Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs over Egg Noodles

     I used to LOVE the short ribs my mother would prepare when I was growing up.  I haven't made to date myself, but that's about to change.

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs over Egg Noodles

2-1/2 to 3-lbs. boneless beef short ribs
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 (3 oz.) pkg. dried tomato halves, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 C beef broth
3 C dried egg noodles, cooked and drained

Trim fat from ribs; cut into 3-inch pieces.  Sprinkle garlic salt evenly over all sides of meat; set aside.

In a 4-quart slow cooker combine tomatoes, carrots and onions.  Place ribs over vegetables, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Add broth.

Cover; cook on low heat setting10 to 11 hours or on high heat setting 5 to 5-1/2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove ribs and vegetables from cooker.  Skim fat from juices in cooker, discard.  Serve ribs, vegetables and cooking juices over egg. noodles.  Dust with a little extra Italian seasoning before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snickerdoodle Cheesecake


     I came across this recipe and just had to share.  If you have a love for Snickerdoodle cookies as I do, then you'll want to try this cheesecake! 

     ~This recipe doesn't require a water bath (which makes me a fan already!), yet has a creamy texture. 

Snickerdoodle Cheesecake

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (10 oz.)package shortbread cookies, finely crushed
1 Tsp. sugar
1/4 C butter, melted
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
1 C sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Allow cream cheese and eggs to stand at room temperature 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
For crust:  In a medium bowl stir together crushed cookies and 1 Tbsp. sugar.  Stir in melted butter until combined.  Press mixture onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl beat together cream cheese, sour cream, 1 cup sugar, flour, vanilla, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Stir in eggs.

In a small bowl stir together 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Pour cream cheese mixture into pan, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until a 2-1/2 inch area around outside edge appears set when gently shaken.  Cool in springform pan on wire rack 15 minutes.  Using a knife, loosen crust from sides of pan.  Cool 30 minutes more.  Remove sides of pan; cool cheesecake completely on wire rack.  Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

Makes 12 servings

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

     I made these for the first time this Christmas.  They were beyond delicious and I can safely say this, tweaked recipe is going into my repertoire for anytime I'm making a special meal---NOT just at the holidays.

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

8 -10 (approx.---I did not measure how many potatoes I bought) red potatoes
1 C 2% milk, warmed
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 lb. bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 C (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
3-5 green onions, chopped
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced (I use a garlic press--do what YOU like)

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Drain; return to pan.  Lightly mash potatoes (I do this with the beaters turned OFF, and just smash down a few times), add all the butter in and gradually add milk to reach desired consistency.  Stir in bacon, cheeses, green onions, parsley, salt and pepper.

Makes 8 -10 servings

Monday, December 23, 2013

Carmelized Ham & Swiss Buns

     Found this in the Dec. 2013 issue of Taste of Home magazine.  Ham & cheese sandwiches made from the leftover ham were a holiday tradition when I was a youngster.  I have loved them ever since & this recipe takes them up a notch (or two!), so I'll definitely be trying these.

     You can make this ahead and bake it quickly when company arrives.  Ham and cheese, horseradish and brown sugar make for one delicious combo!

Carmelized Ham & Swiss Buns

1 pkg. (12 oz.) Hawaiian sweet rolls, split
1/2 C horseradish sauc
12 slices spiral glazed ham OR whatever ham you have on hand, including deli ham
6 slices Swiss cheese, halved
1/2 C butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Spread roll bottoms with horseradish sauce.  Layer with ham and cheese; replace tops.  Arrange in a single layer in a greased 9" square baking pan.

In a small skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat.  Add onions; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until tender.  Stir in brown sugar, mustard, poppy seeds, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder.  Pour over rolls.  Refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bakes, covered, 25 minutes.  Bake, uncovered, 5-10 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Makes 1 dozen

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eggs Benedict Casserole

This overnight breakfast bake will make your (Christmas??) morning easier~

Eggs Benedict Casserole

12 oz. Canadian bacon, chopped
6 English muffins, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 eggs
2 C 2% milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 5sp. Dijon mustard
1/2 C butter, melted

Place half of the Canadian bacon in a greased 3-qt. or 13" x 9" baking dish; top with English muffins and remaining Canadian bacon.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and onion powder; pour over the top.  Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove casserole from refrigerator while oven heats.  Sprinkle top with paprika.  Bake, uncovered, 35 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

In top of a double broiler or a metal bowl over simmering water, whisk egg yolks, cream, lemon juice and mustard until blended; cook until mixture is just thick enough to coat a metal spoon and temperature reaches 160 degrees, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat to very low.  Very slowly drizzle in warm melted butter, whisking constantly.  Serve the hollandaise sauce immediately with the breakfast casserole.

