Apr 09

Raspberry Pretzel Torte

Our family always had Easter breakfast after church. Grandma would have ham, fresh rolls, polish sausage and of course the eggs that we kids had so eloquently designed and dyed. It was a very simple meal and the polish sausage was my favorite part of it. It was unfortunately also my cousin Andrea’s favorite as well. That kid could eat sausage until she burst. To this day I still tease her about leaving some for everyone else. Not that anyone ever missed out on any, but it wouldn’t be Easter if I didn’t give her a polish sausage jab or two.

Grandma also had sweets on the table, Danish, doughnuts, cookies and her RASPBERRY PRETZEL TORTE. This has always been one of my favorite deserts. The sweet Jell-O and salty pretzels create a unique flavor combination and texture.

It’s by no means a difficult dish to make, most of the “work” is being done during the chill time in the fridge. You can make this while the little ones are dying the eggs and making up the table decorations of Peep’s, jelly beans and chocolate covered marshmallow eggs.

RASPBERRY PRETZEL TORTE:

2- 3 ounce boxes raspberry Jell-O

2 cups boiling water

1- 12 ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed but NOT drained

1 cup pretzels broken into pieces

 

TOPPING:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

 

PRETZEL TOPPING:

1 stick butter

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for final sprinkle

1 cup crushed pretzels.

Spray an 8 x 12 baking dish with Pam, combine Jell-O and boiling water in a large bowl, stirring until Jell-O is dissolved. Add thawed raspberries ( with juice ) and broken pretzel pieces and pour into prepared dish.

Refrigerate until set.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fold in thawed whipped topping. Spread over Jell-O layer and refrigerate 2 hours.

Melt 1 stick butter and stir in 3 tablespoons sugar.  Add crushed pretzels and stir well. Spread on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes stirring half way through. Remove from oven and give an additional sprinkle of sugar.  Let Cool and sprinkle on top of torte when ready to serve.

Grandma’s recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar in the cream cheese and whipped topping layer, I find that a bit sweet, so I cut the sugar to 1/4 cup and it was just perfect. If you like it a little sweeter, make it your own and go as sweet as you like.

I can almost bet this will become a holiday favorite on your table and will be the dish you are asked to bring to pass at a pot luck.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

Apr 07

PEACH CREPES WITH BLACKBERRY SAUCE & BRANDY ICE CREAM

Here come’s Peter Cotton Tail, Hoppin’ down the Bunny trail, Hippity, Hoppity EASTER’S on it’s way!

Easter time, spring is in the air, little girls will have their bright, frilly yellow dresses and new bonnets, white anklets with the lace on them and patent leather shoes, white gloves and a smart pocketbook.  Little boys will have those adorable slacks with matching vests and bow ties and their hair will combed just perfect.

Then 10 minutes after church, the shoes will be scuffed, a glove will be missing, and knees will be grass stained while they crawl around hunting for eggs.

This sweet treat will look fresh and so pretty on your Easter table and it can all be made ahead of time. All you will have to do is a quick assemble.

PEACH CREPES W/BLACKBERRY SAUCE & BRANDY ICE CREAM:

1 10 ct package crepes

2 6 oz containers peach cream cheese

powdered sugar to taste

In a mixing bowl, beat peach cream cheese until light and fluffy, adding powdered sugar ( if desired ) to taste. Set aside.

BLACKBERRY SAUCE:

2 pints fresh blackberries

2-3 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon water

In a medium saucepan, combine blackberries, water and 1 tablespoon sugar. Bring to a simmer and slowly cook until berries give up their juice and start to thicken. Add additional sugar if desired to taste. Set aside to cool.

BRANDY ICE CREAM:

1 pint whipping cream ( not heavy )

1 pint half and half

1/2 cup vanilla sugar

1 tsp brandy extract

In a large measuring pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. If using an ice cream machine, fill the freezer bowl, taking care to not overfill. Depending on the size of machine, several  batches may need to be done. Follow directions for freezing.

If not using a machine, pour mixture into a freezer container and place in freezer, stirring every 15 minutes until ice cream is at a soft serve texture, then let freeze completely.

ASSEMBLY:

On each crepe, spread 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese and loosely roll. Top with blackberry sauce and Brandy ice cream. Serve with fresh slices of peaches and/or blackberries.

