us, we were outside working on the property.  We live on a 3 acre home out in the country and there is always something to be done.

This is where my trusty and much loved pressure cooker comes in.  This meal comes together in about 20 minutes and is absolutely delicious.  I sometimes throw in a veggie or two just because it's healthy and it's a way for the kids to eat it without complaining....well too much at least ;)

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
garlic finely diced (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
wine (we use whatever we have on hand, sometimes white, this time I used merlot red)
tomato sauce
frozen veggies (whatever you have on hand, I used a handful of peas this time)

Plug in your pressure cooker and set it to Saute.  I don't pop the lid on mine otherwise it will seal it and end up steaming instead of actually sauteing.

Either spray the pressure cooker bowl, or add a tiny little bit of olive oil.  Add your ground beef and saute until brown.  Add in the onion, tomato, garlic, seasonings to taste, tomato sauce and wine.   I just eyeball everything.  I added about half a cup of tomato sauce and about 1/4 cup of wine.  Stir everything well and check the taste.  Adjust accordingly.

Cancel the saute function.  Pop on your lid and lock it, then make sure the pressure release is set to airtight.

Select manual and click the + button until you get to 10 minutes.  That's it.

After it's done, I just use the quick release method.  To do that make sure you are not standing right in front of the valve as the steam WILL burn.  I usually just grab a big wooden and push the valve over to Exhaust.

Once it's done releasing the pressure, open and give it a stir.  If it's too watery, you can switch it back to saute and cook it for a few minutes more until it thickens up.  Mine is usually perfect for the 10 minutes.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Gnocchi Bolognese

So a couple years ago I was watching a vlog and this yummy looking meal showed up.  I am a total sucker for those Weekly Meal vlogs, I just enjoy watching what people are eating and it gives me tons of ideas when I'm menu planning.

I've been menu planning for over 20 years but here's the thing, you kind of go through phases where you draw a total blank and have no clue what to make......that's when I need all the help I can get.

I do have a few criteria I go by and if you've been reading my blog long enough you know what they are.  No gourmet, nothing that I can't make myself or find in my pantry, nothing that I need to go to a specialty store for and it must be pretty inexpensive, easy, quick to make and filling.

Those may seem like a lot of things to check off the list, but I learned how to cook with my greatgrandmother and she was all about feeding a big family, without breaking the bank and filling tummies with delicious food.

Thank you Bio Ema :)

Anyway, this recipe came up and I saved it and never got around to making it until tonight, and the only reason that even happened is because I was reorganizing and cleaning out my computer and the bookmarks and found it just sitting there, waiting patiently since 2013.  Poor thing.

I made it tonight and it was amazing, the family went crazy over it and it's been requested to be put on my MUST MAKES list. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  By the way, you can make your own gnocchi or use your favorite brand.  If you want to make your own, I do have a recipe for you :)

Gnocchi Bolognese

Gnocchi (the amount depends on you, but I find that one package is enough, or if making fresh, then about 3 cups)
1 pound ground beef
Spaghetti sauce (again, homemade or your favorite brand)
Fresh Mozzarella

In a skillet, brown the ground beef, then drain.  Pour in the spaghetti sauce, simmer for a few minutes, then add in a bunch of spinach, I just use a handful.  Cook for a minute or two more until it wilts down.  Take off heat.

Cook Gnocchi according to package directions, or if you are making it homemade, place in a pot of boiling water and cook until it floats to the top.  Don't overcook or it will fall apart.

Mix the gnocchi and the meat mixture, spoon into a casserole dish and add pieces of fresh mozzarella on top.  Bake in a 425 degree oven until cheese is melted.

I served mine with a salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Star Spangled Lemon Slab Pie

For the Fourth of July this year, I made two desserts.  One of them being the Red, White and Blueberry Pie, and the other was this Slab Pie which I had bookmarked for a while and ready to try.

It didn't take long to put together, especially since you make use of store bought pie crusts, but you can certainly make your own, which is what I did.

If you like cheesecake, and lemon pie, this is pretty much a combination of those two in one delicious and beautiful dessert.

