Thursday, November 28, 2013

Watergate Salad Recipe



Here is a classic recipe worthy of your Thanksgiving table or any festive gathering. Enjoy!


Watergate Salad Recipe

1 package pistachio instant pudding (3 ounces)
1- 9 ounce Cool Whip
1 can crushed pineapple (20 ounces), undrained
2 cups mini marshmallows 
1/4 cup maraschino cherries, drained

1.  Mix dry instant pudding, cool whip, marshmallows, and crushed pineapple. 
2.  Spread into a casserole dish. 
3.  Slice cherries in half. Arrange on top of mixture. 
4.  Chill for at least an hour or overnight. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cranberry Parmesan Herb Popcorn Recipe



Thanks to lots of lazy hours perusing the internet, my sons have solved our popcorn dilemma.  They stumbled upon an online catalog that includes entertaining videos which promote each of the company's unique products.  Despite multiple attempts by my youngest to get me to sit down and view a few of these clips, I resisted until he said in his most persuasive voice, "Mom, they sell cooking stuff!" After I relented, I lost at least an hour of my life viewing these corny yet oddly informative ditties.  The company is called Vat 19 and I loved it so much I even agreed to place an order.


Currently on my Vat 19 wishlist is the Butter Bell Crock, the Soup and Cracker Mug Set, and the Double Dish Snack Bowl (might just order this one today).  I have such an extensive wishlist because the first item we ordered, the Microwave Popcorn Popper, has been a huge success in our household.


I have been on a quest for a healthy popcorn popping method ever since my children have been old enough to eat this optimized snack food.  In theory, popcorn is a healthy and satisfying snack that our family can enjoy after school, during play dates, and while we gather to watch a movie.  In reality, however, most of the microwave bags that we buy from the grocery store are expensive and full of chemicals.  I tried a high end popper (it broke), the paper bag method (not always successful), and healthy grocery store options (overpriced).  The Vat 19 popper meets all of our popcorn popping needs, but don't just take my word for it, check out this informative and entertaining video.  Trust me you won't regret it.

Although my eight year old still needs assistance to make popcorn with our Vat 19 popper, my older children can manage it independently.  This summer they have used it to create classic popcorn, Old Bay popcorn, and their version of kettle corn.  My favorite is Cranberry Parmesan Herb Popcorn (recipe following).  I also love that I can use coconut oil to flavor my kernels.  Because the Vat 19 popper is made of glass, I always do the washing which is fine with my kids.

So grab a friend or family member and check out Vat 19.  You will be entertained as you quickly discover the Microwave Popcorn Popper and a plethora of other amazing items.  Once you order and receive  a popper of your very own, make a big bowl of Cranberry Parmesan Herb Popcorn and check out all of the other "curiously awesome" products.



Cranberry Parmesan Herb Popcorn Recipe

1/4 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernals
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or other fat which is solid at room temperature such as butter)
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning mix
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)
a dash of freshly cracked pepper (optional)

1.  Pop the popcorn with the coconut oil or other fat.  If using the Vat 19 popper, place the unpopped kernels in the bottom of the glass decanter and the coconut oil in the silicone lid then microwave for approximately 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
2.  Dump the popped popcorn into a large bowl.  Add dried cranberries, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs, salt and pepper.  Toss.
3.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ham Sliders Recipe


This morning my family and I said good-bye to our fabulous friends who drove from Minnesota to Texas to visit us.  They are dear friends that we have know for 18 years.  When we met, they had one sweet little boy and now we have 8 amazing children between us.  We've vacationed together, shared meals, and had lots of laughs.  Our kids jive, the parental conversations are inspiring and entertaining, and the food we share always tastes better when we are together.

This visit started with Easter dinner that included ham, macaroni and cheese, pretzel salad, deviled eggs, roasted asparagus, garlicky green beans, and King's Hawaiin rolls.  As I was digging in the fridge for our second meal together, our friends' oldest son, who has loved ham since we introduced it to him in his highchair, remembered a hot ham on Hawaiin roll sandwich that his aunt in Chicago had made.  Doing a bit of searching on the internet and perusing of my pantry lead us to the conclusion that we could make a pan of these type of sandwiches to add to our feast of leftovers.


The sandwiches that we created were warm, toasty, and flavorful.  With 3 hungry teenagers as part of our crowd, the sandwiches didn't last long. The cheese got melty and gooey while the poppy seeds and Worcestershire sauce accentuated the taste of the ham.  Yum!  These Ham Sliders are going on my "Make for Party" list and will always remind me of our good times with our BFFF's (Best Family Friends Forever).