 

 

 

 

Mar 24

LEMON BLUEBERRY PUDDING POKE CAKE

A friend gave me a recipe which included making my own blueberry sauce, pudding and whipped cream that sounded amazing, but I didn’t have the time to make all the ingredients, so why should I if I don’t have to.

I used pie filling, instant pudding mix and thawed whipped topping and I had a quick and wonderful  dessert that took almost no time at all and my taste testers have given it 5 stars.

As I was putting this together, I thought, there is no reason whatsoever that you couldn’t use any kind of cake and pie filling. Use Devils Food cake, Cherry Pie filling and vanilla or white chocolate pudding and you will have a Black Forest Pudding Cake, use raspberry pie filling with the lemon cake and you have a raspberry lemonade pudding cake, or wouldn’t a spice cake with apple pie filling and cream cheese pudding be a great combination.

It really doesn’t matter, use whatever you have in your pantry and create a masterpiece. This is going to be my go to for any gathering, picnic or just because I want something sweet and satisfying.

 

LEMON BLUEBERRY PUDDING POKE CAKE:

1 boxed lemon cake mix

1 3.9 oz box instant pudding

2 cups milk

1 15 oz blueberry pie filling

whipped topping thawed.

Preheat oven according to cake mix directions and prepare cake as directed. Allow cake to cool

In a medium bowl, combine milk and pudding mix and stir well, refrigerate 10 minutes to allow to set up a bit.

With the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake and spread the pudding over, filling in the holes as best as possible. Refrigerate 10 minutes to set.

Spread  pie filling over pudding and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Top with thawed whipped topping or ice cream.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

Mar 17

CHOCOLATE WAFER CAKE

This throwback was one of my little brother’s favorite desserts. He would help mom make this after school and it would be ready to dig into by the time dinner was done.

He would have whipped cream from top to bottom and from one end of the kitchen to the other. How he managed to get the entire kitchen sticky with that cream is beyond anyone’s idea. Mom would set us up at the kitchen table or the island counter and then stand back, grit her teeth and get the mop water ready.

Mom would make fresh whipped cream but if you don’t have enough time or any on hand, thawed whipped topping works just as well. Just add in your vanilla or almond flavor and give it a good stir. Give the kids the cookies and some spatulas and let them create the original CHOCOLATE WAFER CAKE.

I generally have to bring my cookies back from Wisconsin, as it is hard to find them in a lot of the locations we are and even if they break, it’s not a big deal because it’s all slathered in the sweet, fluffy whipped cream.

CHOCOLATE WAFER CAKE:

1 package Nabisco Chocolate Wafers

2 cups whipped cream or thawed whipped topping

1 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Chocolate shavings

Spread 1 to 1 1/2 tbls of cream on top of a cookie and stack 4-6 high. Continue until cookies are used, reserving enough whipped topping to be able to frost the entire cake.

Lay stacks of cookies on their side; forming a log. Frost the entire cookie/cake, cover VERY LOOSELY with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours.

Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or sprinkles of your choice and cut on a diagonal.

If for some reason you have left overs, cover and refrigerate.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

Mar 17

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE

Saint Patrick’s Day is once again upon us. Little Leprechaun’s in green suits, rainbows with Pot’s O’ Gold at the end of them, green beer and CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE.

Of course no one says you can only have CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE on St. Patrick’s Day, in fact when I was a kid, the Blue Top restaurant in my hometown would have it every Monday. It was probably one of my favorite things there. That meat was always so tender and  the cabbage was cooked perfectly. I loved the potatoes, weird as it sounds, they used canned potatoes in theirs. There is something about those little taters in a can that gets me.

I keep a can in the pantry only for two dishes, one is the CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE , the other is to roll them in some Italian seasoned cracker crumbs and pan fry. They hold their texture perfectly.

Bobbie doesn’t care for those potatoes, so I made it with traditional reds. I first cook the brisket with some onion and the seasoning packet and when the meat is almost done, I like to pull it out and strain the broth to remove the seasonings, seeds and the “stuff” that comes from cooking the brisket.

Put this in a slow cooker before you go to work and finish it up when you get home, after of course, you pour yourself an ice cold, frosty mug of green beer.

