Saturday, December 17, 2016

Grandma's (in)famous Cranberry Relish

People have strong love/hate feelings about this recipe, but it's worth recording here.

16 ounce bag of rinsed raw cranberries
2 crisp apples, cut into thick slices
1 large, whole (peel ON) seedless orange, cut into sections
1 to 2 cups granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you would like your relish to be)


  • Chop in your food processor until it's the texture you like.  Don't overprocess if you want it to be like Grandma's.
  • Mix in the sugar and store in a sealed container.  Start with one cup and add more later if necessary.

"Fun" fact: Grandma likes to eat this as an ice cream topping.
Funner fact: Make a batch for Thanksgiving and it'll still be good at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Denise's Molasses Cookies

1 ½ cups butter (softened)               
2 cups white sugar                            
2 eggs                                                 
½  cup molasses                                                                     
4 cups flour

1  Tlbs. baking soda
1  tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1  tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves  

Preparation and Instructions:

Mix together all the wet ingredients, add all dry ingredients to that.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees roll dough into balls and roll in white sugar.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until tops are cracked.
Cool on wire racks.

- I usually double the amount of spices and toss in a heaping spoonful of fresh ginger paste if I have it available.
- If you try to bake more than one pan at a time, they may not develop cracks in the top
- I also sprinkle a couple of drops of water on the top of each to help encourage cracking.

From Denise at Dad's office.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cashew Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
 Dash ground red pepper

Vegetables and Chicken
4 cups broccoli florets
3   stalks celery, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
3   green onions with tops, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons finely chopped, peeled fresh gingerroot, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2   garlic cloves, pressed, divided
2 packages (3 ounces each) ramen noodles, any flavor
1/3 cup cashews or peanuts

For sauce, combine chicken broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey and ground red pepper in Small Batter Bowl; mix with Stainless Whisk (mixture will not be smooth). Set aside.

For vegetables and chicken, cut broccoli, celery and green onions using Chef's Knife. Finely chop peeled fresh gingerroot using Food Chopper. Set vegetables aside. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in Stir-Fry Skillet over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until shimmering. Add chicken, 1 teaspoon of the gingerroot and 1 garlic clove pressed with Garlic Press. Cook and stir 6-7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to skillet. Add broccoli, celery and remaining gingerroot and garlic. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Add green onions and continue cooking 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return chicken to skillet. Stir in sauce; bring to a boil. Remove skillet from heat.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil in (2-qt.) Saucepan. Break noodles and add to boiling water (discard seasoning packets or reserve for another use). Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain. Stir noodles into chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cashews. Serve immediately.

4  servings

  • It's easy to overcook pretty much everything here, but better if you take care not to.
  • This is another in my series of "getting rid of cookbooks that feature all the recipes online" project.  This one is from Pampered Chef.
  • I prepared the vegetables and chicken the night before and it came together very quickly when we all got home from work/school.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Yield: About 8 fajitas, 4 servings

2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fajita filling
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2-inch thick strips (slice extra wide strips in half)
1 of each red, green and yellow bell peppers, cored and sliced into strips (3 whole total)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced from top to root
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

For serving
8 taco size flour tortillas
Sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole, diced tomatoes, Mexican cheese blend (toppings are optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 17 by 12-inch rimmed baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

For the seasoning:
In a small mixing bowl whisk together chili powders, cumin, paprika, coriander, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, set aside.

For the fajitas filling:

  • Spread bell peppers and yellow onion onto baking sheet. 
  • Top with chicken strips then sprinkle garlic and seasoning evenly over chicken strips. 
  • Drizzle olive oil over top then toss everything to evenly coat. 
  • Spread into an even layer working to keep chicken from overlapping. 
  • Roast in preheated oven, tossing once halfway through cooking, until veggies are tender and chicken has cooked through, about 20 - 25 minutes (test a few of the larger pieces to make sure they are 165 in the center, careful not to over-bake it or the chicken may be dry). 
  • Wrap tortillas tightly in foil and warm in oven during last 5 minutes of fajita filling cooking.

Drizzle lime juice evenly over top of the chicken fajita filling, sprinkle with cilantro and more salt to taste and toss to coat. Serve filling warm in warm tortillas with desired toppings.

