Friday, April 11, 2014

Easy Garden Bake

This is another one of my favorite brunch casseroles and it is perfect for those times you have a bunch of different vegetables and want to throw together something satisfying and balanced in no time at all. It can easily be an easy lunch or dinner with a salad, as well. 

Makes 6 servings
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini (about 1 smaller)- you can always add more
  • 1 large tomato, chopped- about 1 cup, or may use chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium - large onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup baking mix of choice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt (may use a seasoned salt)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend, crushed in palm of hand (or 1/2- 3/4 tsp oregano, crushed)
  • 2 eggs
  • cheese of choice for topping - I like Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Mozzarella  
  • green onion and parsley or cilantro for garnish
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease square baking dish- 8x8 or 9 inch pie plate (I doubled everything and put in 13x9 inch pan because I like leftovers!). 
  • Sprinkle chopped vegetables and parmesan cheese evenly over baking dish. 
  • Stir baking mix, milk, salt, pepper, seasoning and eggs together and pour over top of the vegetables and cheese.
  • Bake uncovered about 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove to wire rack and sprinkle with cheese for topping. Cool 5 minutes and then garnish with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro and sliced green onions, if desired. 
*This is also wonderful with 1 cup cooked chicken or sausage added in with vegetables when assembling the casserole.

[Adapted from Bisquick Breakfast and Brunches recipe booklet, 1999]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Perfectly Simple Fruit Cake or Bread

I was given this recipe years ago by a coworker who brought in this cake made with fresh peaches and I just fell in love with the simple flavors. I have changed it a little over the years and find it is the perfect basic recipe that can be adapted in many different ways. Originally, the recipe called for cinnamon to be sprinkled on top of the cake instead of a crumb topping. While that version is delicious and simple, I have added a cinnamon crumb topping with a simple glaze for the apple version I made for this post. Either way, it is a wonderful moist cake that is perfect for any occasion. Try substituting all different types of fruit and use the crumb topping, or leave it off- it will be sure to please everyone! This can also be made into sweet bread using 2 bread pans and adding about 10-15 minutes to the baking time, checking regularly.

Makes 16-18 servings
  • 3 eggs, beaten well
  • 2 cups sugar (may use 1/2 brown sugar, 1/2 granulated sugar)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or may use apple pie spice if using apples)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 cups fruit- peaches (sliced or chopped), apples (chopped), blueberries, pears, or variety of berries, etc
Crumb Topping (optional):
  • 1/3 flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Glazed: (optional)
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 Tbsp milk
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease (2) 8x8 inch or (1)13x9 inch baking pan or (2) bread loaf pans.
  • Mix eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla together in a large bowl.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together in another bowl and add into the wet ingredients, combining well.
  • Stir in fruit.
  • If not using toppings, then pour batter into prepared pan(s) and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture (2 Tbsp sugar mixed with 1 1/2 -2 tsp cinnamon). Bake for about 45 minutes, checking after 35 minutes (if using loaf pans, bake for about 45-60 minutes but start checking at 40-45 minutes)- until toothpick inserted in middle comes out pretty well clean.
  • If making the crumb topping, combine the dry ingredients and then use a fork to cut in the butter until it resembles peas. Sprinkle over top of the batter waiting in the pans. (This can be made ahead before starting cake batter). Bake as instructed above.
  • After the cake is cooling on a wire rack, combine sifted confection's sugar and vanilla and milk, stirring until smooth. Start with the lesser amount of milk and gradually add more by tablespoons until the desired consistency is obtained. Pour over the cake/bread after it is cooled.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Italian Escarole Turkey Soup

I am a huge soup lover and really love ones that are easy to put together. This is one of these types of soups- if you have some greens (any type of salad greens, really) and leftover turkey or chicken, you can put this together pretty quickly. While this soup makes a larger pot, I like to have some leftovers and if you are a small family, put part of it in the freezer for another meal or two. It is a perfect cook-ahead meal. If you haven't tried escarole, be sure to give it a try. I just love having different types of greens wilted in soups.

