Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Creamy Potato Soup

It is cold outside!  We received our first winter snow yesterday on top of a sizable amount of sleet. Today is an inside day and I've been busy purging and organizing the pantry so everything starts out fresh and organized for the new year.

I've also been battling a cold, so the cleaning and organizing job was just the ticket; not to strenuous and I could easily pause for a nap attack.  
After a little break in my work, I was chilly and the hunger pangs set in.  My tummy was rumbling and I wanted something easy and something that would warm me inside out.  I spied potatoes and onions on the counter; in the pantry, a carton of chicken stock. Instantly I knew lunch was going to be a nice steaming bowl of potato soup with shredded cheese and bacon crumbles.  Yummers!

This recipe is easy and quick to make.  Enjoy reading through it as I go grab a second helping!

...and oh, by the way, my pantry and cupboards are looking neat and tidy now!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Microwave Beef Stew

Let me begin by saying that this is not a quick recipe.  It is cooked in the microwave, but on a lower power.  I know it seems odd to use a microwave for lengthy cooking, but this beef stew is delicious and worth it!  It's very easy, you just layer the ingredients in the casserole, pour the liquid mixture over the top, pop it in the microwave and let it cook.  No checking, no peeking!  Do be sure you have a large covered casserole before undertaking this recipe.

I got this recipe from my mother, who received it when she took a class after purchasing her new microwave well over 15 years ago.  A local appliance store offered a class with the purchase of a new microwave.  I don't know that I've known of any stores doing that then or since that time.  Between mom and I we have made this stew dozens of times. 

The stew is perfect for chilly winter evenings,  Pair it with a nice salad and some crusty bread for a hearty meal.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Potato Candy

Spud, potato, tater, whatever you want to call it, this simple root vegetable is undoubtedly the oddest ingredient in this candy recipe.  It's fun to make this potato candy and see the reactions of folks tasting it for the first time.

I will admit that I had not planned to make this recipe this year as part of my holiday baking and candy making.  However, I uncovered this old fashioned gem while leafing through the ragged, stained pages of my grandmother's cookbook while looking for another recipe for a friend of mine.  When I saw this recipe, I was immediately transported back to my childhood and visiting Grandma and Grandpa's at Christmas. I couldn't wait to try the recipe.

Research to find the origin of potato candy resulted in a lot of stories and claims, but there seems to be nothing definitive.  This is an old recipe and very likely passed down from generation to generation.  I presumed it was maybe a depression era recipe since it is made of very simple ingredients.  If anyone has any history feel free to post a comment and share it with all of us.

Don't let the potato throw you.  This recipe works and is super simple to make and you have to trust me, you will not taste the potato!

One important word of caution.  Do not, I repeat do not, use a large potato.  One about 1/3 the size of what I used would be sufficient, unless you have a very large family!

As with many of the recipes in my grandma's recipe book, it lists ingredients, not necessarily measurements and not much in the way of instructions.  So there aren't quantities included, I had to make things up as I went along.  Don't let this deter you from trying this recipe.  I'll share my tips from the lessons learned and you can adapt and have some fun too!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cinnamon Sugared Pecans

I can't remember a Christmas that I didn't make these.  I have such a hard time staying out of them; the sweet crunch is like a magnet, pulling me to the bowl every time I'm in the kitchen!

I don't have a story or specific memory to go along with this recipe, they have simply been a part of my Christmas baking for a long time.  They have been enjoyed by many and the recipe has been shared numerous times.  They are great to take to work for a holiday celebration.  They would also make a great hostess gift for all of those holiday gatherings.  And let's not forget our co-workers or employees, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness!

As I mentioned in my earlier post for Sugar Cookies, this recipe is perfect for using those leftover egg  whites you have after you make cookies!  

I get the 2 pound bags of pecans from Costco, if you want to make a smaller quantity, just divide the recipe in half and you'll be all set.  Trust me though, with all the nibbling and gifting, you'll need to make all 2 pounds!  