Whiskey-Ginger Cocktail Meatballs

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp peeled and finely diced ginger
2 shallots, finely diced
1 lb (500 g) grass-fed ground beef
½ lb (250 g) ground pork
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup (250 mL) rice cakes or crackers, processed to crumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp orange zest (for meatballs)
¼ cup (60 mL) bourbon or other aged whiskey
½ cup (125 mL) fresh-squeezed orange juice
¼ cup (60 mL) salted butter
¼ cup (60 mL) honey
½ tsp cornstarch
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
For Garnish
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a large skillet on high heat, heat the olive and sesame oils. Add garlic, ginger and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes until softened. Transfer to a medium bowl and set skillet aside.

Using your hands, incorporate the ground beef, pork, salt, soy sauce, black and red pepper, cracker crumbs, egg and orange zest into the garlic, shallot and onion mixture until all ingredients are well-combined.

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, measure 2 tbsp of meatball mixture into mounds spaced 1 in (2.5 cm) apart. Using your hands, roll each mound into a ball.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, return the skillet to high heat. Add the whiskey and orange juice and, on medium-high heat, reduce the liquid by half. Bring to a boil, add the butter and honey and reduce the heat to low. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tsp of water and add to the pan. Bring to a boil and stir until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the lemon juice and meatballs to the skillet and toss until well-coated. Garnish with chopped scallions, sesame seeds and orange zest and serve with cocktail toothpicks.

Makes about 24 generous size meatballs

TIP: We highly recommend you sample the whiskey before you make this recipe. And then get right to work, using your shot glass, the ideal size vessel, to measure the meat.

SOURCE:   Chowgirls Killer Party Food: Righteous Bites & Cocktails For Every Occasion

  • This is an excellent method for making meatballs.  I've always pan-cooked them in the past, but baking is definitely better!
  • Their shotglass tip is better in theory than practice.  It didn't want to come out easily and a was much easier with a scoop and kitchen scale.
  • These are definitely bigger than a bite, so if you do want to serve them with a cocktail toothpick, I'd make them half this size or maybe a little bigger.
  • The texture is great.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cocoa Raisin-Nut Brownies Bars

1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c. raisins (or golden)
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Hershey’s premium European style cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c. coarsely chopped nuts
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar, optional

Heat oven to 350°. Grease 8-inch square baking pan. In small mixer bowl beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. In separate bowl stir together flour, cocoa, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, cinnamon and salt; add to butter mixture, stirring until well blended. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until bars just begin to pull away from sides of pan; cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Sift powdered sugar over top if desired. About 20 bars.

I'm currently debating the value of holding on to cookbooks that contain just a handful of favorites.  I'm finding that many of the recipes (like this one) are online somewhere.  But will I regret getting rid of the paper copy?  If I needed to make brownies during a power outage, maybe.  (But I can probably think of better uses for that shelf that is currently holding dozens of cookbooks.)  Anyway, these brownies are noted as being "excellent" and I cut down the cocoa to 1/3 cup.

Source:   Hershey's Homemade cookbook

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pot Roast - Instant Pot

3-4 lb. chuck roast 
1 medium onion
1-1/2 lbs. potatoes, either B sized or large potatoes cut into eighths 
2 cups beef broth, or a combination of broth and red wine 
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

Turn Instant Pot onto sauté, add a drizzle of olive oil. Season the roast with salt and pepper to your liking and add to the pot, allow to brown on one side, then turn it. Add the onions and potatoes, pour broth over everything and seal the lid. Turn pot to cook on high pressure for 90 minutes. When finished, release pressure and serve.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Baked" Beans - Instant Pot

1 lb navy beans (dry)
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 c water
1 tbls olive oil
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 c ketchup
1/3 c molasses
1/3 c brown sugar
3 tbsp yellow mustard

  1. Soak beans for 30 minutes as you prep other ingredients.  (I soaked them before Mass this morning and made the recipe when I got home.)
  2. With the cooker's lid off, heat bacon and onion on high until bacon is nearly crisp.  About 5 minutes.
  3. Add the drained beans, water, olive oil, dry mustard, cloves, and pepper.  Lock on the lid and coon on high for 20 minutes.
  4. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest.
  5. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  1. Good! 
  2. About the same amount of liquid as opening a can of beans so serve with a slotted spoon.
  3. It would be easy to mess with the flavor a little.  These are a little on the sweet side.
  4. I'd also consider adding 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke.  (My new flavor friend, apparently.)
  5. I'm not sure why all the ingredients couldn't just be added from the start.
  6. We'll have this for dinner today and I'll probably freeze leftovers for another time.

