Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Spaghetti Salad!

 
 
This "Spaghetti Salad" is the perfect potluck, church supper or cookout recipe.  It can be made the night before, travels well and feeds a crowd!  It's a really colorful and light tasting recipe also, so it's a good summer dish.  You can use all of that garden produce in this one!  Here is what you will need:
 
1 lb. box of spaghetti, broken in thirds
1 medium sweet onion, diced (I used Vidalia)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 (2.5 oz.) can of sliced black olives, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
8 oz. cheddar cheese cut in small cubes
 
Dressing
1 (16 oz.) bottle of Italian dressing (I used Olive Garden)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Greek seasoning (could substitute Italian seasoning)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. celery seed
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 
Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to package directions minus about 1 minute.  Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Be sure it is drained really well.  
 
While the spaghetti cools, prep the other ingredients.  Place the cooled spaghetti in a large bowl.  Add all of the other salad ingredients.  Place the salad dressing in another bowl along with the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk together until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour over the salad ingredients and lightly toss until the pasta and vegetables are all coated.  Cover and allow to marinate for at least 2-3 hours.  This is really best if made the night before so the flavor can really blend.
 
Right before serving, toss again so the dressing is redistributed.  If you make this the night before, leave the tomatoes out until the next day and then add them and toss. I save some to place right on top for color also!  



Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler!


 
Out of all of the fruit cobblers, I think blackberry might be my favorite.  In our family, I am in the minority on this though so I don't get it very often.  Also, it's getting harder and harder to find good blackberries.  Those great big blackberries they sell in stores, that cost a fortune, are just not as good as the smaller wild blackberries that grow wild in Kentucky, but are becoming harder and harder to find.   This cobbler was made with the good, wild blackberries.  My sweet uncle went out on his farm and picked two gallon buckets full.  I hope he didn't get eaten up by chiggers.  If any of you have ever been blackberry picking, you know what I am talking about.   Actually, he probably knew to wear long sleeves and long pants in the over 100 degree Kentucky weather to do his blackberry picking.  The few times I went to pick blackberries I wasn't that smart and paid the price.   We used to put clear fingernail polish on chigger bites?  I guess it smothered them.  Now they say tea tree oil works to get rid of them.  I haven't tried that one, because I avoid chiggers like the plague. 
 
I have had several requests for an old fashioned blackberry cobbler recipe, like mama or grandma used to make.  I don't know how different folks made their cobblers, but this is how my mama makes hers and it has always been delicious.   I think some think it's a hard thing to make, but it really isn't, especially with the ready made crusts sold in the refrigerator section of you grocery or you can make whatever pie crust you prefer to use.   Here is what you will need:
 
 
1 prepared pastry dough for a double crust pie
3 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 cup half and half
3 Tbs. butter, melted
2 Tbs. sugar
 
 
Place the blackberries, sugar, and water in a pan on the stove and bring to a boil.  Mix the cornstarch and the half and half until smooth and pour into the blackberries,  bring back to a boil and then turn off heat.   The mixture should be just starting to tighten, but don't let it sit and boil or it will tighten too much.   It should be sort of soupy when place it in the cobbler. 
 
COOKING TIP:  Cobblers should have a lot of liquid to them before you start baking, because the two crusts will absorb and thicken that liquid.  If they do not have sufficient liquid, they will be too dry once you are finished baking them.  A dry cobbler is not a good cobbler. 



Roll 1/2 of the crust to place in the bottom of your baking dish.  A 2 quart baking dish works well.  Pour the filling into the crust.  Roll the other 1/2 of the crust to a size a little bigger than the baking dish.  You can cut the crust in 1 inch strips and make a lattice top crust as shown here or place the entire crust over the top.  If you use the crust in one big piece, be sure to seal and trim the edges and cut some vents around the top so the steam can escape as the cobbler cooks.  Brush the top of both crusts with melted butter and sprinkle with the 2 Tbs. of sugar.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Be sure to place the baking dish on a cookie sheet in case of a spill over and it makes it easier to move in and out of the oven.   This picture doesn't do the cobbler justice, it actually looked much better than this, but you are just going to scoop it up and put ice cream on it  anyway...lol.
 