Serves- 8-10 servings
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (preferably with Italian herbs)
  • 1 15oz. can white beans, drained
  • 8 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 2-3 cups rice
  • 2 heads escarole
  • fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • In a large stockpot, sauté onion, carrot and celery in oil until onion is becoming translucent. Then add in minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  • Add in tomatoes, beans, broth, seasonings and turkey. 
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer while you prepare rice and escarole.
  • Cook the rice per instructions on the package, seasoning it well. 
  • Wash the escarole well and chop it.
  • When rice is cooked, add in escarole to soup and allow to wilt for a couple minutes. Adjust salt to taste, if needed.
  • To serve, put a large rounded spoonful of rice in a soup bowl, then ladle soup over top and garnish with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese. Good with crusty, rustic bread for dipping in broth. 

Shared with:
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday 3-27-14

Friday, February 7, 2014

Scottish Raisin Bread

This bread and recipe was given to us recently from my mom and has become one of my husband's favorites. Sometime in the past few months, I discovered the idea to toast sweet bread and add a little butter (I know, I'm probably a little slow!). Well, this bread is a perfect candidate and is just the thing for a snack or with a cup of tea (insert favorite hot beverage).  When I toasted this bread, I let it go a little longer because it is so dense and I wanted it a little crispy. Was it ever good! The toasting really brings out the sweetness of the raisins and adds more flavor to the nuts and oats. You could also add some jam or other toppings, but I don't feel it needs anything else.

I have not found a recipe quite like this before and was excited to share it here. The only place I was able to find a somewhat similar recipe was over at Always In The Kitchen. As the author of that site noted, this recipe may not be Scottish- but it sounds nice and Scotland brings to mind oats and raisins (or currants), right? My recipe has much more oats and a little more sugar (still is not very sweet)- but these recipes do not have any oil. For a stronger molasses flavor, I used about 1/2 black strap molasses. So put your spin on it and give it a try! (By the way, if you don't have a toaster oven, be very careful trying to toast sweet breads in a regular toaster without some type of a sleeve for toasting as the slice will probably fall apart and you will be burned trying to remove it.)

Makes 2 loaves


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups buttermilk or soured milk
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used quick oats and it was fine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins, dried currants or craisins, or a mix
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F- (25 degrees lower if using glass baking pans).
  • Mix eggs with sugar in a large mixing bowl, then add in the milk and molasses.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together and add into the wet mixture.
  • After mixture starts to come together, add in the nuts and dried fruit.
  • Divide the batter between 2 greased loaf pans.
  • Bake for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry- start checking around 50 minutes if top of bread appears less moist

*My mom told me, after I originally posted this recipe, that she got it from What's Cooking At Myrtle cookbook by Levia Lerch. I increased the liquids since the bread seemed too dry. If you find it takes too long to finish baking, you can decrease the liquid to 2 cups buttermilk.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Easy but Amazing Bolognese Sauce (Meat Sauce)

This is the sauce to make when you are short on time and need something full of flavor. Although I have typically kept a stock of store-bought spaghetti sauce on hand and add in herbs and other items to give it more flavor, I have been looking for recipes to make more things from scratch and be more in control of the ingredients in our food. When I saw this sauce recipe from Kristin Porter (Best-Ever Bolognese Sauce), I was impressed with how easy it looked and is similar to how I made some homemade sauces in the past. I have adapted this recipe and was so pleased with the flavors- totally worth a little extra effort over opening a jar and pouring it in a pot. 

  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef (or may use part or all Italian sausage)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or a little more)
  • 1 cup half and half or milk (not lowfat)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning, crushed in palm before adding
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp salt (or adjusted to taste)
  • 1 pound pasta of choice
  • Brown meat and vegetables together in large covered pot until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. If meat is very fatty, you may drain off/sop up some of the extra fat.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients (except the pasta) and cook uncovered on medium-high for about 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened somewhat. If it is too bubbly, keep lid on partly so moisture can still escape. 
  • Cook pasta according to directions and then drain, adding some of the sauce to mix with the pasta and flavor it prior to serving. Serve with parmesan/romano cheese and a little oregano sprinkled on top.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sour Cream Apple Pie

This pie is a wonderful mix of a custard pie with an apple pie and is one of my new favorites! In our family, my mom's apple pie is a must at every winter family dinner. Recently when I had an overabundance of apples, I went through my recipes to look for something different to try and found this recipe that my mom gave me years ago but I had never gotten around to making. I am SO GLAD I finally tried it because it is a real keeper! Since I made the Impossible Pie some time ago and discovered a new-found love of custard pies and all the different ways to work custards into desserts, this pie was right up my alley-- and not that difficult. 

