Monday, October 16, 2017

Delicious Hot Chocolate

This homemade hot chocolate is easy to make and aromatically heavenly! 

The sugar is adjustable as well as the amount of cocoa and cinnamon sticks you use depending on your tastes.
Perfect for a chilly Fall day!

Bring 10 cinnamon sticks in 9 cups water to a boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes and remove the sticks. Meanwhile, combine 2 cups granulated sugar with 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. dutch process cocoa. Add water to the sugar mixture to create a paste. 
After removing the sticks from the water, add the sugar paste and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 12oz cans of evaporated milk.
Pour yourself a cup and savor the wonderful flavor!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Easy Instant Pot Risotto

Basic directions for Risotto in the Instant Pot with the recipe for mushroom Risotto below.
Mix it up and try different vegetables, greens or herbs.

Set your instant pot for the saute setting. Add the butter and olive oil to the pot and use a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula to spread it across the surface of the pot. When the butter is heated, add the onion or shallot and stir to coat.

Saute, stirring occasionally until it softens and turns translucent. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine, vermouth or substitute and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes.

Add the rice to the pot and stir to coat the grains of rice completely. Saute for a few minutes, the rice will eventually become translucent around the edges, with a small white dot remaining. This means it's ready for the stock. Before you add the stock, add any tough vegetables if you're using them (ie. squash, asparagus etc.) and saute them for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. If you are using leafy vegetables, they should not be added until the last minute. 

Close the lid and set your pot on the porridge setting adjusting the timer for 10 minutes. Do a quick release and check to make sure most of the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle in the cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper, and add up to another tablespoon of butter if desired. I added my pan sauteed mushrooms at this point (I don't like soggy mushrooms so I simply sauteed them in a separate pan adding them at the last minute thus achieving the perfect doneness for my tastes). Give it a stir to combine everything. If you're using fresh herbs or chopped greens, add them now, stirring to combine and wilt. 

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 qt. mushroom stock, vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine, vermouth or substitute
1 medium shallot or ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 tablespoon unsalted butter (½ stick)
1 tablespoon  olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon  chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt, to taste

Monday, October 2, 2017

Delicious apple/carrot cake!

Oh my goodness! HEAVENLY!! DIVINE!!!
A must have for Fall apple abundance!
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg

1-3/4 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted if desired

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-in. fluted tube pan. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in egg.
For cake, in a large bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into sugar mixture. Stir in apples, carrots and pecans.
Transfer half of the batter to prepared pan; layer with cream cheese mixture, then remaining batter. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in cake portion comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
For icing, in a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with pecans.
Saving my homemade tartar sauce recipe here and will update as I try new things, but it was amazing and became more delicious each day!

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 scallion, including green top chopped
1 1⁄2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped dilled gherkins
1 tablespoon chopped capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. tarragon (didn't try)
Fresh dill instead of parsley didn't try

Lemon Zucchini Bread

A Superb way to use up zucchini!

1½ c. all purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. sugar
1 c. finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
¼ c. cooking oil
1 egg
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. finely shredded lemon peel

½ c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest


In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl combine sugar, zucchini, cooking oil, egg, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Stir to combine.
Add dry ingredients to zucchini mixture; stir just until combined.
Spoon batter into greased bread pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and set.
Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 min, then remove from pan and cool completely.
Once cool, combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over bread.

Heavenly Halibut

The BEST halibut recipe I have ever tried! MOIST and DREAMY!

3-4 T melted butter
2 lbs halibut
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 small onion, minced
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. grated cheddar

Rinse halibut and pat dry.
Place melted butter in bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. Add fish.
Mix mayonnaise, sour cream and flour together till smooth.
Stir in lemon juice, onion and cayenne.
Spoon the mixture over the halibut.
Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, or until fish flaky.
Sprinkle cheese and chives over all and bake for 2 additional minutes or until cheese is melted.
Serve immediately. 

Amazing Crock Pot Potatoes!

Delicious and oh so cheesy perfect potatoes!

1 pound inch sized diced potatoes
1/2-lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1-oz package ranch dressing seasoning packet
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup reserved
1/2 cup chives, chopped, to serve
sour cream, to serve
In a small bowl, mix oil, water and seasoning packet. Pour mixture over potatoes in a large bowl. Toss to coat all the potatoes in the mixture.
Into a lightly greased 6-quart slow cooker, add in 1/3 of the potatoes. Sprinkle 1/3 of the bacon and 1/3 of the cheddar cheese. Repeat 2 more times. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or until potatoes are cooked through.
Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and cover again, allowing cheese to melt. Serve with sour cream and freshly chopped chives.