Have a Holly Jolly and Nutty Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Connie's Sugar Cookies

It's the time of year when visions of all kinds of sweet things dance through our heads.  Our tried and true favorites we make every year plus the new recipes we're enticed with on Pinterest, in magazines, or cook books.  Like most of you, I have my favorites.  One is a drop sugar cookie that is so light and crispy, you can snarf down the whole batch before you realize what you've done!  Cut out sugar cookies have never been my favorite.  I remember making them with mom as a kid, and we ate them, but as a kid...it was about the sugar.  I didn't care much about things like texture, lightness, or that they were mostly like eating sweetened cardboard.  

Now that you knowing my feelings about how most cutout sugar cookies have texture and taste like cardboard, this post will seem odd.    I had not planned to make sugar cookies this year, and definitely not cut out sugar cookies.  However, I found these beautiful cookie cutters at William's Sonoma and well, I have to use them.  I plead my case for a tasty Sugar Cookie recipe asking my Facebook friends if anyone had one they would be willing to share and my friend Connie came to my rescue.  Connie and I grew up in the same small town and played together as children.  I remember swimming in her backyard pool and us gushing over teenage heart throbs Bobbie Sherman and David Cassidy (yes, that has been a few years ago), but all good memories!

Not only did Connie come to my rescue with her recipe, the recipe is super easy to make!  If you have a food processor, you will have your cookie dough mixed up and ready to go in less than 10 minutes and clean up is easy too because it's all done in the food processor.

I have to admit in looking at a lot of sugar cookie recipes, this is the only one I've seen that is made with only egg yolks.  Don't discount the recipe because you don't know what to do with the egg whites.  You can use the leftover egg whites to make some Cinnamon Sugar Pecans.

I am so excited to have a rolled Sugar Cookie recipe  and with Connie's permission, you can have it too!  Thank you Connie!  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

There is a chill in the air and fall is definitely upon us.  Yesterday was a dreary and rainy evening.  During the evening hours, I was cozy watching the World Series on TV and text messaging with a friend about the events of the game and hoping our beloved Royals would rally.  Sadly, they did not, but the Series isn't over yet!  During our text conversation,  she asked me if I had added anything to the blog lately.  Well, I had to confess, that things have been busy and I have just not been feeling very creative in the kitchen and no, I haven't had an entry in several months.  

The guilt set in.  

I have been craving biscuits and sausage gravy for the last few days, so I decided it was time to take care of that craving, and I would leverage the basic recipes for photos and a new blog entry.  I've historically not been a baking powder biscuit fan, because I've never seemed to master them.  They often were more like hockey pucks rather than the light, fluffy creations I expected them to be.  For these reasons, I generally take the easy way out and get a tube of biscuits from the grocery.  
Well, I won't be doing that any more!  This is my new go to recipe for light fluffy and flaky buttermilk biscuits that I can easily mix up with ingredients I have on hand.  These biscuits are not my recipe, credit belongs to Cooking Light.  I'm excited to find an easy recipe that fits my biscuit expectations and am excited to share the recipe with you.  

So without further ado, here's the biscuit recipe that can be quickly pulled together for a tasty breakfast.  They would be fantastic simply slathered with butter or with some jelly or a drizzle of honey.     
But for the royal treatment, whip up a skillet full of gravy to make you feel warm and cozy!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Chicken and Dumplin's

Seems my blogging lately has been related to our food days at work.  This month's theme is our mother's best recipe. Unfortunately, the two recipes that I think are mom's best aren't suitable for the bus trip into the office.

I did my recipe prep over a couple of evenings.  First I cooked the chicken, cooled it and refrigerated the broth overnight.  I got a big ol' slab of fat from the top resulting from the night in the fridge.  I picked the chicken and then put everything together the night before taking it to work.