Pulled Pork - Instant Pot

1 (4-5 lb) pork shoulder or butt
2 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls chili powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbls vegetable oil
1-1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tbls cider vinegar
1 tsp liquid smoke

  1. Cut pork into 2-inch thick slices.
  2. Combing spices and brown sugar.  Rub on surfaces of pork.
  3. With cooker's lid off, heat oil on high and brown the pork.
  4. Add broth, vinegar and liquid smoke.  Lock on the lid and set for 100 minutes on high.
  5. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before quick release.
  6. OPTIONAL - remove pork from cooker, drain all liquid, heat 16 ounces of BBQ sauce on high and add the pork before serving.
  • I didn't do the BBQ sauce step because it was quite flavorful without the sauce.  Don't skip the liquid smoke.
  • Very good!

Whole Chicken - Instant Pot

1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (3-4 lb) whole chicken, rinsed well
2 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tbsp dry white wine (optional)
juice of one lemon

  1. With the cooker's lid off, heat oil on high until sizzling.
  2. Sprinkle spices on the chicken breast size and place it breast side down in the cooker.  Sprinkle the spices on the top side.  Let it cook until browned, about 7 minutes.
  3. Flip the chicken in the cooker and cover with remaining ingredients.
  4. Lock on the lid and set for 25 minutes on high.
  5. Let the cooker's pressure naturally for 10 minutes before performing a quick release of pressure.
  6. Remove carefully from cooker and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
  • Very good and simple.  I used some other spice blend that I had instead of the thyme and poultry seasoning.  I did use the paprika though - it gives a great color.
  • Plan for a little more than an hour from start to finish.

Refried Beans - Instant Pot

2 pounds dried pinto beans, sorted
Mmmm, look at all that cilantro!
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4-5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons lard
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the sorted dried pinto beans and fill the bowl with enough water to cover the beans by several inches. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. To the Instant Pot bowl, add the chopped onion, garlic cloves, jalapeno, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground black pepper, lard, chicken broth, and water.
  3. Use a colander to strain the beans and discard the soaking liquid. Rinse with fresh water.
  4. Now add the beans to the Instant Pot bowl, and stir all of the ingredients together. It’s okay if the lard is in a solid lump, as soon as the Instant Pot comes up to pressure/temperature, the lard will melt.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and ensure the steam release valve is set to sealing. Press the “Bean/Chili” key, which will show 30 minutes of cooking time, and increase the time to 45 minutes. Now walk away. When the Instant Pot is done cooking, it will come down from pressure naturally, about 40 minutes.
  6. When the pressure is released, open the lid of the Instant Pot and add the sea salt to taste. Use an immersion blender to blend the beans to the desired consistency. The beans will appear soupy, but will thicken as they cool.
  • From the original recipe: "I don’t recommend salting the beans prior to cooking, because I’ve experience instances where they never soften. I only recommend salting beans once they are soft and cooked through."
  • Replace the lard with bacon fat.
  • I replaced the jalapeno with a can of diced chilies.  (Better safe than sorry around here.)
  • I ended up cooking them for an additional 30 minutes because they didn't seem to be quite done at 45.  That was probably overkill, but underdone is bad imo.
  • Freeze them in ziplocs for efficient storage.  This time I happened to have a bunch of 1 cup container bowls, so I did that instead.

Zuppa Toscana - Instant Pot

½ pound bacon, chopped
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz honey gold potatoes, scrubbed clean quartered
10 cups water, divided
3 tbsp. Chicken Base
5-6 cups chopped kale (approximately, I did not measure)
2 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper, to taste


  1. With instant pot on  sauté mode, cook bacon until crisp, set aside. 
  2. Crumble in sausage and red pepper flakes, cook until almost done, then add onion and cook 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Next add the garlic and cook 2-3 minutes. Turn IP off. 
  4. Add potatoes, 8 cups of water, and bullion. Lock lid in place, set knob to seal, set IP to manual 10 minutes. 
  5. Let stay on keep warm mode for 15 minutes, then turn IP off and turn knob to venting. 
  6. Once all pressure released, open lid and add kale and 2 additional cups of water. 
  7. Set to sauté mode and cook 10-15 minutes to tenderize the kale. 
  8. Turn off, once soup stops boiling, add cream. Serve with crumbled bacon.