Ham Sliders Recipe

1 package of King's Hawaiin Rolls or other small dinner rolls (I used Mini Sub Rolls)
1/2 pound of ham (from the deli or leftover from you Easter dinner:)
6-8 slices of Swiss or Provolone cheese
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder or Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon Poppy seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder.  
  3. Split rolls and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Top each roll with ham and cheese.
  5. Place tops of rolls on sandwiches.
  6. Using a pastry brush, generously slather each sandwich with the melted butter mixture.
  7. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top of sandwiches.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or cover with foil and back for 20 minutes or until rolls are toasty and cheese is melted.  Add a few minutes if sandwiches are chilled



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Roasted Cabbage Recipe


In November my husband learned about The Hunter Gatherer Diet from a group of his co-workers.  Wanting to loose some mid-life weight he started following this eating plan by changing his diet to meat, some fruit, and lots of vegetables.  At the time, I chose to watch from the sidelines as he converted from toast to eggs in the morning and went from a bit of meat with some rice or pasta to a slab of meat surrounded by steamed vegetables in the evening.

After preparing and ingesting as many holiday goodies as I wished and spending hours on Pinterest  doing some research on this new way of eating, I decided to join him in what I found was also referred to as a Paleolithic Diet. On my Paleo journey I lost some weight (especially around my middle), got rid of my usual joint and back pain, and discovered that vegetables can be much more than a microwaved bag of broccoli.  I have come to enjoy steaming, roasting, and grilling brussel sprouts, turnips, kale, and more.

I have always been a fan of cabbage, but I usually had it boiled and served along side corned beef or ham.  Now I use this recipe to roast it.  It is quick enough for a weeknight and very tasty.  This recipe comes from my old friend Martha Stewart and was published way before people were throwing around the term Paleo.  I love how the cabbage caramelizes and sweetens in the oven.  It is perfect when served alongside a grilled pork chop or chicken breast.  You don't have to be Paleo or a Hunter Gather to enjoy this recipe for Roasted Cabbage.




Roasted Cabbage Recipe

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium head green cabbage, rised and dried, outer leaves removed
Kosher Salt and Cracked Pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  1. Cut cabbage into 1-inch-thick rounds.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Brushed a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Place cabbage rounds in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan.
  5. Brush the cabbage rounds with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with fennel seeds.
  7. Roast until cabbage is tender and edges are golden brown, 35-45 minutes.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Chipped Beef Ball Recipe


Growing up my favorite breakfast was creamed chip beef on toast.  My mom made it very thick and served it open faced on toasted white bread, while my best friend's mom made it a bit thinner and placed buttered toast alongside for dipping.  Either way, I enjoyed it.

I tried serving creamed chip beef on toast to my own children a few times when they were preschoolers but none of them were big fans. In fact, I had forgotten all about this salty and rich breakfast treat until I found two recipes for Chipped Beef Ball in my recipe box. I was searching for a savory appetizer to serve alongside the steamed shrimp that we traditionally have on New Year's Eve.  In keeping with the menu that my grandmother started years ago, we will also have a variety of dips, crackers, and potato chips, a sweet cheese ball that my daughter made yesterday, and pigs-in-a-blanket.

Mixing a cheese ball is a snap with my new mixer.
My desire for something  (anything!) made with chipped beef, which I realize now is really known as dried beef, increased when I was unable to locate it in my local and brand new grocery store, HEB.  My husband and I were purchasing our shrimp, enjoying lots of samples, bumping into neighbors, and looking for my chipped beef.  First we unsuccessfully looked near the lunch meats, moved onto the bacon area, and finally instated the help of a man who was stocking kolaches (it's a Texas thing and worthy of it's own blog post).  My husband pulled up a picture of Esskay dried beef on his phone and four HEB employees later we found it near the canned tuna.  I mentioned that in Maryland it was in the refrigerator section and the HEB manager, who was the one who found my challenging item, said he could chill it for me if I would like.  My husband was wary of this non-refrigerated Armour dried beef which was available in a jar or a plastic package, but I was even more determined to have a Chipped Beef Ball for New Year's Eve.



At home, I put my new apple green Kitchen Aid mixer to work and whipped up two Chipped Beef Balls, one to eat and one to share.   I merged both recipes that I found in my recipe box by adding some grated Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire along with horseradish.  Yum!  It is everything I remembered and more. Happy New Year!  Hope you rediscover a childhood food favorite this year.



Chipped Beef Ball Recipe

1 package dried beef (4.5 ounces or so), finely diced
2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), softened
1 Tablespoon horseradish, more to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional


  1. Mix softened cream cheese, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese (if using) until well combined.
  2. Add half of diced dried beef, and mix to combine.
  3. Shape mixture into one large ball or two small balls.  Roll in remaining chipped beef.  
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
  5. Serve with crackers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Bars Recipe


The Thanksgiving gifts that I received from my second grade students this year include a gorgeous bouquet of fall flowers, a loaf of homemade banana bread, some lovingly made hand turkeys, and lots of hugs.   Many years ago one of the teacher gifts I received was a plate of Pumpkin Bars.  I remember this because, besides being moist and flavorful, these treats included a handwritten recipe card complete with the date (November 1994).