Makes 12 servings

Friday, December 20, 2013

Eggnog Cupcakes

Eggnog Cupcakes

If you want a creamier frosting, add more eggnog.  The nog lovers in your life won't complain!

4 eggs, separated
2/3 C butter, softened
1-1/2 C sugar, divided
2-1/3 C all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C eggnog


1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 C butter, softened
3-3/4 C confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. eggnog
Freshly grated or additional ground nutmeg

Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1-1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with eggnog, beating well after each addition.

With clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Add remaining sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating on high after each addition until sugar is dissolved.  Continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form.  Fold into batter.

Fill prepared muffin cups three-fourths full.  Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

For frosting:  in a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until blended.  Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar and eggnog until smooth.  Frost cupcakes.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 2 dozen

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Brown Macaroni with 4 Cheeses & Cauliflower

     Found this recipe in the Nov. 2013 issue of Rachel Ray Magazine.   I love the fact that this hearty dish serves enough as a side dish for 12 (making it perfect for the holidays, or any other celebration) or an entrée for 6.

Brown Macaroni with 4 Cheeses & Cauliflower

1-lb. whole grain or farro penne rigate
1 head cauliflower or Romanesco (Roman broccoli) cut into bite-size florets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 Tbsp. butter
10 large shallots, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped/minced
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 C chicken or vegetable stock
3 Tbsp. flour
Freshly grated or ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard or 1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 C milk
2-1/2 C mixed grated cheese; sharp white cheddar, Asiago and Fontina OR Gruyere
1/2 C grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and cook the penne until al dente, about 8 minutes, adding the cauliflower during the last 4 minutes of cooking.  Drain and return pasta and cauliflower to the pot.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium-low, heat the oil, turn turns of the pan.  Add 1 Tbsp. of the butter.  Once it foams, add the shallots and garlic.  Season with salt, pepper, the thyme and rosemary.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are light golden, about 20 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the stock.

Preheat the broiler. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, nutmeg and dry mustard and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk and the remaining 1/2 cup stock, then stir in the cheese using a figure 8-motion.  Cook over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Add the shallot mixture and sauce to the pasta pot.  Stir to combine.  Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; top with the parmigiano-reggiano.  Broil until browned and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Blast from the Past......Santa's Whiskers Cookies

      I'm turning back the clock today, sharing a recipe for Christmas holiday cookies that my mother made for years. 
     My mother did not teach any of her 3 daughters to cook, but I definitely was drawn to cooking because of her example in the kitchen.  She made some great meals through the years, but it was at holidays that she really shined-----I swear she was "Martha Stewart" long before Martha was famous.
     I can vividly recall my mother making grand centerpieces at Easter (some kind of 3-dimensional sugar eggs that were merely for decoration, and tucked away to use on following years) as well as Christmas.  She spent a lot of time making a cookie "tree" out of graduated sizes of star shaped cookies which she frosted in green and embellished.  Again, this was only a decoration and she carefully stowed it away to use each year. 
     I carry on her tradition of making homemade treats at Christmas time, to share with my family and friends.  Growing up, we had an extra freezer in the garage, and my mother put this to use seasonally; it was common to open the doors and find tins of various types of cookies and fudge too!  My sisters and I would sneak a cookie (or half a dozen!) out of those tins EVERY year, and EVERY year my mother would get angry as she could tell we'd dipped into those goodies. 
     I cannot remember the varieties of cookies mom made each year, but I do remember "Santa's Whiskers" was one of my favorites.  Just look at the beautiful color in these---very festive.  Mom hasn't passed on too many of her recipes, unfortunately, so I had to go online to find this one.  If you've never tasted these, I hope you will give them a try.....you never know, they could become something of a tradition in YOUR house, and traditions are what make the holidays truly memorable. 
      Merry Christmas to all my readers ~

1 cup butter


    Sunday, December 15, 2013

    Red Wine Beef Ragu

         Gotta love slow cooker weeknight dinners.  With just a little prep on Sunday, you'll come home to a ready-for-the-table meal on Monday after work! 

