Friday, August 30, 2013

Mozzarella Tomato Salad!


 
This is such a simple salad, but it is so fresh and full of flavor.  It's a salad that I like to make when I might not have fresh salad greens on hand, but I still want a salad with my meal.  I always usually have these ingredients available in the summer.   This has fresh basil in it and I grow that all over in the summer, because I just love the flavor and smell of basil.   Here is what you will need for this salad:
 
5 fresh tomatoes, diced bite size (I used 3 red and 2 yellow for color, but whatever you have is fine)
1 medium sweet onion, sliced in thin rings (I prefer Vidalia if I can get them)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
8 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced thin or the Mozzarella pearls cut in half
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
 
Combine the tomatoes, onion rings and fresh basil in a salad bowl. 
 
Slice the Mozzarella balls in half or if you are using a larger piece of fresh Mozzarella cut it in thin slices.   This is the type I like to use.  It comes marinated in herbs and you can find it in the cheese section of your supermarket. 
 
Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic.  Drizzle over the salad and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top.  
 
I like to finish with a little fresh ground pepper!  It' so easy, but so good!
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Snowball Cake!


 
 
This "Snowball Cake" is sure to get you a lot of compliments, because it's just so doggone pretty and it's also very tasty.  It looks sort of like it might be complicated to make, but actually, it's easy as can be, especially if you use a store bought angel food cake.  Of course, you can make your own also.  here is what you will need: 
 
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1 (8oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
juice of 1 lemon
2 pkg. Dream Whip topping, prepared and divided (could use 3 cups Cool Whip)
1 Angel Food Cake
1 cup coconut
maraschino cherries for garnish (optional)
 
Mix gelatin in water and bring to a boil.  Add sugar, pineapple and lemon juice.  Set mixture in the refrigerator until chilled.   Add 1 package of prepared whipped topping.   If using Cool Whip, use 1  1/2 cups.
 
Pinch the angel food cake off in bit size pieces and combine with the chilled gelatin mixture.
 
Line a 2 quart round bowl with plastic wrap (like Saran Wrap). 
 
 
Pour the mixture into the bowl, cover and chill for several hours or overnight.  
 
Unmold onto a cake plate and frost with the other envelope of whipped topping or Cool Whip.  Sprinkle coconut overall and garnish with a maraschino cherry.  Place in the refrigerator and chill until time to serve. 
 
This is such a pretty cake and it's also light and lower in fat and calories.






Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cheddar Bacon Muffins!

 
 
These "Cheddar Bacon Muffins" are so simple to make and they are great with soups or stews or really just about anything!   Anytime you can whip up a homemade bread instead of something already baked, you know it's going to be better.   Here is what you need for these muffins:
 
1  1/2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup self rising corn meal
1 cup milk
1 egg
4 Tbs. mayonnaise
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbled or real bacon bits
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder, divided
1 Tsp. dried parsley
2 Tbs. butter, melted
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
 
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, milk, egg and mayonnaise.   Add the cheese, bacon, basil, oregano and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.   Divide evenly in well greased muffin tins.  This makes 8 large muffins or 12 smaller ones.   Bake for 13 to 15 minutes.
 
Combine the melted butter with the parsley and the other 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.  Brush on the tops of the muffins hot right out of the oven.
 
 
 
***If you cannot buy self rising flour or cornmeal in your area, use all purpose and add 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt to it.
 


Monday, August 26, 2013

Mama's Bread and Butter Pickles!

 


This is my mother's recipe for "Bread and Butter Pickles" and to me, it's the best homemade pickle there is.  My sister and I used to eat these for a snack as kids they were so good!  They are sort of a cross between a pickle and relish which is why I probably like them so much.  They are also a really good pickle to start with for those who are new to canning, because they are not that complicated or hard to make.  Homemade pickles are an iffy sort of thing.  Remember the Andy Griffith episode about Aunt Bea's homemade pickles. 

This is not the look you want to see when you present your homemade pickles to folks...lol! 
 