Adapted from: Pillsbury.com

Star Spangled Lemon Slab Pie

3 refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box (from 2 boxes)

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened (I used Neufch√Ętel)

1 (10 oz) jar lemon curd

6 cups assorted berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries and blackberries)

Sugar for dusting
star cookie cutters

Heat oven to 450°F. Remove 2 of the pie crusts from pouches. Unroll and stack on lightly floured surface. Roll to 17x12-inch rectangle. Fit crust into ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan, pressing into corners. Fold crust even with edges of pan. Prick crust several times with fork.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove another pie crust from pouch. On lightly floured surface, unroll crust. Roll to 12-inch circle. Cut stars using cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on large ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush with water; sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet. Remove to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and lemon curd with electric mixer until smooth. Spread evenly into crust-lined pan. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until chilled.

Add berries evenly on top of cream cheese-topped pie crust. Place pie crust stars on top of berry mixture.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Oven Baked Basmati Rice

The perfect way to cook rice, especially if you're already using the oven for the rest of the meal.

The rice cooks up perfectly every time, it crisps on the edges and is just phenomenal.  It's also very versatile, you can add veggies, or different flavored bouillon cubes to compliment your main dish.

Oven Baked Basmati Rice

Olive oil
Basmati Rice
2 tablespoons Knorr Chicken Powder

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

In a baking dish, drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom.  The amount of rice and water is according to how much rice you want to make.  This is a great way to feed a crowd as you can use a bigger baking pan and a lot of rice.

For my family of four, the oven rice turns out very similar to my Portuguese Chicken and Rice, so I make 2 cups because my husband and kids love this rice and will often have second helpings and leftovers the next day.

So into the baking dish, add in your rice, sprinkle on the Knorr Chicken Powder, then pour in the water.  Remember the ratio is usually double the water to the rice, so in my case, 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water.

Using a fork, stir well and then place the baking dish in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from the oven, stir, then pop back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the liquid is all absorbed.  Fluff with a fork, and that's it.

Island Teriyaki Chicken

So tonight's dinner came about purely by accident.   When I got groceries two weeks ago, it was right before Memorial Day and they had a few sales going on, one of which was a huge bag of Chicken Leg Quarters for only $4.  It was a 10 lb bag, so even though it wasn't on my list, I grabbed it.

For dinner tonight, I knew I wanted to make the chicken but I wasn't wanting the usual roast chicken that I make, I wanted something different.

I've also been dealing with some major sinus issues and feeling a bit light headed and achy etc, so I wanted something simple that I could throw together using what I already had on hand.

Something else I had purchased on my last grocery trip, was Teriyaki sauce but from a different brand that I had never tried before.  It is now my absolute favorite and I don't think I'll buy any other kind.  It's the Soy Vay Island Teriyaki.  Truly delicious.

The chicken was extremely easy to prepared, the trick though is to bake it for a long time, about an hour and a half to 2 hours.

But enough talking, let me show you.

Island Teriyaki Chicken

Chicken Leg Quarters (but you can use whatever chicken you have on hand)
Soy Vay Island Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce

Clean the chicken and place in a roasting pan.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Pour some of the teriyaki marinade on each piece of chicken and using a basting brush, slather all over making sure to cover well.

Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour.  My chicken leg quarters were huge so they took a while to bake, but if you're cooking smaller pieces just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

About an hour into the baking time, remove the foil, flip the chicken over and using the basting brush, baste the chicken with the juices in the bottom of the pan.

Continue cooking, basting every 20 minutes or so until the juices run clear. 

Turn the heat up to 450, and finish off by allowing the skin to crisp and brown.  When done, you can baste with a little more of the juices, move to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

{ Cast Iron Buttermilk Biscuits }

I woke up this morning craving biscuits and gravy for breakfast.

I have to tell you a funny story first.  I'm sure most of you know that before moving to the United States, I lived in South Africa.  We spoke English but with a British/Afrikaans kind of accent, but for the most part everything derived from England's English, so we used terms like Flat (apartment), biscuits (cookies), jelly (jelly-o), Jam (jelly), boot (trunk), chips (fries) and so on.

When I met my husband, who is American, I found some of the words a bit strange and had a hard time understanding what he was referring to.

The first time he mentioned a Sausage Biscuit for breakfast, I almost puked, because in my mind I picture a sausage flavored cookie LOL  And let's not even mention Biscuits and Gravy, that was even worst.