 

CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE:

1 Corned Beef Brisket

2 onions, divided

1 medium head cabbage

3-4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ pieced

4-5 medium red potatoes, peeled and halved

water to cover brisket

Fresh ground black pepper

Place the brisket along with the seasoning packet and one of the onions roughly chopped in a slow cooker. Cover with water and cook on high 5-6 hours or on low 7-8 hours.

When meat is tender, carefully remove and set aside on a platter. Strain the cooking broth and return it to the cooker, discard stuff from strainer. Replace meat in the slow cooker.

Add the potatoes, carrots and the second onion, roughly chopped. Cut the cabbage in quarters and cut the core section out of each quarter, add to slow cooker.

Turn to high and let come to a boil and cook until vegetables are tender. Season with pepper and a bit of salt if needed. Generally the meat is salty enough.

Serve with some crusty bread or Irish Soda Bread and a fresh, crisp green salad.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

Mar 14

CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD PUDDING

Your Easter Sunday Brunch table will get rave reviews if this CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD PUDDING is front and center of the dessert section.

It’s so quick and easy to put together and everything you need is more than likely in your pantry. Change it up a bit and use half chocolate and half white chips, or make it an “Elvis” bread pudding and use half chocolate and half peanut butter chips. Serve with flavored whipped cream for a beautiful finish.

KITCHY KITCHEN TIP: Use stale cake or glazed doughnuts, or any mixture of white bread.

 

CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD PUDDING:

 

 

4 eggs ( I used 3 jumbo )

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar ( I used 2/3 cup )

1 tbl vanilla ( almond is also good )

4 cups French Bread Cubed

2 bananas, sliced

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I used 3/4 cup )

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in bread, bananas and chocolate chips. Let rest 5 minutes for bread to soak up custard. Pour into prepared pan.

Line a roasting pan with a damp towel. Place loaf pan with bread and custard on towel inside the roasting pan and place on rack in oven. Fill roasting pan with SCALDING HOT water to reach about half way up the side of the loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until  a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let stand for 30 minutes to allow custard to set. Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Take 10 minutes to prep and let it bake for an hour, couldn’t be simpler, so

Go Ahead….” Just Try It ”

 

Feb 28

POTATO LEEK SOUP

LEEKS are in the onion family, but much milder. If I am going to be using raw onion in anything, I prefer to use the leeks because of the mildness. They are a bit pricey, but one bunch, which usually consists of 3 LEEKS is more than enough a good size kettle of soup.

Cut the green part off of the LEEKS and slice the white part lengthwise. Thinly slice each half and put in a colander so you can give them a good rinse to get any dirt out from in between the leaves.

LEEKS make for a beautifully soft cream of potato soup. The flavor is not overpowering and paired with sandwich or a fresh, crisp green salad you have an amazing meal.

If you’d like; add some meat, ham or nice smoky bacon finely chopped will round it out completely

 

POTATO LEEK SOUP:

1 bunch ( 3 ) leeks, halved and thinly sliced

1 stick butter

2-3 tbl flour

32 ounces chicken broth

Additional water or broth if needed for thinning

1 tsp chicken base

3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups + more if needed cream or milk

1 tsp Accent

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Trim off the green leaves of the leeks and discard. Slice the white part of leek lengthwise and slice each half into thin slices. Rinse well to remove any dirt in between the leaves.

In a large dutch oven or soup kettle melt the butter on medium low heat and add the sliced leeks. Saute’ until leeks are reduced by half the size and are very soft.

Sprinkle flour in and stir well to coat, let cook 2-3 minutes to allow flour to cook.

Add chicken broth, Accent  and potatoes, cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Add cream or milk, adjusting the consistency to your liking. Season to taste

When ready to serve, slowly warm, DO NOT BOIL otherwise the cream will curdle.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

Feb 20

CREAMY LIME PASTA SALAD

I love a  pasta salad of almost any kind from creamy to vinaigrette, meat or just vegetable and cheese, got to have to have cheese in any salad. Well I’m from Wisconsin so what would you expect?

As I was looking at the shelves in our grocery store for something new to try, I was not disappointed when I saw that Kraft had out a new Zesty Lime Vinaigrette salad dressing, WHAM, that stopped me dead in my tracks, had to try it right then and there and that is exactly what I did, opened it up and tried it in the isle.