Copycat Gnocchi soup

This is a scrumptious soup to usher in a gorgeous Autumn day! This soup pairs perfectly with some garlic bread sticks. 
This is close to what Olive Garden may serve on their soup menu.

Gnocchi Soup
1T olive oil
4T butter
1 c onion
1/2 c celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
Put into a large soup pot and cook until celery and onion are desired doneness. Add:
1/4 c flour (whisk in)
1 qt half and half or cream
Simmer until thick.
Add 14 oz chicken broth (whisk)
1 c cooked chicken
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t parsley
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t salt
1 c shredded carrots
1 pkg (500mg) potato gnocchi
Stir above ingredients
Add 1 c chopped fresh spinach or kale - stir again
Cook and stir a few more minutes until carrots are cooked.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Banana Bars

Banana Bars

1  2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups mashed banana
2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour  10 1/2 by 15 inch pan. 

Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add in eggs and vanilla.

 Add flour, baking soda and salt to butter mixture.

Beat in mashed bananas and buttermilk at low-speed. 

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until when gently pressed in the center it springs back.
Cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 & 1/2 sticks  butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium until combined.  Add sugar and mix until smooth.

Salted Caramel Apple Bars

Salted Caramel Apple Bars

 2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 10-by-15-inch cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter and water heating until butter melts. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add in the flour mixture. Add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the apples.
Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 25 minutes.

1 stick butter
1/4 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe at bottom of page)

Meanwhile, combine the butter and milk in a large heat-proof bowl. Microwave until the butter is melted. Gradually stir in the powdered sugar until combined. Stir in the vanilla and caramel until combined. Pour evenly over mostly cooled cake. Let set for about 15 minutes.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel (optional)

In a medium dry saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat until the sugar melts. Turn off heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Whisking constantly, gradually add the cream. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. You will have leftovers of this caramel sauce and it will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks. It is delicious with apples dipped in it or over ice cream!

Coconut Sheet Cake

This mildly flavored coconut cake and frosting are heavenly. In fact, I suggest you have a get together of some sort just so you can make it! I recently took this to a family function and it was a BIG hit; even the little kids loved it! 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 18 by 13-inch cookie sheet.

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. canned coconut milk at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp coconut extract 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Whip butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. In another mixing bowl whisk together coconut milk, sour cream, coconut and vanilla extracts until blended. In yet another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture and mix on low speed just until combined, then add in 1/2 of the coconut milk mixture and mix just until combined, repeat with flour and coconut milk mixtures once more  ending by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture mixing just until combined. Pour batter into prepared cookie sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

1/2 c. butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 tsp coconut extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter until smooth. Add in cream cheese and mix until smooth. Mix in coconut extract and powdered sugar and whip until light and fluffy, about 1 - 2 minutes. Spread evenly over cooled cake then top with shredded coconut and raspberries if desired. Cut into squares.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Instant Pot Cheesecake

This Pressure Cooker New York Cheesecake is Perfect! I don't even like cheesecake that well due to the fact that when I was a teenager I purchased truly divine New York Cheesecake at the top of the twin towers. No other cheesecake up to this point has come anywhere close. My sister found this recipe on and shared it with me. I LOVE this cheesecake and am excited to make about 700 more!

3/4 cup Honey Maid Graham Crackers (vanilla wafers, oreos, biscoff cookies etc.)
2 teaspoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter melted

16 oz Cream Cheese room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons All Purpose Flour (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Orange Peel grated
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Peel grated
2 Eggs room temperature
1 Egg Yolk room temperature
1/4 cup Whipping/Heavy Cream