It took me moving to the States to finally realize that what was referred to as biscuits here, was what we referred to as scones in South Africa.

Long story short, I finally tried the biscuits and gravy and sausage biscuits and fell in love.

Fast forward to today, this morning actually, and I wanted some biscuits and gravy but I wanted a new recipe to try, more specifically one that I could use my cast iron skillet with.  I've been trying to use it more and get it nice and seasoned.

I happened upon this recipe on the Lodge Cast Iron website, gave it a try and it was delicious.  Hope you enjoy it as well :)

Brigg's Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting counter
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, plus an additional 2 tablespoons melted butter
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted shortening

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a 10.25-inch cast iron skillet into the oven to preheat.
Measure the self-rising flour into a large mixing bowl.

Using the coarse side of a hand grater, quickly grate 1 stick (½ cup) cold hard butter into the self-rising flour. Working quickly, use fingers to gently distribute the shredded butter into the self-rising flour.

Add the buttermilk, then stir until just combined.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and, using floured fingers, quickly pat to approximately the size of an 8.5x11" sheet of paper, which will be about ½" to ¾" thick. Very lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour from your fingertips, then fold the sheet of dough into thirds, as when folding a business letter. Repeat the patting, dusting, and folding steps seven times, or fewer if you feel the dough begin to tighten–overworked dough makes for a tough biscuit! The final time, pat the dough to a rectangle slightly larger than the size of your skillet. Using a round biscuit cutter or a drinking glass, cut into about 7 round biscuits. Gather up the scraps to form the 8th biscuit by hand.

With a handle mitt, carefully remove the preheated skillet from the oven. Drop melted shortening into the preheated skillet, then return to oven for a couple of minutes, until it is melted. Place each biscuit into the skillet and, using a fork, immediately turn to coat both sides with shortening.

Place the hot skillet into the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until tops of biscuits are golden brown, about 12-18 minutes.

Remove from oven. Brush tops with additional melted butter. Serve while hot!

Friday, May 05, 2017

{ Deep Dish Sausage Pizza }

Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

Here's a great pizza recipe, easy to throw together and the results are magnificent.

I have a family of pizza eaters, teenagers and a husband who would probably be very happy with pizza every day.  I do enjoy it myself but I get a bit tired and bored of the same old pizza delivery or even the same homemade pizza.

Sometimes we need to kick it up a notch.

What I've done in this recipe is combine my own pizza dough with a Taste of Home recipe.  I don't like to brag, but I will say that this was one of the tastiest pizzas we've ever had, thick, soft crust and a delicious flavorful topping.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

Deep Dish Sausage Pizza
Adapted from:  Taste of Home

Homemade Pizza dough

4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 medium green peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil and marjoram
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound Jones Dairy Farm All Natural Pork Sausage Roll, cooked and drained
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, well drained
2 ounces sliced pepperoni

Transfer to a well-greased 12-in. heavy ovenproof skillet or round baking pan, letting dough drape over edges. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.
4. In a skillet, saute the green peppers, onion and seasonings in oil until tender; drain. Layer half of the mixture over crust. Layer with half of the Parmesan, sausage and tomatoes. Sprinkle with 2 cups mozzarella. Repeat layers. Fold crust over to form an edge.
5. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with pepperoni and remaining mozzarella. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until crust is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Yield: 8 slices.

Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

{ Dad's Cajun Dinner }

When I was meal planning for these two weeks, I grabbed one of my Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks.  I've been collecting them for quite a few years, but haven't used them in a while and I really wanted to not only make use of my books but also try new recipes that I knew the whole family would enjoy.

This was one of the recipes that caught my eye.  Dad's Cajun Dinner.

Smoked kielbasa sausage, cajun seasoning, yep, definitely something I would enjoy.

It was a hit, and therefore will be posted to the blog.  I know that some of you wonder if I ever make dishes that don't turn out, or are not liked by the family, and the answer is, oh yes, absolutely.

I don't share them on here because I use this space as my online recipe binder, and I am only interested in keeping recipes that are tried and true and got big thumbs up.  No use in keeping something I know I will never try again.

Right, let's get going, this is a super easy recipe, perfect for a week night.