So here is what you will need for these yummy pickles:
 
3 quarts of cucumbers, sliced thin (about 4 lbs.)
1/2 cup canning salt
1 cup water
ice
4 cups onions, sliced in thin rings (about 3-4 large onions)
1 large green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
1 large red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
3 cups sugar
3 cups vinegar
2 Tbs. mustard seed
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. ground ginger
 
 
Place the cucumbers, onions,  bell peppers, salt and water in a large bowl or container with a tight fitting lid.   Cover with ice cubes, place the lid on them and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
 
After they have chilled, remove from ice and drain well.    Pack into sterilized pint jars. If you place some of the red and green pepper strips where they are visible, the jars look prettier. You will need about 8-9 jars.   Leave some head room in each jar. 
 
In a saucepan on the stove, combine vinegar, sugar and spices.  Bring just to a boil, turn off  and remove from heat.   Carefully pour over the cucumber mixture in each jar.  Don't over fill.  Wipe down the jars if you spill any on the outside.
 
Place the lids and rings on the jars.  Leave the rings slightly loose.  
 
Place the jars in a canner or large Dutch oven and add water just up to the rings, not over the rings.   Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover.  Let stand in the hot water bath for about 40 minutes.  Remove and turn upside down on the counter.  This aids in sealing the jars.   The lids will pop when they are properly sealed.  if they don't pop and this rarely happens, refrigerate and eat that jar first.  Don't store it for later use outside of the refrigerator. 
 
These pickles are so good with most anything and they are also great minced and used in potato salad, chicken salad, tuna salad or anything that calls for pickle relish.  You can just put a whole jar through the food processor and keep it in the fridge for that purpose! 
 
 



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes!



Don't let the zucchini in these "Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes" scare you, no one will ever know they have zucchini in them.   Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetables, mainly because it's so versatile.  It's great in savory dishes like casseroles or soups and stews and it's also wonderful in sweet recipes, like breads, cakes and cookies.  
 
 Zucchini just takes on whatever flavors you add to it.  So, if you can't really taste it in baked items, why use it?  Zucchini has a high water content so when you add it to baked goods, you can actually cut back on some of the fat or dairy in the recipe, which is healthier.  It also makes whatever it's added to really moist and delicious.  Here is what you will need for these yummy cupcakes:
 
 
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2  large eggs
1  1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup buttermilk
1  1/2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
 

***Butter Cream Frosting

8 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening ( used Crisco)
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
chocolate sprinkles for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together.  Add eggs one at a time and beat after each. 
Sift all of the dry ingredients together in another bowl.  Add dry ingredients, buttermilk and vanilla to the wet ingredients and beat just until combined.  Fold in the shredded zucchini and mix until incorporated.

Evenly divide and pour into cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners.   This makes 18 cupcakes. 

Place in oven and back for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the butter cream frosting.  Beat powdered sugar, butter and shortening in a large bowl.   Beat milk and vanilla flavoring.  If it's too stiff beat in more milk a few drops at a time.   Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with chocolate sprinkles.  Store in an airtight container.

***This butter cream frosting recipe makes a lot of frosting so you will have some leftover.  It keeps in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.  You can also divide the recipe in half if you don't think you will be baking that soon.





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Golden Chicken and Rice Casserole!


 
This is such a simple casserole, but it is so good.  It's also quick to put together after a long day.  It's  a casserole that the kids will actually eat.  For those that don't like peas, you could substitute corn.  Add a salad and bread and dinner is served!   This is what you will need:
 
1  1/2 cups instant rice
1 1/4  cups water
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1  (12 oz.) pkg. frozen green peas
1 (10  3/4 oz.)  can cream of chicken soup
1 cup water
1/2 soup can milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. celery salt
2 cups cheesy cracker crumbs  (like Cheez-It crackers)
1/4 cup butter, melted
 
Place rice in a large skillet with the 1  1/4 cups water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer uncovered just until the water is absorbed.   Add the chicken, peas, soup, 1 cup water, 1/2 soup can of milk, salt, pepper, and celery salt.   Mix together just until well blended.   Pour into a 2 quart casserole that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Cover and place in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Uncover and stir after the first 20 minutes of baking.   Cover it back and allow to bake for 20 more minutes for a total of the 40 minutes.
 