         Here's a great do ahead tip:  Freeze the ragu for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Reheat in a large saucepan, covered, over medium heat, about 10 minutes.

    Red Wine Beef Ragu

    1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
    1/2 C red wine
    Kosher salt and pepper
    1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
    4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary
    1-1/2 lb. lean beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
    12 oz. pappardelle or other wide noodles
    1/2 D fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    1/4 C grated Parmesan OR Romano cheese

    In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, whisk together the crushed tomatoes, red wine, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Add the whole tomatoes, breaking them up with the spoon.  Stir in the garlic, carrots, onion and rosemary.

    Add the stew meat and turn to coat.  Cook, covered, until the beef is cooked through and shreds easily, 6-8 hours on low OR 4-5 hours on high.

    Twenty minutes before serving, cook the pasta according to package directions.  Remove and discard the rosemary.  Skim any fat that has risen to the top.  Using a fork, break the meat into smaller pieces, then stir into the cooking liquid; fold in the parsley.  Serve the beef ragu over the pasta and sprinkle with the Parmesan/Romano.

    Serves 4

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

    Roast Beef & Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Behold, one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever tasted ~

    Roast Beef & Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 small onion (sliced)
    1/4 tsp. EACH salt & pepper
    1 tsp. thyme leaves
    4 slices rye bread  ***or your favorite bread
    4 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
    8 oz. Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
    8 slices thinly sliced roast beef

    Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 small sliced onion, season with the salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. 

    Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in 1 tsp. thyme leaves and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more (add 1 Tbsp. water to the skillet if the onions start sticking). 

    Butter or oil both sides of 4 slices rye (or your favorite) bread.  Form sandwiches with the bread, spreading 1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard, 2 oz. Gruyere cheese and 2 slices roast beef on each. 

    Heat a large nonstick skillet over low heat.  Cook the sandwiches until the bread is golden brown and crisp and the cheese has melted, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

    Makes 4 sandwiches

    Friday, December 13, 2013

    Spaghetti with Parmesan-roasted Broccolini

    Use your leftovers in this tasty way~~
    Chop leftover spaghetti and broccolini and mix with 4 large eggs and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Cook spoonfuls in olive oil in a nonstick skillet until golden brown and cooked through; serve with a salad.

    Spaghetti with Parmesan-Roasted Broccolini

    12 oz. spaghetti
    2 tsp. grated lemon zest plush 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    3 Tbsp. olive oil
    2 slices fresh bread, torn into 1-inch pieces ***
    2 cloves garlic, smashed
    2 bunches broccolini, roughly chopped
    1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
    Kosher salt
    1/4 C grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (MUCH more...just sayin')

    Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Toss with the lemon zest and juice and 1 tablespoon oil.

    Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the bread and garlic until the bread forms coarse crumbs and the garlic is chopped. ***If you don't have a food processor, as I don't, I would use some bread crumbs and I would mince the garlic, thus eliminating this step.

    On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccolini, red pepper, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Add the parmesan and bread crumb mixture and toss to combine.  Spread in an even layer and roast until the broccolini is tender and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

    Toss the pasta with the broccolini mixture and 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid (adding more if the pasta seems dry).  Serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

    Serves 4

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    Homemade Ketchup

    Sharing this recipe from my online friend and fellow Ebay colleague, Rachel Bonner.

    She says she hasn't bought ketchup in MONTHS & swears it's WAY better than Heinz, Hunts, or any other brand.
    PLUS, no preservatives/chemicals!  What's not to love?!

    **Rachel keeps hers in the fridge in an air tight container.  She says she just finished off some that was made in September & has  never had a batch go bad~

    I'm definitely going to try this!  If YOU try it, please come back & post your feedback on this thread so other readers can check it out.  Thank you, Rachel Bonner~

    Homemade Ketchup

    6 oz. can tomato paste
    1/4 C honey
    1/2 C white vinegar
    1/4 C water
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. onion powder
    1/8 tsp. garlic powder


    Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; whisk until smooth.

    When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

    Remove from heat and cover until cool. Chill and store refrigerated in a covered container.

    Saturday, December 7, 2013

    FB'ing With Your Adult Kids


          It's 3AM and I'm having trouble sleeping, so I thought I'd share some Facebook etiquette tips I've picked up from my adult sons.  Even though I'm in my mid 50's, I like to think I'm still somewhat kewl, yet I'm learning that there is a limit as to how much of that I am allowed to "share" on my kids' Facebook accounts.