Today I am enjoying Thanksgiving Eve by reading, catching up with my own children, baking, and reminiscing.  Eighteen years ago, when I first encountered this recipe, I was in my fourth year of teaching, lived in my home state of Maryland, and was happily married with no children.  Now I am returning to teaching after a 14 year maternity leave, live in the sunny state of Texas, and am still happily married with four fabulous kids.  Wow!  Baking these bars has reminded me to be thankful for each moment and has reinforced the power that a good recipe has to evoke fond memories.

This recipe creates an autumnal dessert that is basic and scrumptious.  The bars are moister than pumpkin cake, but firmer than pumpkin pie.  I baked them in my recently purchased Pampered Chef stoneware large bar pan and finished them off with a dusting of powdered sugar.  Some members of my family believe our Pumpkin Bars would be better with a thick layer of creamed cheese frosting, but I like the  simplicity of the powdered sugar.


This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all of the students I have had the privilege of teaching, the joy I get from baking, and for relaxing times with my family.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Pumpkin Bars Recipe

4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie spice (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 15 1/2 x 10 inch bar pan* with PAM for baking spray. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin. Beat well.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices).
  5. Gently mix dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until fully combined.
  6. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  8. Cool completely, dust with powdered sugar, and cut into bars.
*You may also use a half sheet pan which is also known as a cookie sheet with sides.  The larger the pan the thinner the bars and the less time the recipe will need to bake.  A jelly roll pan would be too small.  A Pampered Chef stoneware large bar pans works perfectly.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe



Last weekend I had about as much fun as one girl can have in a 48 hour period.  I flew from Texas to Maryland with my high school sweetheart/husband and then did all those fabulous reunion weekend events:  football game, hanging out with old friends at the local pub, touring our high school and realizing just how like the Breakfast Club we really were, and attempting to dance to 80's tunes with people who have not changed a bit in 25 years!  Good times!

Aside from finding out who from the North Caroline High School Class of 1987 has grandchildren and who recently changed careers, I also discovered who made my Peach Cobbler for their husband, who has attempted my Skillet Apple Pie, and who loves Kim's Famous New Year's Eve Pineapple Cheese Ball (apparently everyone but Kim's husband).   People read my blog and cook my recipes.  Wow!

Per special request, I am sharing a Tex Mex recipe for Chicken Tortilla soup that my family and I love.  It is a crock pot recipe, but it only needs to cook for about 2-4 hours so I like to make it on a Sunday and have it for a late lunch/early dinner.  It is especially appealing in my house due to all of the garnishes that I serve along with it.  I fill my kitchen bar with crunchy tortilla strips, avocado chunks, shredded cheese, sour cream, pico de galo, salsa, and warm soft tortillas.  You could also offer cooked corn or warmed up black beans to add to the soup.  The soup is delicious straight from the crock pot, but can be livened up with lots of Tex Mex accouterments.


I found this Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe on Pinterest although my husband and my daughter are convinced that I have made a very similar dish in the past but lost the recipe.  Oops!  The original recipe sharer is from the blog Lindsey's Lusciousness and she says that this dish tastes like Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup.  I think that it tastes like luscious leftovers.  I place portions of the soup along with some garnishes in containers for weekday lunches.



Although I have a lot to learn when it comes to Tex Mex cooking, I don't want to deprived my North Eastern friends of some good South West cooking.  This dish is one that I think they will all enjoy especially on a unexpected snow day or during a Raven's Football Game.  They can let me know how they like it at our 30 year reunion.  NCHS Class of '87 I'll see you in 2017!


Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
     adapted closely from Lindsey's Luscious

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 Tablespoon chicken soup base, or 2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
1 - 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 - 19 ounce can enchilada sauce (or 2 - 10 ounce cans)
6 small corn tortillas, minced
16 ounces of Velveeta, cubed (buy the big log and use the rest for queso dip)
1 cup colby jack cheese or taco cheese mix, shredded
4 cups chicken (use Tyson frozen roasted and diced chicken which has been thawed, diced or shredded rotisere chicken, or chilled fajita chicken strips)

Garnishes:  cooked corn, black beans, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, crunchy tortilla strips, diced avacado, shredded cheddar cheese, warm soft tortillas
  1. Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until they are translucent.  Add the mined garlic and cook another minute or until garlic is fragrant.  
  2. Place the cooked onions and garlic into the crock pot.
  3. Add the chicken stock, soup base or bouillon, spices, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, diced tortillas, cubed Velveeta, and shredded cheese.  Stir.  Cover and cook for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high.  Whisk until smooth or use an immersion blender to obtain desired consistency.
  4. Add chicken pieces.  Cook for another 30 minutes to one hour on low.  Turn up heat to high if cheese isn't fully melted.
  5. Check seasonings and garnish as desired.