Monday, June 29, 2015

Blueberry Buttermilk Pie!

 

As most of you know, I love anything blueberry, so this "Blueberry Buttermilk Pie" is my kind of pie!   There is just something about buttermilk  and blueberries that works well together.  This is also a really easy pie to make!   I used fresh blueberries, because they are so good right now, but you could use frozen also.   This pie is southern comfort food at it's best! 

Here is what you will need:

1 deep dish pie crust, unbaked
1 cup fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. self rising flour
1 stick melted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the cup of blueberries in the bottom of the pie shell.
 
Mix together butter and sugar.  Add flour, eggs,  and buttermilk and mix well.  Add vanilla. Place the pie crust on a cookie sheet. Pour the buttermilk filling evenly over the blueberries.  Place on the center rack in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Decrease the temperature to 300 and bake for 45 minutes.
 
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 - 45 minutes before slicing. 
 
Serve plain or with a nice dollop of whipped cream!
 



Friday, June 26, 2015

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bars!



 
 

 I saw this recipe in the barbeque issue of this month's Taste of the South magazine.  It caught my attention because it had two of my favorite things in it...blueberries and cream cheese and I had both in my refrigerator.   It turned out to be a good recipe also and I only modified it with a little tweak here and there.   Here is what you will need: 

1  1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup butter, melted
2  (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups fresh blueberries
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick baking spray with flour or butter and flour it.

In a mixing bowl, combine the 1  1/4 cups flour, melted butter,  3/4 cup sugar and oats. 
Lightly press this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.   Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.   Reduce the heat to 325 degrees.

While the crust is cooling prepare the filling.   In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar together with an electric mixer.   Add in the 2 Tbs. flour, the eggs, vanilla and the lemon juice and blend just until mixed together.  

Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the crust. 

Pour the cream cheese filling over all.   Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the center comes out clean or the center is firm to touch.   Remove and allow to cool for 2 hours.  Chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.  Remove and cut in squares.  Garnish by sprinkling each square with powdered sugar. 



Lemon Lush!

 

This is a dessert a lot of us grew up with and then went on to make ourselves for our own families.  It's really fairly simple, but no matter what sort of gathering you take this to, it will be one of the first desserts to disappear.  I think it's because it appeals to everyone!   It's also very versatile, because you can use different flavors of pudding and change it up for your families or guests tastes.  My mother-in-law usually made chocolate and my own mother would sometimes make butterscotch or chocolate.  However, lemon seems to be what I get the most requests for from you all, so today we will do lemon.  This dessert also has about a gazillion names and variations on the recipe, but I like the sound of "Lemon Lush"!   Here is what you will need for this:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (pecans or walnuts)
2 (3 oz.) small boxes instant lemon pudding mix
3 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
lemon slices for garnish (optional)

Melt the butter in a 9"x 13" baking dish.  Add the flour and the nuts to the butter and mix.  Press in the bottom of the dish to make a crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until just lightly browned.  Cool completely.

Mix the pudding mixes with the cold milk.  Cover and chill.

Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla flavoring.  Fold in 1/2 cup of the whipped topping. Spread evenly over the crust. 

Layer the pudding mixture next.  Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pudding layer. 
Garnish the top with lemon slices or even some extra chopped nuts.  You can also garnish each piece with a maraschino cherry.   Chill for 2-3 hours before serving. 
 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Caramel Apple Salad!

 
 
If there is one thing I love about Fall, it's caramel apples, so this salad was right up my alley.  It's so easy to make with a few simple ingredients and it's pretty enough to serve for even your special holiday meals.  This salad goes so well on a Fall menu.  Another bonus is that kids love this one!  You can also adapt this to make it practically sugar free and low fat.   This is what you will need:
 
1 (20 oz.) can of crushed pineapple with the juice
1 (3 oz.) box of instant butterscotch pudding mix, unprepared
3 large apples, cored and diced, leave the peel on
8  oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
 
Mix all ingredients except the peanuts.  Chill for at least 1 hour. 
 
 Sprinkle the top with the chopped peanuts before serving.  You can also garnish with a few apple slices to  make it pretty.
 

Ham and Asparagus Casserole!