Of course, I had to do a sampling to make sure it as fit to take to work <grin>.  As luck would have it,  my eating a bowl reduced the quantity just enough for the remaining chicken and dumplings to fit into the Tupperware bowl for transporting.   I was thrilled to have kept myself from having seconds! 

I can't wait for our potluck tomorrow and having another serving of this comforting dish!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Peanut butter lovers, this one's for you!  This is my most requested cheesecake ever!  I took this to work once, was asked the recipe, then later requested to bring it to a meeting, which I did. The last time I made it I had to tag that friend for a copy of my recipe with notes because I couldn't find mine.  By putting it on my blog, I should not have that problem ever again....of course, unless I forget that I posted it! But we won't talk about how good our memory cells are or aren't right?

Today we had our monthly potluck at work and I decided to make this one rather than the chocolate one I posted recently.  This cheesecake continues to get rave reviews.  I didn't bring home a single crumb, which was significant because there were a lot of folks taking off today for their 4th of July holiday.  Others were working from home.  Given the number of folks in the office, I was fully expecting to be bringing half, if not more, of the cheesecake home with me. I'm thrilled that my prediction didn't come true.  

This cheesecake is a little extra work but worth every ounce of effort.  Your family, guests, friends or co-workers will love love love it!  I know a few of my followers who will almost lick the screen when they see these photos and read the recipe.  

I can only say it is a very rich, but amazingly yummy cheesecake. Try it, you'll like it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What's Cooking At Cathy's?: Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

What's Cooking At Cathy's?: Triple Chocolate Cheesecake: In preparation for a potluck at work, I found a recipe on the web at epicurious.com for a dark chocolate cheesecake.  Since I'm a lov...

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

In preparation for a potluck at work, I found a recipe on the web at epicurious.com for a dark chocolate cheesecake.  Since I'm a lover of dark chocolate, I was immediately interested.  After reviewing it, I decided I would make a few alterations and bake a trial cake to see if the alterations worked and determine if  it lived up to my high standards and was worthy to take to work to share with my team and other co-workers.

The original recipe called for only bittersweet chocolate.  While I am a huge dark chocolate fan, I felt that using a little semi-sweet chocolate to help smooth out the edge of the bittersweet chocolate would be best for those folks who aren't real dark chocolate fans.

The result was a very rich and decadent cheesecake that lived up to exceeded my expectations.
I am sad to say that I have opted to not make it for our potluck.  Why?  If it is that awesome why would I deprive others of the shear ecstasy of indulging?  Well, I fear a large amount of waste resulting from folks taking more than they can eat and a good portion of this lovely truffle like cheesecake ending up in the trash and that would be such a tragedy.

However, I am going to share my recipe with you.  Just be aware of how rich it is and exercise portion control!  

Note that this recipe is for a small size cheesecake, only 6 1/2 inches.  Even this small size was too much for me to envision consuming within a reasonable period of time, so my neighbor was gifted half of the cheesecake.  If you want to make this in a standard 9-inch spring form pan, just double the ingredients.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Do you love strawberries?  Do you love rhubarb?  How about mixing those two into a pie filling?
My rhubarb plant is flourishing and begging to be used.  So I added strawberries to the grocery list and headed off to the grocery.  Once home, I harvested a bunch of rhubarb, tied on my favorite apron and got busy in the kitchen.

Once the pie filling was mixed, I made the pie crust.  Yes, I made the crust. I'm not a fan of readi-made crusts but will admit that I've used them in a pinch, but nothing beats homemade pie crust.
Lard makes the best pie crust, so add that to your shopping list and ditch the hydrogenated oil (Crisco).  You will be amazed at how tender and flaky your crust will be.