  • This called for 12 cups of water (four cups in step 6 instead of the two I added).  That seemed like too much.
  • I used a carton of chicken broth in place of a bunch of the water.
  • I also a left the bacon in during the cooking process instead of serving it on top at the end.
  • Add more red pepper if you like it hotter.  The original called for 1 tbsp.
  • We also would have preferred it to be thicker.  I'd recommend a roux in the last step.
  • Opinion: This is one of those recipes that made me not buy an Instant Pot.  Basically, it cooked the potatoes a little faster, although not really once you consider how long it takes to build pressure.  The saute mode steps are probably less efficient using the IP than they would be on the stove top.  Especially my lovely gas stove where I have better control over the temp. 
  • Having said that, the recipe is good - we all liked it.


Steel Cut Oats - Instant Pot

3 tbls butter
1 c steel cut oats
3-1/2 c water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar

  1. With the cooker's lid off, heat butter on high until melted.
  2. Add the oats, water, cinnamon and salt.  Lock the pressure cooker's lid and set for 5 minutes on high.
  3. Perform a quick release to release the cooker's pressure.
  4. Stir in brown sugar (original recipe also says to store in 1/4 c of milk).
  • This worked well and actually took a reasonable amount of cooking time (plug in to pressure release), but there was lots of liquid that had not yet absorbed by the end of the cooking time.  All of this extra liquid was absorbed about a half hour later.
  • It made 4 servings.  I packaged them to reheat for breakfasts this week.
  • Using apple juice instead of water would probably be worth a try.
  • I'd add fruit (raisins, craisins, or granny smith apples) before cooking next time.
  • Definitely good.  Could easily be doubled.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Hard Cooked Eggs - Instant Pot

A friend loaned me her Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) to test over the next few days and I started with this easiest "recipe" for eggs.

Basically, I cooked a dozen eggs for 7 minutes at low pressure.  Release the steam immediately after the timer beeped, and let them cool a bit.  (I moved them to a bowl of cold water.)

In just a few minutes they were cool enough to peel, which was the really big part of the show!  After cracking them around the middle and removing a few pieces, almost all of the shells came off in two halves.  It was pretty impressive and the eggs were perfectly cooked.

Slightly more detailed instructions here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Taco Seasoning

Adapted from Pioneer Woman:

  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Mix well and add to taco meat.  Probably enough for 2 lbs of meat.   

Notes: A bit spicier than we usually eat but that's easily fixed by reducing the amount of red pepper flakes.  Very good flavor! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

I'll probably never be able to repeat this creation, but I'll do my best to retrace my steps.  It would be worth the effort for an encore.

I started with this recipe, which tasted fine, but I probably won't make again until I figure out how to cook meat in a crockpot that isn't overcooked to the point of (1) being way too dry and/or (2) falling apart.  So we ate it for one meal, but it was really dry and there were lots of leftovers.  (To throw away, or not - that was the question.)  It was haunting me in the fridge a week later when the idea of shredded chicken sandwiches occurred to me, so I found a sauce.

That was this.  I didn't follow it carefully, but did use the ingredient list as guidelines.
Soy Sauce
Sesame oil
Lime juice (didn't have orange)
and definitely that teaspoon of fresh grated ginger :)

I also added the end of some barbecue sauce from Don Bickford and added a little more of Wee Willy's BBQ Sauce, (Steve Swanson's favorite and the secret to his delicious ribs).

Anyway, this sauce, whole wheat buns (onion buns would have been good too), and grilled pineapple slices.  Highly recommended and it saved my dry chicken from the trash.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Steamed Hard Cooked Eggs

Be sure to use large eggs that have no cracks and are cold from the refrigerator. You can use this method for fewer than six eggs without altering the timing. This recipe calls for a steamer basket, but if you don’t have one you can use a spoon or tongs to gently place the eggs directly in the water. It does not matter if the eggs are above the water or partially submerged; they will cook the same. 