          For example, my youngest son put up a video the other day of a speech he gave in one of his college classes.  It was freaking awesome-sauce & so I naturally hit the thumbs-up button first, to "like" it, then I felt the need to comment: 

         "GR8 job, Ty-Ty!!!!  I'm sooooo proud of u <3  You aced that!  & u looked sharp, 2!! Love & miss u oodles <3  Call me, k, or Skype me soon ;-)  L8R.....peace/out ;-0"............and I went about my other business on the computer. 
    I returned to his page a short while later and my comment wasn't there anymore?!  Must be a FB glitch, I thought, and proceeded to re-post:

         Dude ~whaaaaa??  I put a comment here & it's gone?!!?  I said that was da bomb!!  And the ending was awesome-sauce!  I miss yo face & luv u bunches <3  Whazup w/u......call me sum time soon, k? ;-)".......and, back to my other business.  You guessed it; when I checked his page a little later my comment was once again GONE!  Then I remembered.   I'd gone too far.  Again. 

         The first time I committed this offense with one of my sons, I private messaged him to ask WHAT had I done that made him choose to delete my comment?  The reply was something like this: 

         "MOM!!!  ALL of my 800 friends on FB can see that, & I don't want them and THEIR friends.... my employer(s) & my potential girlfriend(s) to read all that ~ it's *embarrassing*!!!" 

         I had to remind him that some of his "friends" were MY "friends" too.....that didn't go over as well as I thought it would ;-(

         Anyway, the bottom line is that we must exercise some restraint when FB'ing with our adult children.  Act more like a "friend" than a Mom or Dad.  Lay off the hearts and flowers and smiley faces.  Don't over-do the lingo and by ALL. MEANS.  do NOT reference any nicknames! 

         Or, set up a blog like me and feel free to boast all you want about your kids, no matter HOW old they are!!  

    Bwahaha........the delete button is under MY thumb over here ;-p ~ ROFLOL!!

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    Snowman Sundae

         Whether your kids are home due to a Snow Day, or you're entertaining the grandkids, here's a quick little treat they will enjoy making.....and eating!

    Snowman Sundae

    4 large marshmallows
    Liquid red food coloring or black decorator icing and small candies
    4 scoops vanilla ice cream
    12 semisweet chocolate pieces, raisins or dried cranberries....or use your imagination!
    4 red maraschino cherries with stems, drained, patted dry
    4 red licorice twists, halved, or 8 tiny candy canes or pretzel sticks
    ***You may switch up the decorations:  use a large gumdrop on top of the hat instead of the cherry, or use a miniature waffle cone dipped in chocolate and cover the tip (ONLY) in sprinkles as the hat instead of a marshmallow.   Reese Peanut Butter cups would also work as a "hat"...the most important thing is to HAVE FUN WITH IT!!

    1)  Make the snowman heads by creating a face on each large marshmallow.  Use a wooden toothpick dipped in food coloring or black icing and small candies (attach with a little icing).

    2)  Place one scoop of ice cream in each of four chilled dessert bowls.  Arrange three chocolate pieces in a line down the center of each scoop to resemble buttons.  Top each scoop with one of the marshmallow heads. 

    3)  Place a cherry on top of each marshmallow to make hats.  Stick two licorice twists into each scoop of ice cream for arms. 

    Serve immediately.
    Makes 4 servings

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Peppermint Meringues

         These would be so wonderful to make up as holiday gifts for co-workers, your kids teachers, your neighbor(s) and friends.  Super easy, beautiful and perfect addition to a cup of hot tea, cocoa or coffee on a chilly Winter day ~

    Peppermint Meringues

    3 large egg whites
    1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
    1/2 C sugar
    1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    24 small chocolate peppermint candies (such as York Peppermint Patties)
    *Optional:  baking jimmies or colored sugar/glitter to sprinkle over the tops

    Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. 

    Using an electric mixer, beat the egg white and cream of tartar until frothy.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until incorporated.  Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes; beat in the vanilla.

    Spoon 24 level tablespoons of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.  Place 1 peppermint candy in the center of each meringue and press it down very slightly.  Top each peppermint candy with another tablespoon meringue, spreading it over the candy to completely cover and seal it in.

    Bake until the meringues are firm and dry, 60 to 70 minutes. *Sprinkle with optional baking jimmies or colored sugar/glitter if desired.   Let cool for 15 minutes before servings.

    Makes 24