Sweet Cream Layer
1/2 cup Sour Cream
2 teaspoons Sugar

1. Add cookies and sugar to the bowl of food processor and pulse a couple of times, until small crumbs form. Melt butter in microwave or on stove top and add to graham cracker mixture. Pulse until just combined.
2. Pour cookie mixture into bottom of greased 6 ­inch cheesecake pan and press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan and no more than one inch up along the sides.
3. Place pan with crust into freezer for 20 minutes while you mix up the filling.
1. Blend together cream cheese, sugar, heavy cream, flour, grated peels and vanilla extract until smooth.
2. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, lightly mixing until just combined. Do not over mix the eggs.
3. Pour filling into the pan, on top of the crust.
1. Add 1 & 1/2cups of water to the bottom of your pressure cooker and then place a trivet inside the pot.
2. Cover the cheesecake first with a paper towel and then with a piece of aluminum foil and loosely secure the foil.
3. Place cheesecake into pressure cooker using a sling ( I just used the handles on my trivet).
4. Lock on lid and close Pressure Valve. Cook at High Pressure for 37 minutes. Allow an 18 minute natural release.
5. After all pressure has been released, open pressure cooker and gently remove the pan. Remove the foil and paper towel. Tilt the cheesecake pan and dab off any liquid that may have accumulated.
6. The center (no more than an inch) will be slightly jiggly (not wet, JIGGLY), but don't worry. The heat that is trapped inside will continue to cook the center while the cheesecake cools.
Sweet Cream Completer Layer
1. Whisk together the sour cream and sugar and then spread on the hot cheesecake. Let cool on wire rack for at least one hour. 
Place in refrigerator for an hour and then remove from pan. Let it sit overnight in the fridge loosely covered with plastic wrap. Serve with any number of toppings or freeze individual slices for later consumption. Mmmmm, Mmmmm Good!!

Homemade Instant Pot Tapioca

This homemade tapioca is perfectly delicious warm or cold!

1 cup small-pearl tapioca
4 cups water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In pressure cooking pot, mix together rinsed tapioca and water. Lock the lid in place and select manual high pressure with 6 minutes cook time. Use a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure with quick pressure release.
Whisk sugar and salt into tapioca in pressure cooking pot.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks with milk. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into pressure cooking pot. Select saute and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture just starts to boil. Turn off pressure cooker and remove pressure cooking pot. Stir in vanilla.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Instant pot Chicken

I'm trying out recipes in my new Instant-pot. This is a delicious chicken recipe!  I'm at about 4500 feet above sea level and am discovering that the recipes I try are over cooked.  I also use thin chicken breasts which may make a difference.  Times will be an approximation.

1 ½ pounds Chicken
⅛ teaspoons Black Pepper
⅛ teaspoons Salt
½ cups diced Onion
½ cups Soy Sauce
¼ cups Ketchup
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons minced Garlic
¼ tablespoons Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Honey
Combine all ingredients in Instant-pot bowl. Lock cover into place and seal steam nozzle.
Cook on the chicken setting or manually set for 12 minutes.
Naturally release pressure for 5 minutes then quick release remaining pressure.
Remove chicken and dice.
Set Instant Pot setting to saute.
In a bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water.
Add cornstarch mixture and chicken to pot and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened.
Serve over rice. Delicious!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Creamcheese Sugar Cookie Bars

Another of my sister in law's fabulous dessert recipes! I am posting them here so I don't lose the recipe! It is that good!!! 

1&1/2 Cups sugar
1 Cup butter, softened
8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
Combine above ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Add 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract. Beat 1 minute.

Add 2&1/2 Cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Beat for 2 minutes.

Spread evenly in a jelly roll pan and Bake at 350* for 20 minutes or golden. Completely cool.

Cream Cheese Cookie Bar Frosting:

Combine 1/2 Cup soft butter with 4 oz. soft cream cheese until smooth. Add 3&1.2 Cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 2-3 Tbsp whole milk. Beat for about 4 minutes until fluffy. Add a drop of coloring if desired. Frost cooled Bars! These are a great pot-luck item!  

Swedish Meatballs

My own version of Swedish Meatballs. I took them to a potluck and they promptly disappeared!

Caramelize 1/2 of an onion in olive oil. In large bowl, mix 2 lb. ground beef, 1/2 lb. ground sausage, 1/2 Cup Panko bread crumbs, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. cardamom, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. kosher salt and some fresh 

ground pepper to taste. Roll this mixture into small balls and brown on all sides in 6 Tbsp. butter. Set aside. In a large saucepan, melt 6 Tbsp. butter and whisk in 1/3 Cup flour. To this add 4 Cups beef broth and 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Place the meatballs in sauce and cook on medium heat covered for about 8 minutes. Stir in 3/4 Cup sour cream and 1 tsp. Dijon mustard. Serve over rice or noodles!

Italian Chicken Breasts!