6 large eggs

1. Bring 1 inch water to rolling boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Place eggs in steamer basket. Transfer steamer basket to pot. Cover saucepan, lower heat to medium-low, and cook eggs for 13 minutes.

2. When eggs are almost finished cooking, place 2 cups ice cubes and 2 cups cold water in medium bowl. Using tongs or spoon, transfer eggs to ice water bath; let sit 15 minutes. Peel and use as desired. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One-Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake

4 tablespoons butter
2-3 sweet onions
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce (omit if vegetarian)
1 cup red wine
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
salt + pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
3 cups low sodium chicken broth + 3/4 cups water
1 pound of your favorite short cut pasta (use gluten free if needed)
2 bay leaves
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
pinch of cayenne pepper
6 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (optional)


Heat a large high-sided dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the onions + brown sugar and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. At this point you want to slowly add the Worcestershire sauce and the wine, let them cook into the onions, add more and continue to cook. Do this until the the wine is gone or the onions are caramelized to your liking. Make sure the wine has evaporated.

Preheat the the broiler to high.

Toss the mushroom and garlic in with the caramelized onions, season with salt + pepper, cook another 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft.

Pour in the chicken broth + water and bring to a boil. Add your pasta, bay leaves and thyme, cook, stirring often until most of the liquid has been soaked up by the pasta and the pasta is al dente. If you feel your pasta needs more water to continue cooking, add around 1/2 cup.

Stir in the cream and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir in half the gruyere cheese and the gorgonzola cheese. Cook 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Top with the remaining cheese and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Serve warm, top with fresh thyme and parsley if desired.

  • Nice flavor profiles
  • I skipped the broiling step, but put it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
  • There's a slight kick, depending on how much cayenne you use. (I probably used a little more than a pinch.)
  • Serves ~6
  • Source

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pull-apart Garlic Rolls

Not a great picture, but they were cute in person

1 tube refrigerated biscuits
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Cut biscuits into fourths, and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, garlic powder, parsley, and mozzarella, and mix with your hands, coating all of the biscuit pieces. Place the pieces in a muffin tin, 3 pieces per tin (you’ll have 2 extra—just use them in whichever tin you want). Bake for 15 minutes. Best served fresh out of the oven!

  • Easy, cute, and really tasty.
  • I used jumbo flaky buttermilk biscuits
  • I used dried parsley instead of fresh and it was fine
  • Source

Friday, April 1, 2016


1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted (If you use unsalted butter or margarine, add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt)
2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs

1 tsp orange or lemon zest(or a few drops of lemon extract)
4 cups All-Purpose Flour

20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained*
1 cup sugar(This was quite sweet, you could probably easily get away with 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons cornstarch OR Instant ClearJel
2 tablespoons melted butter

*If you’re using cornstarch as the thickener, reserve 3 tablespoons of the pineapple juice, in which you’ll dissolve the cornstarch.

1.5 lbs. frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar(This was quite sweet, you could probably easily get away with 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons cornstarch OR Instant ClearJel
2 tablespoons melted butter

*If you’re using cornstarch as the thickener, reserve 3 tablespoons of the strawberry juice, in which you’ll dissolve the cornstarch.

2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar 

1/3 cup (about 5 2/3 tablespoons) melted butter
(This is more than enough streusel for a double batch of dough)

DOUGH: Warm the sour cream gently, and combine it with the sugar, salt, and butter or margarine in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer. Cool the mixture to lukewarm (if it isn’t already that temperature), and add the yeast (if you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it in the water first), warm water, eggs, and flour. Mix and knead the dough, using your hands, or a mixer, until it’s soft and smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough overnight. Note: This dough won’t rise much, so don’t worry about having to put it in a huge bowl.

Next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and divide it into about 24 pieces, each 1 3/4 ounces, about the size of a golf ball. Place the pieces on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. Flatten the balls till they’re about 1/2-inch thick, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

PINEAPPLE FILLING: In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the drained pineapple to boiling. If you’re using Instant ClearJel(r), mix it with the sugar, and stir this mixture into the pineapple. Immediately remove the filling from the heat, and stir in the melted butter. Cool to lukewarm before using.

If you’re using cornstarch, mix it with the reserved pineapple juice. Stir the dissolved cornstarch and the sugar into the hot pineapple, and cook over medium heat, stirring, till the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Remove it from the heat, stir in the melted butter, and let it cool to lukewarm before using.