Mix the 2 cups cheesy cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the top.   Return to the oven, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or just until the cheesy cracker topping is slightly browned.
 

 
 



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Peachy Cream Cheese Pie!




Fresh peaches are probably my favorite summer fruit and love to make desserts with them.  This is a really easy fresh peach pie that gets an extra richness from a layer of cheese cake like filling.  It's a no bake pie also, which makes it easy peasy.   Here is what you will need:


1 deep dish graham cracker crust (the one that says 2 extra helpings works best or you can make your own)***
1 (8oz.) pkg, cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 (3oz.) pkg. peach flavored gelatin (Jello)
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches

***You can combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 3 Tbs. sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter and press it into a deep dish pie plate for the crust.  Refrigerate for about an hour before using after you press it in the plate.


Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until fluffy. 

Spread in the pie crust and place in refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the filling.
In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the sugar, water and cornstarch.  Stir until it just boils and turns clear and thickens.   Add the peach gelatin to the mixture and cook for about a minute stirring constantly and making sure it's smooth.  Remove from heat and add the peaches.  Allow to cool.
Pour over the chilled cream cheese layer and refrigerate until set.
 
Serve garnished with whipped cream!







Monday, August 19, 2013

White Chocolate Almond Cake!

 
 
 This "White Chocolate Almond Cake" is one of my mother's creations!  This is a very elegant looking cake so it's perfect for a special occasion or for company, but it's also not all that hard to make.  I love white chocolate and almonds or anything almond flavored so I knew this cake was one I would love.  It is as delicious as it is pretty!   This is what you will need for this:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (can use vegetable or canola oil)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Sprite (or any clear lemon/lime soda)
3 tsp. almond extract
8 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled

Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 tsp. almond extract
5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup sliced almonds for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, shortening and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in almond extract.  We use Watkins almond flavoring. It seems to have more flavor and requires less.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.   Add 1 cup at a time to the creamed mixture and mix just until well blended.  Fold in the Sprite and the melted white chocolate.

Divide and pour into three 9" cake pans that have been sprayed with nonstick baking spray.   It is best to place a piece of parchment or wax paper cut to fit in the bottom of each pan and spray it well also. This assures your cake will not stick.  

Place in the 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes before removing.

Prepare the frosting while the cakes cool.   Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a mixing bowl.  Add the almond flavoring and beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until well blended.

Stack and frost the cake on a cake plate.  Once frosted, sprinkle the cup of sliced almonds evenly over the top.  Slice and serve.
 
 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Garden Fresh Casserole!

 
 
I never get tired of fresh summer vegetables from the garden or from the farmer's in our area.  We have several really good farmer's markets in our city that set up about three days a week and we also have a farmers that sell their produce right at their farms. There is a considerable population of Mennonites in the counties around us and they sell some of the best produce you can find at a very reasonable price.  The corn in this casserole is Silver Queen corn from one of their farms and it is the best corn you will ever put in your mouth.  
 
Corn is one of the few vegetables my husband will actually eat (weird I know), so I have cooked corn almost every meal for over 30 years...corn on the cob, corn casserole, corn pudding, fried corn...you get the picture!   Needless to say, I was burnt out on corn about two decades ago.  However, this Silver Queen corn, is something I wait for every year, because it's a corn even I can love again!   If you have never tried it and can find some in your area, get some and try it, you won't be disappointed. 
 
This is a casserole, my mother came up with and it really did come mostly right from the garden.  It's simple, fresh tasting and just delicious.   I could actually make this a meatless main dish meal.  Here is what you will need:
 
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
3 cups zucchini, diced
3 cups fresh cut corn, 6-7 ears (could substitute a 10 oz. bag of frozen niblets)
1 large fresh tomato, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 cup buttered bread crumbs
 
 
Saute onion and zucchini in the butter in a skillet over medium heat until tender.   Mix in corn, chopped tomato, parsley, salt, and pepper.
 