I love asparagus, especially fresh asparagus.  I can eat it just by itself, drenched in hollandaise sauce, in a salad or in a casserole.  However, I find that there aren't all that many good casserole recipes for asparagus or maybe I just haven't found them.  This casserole is absolutely one of the best in my opinion.  Two of my aunts each say this recipe is theirs so I am not sure which one made it first, but they both make it very tasty so I am just glad they shared it.   I did make a few subtle changes to the recipe, but shhhh... don't tell the aunties!  The recipe calls for canned asparagus and I am not a huge fan of canned asparagus so I used fresh and I added some celery, garlic powder and a little cheese.   The recipe is delicious without any alterations though.  
 
Here is what you will need:

Asparagus, ham, rice, onion, celery, cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese, small can of evaporated milk, corn flakes, butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.


Slice the asparagus on the diagonal in about 1 inch pieces.  Break off the woody ends and discard those.  Put about 2 inches of water and 1/2 tsp. salt in a deep skillet, add asparagus and bring to a low boil.  Turn down to simmer and cook for about 3 minutes.  The asparagus will turn bright green.  Remove from heat and drain in a colander.  It will be tender but still slightly crisp.


Rinse and wipe out the skillet and put 1 cup rice and two cups water along with 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, turn heat down and cover.  Cook the amount of time it directs on the package.  I am all about using as few pans and dishes as possible when cooking to make cleanup easier.

As soon as your rice has absorbed the water, remove the lid and fluff it up.

 
In another skillet saute ham, chopped celery, and onion in about 1 Tbs. butter just until the vegetables are slightly tender.

 
In the skillet with the rice, add the ham, celery, onion mixture, the asparagus, the mushroom soup, garlic powder, pepper, the cheese and the can of evaporated milk.  Fold it all together and pour it into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Place the cornflakes in a Ziploc bag and crush them slightly...not to fine crumbs.  They should still resemble cornflakes.  Melt 2 Tbs. butter and pour over the cornflakes.  Spread over the top.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 35 minutes.

 
This is a great side dish for a holiday or special meal or with a salad and bread it makes a main dish for a light supper or lunch!  It's a great way to use leftover ham.

Ingredients:

2 cups asparagus (canned or fresh)
2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups chopped ham
1 small can evaporated milk or a 1/2 cup half and half
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup cheddar cheese
3 Tbs butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups cornflakes for topping
1/2 tsp. pepper

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taco Stuffed Taters!

 
 
 
"Taco Stuffed Taters" is something I have made for years!   It turns a simple baked potato into a meal and everyone loves these!  It's also nice because each person can garnish their own to their liking.  I cook for picky people so this is an important part of my meal planning!   You can have these on the table in less than 30 minutes, if you use the microwave to bake the potatoes.
 
Here is what you will need:
 
4 large baking potatoes, baked
1  1/2 lbs. ground chuck or ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
salt
black pepper
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheddar blend cheese (could use all Cheddar)
salsa
sour cream
green onions
black olive slices
cilantro
jalapeno slices
 
 
Brown the ground chuck and drain any excess grease.  Add the taco mix and water called for on the package. Bring to a boil then decrease to simmer and just let it cook long enough for some of the water to evaporate...just like you do for tacos. 
 
Cut the baked potatoes in half and place on a baking sheet.  I lightly score them to make it easier to dig into when they are served.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Pile some taco meat on each potato half, dividing it between the 8 halves.  Sprinkle with cheese, covering the tops.  Place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.  I serve like this with the various toppings in bowls so everyone can garnish their own!
 
I like to top mine with salsa or taco sauce, sour cream, green onions, black olives, cilantro, and jalapeno slices!   Whatever you like on a taco is good!
 



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Layered Taco Dip!

 
 
This yummy "Layered Taco Dip" is a delicious and easy dip to put together.   It's great to serve for summer parties, cookouts, or potlucks!   You can make this and snack on it all week long.  The kids and adults will love this one. Also if your family doesn't care for some of the toppings, leave them off or change them.   Here is what you will need:
 
1 (15 oz.) can refried beans
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies, drained well
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack Cheddar cheese blend
1/3 cup sliced black olives
3 green onions, sliced thin including some of the green blades
 
Spread the refried beans in a  1 1/2 quart casserole dish or a deep pie plate works well for this.   With an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and the taco mix until smooth.  Spread this over the refried beans.  Top this with the drained Rotel.   Drain it really, really well.  If you leave too much of the liquid it can water down the dip eventually.  
 