May 4, 2017

Dad's Cajun Dinner
Source:  Gooseberry Patch One Pot Meals

1 onion, diced
1 t. garlic, minced
2 T. butter
2 green peppers, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
3 T. Cajun seasoning
14-oz.pkg. Kielbasa, sliced
15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
12-oz. can tomato juice
hot pepper sauce to taste
3 c. prepared rice

Saute onion and garlic in butter until onion is crisp-tender.  Add peppers, celery and seasoning;  continue to saute until vegetables are tender.  Add Kielbasa;  saute and additional 3 to 4 minutes.  Add beans, tomatoes and tomato juice;  cook until heated through.  Sprinkle with hot sauce to taste.  Serve over prepared rice.  Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

{ Better than Olive Garden's Fettucine Alfredo }

Fettucine Alfredo, one of the dishes I most enjoy from Olive Garden, and I'm talking about the plain Alfredo sauce, just creamy and garlicky and perfectly paired with thick fettucine noodles.

I've made Alfredo over the years but never this good, this is by far the best I've ever had and the newest family favorite.

It's very easy to make and you will absolutely love it.


Better than Olive Garden's Fettucine Alfredo
Source: Food.com

3 tablespoons sweet butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3⁄4 cup mozzarella cheese

Melt butter in medium saucepan with olive oil over medium/low heat.
Add the garlic, cream, white pepper and bring mixture to a simmer.
Stir often.

Add the Parmesan cheese and simmer sauce for 8-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened and is smooth.

When sauce has thickened add the Mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth. STIR FREQUENTLY.
While the sauce cooks, boil noodles for 3-5 minutes.

Place pasta on serving plates and spoon sauce over pasta.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Victoria Sponge

If I were told to pick just one dessert, whatever it was, to have for the rest of my life, the choice would be simple, Victoria Sponge.  With Strawberry Jam and fresh whipped cream.

I can't begin to tell you how delectable this cake is.  It tastes like a million bucks, but it's actually quite easy to make, when you have the right recipe.

I struggled for years to get it right.  I always ended up with a not so spongy sponge cake, it was flat, it was chewy, it was terrible and nothing like what it's supposed to be.

After trying many recipes, I almost gave up on the idea of being able to produce a delicious Victoria Sponge, that is until I realized that the perfect recipe had been sitting in my pantry all along.

A few years ago I bought 2 cookbooks packed with British recipes, the best of the best the most common cakes, desserts and breads. 

So this afternoon while browsing through one of the books, I came across the recipe and I almost didn't make it for fear it would just be a waste of ingredients again, but I decided to set those fears aside and go for it.  I am SO glad I did.

THIS is it folks, this is the perfect no fail Victoria Sponge. 

But I'm going to stop talking and just share the recipe so you can go ahead and make it for your family too.....or for yourself.  Trust me, I know.  I have to be very careful not to inhale this baby all on my own.


1 and 1/4 cups self rising flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup soft butter or margarine
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry Jam
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Grease and line two 8 in. round sandwich pans.  Put all the ingredients except the jam and powdered sugar in a standing mixer and beat the living daylights out of them.

When the batter is fluffy, very pale and almost mousse-like, divide it between the two pans and smooth out.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center, comes out clean.  The cakes should be springy to the touch.

Cool on a wire rack, and when cool sandwich them together with strawberry jam and dust the top.

If you want to use cream as well, use a layer of whipped cream on top of the jam before placing the second cake on top.


{ Pressure Cooker Boiled Eggs - Instant Pot }

I've been meaning to add more Instant Pot recipes to the blog, but I haven't had a chance to update it or get back into my usual posting.

Two Christmases ago, my husband got me this instant pot which he knew I had been wanting.  Seemed to be all the rave at the moment and to be frank, I wanted one but was very intimidated by the thought of using it in my own kitchen.

My run ins with pressure cookers were in my greatgrandmother's kitchen.  That huge metal thing would sit on the stove and whistle loudly, the little pressure valve quickly snapping back and forth.  It terrified me.  It didn't help that I would hear horrible stories of pressure cookers blowing up in the kitchen.

But I also knew the perks and advantages of having one and now that they are electric and pretty much do their own thing, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go for it.

I am so glad I did, I use it a lot, and it's become a wonderful addition to my kitchen.

I'm hoping to add a few more recipes here as I try them, but I thought I would share how to make boiled eggs, especially with Easter right around the corner, knowing that we are all going to be making a ton of these for deviled eggs and decorating with the kids etc.