The taste was exactly like the name Zesty and Limey, my mind was going a mile a minute what can I do with this, yes a bowtie/veg salad would be great, but I wasn’t looking for great at that moment. Suddenly it came to me, let’s cream it up! Mayo, no too boring, sour cream, nah, wait, ranch dressing!

So the idea was installed, now to create the masterpiece. My pantry is, to say the least; well stocked. I found all sorts of things I could put in this creation, but I remembered what my mom always says, ” less is best ” Funny how I go back to that saying many times in daily life. Mom really does know best.

My experiment did not fail and this pasta salad is asked for by neighbors when we have a gathering or someone will casually mention that salad, knowing full well that I will be making it soon after and a container will be in their hands.  I made this for my mom and dad’s annual 4th of July gathering last year and it was a hit with everyone.

NOTE: When you make the dressing, leaving at least 1 cup of plain ranch dressing separate is needed for adding to the salad the next day. The pasta will look very wet when you put in the fridge so the flavors can meld and you will think that there is too much, believe me, when you look at it the next day you will be surprised how much dressing was “drank” up by the pasta and you will need to add more. You can add a little more vinaigrette if you would like a little more zest.

 

CREAMY LIME PASTA:

1 packet Ranch dressing mix

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Lime Vinaigrette dressing ( more if desired )

1 8 ounce  package cheese filled tortellini or tiny ravioli

1 15 ounce can black olives, drained

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and rough diced

2-3 medium tomatoes, seeded and rough dice

2 tablespoons red onion, finely minced ( optional )

1 tsp Accent

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain well, DO NOT RINSE and set aside

Mix 1 cup of ranch dressing with 1/4 cup of Zesty Lime Vinaigrette.

Combine all ingredients except the 1 cup of Ranch dressing that was held back together, Season to taste.

Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Stirring occasionally.

Before serving, add remaining Ranch dressing to achieve desired dressing amount

Try adding some cooked chicken, turkey or ham to make a satisfying meal.

Go Ahead….” Just Try It! ”

 

Feb 15

POTATO and CHEESY SASAUGE SKILLET

It’s Valentines day again, flowers have been ordered, candy and cards are bought and hopefully he remembered to make reservations at your favorite restaurant.

As a teenager, I always hoped that the ” true love ” I had at the time would have flowers waiting for me or a card taped to my locker door. After I got older, I’d hold my breath every time a florist would make a delivery at work and hope that he was coming to my desk. Needless to say there were Valentine’s  Day’s when no candy or flowers were delivered to me.

But I could always count on my Dad to not forget me on Valentine’s Day. When Mike and I were kids, Dad would have flowers for mom and a box of candy for Mike and I on the kitchen table when we got up, with a little note wishing us a Happy Valentines Day.  As I got older the candy changed to a vase of flowers as well.

I left Wisconsin in 2005 to travel with my husband for his job.  I figured the Valentine’s flowers were a done deal. The first year, in my mail was one of my mom’s homemade cards that she and dad designed and dad signed it and included a $25 check so I could get myself some flowers.

That’s my dad.

Dad passed away in August of 2016, thus ending my special gift from him, or, again; so I thought. In my mail was a card that mom made and the inside said dad would have enjoyed creating and making this card….and the $25 check. Ok, I lost it, completely. Brought back all the memories of those  Valentine’s Day that dad always made sure his little girl felt like the most special person in the world. I of course being a little biased; think he was the best dad a daughter could ask for.

Dad wasn’t into fancy foods, he liked basic meat and potato meals he absolutely hated sandwiches but one of his favorite dishes was POTATOE’S AND CHEESY SAUSAGE SKILLET. This was the last dish that my niece, Emily and I made for him and there was not a bite left in that skillet.

This is so easy to make and so versatile that you can use any kind of sausage you want and add in peppers or mushrooms if you like. Dad liked the little cheddar smokie links and the cheese that melted out of them, makes a rich, creamy yet not overpowering sauce.

POTATOE’S AND CHEESY SAUSAGE SKILLET:

4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, rough chopped

4 tbls butter

1 package little cheddar smokie links

1 tsp Accent

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a skillet, melt the butter and add potatoes and onion. Saute’ on medium until potatoes are almost done and lightly browned and onion is translucent. Add smokie links and reduce heat to low. Cover tightly and simmer until sausage is heated through and potatoes are finished cooking.