Sprinkle with the cheese evenly over the top, then the olives and green onions.  You can serve immediately or chill until time to serve! 
 
Serve with Frito Scoops or tortilla chips! 




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Peanut Butter Cup Pie!

 
 
I served this "Peanut Butter Cup  Pie" to the family last night and I would say it was a huge hit!  I think there was one tiny slice left and I don't know if it made it through the night!   If you love peanut butter, this one is for you!   It's also a no bake pie and perfect for this time of year when you don't want to heat up the house more than it already is!   Here is what you will need for this yummy pie:
 
1 (9 oz.)  prepared graham cracker crust ( the 2 extra serving size)
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
2 Tbs. corn syrup
1 Tbs. butter
8 Reese's Peanut Butter cups (4 packs of two each), frozen
2 (3.4 oz.) pkgs. instant vanilla pudding
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk ( like Eagle Brand milk)
1/2 cup cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed slightly (Cool Whip)
 
Place 3/4 cup of the peanut butter, corn syrup and butter in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth and pour in the bottom of the graham cracker crust.   Chop 2 of  the Reese's Cups up in small pieces.  I freeze them first so they don't mash up and melt all over.  Sprinkle these over the peanut butter layer.
 
Place the pudding mixes, sweetened condensed milk, and the cold milk in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until it starts to thicken.  Add the 1/4 cup remaining peanut butter and the vanilla and beat until combined.  Fold in the 8 ounces of whipped topping until combined. 
Pour into the pie crust.  Chop up the rest of the peanut butter cups and sprinkle over the top of the pie evenly.  Cover and freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight!  Take out of the freezer about 30 minutes before serving.  This is a great pie to keep in the freezer for unexpected guest!
 
Slice and serve!  You could add a dollop of whipped cream, but I didn't think it needed it!  This pie is pretty decadent!   
 
 
 
 



Monday, June 15, 2015

Cheesy Toast Points!

 
 
 
These "Cheesy Toast Points" is a recipe my mother has made for years!  She doesn't even remember where she got it!  These are a perfect little last minute party appetizer or snack or they are also great served with soups or salads!  To be so simple, these are so delicious, but I will warn, they are a little addictive, so make a lot of them!   It's a good one to make when you need something quick, because the ingredients are usually things you have on hand.   Here is what you will need:
 
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
10 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled or 1 cup REAL bacon bits
2 tsp. fined minced onion
1 cup mayonnaise
10 -12 slices white bread, crusts removed
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 
Mix the cheese, bacon, onion, and mayonnaise in a bowl until blended.
 
Spread each bread sliced with the cheese mixture and cut diagonally and then in half again to make triangle.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  I like to use Reynolds Wrap nonstick foil.   Place in a preheat 375 degree oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until bubbly and just starting to brown.  Lift the corner and the bottom should be browned.   
 
Serve immediately!  These won't last long!
 



Friday, June 12, 2015

Kicked Up Caramel Pie!


 
One of my favorite desserts is caramel pie.  O'Charley's, which is a restaurant chain primarily in the southeast...I think, is the creator of the caramel pie.  At least, that is where I discovered it.  This is the homemade version which I have kicked up a bit and even if I do say so myself, I think I improved on it a little.  Like it wasn't fattening and rich enough, I add extra chocolate chips and nuts for additional flavor and crunch.  This is really a simple dessert to make and you will get so many oohs and aahs when you serve this! 

Here is what you will need:

A large graham cracker crust (the 2 extra serving one), walnuts, mini chocolate chips, whipped cream, and sweetened condensed milk (2 cans).