unbaked pie with custard and apple before crumb topping was added

Finished pie
Serves: 8
  • 1 unbaked 9-10 inch pie crust
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sugar, depending on sweetness of apples
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups chopped apples
  • 1/3 cup brown or white sugar- or a mix (I used all brown)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cool butter
  • 1/3 cup crushed nuts (walnuts or pecans work well)
  • Preheat oven at 375 degrees F.
  • Chop apples and set aside.
  • Prepare unbaked pie crust in pie pan.
  • Combine eggs, sour cream, sugar, salt, 2 Tbsp flour, vanilla and nutmeg and stir until smooth. 
  • Add in apples and pour into the prepared unbaked crust.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile combine topping ingredients using a fork to cut the butter into other ingredients until it is combined into pea-sized clumps.
  • Sprinkle over top of pie when finished with 1st 15 minute bake and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until filling is set when you lightly jiggle pie. 
  • Cool completely and serve alone or with whipped cream, ice cream or caramel syrup. Refrigerate leftovers.
Adapted from a Taste Of Home recipe.

Monday, January 27, 2014

CranApple Deep Dish Tart

This delicious combination of apple pie and apple crisp are worth the little extra effort and is the perfect autumn and winter dessert. I made this recipe and was going to share it with everyone this past fall but a lot has been happening over the past few months. My husband went through major surgery (having part of his pancreas removed), which took a long time to recover from-- but we are thankful that it was not cancerous. Now that everything is settling down, I hope to get back to sharing a few recipes that I have enjoyed lately. I had an inspiration for this recipe when I was making an apple dessert and couldn't decide if I wanted to make apple pie or apple crisp. Since then I have seen a number of apple pan pie recipes but nothing quite like this. The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute many other fruits for the cranberries, fresh or dried. If you use dried fruits, plump them up some by covering them with water and heating them for about 5-10 minutes. Of course, this dish is just asking for a scoop of vanilla ice cream, too! Since I used cranberries, it is a little tart. So if you like your dessert very sweet, increase the brown or white sugar.

Serves: 6-8

  • Single unbaked pie crust pastry for 10 inch pie
  • 3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 ½-2 tsp apple pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp minute tapioca
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups or ½ bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen (or may use 1 cup dried craisins) 
  • Topping:
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts

1. Roll out the pie crust to fit 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan and spread out in pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugars, spice, tapioca, water and cranberries. Put mixture in pie crust.
3. Prepare topping by mixing dry ingredients and cutting in the butter, adding the oil until mixture clumps together. Put topping over the apples and fold the edges of the pie crust over top of the sides of the pie.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40-50 minutes or until the pie is bubbling and apples are tender.
5. May drizzle with caramel sauce or glaze made of 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp milk and 1/8 tsp cinnamon and/or top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eggnog Pancakes

These pancakes are the best! least that is what my kiddos said. 'Tis the season for all things eggnog and since we needed to use some up and it was time for the weekend pancakes again, I decided to tweak one of my favorite pancake recipes to include eggnog. I added cinnamon chips, but there are a number of other things you might add in to take it to another level- like orange zest and chocolate chips. Have fun experimenting with these!

Serves 4
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups eggnog (or liquid of choice)
  • 1/4 cup oil or butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or juice of 1/2 lemon
  • cinnamon baking chips
  • In a large bowl, combine milk, oil and vanilla extract. Stir in the sugar. 
  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix together egg and lemon juice.
  • Add the dry ingredients and egg mixture to the liquids and stir only until largest lumps are mixed in.
  • Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes- you may start cooking right away but the pancakes made from the batter that has set is a little fluffier.
  • Preheat griddle to medium-high and use butter or coconut oil to oil the surface. Pour out approximately 1/4-1/3 cup for each pancake and sprinkle the baking chips over each pancake as quickly as possible so the pancake cooks up and around the chips.
  • When each one is starting to bubble and the bottom edge is golden brown, flip it over and cook for an additional couple minutes or until golden brown.
  • Butter each pancake while still warm and serve with syrup or your choice of toppings.
  • If you are making a large batch, you can keep them warm by placing them on a wire rack inside of a baking pan and put in the oven at the oven's lowest setting until serving.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Zucchini Potato Tart

This is the perfect lunch or light supper dish and is wonderful with different meats-- or leave the meats out entirely, if you prefer. I love how the tomatoes take on a roasted flavor as it bakes. This dish is a real breeze with a mandoline slicer- have I told you how nice this tool is? I have fallen in love with it for thinly slicing garlic when I sauté vegetables, slicing carrots thinly for salads (my kids don't love big chunks of anything hard to chew- eating a salad will take forever!). I also love to use this slicer for the veggies in this dish. I'm so crazy that I almost took it to my parents house when I went for a visit the last time because it is cuts down on prep time so much! Anyways, back to the recipe-- check this out and give it a try and see my notes at the bottom.