STRAWBERRY FILLING: In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the strawberries to boiling, drain off excess juice(I removed ~1 cup). If you’re using Instant ClearJel(r), mix it with the sugar, and stir this mixture into the strawberries. Immediately remove the filling from the heat, and stir in the melted butter. Cool to lukewarm before using.

If you’re using cornstarch, mix it with the reserved strawberry juice or water. Stir the dissolved cornstarch and the sugar into the hot berries, and cook over medium heat, stirring, till the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Remove it from the heat, stir in the melted butter, and let it cool to lukewarm before using.

STREUSEL TOPPING: In a small bowl, mix together the flour and sugar, then add the butter, stirring till crumbs form.

ASSEMBLY: Using your fingers, make a wide, deep indentation in the center of each flattened dough ball. Don’t be afraid of being decisive here; you want to make a deep enough indentation that it doesn’t just disappear as the buns rise and bake. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling into each bun; crumble a little of the streusel on top. Cover the kolaches, and allow them to rise for about an hour; they won’t necessarily double in bulk.

Bake the kolaches in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, till they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature.

*I didn't get a picture, but mine came out looking like your average grocery store danish, not very tall at all, but they have a lovely texture.
*I'm sure you could substitute just about any frozen berry for the strawberries without any complications.
*There are loads of other filling recipes online.
*I only got two out of the 4 pans of assembled kolaches baked before we had to leave for the vigil mass; the remaining pans were left out for ~4 hours and there was not a noticeable difference between the them and the ones that had risen for an hour.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

TJ's Coconut strips

Very delicious.  They should sell them in a bigger package.
Yes, this is an empty package.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Alfredo Sauce

We've rejected most of the jarred Alfredo sauces we've tried but this one has passed the test and now this one makes the short list too.

We mixed it with steamed broccoli, 8 ounces of linguine and some rotisserie chicken for a very respectable and very quick dinner.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chicken Piccata

Yields: 2 servings

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
Salt & pepper
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. capers


Butterfly the chicken breast. Salt and pepper to taste. Dredge each piece in flour, shaking off the excess. In a skillet on high heat, melt three Tbsp. butter, and brown the chicken, the browner and crispier the better, 3–5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from the skillet, and, in the same pan, add chicken stock, lemon, and capers. Boil until the sauce reduces by 1/3, and return the chicken to the skillet. Spoon sauce over the chicken several times. Serve immediately, with the remaining sauce poured over the chicken.

NOTES: This was quick, easy, and really tasty.  The chicken was really moist.  I made 4 chicken breasts (which ended up as 8 servings).  I did not need to make as much sauce as I did, so if you use more chicken, you probably don't need to up the sauce ingredients proportionally.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

2 (14 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 (7 or 8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 and 1/2 pounds)
1 cup (240ml) chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 (14 ounce) can corn (rinsed and drained) or 1 package of frozen corn
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small jalapeño, minced (remove seeds and ribs)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder (reduce to 1 teaspoon for less spicy chili)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin (for that key chili taste!)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 ounces brick-style light cream cheese (or full fat)


  • Add all the ingredients except the cream cheese to a slow cooker. Give everything a stir as best you can to mix. 
  • Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3 hours.
  • Remove the chicken and chop into pieces or shred into pieces, then return chicken to the slow cooker and give everything a few stirs. 
  • Stir in the cream cheese until fully melted and combined. Taste and add more salt or add ground black pepper to taste. Cover the slow cooker and cook for about 10-15 more minutes.


  • Source - Sally's Baking Addiction
  • Not surprisingly, I didn't add the jalapeño and I wenT for the "less spicy" option on the chili powder.  I was going to add a can of diced chilies, but didn't have any.  
  • I also didn't add any salt.
  • The cream cheese looked a little lumpy at first, but it all melted in before too long.
  • It's very good! 

Chicken Stew

1 - 4-6 lb chicken
1 pinch Bell's Seasoning
1 onion, quartered
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups chicken broth(reserved from cooking the chicken)

Place chicken, seasoning, and onion in a stockpot, cover with water. Simmer until the chicken is tender, remove chicken and set aside to cool, reserve 2 cups of the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove all bones and skin, tear chicken into bite sized pieces. In a large saucepan combine the cream soup with the reserved broth over medium heat, add the chicken and stir until well combined and heated through, season to taste. Serve over rice or biscuits.