Try Dad’s favorite dish, and make it your own.

Go Ahead….” Just Try It! ”

 

This is Mom and Dad the last time they took me to the airport after my visit summer of 2016. One of my favorite pictures.

 

 

Feb 12

Grandma’s Pan Fried Chicken

When I think of my grandparents, very different memories come to mind of my grandmothers. My mom’s mom was younger than dad’s mom and very active. She was the one that got us out of the Saturday house cleaning by taking us to the rummage sales and ” errands ” She taught me how to pick out real silver from the cheap stuff and what was good crystal and what was fake. I learned to how talk down any price that was on a sticker and to this day, my husband lets me do the negotiating when it’s needed.

Each Saturday morning I had my outfit picked out to wear and anxiously waited for that phone to ring and grandma asking if I wanted to go uptown. I’d practically sprain my ankle running to get the phone before mom because I knew darn good and well she would say no I couldn’t go because I had to help strip beds and wash those blasted mopboards. Of course that scenario was only in my mind, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

My dad’s mom; ” Little Grandma “, was so very different. She was a short, quiet, soft spoken lady with porcelain skin and soft, sparkly eyes. She had bad hips so I never saw her without her crutches, but that didn’t stop her.

When I was a little girl she lived in a tiny town about 10 miles away. I can still see her small white house on the corner, it had the white picket fence and I remember flowers. It was a tiny house and her bedroom was off the living room, which was strange to me, she had narrow steps that went up to her attic which had a low ceiling and there was a blue and white chenille bedspread on the little bed, she always kept it made up for when one of my Uncles would come to visit.

For some reason I don’t remember much about the kitchen, other than it was small as well and had white appliances, but I do remember the “wood” cereal. She always had bran cereal, I hated cereal in the first place, and to only have a choice of bran was grounds for a hunger strike. Thank goodness she also always had cinnamon sugar ready for toast so she was off the hook.

Grandma could cook, and her cooking could put the blue ribbon winner at the county fair to shame. Her pie crust was as flaky and tender and mom would have her make up big containers of dough to keep in the refrigerator for when she made pies. She always used real lard and did very little mixing with it, only her fingertips so that it would not be overworked which was what toughened up the dough.

She even made vegetables unbelievable, whether fried or creamed, her KAPUSTA ( cabbage ) was amazing. Rich, buttery, artery clogging decadence in that bowl on the table was not something anyone ever passed up.

My very favorite dish was her PAN FRIED CHICKEN. This end product  is not exactly fried, but a crisp skin and the inside is tender, juicy and smothered in a rich, glorious gravy. Grandma and mom cook potatoes on the side, I like to add mine in with the chicken to give extra flavor to them as they simmer in that golden pool of goodness.

You don’t have to add carrots if you don’t want, add any vegetable that your family likes. As you can see I didn’t add any to this dish, Bobbie wanted creamed corn instead.

 

GRANDMA’S PAN FRIED CHICKEN:

 

1 whole cut up chicken or pieces of your choice

Salt, fresh ground black pepper

2 tsp Accent, divided among pieces of chicken

2 tbl olive oil

3/4 stick butter

1 large onion, rough chop

6 cups chicken broth or water with 1 tblsp chicken base

2 bay leaves

3-4 kubabba ( whole allspice )

3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half

1/2 cup water, plus additional if needed

1/4 cup flour, plus additional if needed

In a skillet or electric skillet, melt butter and olive oil together.  Liberally season chicken with salt, pepper and Accent and fry until skin is golden brown in the oil/butter mixture.  Remove chicken to a platter.

Add the onion and saute’ until translucent; taking care to not burn. Gently scrape up the “fond” or browned bits on the bottom of the pan ( these bits are the secret to fabulous flavorings in gravies ).

Return chicken to pan and add liquid, bay leaf and kubabba. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add potatoes and carrots ( if using ), cover and simmer for additional 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and kubabba.

In a small bowl, mix the flour and water to make a slurry and slowly pour into bubbling broth, stirring constantly. You can double the amounts if you prefer extra gravy.  Let simmer for 2-3 minutes so the flour cooks through.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

I can guarantee you that this will become a fast family favorite and a regular in your dinner planning. When you are making it, try not to think of something your own sweet grandma made for you with love, I bet you can’t do it.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

 

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