Serves: 6-8
  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 large or 3 small potatoes, thinly sliced (may leave skins on)
  • 1 medium or large onion- I used a mix of red and sweet onion, diced
  • 1/4 pound ham, diced (may use bacon or other meat)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice- I used mix of cheddar and monterey jack
  • 1 large tomato or 2 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • oregano, divided, crushing in palm of hand before sprinkling over tart
  • seasoned salt/pepper
  • celery salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • 5 eggs

  • After your vegetables are sliced, cover the potatoes so they do not brown.
  • Place pie crust in a deep dish 10 inch pie pan. 
  • Begin layering about half of each of the vegetables except the tomatoes, seasoning well with salt/pepper and herbs between each layer.
  • Then sprinkle top of vegetables with onion and cheese and then ham or meat. 
  • Repeat layers, seasoning each layer well until all the squash, potatoes, onion and meat is in the pie.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together with 1/4- 1/2 tsp seasoned salt/pepper and then pour over the vegetables in the pie crust.
  • Arrange tomato slices over the top and sprinkle with more salt/pepper and crushed oregano. Cut a couple smaller slices into 1/2 to make crescent shapes and place them in the center to form a swirl or pinwheel effect.
  • Fold the top edges of the pie crust over the pie.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 1 hour- 1 hour and 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender to fork. Remove foil for the last 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle more cheese on top if desired.
*Note: If you want this to bake quicker,  sauté the squash and potatoes with a couple tablespoons of butter or oil for about 5 minutes until they are just beginning to soften. Then follow the recipe as above. This will shorten the baking time by at least half.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blueberry Buckle (coffeecake)

This is one of the recipes I remember my mom making throughout my childhood and I always thought the name was so funny. It wasn't until just recently when I was watching Alton Brown on "Good Eats" talk about his Blueberry Buckle and how a Buckle was actually an old-fashioned coffee cake that I understood the name. Don't ask me to explain or remember how the word "buckle" has anything to do with a cake!

Anyways, I love this cake because it is easy to make, full of fruit and a dense but moist cake that is a perfect treat for any occasion. I don't remember my mom ever putting a glaze on top, but it adds a nice touch. I also added the almond extract to the cake and put vanilla in the glaze, but you could use whatever flavor you like in the cake and glaze-- lemon or vanilla would be great, even coconut and mix some coconut in with the crumble topping. Also, try this with 1/2 cup chopped nuts added in the crumb topping, as well. This cake is just perfect for switching up the flavors and fruits! So give it a try and have fun with it.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I use palm oil shortening), or you may use another oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (if using vanilla- increase it to 1 or 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups well drained blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp milk, more if needed
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, mix sugar and shortening together until well blended. Add in egg and wisk together. Stir in the milk and extract.
  • In a smaller bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Mix into the wet ingredients in thirds.
  • Fold in the blueberries carefully so as not to break up the berries. Batter will be very thick.
  • Put in a greased 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan and press out to the corners of the pan, making sure it is pretty evenly distributed in the pan.
  • In small bowl previously used for dry ingredients, mix together topping dry ingredients and then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until dry ingredients have combined well with the butter- should be little clumps without a lot of extra loose flour mixture.
  • Sprinkle evenly over top of the cake batter in the pan.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • While cake is cooling on a wire rack, mix up the ingredients for a glaze, adding milk 1Tbsp at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. If it gets too wet and runny, add more sugar. Cover glaze until cake cools.
  • After cake has cooled completely, use a spoon and drizzle the glaze over top of the cake, back and forth. Cut and serve!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Party Mini-Quiches

I made these mini-quiches recently for a garden party. These are really a quick version of quiches since they do not have a pastry crust. Instead they are made with a baking mix that gives them more of a muffin consistency. However, these are still light and not too dry. If you want to make them even more egg-like in consistency, try using more egg and less baking mix. This recipe is also wonderful for all different vegetable and meat variations. Since I didn't have bacon when I made these, I made them vegetarian, but they would have been even better with a little crispy bacon. The great thing about making them in mini-muffin pans is that they are great for tea parties or other occasions when you do not want to worry about utensils.