Pour into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle the top with buttered bread crumbs. 
 
 Place in a 350 degree oven for 35 -40 minutes or until the bread crumbs are browned.  Serve hot from the oven!
 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fresh Peach Crisp!


 
I love fresh peaches and I am debating whether I like a peach cobbler or a peach crisp better!  I can't decide, because they are both so good.  There is one thing this "Fresh Peach Crisp" has on the peach cobbler, it's so easy to make!  This is one of the easiest homemade desserts ever!  Here is what you will need for this crisp:
 
8 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 
Place sliced peaches in an 8 inch baking pan or a 2 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
 
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon together.  Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives until it is a crumbly texture.  Sprinkle over the peaches.
 
  Place in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is nice and brown.
 
 
Serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!  Could it be any easier?
 



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Toffee Chip Bars!



 
These "Toffee Chip Bars" are a delicious bar type cookie that are so easy to make!  They are a perfect after school snack for the kids or an afternoon pick me up with a good cup of coffee.  I will warn you though, they are addicting and it's hard to eat just one.  Here is what you need for these yummy bars:
 
 
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup Heath Bar toffee chips
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
In a mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar and flour.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.   Remove 1 cup and set aside.
 
Add baking powder and salt to mixture in mixing bowl.  Lightly beat in milk, egg, and vanilla. 
 
When a smooth batter forms, pour mixture into a 9"x13" baking pan that has been liberally sprayed with nonstick spray or greased with butter.
 
Sprinkle the top with the reserved crumb mixture. 
 
Mix the Heath chips, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and nuts together and sprinkle evenly over the top.  The Heath chips can be purchased on the baking aisle in the area with the chocolate chips and such.
 
Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely, then cut into 24 bars.  Store in an airtight container.
 

 
 
 




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mexican Chicken Alfredo!


This is a great casserole that you can put together with just a few basic ingredients.  The flavor is a real family pleaser.  Everyone, even picky children, will love it.   This calls for diced chicken breasts, so you can even use a rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken from another meal.  I like to roast mine drizzled with a little olive oil and some of the taco seasoning and then dice them.  This recipe also uses some convenience items so it is a very quick meal that can be prepared at the last minute.
 
Here is what you will need:
 
10 oz. rotini pasta, cooked al dente (could use penne or even elbows also)
3 cups chicken breast meat, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 Tbs. butter
1 (24 oz.) jar Alfredo sauce
1 cup evaporated milk
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel tomatoes, undrained 
2 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, shredded and divided
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1//2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 to 4 dashes of hot sauce (optional)
 
 
For the chicken in this, I roasted some chicken breasts in the oven that I drizzled with olive oil and then sprinkle with a little of the taco seasoning packet (about 2 tsp.).  Save the rest of the taco mix for the casserole.  You can also use a rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken breasts.  4-5 boneless chicken breasts will give you plenty of diced chicken for this recipe.  I think the flavor of  roasted chicken in casseroles like this is just better than boiled or poached.
 
Cook the pasta according to the package directions minus about 1 -2 minutes so that it is al dente, since you will be baking this.  Drain.  10 oz. is just a little more than 1/2 of a 1 pound box.
 
Saute the onion in a skillet in the 3 tablespoons butter.  Next, combine the pasta, diced chicken, sautéed onion, Alfredo sauce, Rotel tomatoes, evaporated milk, taco seasoning, seasoned salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  If you like spicy add a little hot sauce.  I used Tabasco.  If you are cooking for children or those who don't like too much heat, leave it out.  The Rotel and taco seasoning will be enough for them..
 
Pour all into a casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the top with the other cup of cheese.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is just browning and starting to bubble around the edges. 
 
Serve with a salad and bread and sweet tea of course,  and you have dinner!
 
 
***This recipe can be easily doubled for two casseroles or one large one for bigger families or company.  
 
 
 
 



Monday, August 12, 2013

Mama's Squash Casserole!