This chicken is so tender and moist! Pound 4-6 chicken breasts until about 1/2 inch thick. Coat them in flour and then dip them in an egg beaten with 1 tsp. water. thoroughly coat them in an Italian bread crumb or add 1 tsp. of dried oregano to plain bread crumbs. Fry them in hot oil for 8 minutes on one side. Flip them and fry them for another 2 minutes. Remove and place a piece of mozzarella on top of them. Warm 1 can tomato sauce up with 1/4 tsp. garlic powder and 1/4 tsp dried basil leaves in it. Spread some of the tomato sauce on the cheese and some freshly grated Parmesan. Serve immediately. 

Easy Artisan Bread

 Most delicious Artisan Bread is as easy as 123! 
In a medium sized bowl combine 3 Cups flour, 1/2 tsp. dry yeast, and 2 tsp. kosher salt. Add 1 & 1/2 Cups warm water and stir until just combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter overnight. Next morning, spread some flour or cornmeal on the bottom of an enamel coated round dutch oven pan with a lid.
Bake at 425* for 30 minutes covered and then 7 more minutes uncovered. 
Perfect crusty little loaf of perfection!! 

Grandma's Crepe recipe!

My All Time Favorite Crepe Recipe!

Combine 2 Cups flour, 3 tsp. salt with 6 eggs, 3 Cups milk, and 2 Tbsp. cooking oil.
It is a bit tricky to make sure the flour isn't lumpy so feel free to break out the hand mixer or use any little tricks you have up your sleeve. 
I have a couple of crepe makers so I pour the batter into a deep pie plate and then dip the crepe maker in, let it cook for a minute and voila! 
Sometimes I fill them with hamburger/sausage and spinach with spaghetti sauce and cheese and bake them. Other times I have filled them with a white sauce and chicken and mushrooms. I also fill them with eggs and breakfast foods or fruit and pie filling. The possibilities are endless! 
Oh, P.S. If you don't have a crepe maker, simply spread them out in a frying pan very thin and cook them that way.

Chicken Artichoke Foil Packets

Foil Chicken Packets
 I made these in the middle of winter in my oven, but am excited to try them over a campfire this Summer! They were tasty! I got this recipe from Kraft foods. That would be why there are recommendations for particular brands. 
3 cups instant white rice, uncooked
3 cups warm water
6 small boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1/2 inch thick
1 can (13-3/4 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, quartered
several grape tomatoes sliced in half
1/2 cup KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing
1/4 cup CLASSICO Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce and Spread
Heat oven to 400°F.
Mix rice and water; spoon onto centers of 6 large sheets heavy-duty foil. Top with chicken, artichokes and tomatoes; drizzle with combined dressing and pesto.
Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in 15x10x1-inch pan.
Bake 30 to 35 min. or until chicken is done (165°F). Remove packets from oven; let stand 5 min. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening.

Thanksgiving Place cards and favors

I love making a little something to help decorate my table at Thanksgiving time. This year I found a tee-pee printable and simply printed it out on card stock, folded and glued it to a base so I could put candy inside. I also found a witch shoe pattern, cut the toe off and folded and glued it together so it resembled a pilgrim shoe. I glued a small black clothespin on the top which held the chalkboard type name tags. 

Fork tender roast!

This is a delicious pot roast every time! I love throwing this in the crock pot, setting it on low and returning 6-8 hours later to find this melt in your mouth meat!

3-5 lb. roast seared in olive oil on all sides (typically 10 minutes per side). Saute a couple of onions as well and place the roast and onions in a crock pot. Combine 4 cups chicken broth, 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, 2 tsp. smoked paprika, some fresh thyme or dried, 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup, 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and pour over roast. You may also add 1/4 cup cooking wine as desired. If the liquid doesn't cover the meat, add more chicken or beef broth until it's covered. Cook on low for about 6 hours until fork tender. 

Smoked Turkey Extraordinaire!

This is my go to recipe for turkey brine which is a must have in my opinion! I have even used it on a frozen turkey and it is still amazingly delicious! 
My husband has a Traeger smoker. We tried a large turkey on it and it ended up being a tad dry (probably due to user downfalls). However, when we tried a small turkey, it was the best!
If you don't have access to a smoker, this is still my favorite brine for making your turkey mouthwateringly tender!

1 bunch fresh thyme
5 bay leaves
3/4 kosher salt
1 tsp. peppercorns
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
1 bunch fresh rosemary
a few orange peels if desired
3 quarts hot water
3 quarts ice

Dissolve everything in hot water and then add ice. Immerse turkey and soak in fridge 8-12 hours. Cook as usual. I double this for a huge bird. I have a bucket I use and if it's 40* outside or cooler, I simply stick it outside overnight.