Makes approximately 24-36 depending on muffin size and number of add-ins
  • 5 eggs
  • 2/3 cup baking mix
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 Tbsp half and half (may use light cream or whole milk)
  • 1 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2- 3/4 tsp dried oregano (crushed in palm)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a pizza blend)
  • 1 medium pickled sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 small mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped

  • Beat eggs in large bowl.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Grease mini-muffin tin- if it is not non stick, then you should use the baking spray with flour.
  • Fill muffin tins using small cookie scoop and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool in the pan. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Italian-style Quinoa Cakes

I have been falling in love with quinoa lately. It is such a power-house of nutrition and yet is so versatile. It also cooks quite fast. So when some friends and I were meeting at a beautiful historic home nearby for a garden party, I had planned to make arancini (rice balls), but I had not realized until it was too late that these are actually from leftover risotto. So from lack of pre-planning, I was forced to make some last minute changes and found these quinoa patties from I decided to go with an Italian theme and play off the parmesan cheese. All in all, I was really pleased how well they turned out. It took a little practice to find the right consistency but don't worry too much about it since the parmesan actually helps makes a nice crust as it cooks. I almost thought the patties were a little easier to cook when they were a little more moist. As always, feel free to leave out any seasonings or ingredients and add in some you really like, instead. I really loved the way the patties took on a roasted tomato and basil flavor and the parmesan added a nice subtle flavor.

Makes approximately 24 cakes
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dried onion (may use 1 finely chopped onion)
  • 1/2- 1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning blend
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, crushed in palm of hand
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped grape/cherry tomatoes
  • 6-8 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole grain bread crumbs, more if needed
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Cook quinoa as directed- bring broth to a boil and add in the quinoa, onion and lemon pepper seasoning. Stir well and cover. Allow to cook approximately 15 minutes, or until all the quinoa seeds are opened and soft. Stir and allow to cool somewhat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir together.
  • Mix in the partially cooled quinoa.
  • If it is too wet, add in more bread crumbs gradually. If it is too dry, add in water, tablespoon at a time. Allow to stand for a few minutes.
  • Form mixture into patties 1 inch thick and shallow fry over medium heat about 3-5 minutes each side (until medium golden brown). (I found it was easiest to make a ball and then place in the hot frying pan and flatten gently with the back of a spoon, then use the spoon to firm the patty's edges.) 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rhubarb Cherry Coffee Cake with Caramel Sauce

This is another great rhubarb recipe that I adapted from a Taste of Home magazine. Since I had some tart cherries that were not really enough to make something by themselves, I decided to add them into the cake with the rhubarb. In addition, I opted to use some cinnamon and vanilla in the cake, as well as some chopped nuts in the topping. Feel free to leave the cinnamon out and just add vanilla. The original sauce recipe also calls for double the amount of ingredients, but I felt that even using only 1/2 the original amounts made more than enough caramel sauce. Feel free to substitute any other fruits such as apples/cranberries, mixed berries, pears. Enjoy this very moist coffee cake anytime of the year by using seasonal fruits or even frozen fruits!

  • 1/2 cup shortening or oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp cold butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (may use other nuts instead)
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
  • Combine flour, cinnamon and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  • Fold in rhubarb and cherries.
  • Pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
  • Cut in the butter until crumbly. Combine the nuts. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

For Sauce, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in brown sugar and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve with warm coffee cake.

Shared with the following:
Inspiration Monday Party
Our Sunday Best Link Party #5

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How To Perk Up Jarred Salsa

While I have written before about how I love fresh salsa and there is nothing that can beat its flavor, I also know that fresh salsa is quite expensive to buy and even make any time of year, especially in the winter when so many of the items are not in season. So I LOVE shopping at Aldi's for fresh produce because it is so much cheaper. I can find grape tomatoes and avocados, among other things, at about half the sale price at other stores. Jarred salsa makes a great snack and is much cheaper but really needs a little something more to enhance it. I love avocados, but not alone, and they are a great super-food. So one of our favorite ways to eat them is chopped in salsa. Also, I am a great fan of cilantro and it is affordable any time of the year. Lately, we have been hooked on this recipe and I thought I would share it with everyone here. Here's to spring and getting a salsa garden going!