Remember this step from the 'White Chocolate Caramel Banana Pudding' post?  If you missed it's under Best Dishes.  Take the labels off of 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk and place them in a pan of water that just covers the top.  Bring this to a low boil and boil for 3 hours.  DO NOT let the pan boil dry, keep adding water to keep it over the top of the cans.  This can be dangerous and it might explode if you do not keep an eye on it.  I always set the oven timer for this.   Once the 3 hours are up, carefully pour off the hot water and run cool water over them.  Once they are cool to touch open them carefully (in case the caramel is hot). 
 
An alternative method for turning the milk to caramel is putting the cans in your slow cooker, cover with water just to above the tops, and set on low for about 10 hours.  The water doesn't evaporate in the slow cooker with the top on it, so you don't have to worry about adding water.  It's best if you lay some foil on the bottom of the slow cooker because the cans might stain the crock.   Remove the cans with tongs when the time is up to cool.



Sprinkle 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans in the bottom of your pie crust.  This is the difference in the O'Charley's version.


Now spread the caramel over the nuts and chocolate chips. This doesn't have to be smooth.

Cover the caramel with whipped cream and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts!  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. 

 
Ingredients:
1 large graham cracker crust
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or you can use walnuts
12 oz. whipped cream
 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hungarian Coffee Cake!

 
 
This is a really old recipe my mother has had for years and it is so good.  This coffee cake starts with a Sweet Roll Dough, that is a yeast dough.   This dough is good to make a lot of different breads, cakes, sweet rolls, or even dinner rolls.  
 
This coffee cake is not overly sweet or rich, but it has a wonderful buttery cinnamon flavor and smells heavenly while baking!  Here is what you will need for the dough and the cake:
 
Sweet Roll Dough
 
1/2 cup warm water (not too hot)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups scalded milk, that has cooled to lukewarm
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
7 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
 
Dissolve yeast in the warm water and set aside.  If the water is too hot it will kill your yeast, so just warm to touch is good.
 
Mix the warm milk with the sugar, salt and eggs.  Add the flour half at a time to the this liquid.  When it is mixed, add the yeast mixture and mix again.  Add just enough flour to make the dough workable.  It will still be sticky for best results.
 
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.   Place in a large bowl you have greased with oil, greased side up. Cover with a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise about 2 hours or until doubled.   Punch it down and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.  At this point you can make sweet rolls, coffee cake or rolls!   We are making "The Hungarian Coffee Cake", so this is what you will need for that:
 
Hungarian Coffee Cake
 
1/2 of the Sweet Roll Recipe (use the other half for dinner rolls or cinnamon rolls)
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
 
Cut the dough into pieces about the size of walnuts and roll them into balls.   Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts together in a bowl.  Roll the dough in the butter and then in the brown sugar mixture to coat them. 
 
Place a layer of the dough balls in a 9" Bundt pan you have sprayed well with baking spray.  The dough should just be barely touching.  Sprinkle a few of the raisins over the first layer.  Repeat another layer of dough and raisins.  Let rise for 45 minutes. 
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  Loosen from edges of pan with a knife and turn out onto a serving plate.   The butter and sugar will run down over the cake. 
 
Serve as is or sprinkle with a little powdered sugar!  This is really good while it's still warm!
 
 
 



Monday, June 8, 2015

Cajun Smoked Sausage Alfredo!

 
 
This is a delicious pasta recipe you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less.  It's nice when you are short on time and don't want to use a huge list of ingredients!   This is so full of flavor from the smoked sausage and the Cajun seasoning!   Add a salad and dinner is done!   Here is what you will need:
  
8 oz. pasta, cooked and drained ( I used penne, but you can use what you like or have on hand)
1 14 oz. pkg. smoked sausage sliced
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
 
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside.  Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the smoked sausage until just lightly browned. 
 
Place the cream and half and half along with the Cajun seasoning and the black pepper in a saucepan  Bring to a boil, stirring continuously.  Turn down and simmer until it starts to thicken up.  Keep stirring or it can stick.   Once it thickens, add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. 
 
 Pour the pasta into the sauce and toss to coat it, then pour onto a deep platter or pasta plate.  Pour the browned smoked sausage over the top.  Garnish with a little fresh parsley! 



It's ready to serve!  It's just that easy!  Add a salad and it's a complete meal.  If you want to add something green to this dish, stir in some green peas to the pasta and Alfredo mixture!