 
 
 
With so much fresh squash available right now, I get a lot of requests for ways to use it all.  This is the squash casserole my mother has been making since I was just a little girl.  It has always been one of our favorites.  This is really good served with Fresh Green Beans with New Potatoes and Bacon.  I can make a meal off of this casserole with fresh green beans and cornbread. 
 
It's a simple casserole as far as ingredients go.  You probably have them all on hand. This is best made with fresh squash.   Here is what you will need: 
 
3 cups fresh yellow squash, diced and cooked until tender
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
6 Tbs. butter
3/4 cup sweet onion, minced
1 cup grated cheese (we use Velveeta, but a mild cheddar can be used)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2  1/2 cups saltine cracker crumbs, divided
 
Drain the cooked squash well.  It should measure 3 cups of squash after it is cooked.  Cook just until fork tender.  Add butter, salt, pepper, and milk.  Mix just until blended.   Add eggs, minced onions, cheese, and 2 cups of cracker crumbs.  Mix together and pour into a casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle the top with the other 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs.  
 
Place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes.  It will should be starting to brown and bubbling around the edges.
 
 
 
 



Friday, August 9, 2013

Church Lady Meatloaf!



 
 
I call this "Church Lady Meatloaf" because the recipe was from a sweet 'church lady' that played the organ in the church we went to when I was growing up.   She was a wonderful a cook and had some great recipes. 
 
 This is a very different meatloaf from the one I have posted before that is my sister in law's recipe, but it might be one that some of you who thought that one was a bit sweet or whatever, might enjoy better.  This does make a big meatloaf so it's good for company or a potluck or church supper!  This one is also great for leftover meatloaf sandwiches.   I enjoy the sandwich the next day sometimes even better.  Here is what you will need for this meatloaf:
 
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground sausage (like breakfast type sausage)
1 medium sweet onion, diced fine
1 small jar pimento, drained and diced fine
1/2 green bell pepper, diced fine
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1 cup fine bread crumbs (could use Italian bread crumbs or oats)
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
 
Topping
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
 
In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the meatloaf ingredients until well blended.  Shape into a large loaf and place in a baking dish.  Mix the topping ingredients and spread over the top of the loaf.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake uncovered for 1 hour.   Transfer to serving platter, slice and serve.
 
 
 
 
The other meatloaf recipe I mentioned that is on the site is here, in case you have not seen it before:  The Perfect Meatloaf
 
 



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Milky Way Cake!


 
 
 
There is only one thing I can say about this cake...have mercy!  Also, forgive me if you are watching your calories!  This is one of the most decadent and wonderfully rich chocolate cakes I have ever made, but it's something you have to try, at least once.  I actually cut some of the sugar back in the original recipe.


The frosting really is a lot like the nougat filling in a Milky Way Bar and it's a great chocolate frosting to use for other cakes and even cupcakes.   Here is what you need for this cake and don't blame me, it's an old recipe I got years ago from someone else: 
 
7 Milky Way Candy Bars (regular size)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2  1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
 
Frosting
2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter
1  (6 oz.( pkg. chocolate chips
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow cream
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
 
Cream 1 stick of butter and the sugar and set aside.   
 
Melt 1 stick butter with the 7 Milky Way Candy Bars either in the microwave or in a double boiler.  I just microwaved them for a total of 2 minutes, stirring at 1 minute intervals. 

Stir the candy bars and the butter together until smooth.
 
Add the eggs one at a time to the sugar and butter mixture.  Add baking soda, salt, buttermilk and vanilla,  then add candy bar mixture.  Add flour a little at a time.  Beat just until all is incorporated.  Fold in nuts.
 
Pour into a well greased 9"x13" pan. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. 
 
You can also bake this in 3 nine inch cake pans and stack the cake.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  This cake is harder to frost as a stack cake though, because of the consistency of the frosting.
 
Remove from oven and allow to cool.  While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.
 