  • 2 cups of salsa
  • 1 15 oz. can of corn, drained or 2 cups of fresh/frozen cooked corn, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained or 2 cups of cooked black beans
  • 2 avocados, cut into small chunks
  • cilantro, chopped (according to taste)
  • lime juice (according to taste), may substitute lemon in a pinch
  • 1 small- medium chopped red onion, or whatever type you have on hand
  • Handful or more of grape tomatoes, quartered


  • Combine all ingredients together and allow flavors to combine for a couple hours- although I found this quite addicting when I was tasting during preparation!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Succotash is a dish that immediately takes me back to my grandmother's house. She seemed to regularly make this and would offer us some when we came to visit. I came to enjoy this dish very much and eventually joined her in a mission to find the beans when local growers stopped growing them for the markets around us.

This dish was especially popular years ago with farm and country folks. The dish is based on beans (often lima beans) and corn. However, the version my grandmother always made is quite different- she always used a shell bean.

The shell beans that my grandmother and great grandmother used seem to resemble closely the cranberry bean- the shells were a red and cream/white variegated pod and the beans also had a similar creamy background with reddish swirls around the bean. When dried, they are often anywhere from a tannish/red flecked color to a darker reddish/brown color. These beans can be difficult to find- I was not able to find them for many years after I married and moved away from the area where I grew up near my grandmother.

For this reason, my grandmother tried to find farm markets that would sell the shell beans so she could make her succotash the "right way"- she actually canned the beans together with fresh sweet corn, cut from the cob. The two would cook together during the canning and the flavors would be so concentrated. After I married, she gave me some beans to plant in our garden, with the idea that we would share some of the harvest with her. So I decided to can the beans and corn together- when I finished canning, I thought I was doing something wrong because almost all of the juices came out of the jar and everything cooked into a solid mass. When I was talking lately with one of my aunts about this recipe, she told me that this is how the jars of beans/corn come out. Anyhow, I do know that the flavor was different than just cooking the beans and then adding in the corn.

My grandmother grew up in a poor family where most of the children spent their teenage years working on nearby farms because the family needed the money and could not really afford to feed and clothe everyone. This is one of the family dishes that was passed down from her mother and could be made with things from the garden that were inexpensive and yet filling. 

If I do not have the home-canned beans and corn, I found that you can get a pretty close flavor by pressure cooking the beans (saves a lot of time and there is no need to soak the beans first) and then simmering the beans and corn together for an hour or two. If you do not have a pressure cooker, try cooking the beans in a crockpot on high for about 6 hours. This is a very simple dish- my grandmother only used the beans, corn, salt and pepper, and some canned milk at the end. Now, on the other hand, I have never been one to leave a simple recipe alone! So I have almost always sauteéd some onions and celery to put in the succotash, added chunked potatoes to make it more of a main course soup and added some other seasonings.

These beans were quite red (usually the beans are more of a brown color when cooked) and colored the succotash. They still taste the same. The corn was farm-fresh grown and frozen white corn that is very sweet.

Servings: about 8-10
  • 1 pound bag of cranberry beans or similar shell beans
  • 1 quart bag (or 4 cups) of frozen or fresh sweet corn with juice
  • 3 medium-large potatoes, cut into chunks (optional)
  • chicken soup base or broth
  • water
  • 1-2 large onions
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
  • seasoned salt/pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • evaporated milk or cream
  • Cook the beans as instructed on the package, or cover beans in a slow cooker with about 2-3 inches of water and cook on high in a slow cooker for 6 hours, or in a pressure cooker for about 30 minutes. Drain beans from liquid.
  • In a dutch oven style soup pot, sauté onions with a couple Tbsp of olive oil until they become translucent. 
  • Add in the garlic and sauté for a couple more minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the beans, sweet corn, chunked potatoes and enough water/broth to cover all the ingredients. If using water, add in a few bouillon cubes or a few Tbsp of soup base. 
  • Season with salt/pepper and dried parsley.
  • Simmer together until beans and potatoes are soft. 
  • When finished cooking, add in milk/cream gradually until broth is milky-- if you use a whole can of evaporated milk, it will be quite thick. If you desire a thinner succotash, you may need to add a little more water to thin it out. Season to taste, adding more salt as needed.
*We recently ate succotash (made for this picture without the potatoes added) over top of mashed potatoes and it was delicious.

If you are only cooking for a couple people, cook up the entire recipe and then freeze half of the succotash for another time- although it is best frozen if you do not add in the potatoes.