In case you don't have a rhubarb plant growing in your garden, I noticed at the market that they had a nice supply of rhubarb, so if you'd like to try the recipe you should be able to find both the rhubarb and strawberries at your local market.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lentil Chili

While the sun shines bright, there is still a nip in the air and that equals  "soup weather" as far as I'm concerned.  Also, I'll admit it, I'm lazy.  I love cooking big on the weekend and having a big pot of soup to draw on for lunches and suppers makes the week meal preparation a breeze.  Often at the end of the workday, the last thing I want to do is spent a lot of time in the kitchen!

When I first made this, I was skeptical.  Chili without meat?  That's just not right!  However, with a vegetarian in my life, I have to branch out and try new things!  Adventures in cooking and eating, what can be more fun!  I was very pleasantly surprised in the hearty results of this recipe.  I found that I didn't miss the meat.  Lentils were not a pantry item for me before this recipe, but now they are.  This is easily made with things I generally have on hand and mixes up quickly.

This is a very easy, economical recipe. I vary the veggies from time to time for variety, but always use the red bell peppers, they add a nice sweetness to balance the chili.

I hope you find this thick, spicy chili tasty and that it becomes a staple in your recipe box!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mexican Casserole

This is a lovely casserole.  It has really nice robust flavors and is very filling.
Someone special in my life is vegetarian, but does eat dairy, so this is a perfect dish to serve for an easy supper with a side salad and there's enough leftovers for lunches too!

I'm sure many of you have heard of "meatless Mondays" as an option of cutting meat out of one supper a week to help relieve some pressure on the grocery bill!  Seriously, while we meat eaters love our steak, chops, etc. meat is getting more and more expensive!  This helps stretch your grocery dollar and gets a good supply of fresh, healthy veggies into your diet!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Soup for Supper?  Absolutely!  Brrr, it is cold here in Kansas and a nice hot soup that is thick and as smooth as velvet is just the ticket.  I typically don't get very excited about cream or bisque soups, but this one is absolutely yummy.  A bowl of this is perfect for family suppers yet stunning and impressive enough to serve dinner guests.

You can adjust the hot sauce to your taste, but it has a nice "after burn" to it as written.  Serve it with grilled sandwiches made with my Pimento Cheese Spread or make a grown up grilled cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, provolone and bacon on ciabatta bread with a smidgen of mayo and yellow mustard) or simply serve it with some Ritz or your favorite crackers.

I won't lie, this recipe takes a bit of time to make, but I assure you that if you do make a batch, your tastebuds will be tickled pink.  Besides, what's better than spending time in the kitchen on a cold winter day making a tummy warming soup?

Be on the lookout for bell peppers on sale.  My local grocery occasionally has red bell peppers on sale 10/$10 and when that happens, you can guarantee that this will be on my weekly menu.  As written, this recipe is perfect for one or two people.  However, it  is easily doubled, so don't hesitate to double it for a larger batch if you have more mouths to feed or want leftovers (trust me, you will).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and keep warm this winter!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pimento Cheese Spread

Today is all about comfort food.  It is cold outside.  Oh Baby, is it cold outside!  I don't know why but when the mercury dips and the snow is flying, I immediately crave what I call comfort food.  Food that I grew up with as a kid.  Pimento cheese is one of those comfort foods.  It evokes memories of child hood and good memories.  We didn't have pimento cheese often, and when we did have it, it came from the deli at the grocery store.  However, I decided I'd make mine from scratch.  I had all the ingredients and it saved me from a special trip to the store.  I had mine with a salad and made up as grilled cheese.  This is a simple recipe.  It is versatile and can be a simple spread for crackers or slathered on bread for a sandwich, but why not make it extra special and make a grilled cheese!

About Me

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My career is in IT.  Cooking and photography are among a few of my hobbies. In my spare time, which is most weekends I tie on my apron and exercise my creativity by trying new recipes and adapting them to my tastes. I also have a passion for photography that I incorporate by taking photographs to go along with the recipes I post on my blog.  
I also enjoy travel, both near and abroad. Meeting new people, new experiences and cultures and oh, not to mention the food! I hope you enjoy my blog.