In a heavy saucepan cook the sugar and evaporated milk until soft ball stage.  This requires boiling it for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't stick or burn.  On a candy thermometer, soft ball stage is 235 to 245 degrees or you can drop a little in cold water and it will form a soft ball.
Once it reaches that stage, turn off the heat and add 1 stick butter, chocolate chips, and marshmallow cream.  Beat until smooth.   Remove from the heat and allow to cool before frosting cake.  While it's warm, it's too runny and will thicken and set as it cools, much like candy does. 
 
Spread the cool frosting over the cake.  It spreads really well once it cools.
  If you do a stacked cake, the frosting needs to be even cooler and more set so that it doesn't run off of the cake.
 
 
 
 
 



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mama's Potato Chip Chicken!

 
 
 
 
This is a my mother's recipe for oven fried chicken.  It's a little different than the one I have posted before that I use, but it is equally as good and uses items you more than likely have on hand.   You can adjust how many pieces of chicken you bake according to the number of people you are serving, but this will easily coat 6 chicken breasts.  
 
 I always tend to cook more than needed, because the leftovers are so good and my mother always has cooked by the rule that she would rather have too much than too little.  That was instilled in me, so I always cook like I am cooking for a big family. Mama has always said that even though her family, growing up, didn't have a lot of different things to eat at meals, they always had plenty of what they did have and no one was ever turned away from their table. 
 
 I am used to feeding men and growing boys, so any amount of chicken is never too much.   When my son was growing up and lived at home, his friends ate with us quite a bit and I always enjoyed feeding all of them.  Wow, could those boys eat!  Even though my grocery bill has probably gotten smaller these days, I would love to have them all back eating with us again.  Those were fun times! 
 
Here is what you need for this oven fried chicken:
 
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 cup Ruffles potatoes chips crumbs  (The Ruffles have more texture)
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1 cup flour
seasoned salt
black pepper
 
Soak the chicken breasts in salt water for about 30 minutes before preparing it.  This is called  "brining" and it not only adds flavor, but it tenderizes the chicken.    Just dissolve about 2 tsp. of salt in enough water to cover the chicken.
 
Place the melted butter in a shallow dish and dip each chicken breast in the butter.  
 
Mix the potato chip crumbs, corn flake crumbs, and flour in a shallow dish and roll the chicken coated in butter in the crumbs.  Place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.   I like to use Reynold's nonstick foil for this.  If you do not have it, buy some and try it. Nothing sticks to this stuff. 
 
Sprinkle any leftover crumbs over the tops of each piece.  Sprinkle each piece with seasoned salt and black pepper to taste. 
 
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  
 
 
***You can cut each breast into about  3 pieces for chicken strips and coat.  Reduce the baking time accordingly. 
 
 



Monday, August 5, 2013

Zucchini Beef Soup!


 
 
This "Zucchini Beef Soup" is a great way to use that garden fresh zucchini!  It has a distinct Italian flavor that zucchini is just made for,  because it takes on the flavors you blend with it.  This soup is fresh and even though it does have some beef in it, it's still rather light.  Soup may seem odd for summer months, but we actually eat some soups all year long and this one is so healthy and nutritious it is just an all around winner.   Here is what you will need for this:
 
1 lb. ground chuck
2 celery ribs, sliced thin
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced (I prefer Vidalia)
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper, diced (red or green)
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes (could use the same amount of peeled fresh tomatoes)
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups zucchini, diced rather large
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
 
 
Brown ground chuck with onion, bell pepper and celery.  Drain any excess grease.  Add all other other ingredients, except the zucchini.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes on medium/low heat.  Add the zucchini and cook for about 20 more minutes or just until the zucchini is crisp tender.   You want the zucchini to still have a little bite to it, because it tends to get mushy if overcooked. 
 
You can serve this with fresh grated Parmesan cheese or sprinkled with some fresh chopped fresh basil, green onions, or chives...just whatever you prefer.   This would also be great with Aunt Vel's Sour Cream Cornbread  or Cornbread Hoe Cakes !   Click on the recipe titles and it takes you to the recipes for the breads!