Pressure Cooker Boiled Eggs

January 12, 2016

So here's how you do it.  I placed my metal rack on the bottom, and then sat the eggs on top.  You don't want the eggs to touch the bottom of the bowl.

Add 1 cup of water, and then set it on the rice setting for 9 minutes.

I've seen online where some people use their rice setting and turn it to 6 minutes, but my pressure cooker won't let me go below 9 so I went with it and it worked perfectly.

January 12, 2016

As soon as the eggs were done, I used the quick steam release, and dumped them into a bowl of ice cold water.  You DON'T have to use the quick steam release, you can just let the instant pot release the pressure on it's own.

They peeled off so well and were cooked to perfection as you can see below.

January 12, 2016

I'm trying some decorating techniques for Easter today, so at the moment I have another batch of eggs going in the instant pot. This is going to make Easter so much easier :)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough bread is one of those things that I enjoy but don't always make, maybe because it involves having the sourdough starter and I don't remember to make it that often.

But once in a while, I get one going and then just keep it in the fridge and make bread and cinnamon rolls until it runs out.  Now you can keep feeding it, of course, but after about a week I'm done using mine and just prefer to restart again a few months later.

Last week I quickly threw together a starter, fed it and left it in my fridge.  I made a loaf in the bread machine, and then two days ago I started a sourdough bread and cinnamon roll dough.

I've shared the recipe for the sourdough starter and bread before, but here is the recipe for the cinnamon rolls.  This recipe is from one of my Amish Cookbooks, which I absolutely adore.


Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Sourdough Cinnamon Roll
Makes 24 large rolls

Sourdough bread dough, prepared through first rise
6 tablespoons of butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

After the dough has risen overnight, punch it down and divide in half, form two dough balls.
Take one ball of dough and roll it out as thin as you can on a floured surface.  Brush the dough with half of the melted butter.  Sprinkle half of the sugar and half of the cinnamon.

Roll up like a jelly roll, then cut each roll into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices.  Place slices 1/2 inch apart in a greased jelly roll pan, cover with waxed paper.  Repeat with the second ball of dough.  Then let both  rise for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake until golden brown about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For the icing, mix butter with vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Gradually add milk and remaining powdered sugar until smooth.  Drizzle over the rolls.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Monday, January 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

It's been so chilly around here lately, the perfect weather for a bowl of steaming hot soup.

I actually made this batch for myself, to have during the week for a quick lunch, because I'm trying to eat healthier and get to where I was pre-holidays. 

This is a very easy soup to get going, you can pop everything in, in the morning, then let it cook on low all day long.  I give it a quick whiz with the immersion blender and it's done.

My husband  and children are not very big fans of butternut squash, so I really do make this just for myself to enjoy, and it last quite a while because it makes a pretty big batch.

Thank you to Claire from The Witt Family on Youtube for this wonderful recipe.

Slow Cooker 
Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

1 Butternut Squash
1 Large Onion, diced
2 to 3 Garlic cloves, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
3.5/4 cups of boiling water ( I used a box of Garden Vegetable Broth, 32 oz. )

 Peel butternut squash, cut in half and remove all seeds.  Cut into chunks and place in a slow cooker.  Add the diced onion, garlic and season well with salt and pepper and paprika.  Add in the cup of lentils, and the vegetable broth.  Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours.

Once done, use an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Check the seasonings and adjust accordingly.  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops

We love pork chops but I tend to get kind of stuck in a rut when it comes to preparing them.  It feels like it's always the same old thing, and so I've been looking for new recipes to try.

I came across this one on Pinterest and decided to give it a go.  I'll be completely honest with you, I don't always have the best of luck with Pinterest, it's kind of a hit and miss for me.  Things that seem really good don't always turn out how they look in the pictures, or they don't taste as good as I thought they would etc.

These were a hit.  From the moment they started cooking, the whole house smelled amazing.  Very easy to throw together and they make for a filling and delicious dinner.

I did use bone in but they completely fell off the bone, which is a very good thing.  But yes, please make sure you have pretty thick chops, I don't think the pork tenderloin chops would work very well, they would probably shred apart during cooking.