Note: This recipe is from Grant's grandmother and the directions were a bit vague, but he says that it tastes right.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

One-Pot Cajun Pasta

- Olive Oil (2 Tbsp.)
- 2 Diced Chicken Breasts
- Andouille or Smoked Sausage (8 oz, sliced)
- Garlic (3 cloves, minced)
- Yellow Onion (1/2, sliced)
- Red Pepper (1, sliced)
- Green Pepper (1, sliced)
- Mushrooms (2 cups)
- 16 oz box of the pasta of your choice (we used linguine)
- Chicken broth (5 cups)
- Heavy Cream (1/2 cup)
- Shredded Parmesan (1 cup)
- Cajun Seasoning (1 Tbsp.)
(You can use a store-bought Cajun spice mix or make your own! We used equal parts cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.)

Pour olive oil into the pot. Add diced chicken breast to the pot, cover with cajun seasoning, and stir until the chicken is evenly seasoned. Then, add sliced sausage and stir. Cook the meat on medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Once the meat is cooked, add in the garlic, onion, peppers, and mushrooms, and stir. Continue stirring for 3-5 minutes as the veggies cook down.

Add the dry pasta to the pot (if using long, thin noodles, break in half), then pour in the chicken broth. Stir until everything is well-mixed. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, keep covered bring the heat down to a simmer for 10 minutes (stirring every two minutes). If there still extra chicken broth, you can discard it, cook longer until the liquid evaporates, or add a little cornstarch to thicken the liquid.

Lastly, add heavy cream and parmesan and stir until your pasta is well blended. Garnish with green onions, more parmesan, a sprinkle of cajun seasoning (if you want some extra spice), and salt and pepper to taste.
  • This recipe is a little spicier than some of you may like.  The Cajun seasoning I used was homemade, but not by me, so I don't actually know what was in it...  
  • I used Canjun Seasoned Andouille Sausage.  I used 12 oz instead of 8.
  • There was quite a bit of liquid left after simmering everything, so I added some corn starch to thicken it.
  • I added a little more cream and parmesan than it called for.
  • It reminds me of spicier version of something I've had before at home, but I can't remember what...Tasty though! 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Old Country Hard Rolls

5 tsp sugar, divided
1 c warm water (90-110 degrees), divided
1 pkg yeast
3 1/2 c flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 c oil
1 egg

  • Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 c warm water.  Add yeast and let rest 10 minutes.  
  • Mix flour, salt, and remaining sugar in mixing bowl using hook attachment.
  • Add remaining warm water, oil, and egg.
  • Beat until soft dough forms.  Continue to mix another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from mixing bowl and place dough in a large oiled bowl. 
  • Cover dough and let rise 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.  
  • Punch down, cove again, and allow to rise another 10 minutes
  • Remove dough from bowl and cut into 8 pieces.  (about 4 ounces each)
  • Roll pieces into well formed balls. 
  • Evenly place on a cookie sheet and allow to rise another 30 minutes.
  • Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven (to obtain the desired crust).
  • Place cookie sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake 15 minutes.

  • From Kramarczuk's cookbook
  • These were perfect in every way!
  • I used bread flour.
  • They made some pretty huge rolls.  Delicious, but a bit of a commitment.

Goulash Stew

1/2 c butter, divided
2 lbs. beef, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp paprika
2-3 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cups chicken broth
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and cubed
1/8 c flour

Melt half of the butter in a large pot over medium heat and add meat.  When it it slightly browned, add the onion and cook until it is transparent.  Add paprika, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Bring to simmer * and add potatoes and carrots; cover.

Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat and gradually add flour, stirring constantly.  Cook until mixture thickens and add to stew, stirring constantly.  Cook another 5 minutes or until potatoes and meat are tender.


  • Quite delicious!  The spice combo made a fantastic broth.
  • From Kramarczuk's cookbook.
  • Start with 1 tsp salt.  It's probably enough.
  • It's not in the original recipe, but it would be possible to simmer it longer at this * point if the meat needed to be more tender.
  • Makes 6 servings.
  • Try a more interesting paprika next time.  I just used cheap-o store brand.
  • Serve with the Old Country Hard Rolls.