Source:  Country Cook

4 bone-in pork chops (or boneless)
1 envelope onion soup mix (1 oz. packet)
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth (lower sodium)
1 can (10.5 oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 envelope dry pork gravy mix (1 oz. packet)
1 tsp. garlic powder
to thicken sauce:
3 tbsp. corn starch
3 tbsp. cold water

In a 5-6 quart oval slow cooker, combine onion soup mix, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and pork gravy mix.
Whisk together until combined.
Season both sides of the chops with a little bit of garlic powder.
Place pork chops into the slow cooker.
Do your best to spread them out and cover with the gravy mixture.
Cover and cook on low about 4-6 hours.
Just before the pork chops are done - whisk together the corn starch and cold water in a small bowl. Once it is smooth, pour it in with your pork chops in the slow cooker and stir gently.
Cover and switch the slow cooker to high and cook for another 30 minutes (until gravy has thickened.)

Apple Blondies

Imagine if you will, you have an apple, and you throw it into a doughy brownie like batter, pop it into the oven and out comes the unmistakable taste of Apple Pie.

Yeah, something like that.

I know it's not exactly Fall and some people tend to only gravitate towards these kind of desserts, when it's around that season, but for me, food is about eating and enjoying, any time of the year, so I don't even think twice about making some apple cinnamon concoction in Winter, or Summer, or having ice cream in the cold months.  It is what it is :)

I'm going to start by saying that I'm trying to lose some weight, it's not much, about 5 pounds that I seem to inherited from Thanksgiving and Christmas (thank you good food and wine).  This recipe is everything I shouldn't be eating, but I am not one to diet completely, I can't do that, I always lose weight by controlling portions and not over doing certain things, without having to give up the food I love.

I will probably only have one of these, just enough to curb that sweet tooth craving, but I'm pretty certain my husband and children will enjoy the rest :)

The recipe comes from Allrecipes.  I changed it slightly in that I doubled the ingredients and used a 9x13 instead, aside from that everything is the same.

Apple Blondies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup apples, diced (a tart baking apple is best like granny smith)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 9 square dish with cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar & 1/2 cup white sugar.
Add egg, vanilla, cinnamon, salt & baking powder, mix well.
Add flour and mix again. Batter will be thick, don't worry!
Add apples and walnuts if desired and mix well. Batter should begin to thin to more brownie like consistency.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.
In a small dish, mix 2 Tablespoons sugar and 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of apple mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes or until brownie consistency then remove from oven.
Allow to cool. Once cooled, cut into bars and devour immediately by itself or with a large scoop of ice cream!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Layered Nacho Dinner

Layered Nacho Dinner

I don't know what it is, but lately I've been on a Mexican flavor kick.  From Homemade Crunchwraps to Tacos, Quesadillas and everything in between.

In keeping with that theme, tonight I made a Layered Nacho dish.  The beauty about this is that it's so versatile and you can add or remove anything you don't like.  It is also one of those that everyone in the family can enjoy however they wish.....you want it in a hard taco shell, go for it.  Want it in a soft flour tortilla, by all means....or maybe you just want to scoop this delicious stuff all over tortilla chips for some amazing nachos....yep, you can do that too.

It's quick to put together, it tastes amazing and your whole family will thank you for it.

Layered Nacho Dinner

Layered Nacho Dinner

1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
Queso Dip (I'm talking the ever famous queso dip involving Velveeta cheese and Rotel tomatoes and chilies)
Diced onion
Diced tomato
Shredded Lettuce
Sour Cream, optional

Prepare the Queso dip according to the directions on the back of the Rotel can.  It is nothing more than emptying the can into a microwavable bowl, adding a 16 oz. block of Velveeta cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes.  Cover and microwave for 5 minutes until melted, stir well and there you go.

Brown the ground beef, drain and add in a packet of taco seasoning, mix well to combine.  Add a can of refried beans, stir and cook for a minute or two until warm.

In a casserole dish, pour in the meat and beans mixture.  Next goes in the queso dip, followed by diced onions, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes.  That is IT!!!!

Serve along with tortilla chips or soft and hard taco shells.  Enjoy!!!

Layered Nacho Dinner

Optional:  You can add a layer of sour cream right after the meat and before the queso dip.  You can also add black olives to the toppings, or sliced avocado, dollops of sour cream etc.  It really is up to you.


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