Monday, June 29, 2015

Mom's Vanilla Cream

The best vanilla cream EVER!

 

This truly is the best vanilla cream you'll ever taste!!!  Note the 3 exclamation signs!  Yes! That's how much I want you to try this cream!

My mom made this when I was a child and it's the only one I've ever used for fillings, or just for my kids to eat.  They don't even let it cool, they love it warm just as much!   I can't even tell you where she got this recipe, because all I know is that it was always in her recipe box. 

It's great for Boston Cream Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Cream Puffs, Eclairs, Pusties and in anything else you need a wonderful cream filling. 


Ingredients:

6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine flour, sugar, salt and eggs in saucepan and stir until smooth; gradually add milk and continue to stir constantly over medium heat, until  thickened.  If it looks lumpy, use a wire whisk and it will smooth out nicely.  Add vanilla and butter; stir until butter has melted.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use. 

PS.  Hide it from the kids, mine would eat it the whole thing while it was still warm.  Yes, it's that good!


"That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever."   -Psalm 30:12

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pasta Salad Supreme

A great summer salad!


I added our favorite veggies and cold cuts to this one.

Wow, I don't even remember how long I've had this great recipe for pasta salad, but I know it's been over thirty years.  It was given to me by a friend, when we lived in Michigan, and I've made it ever since, to the delight of my family!

The basics for this pasta are simple...your favorite pasta, Italian dressing, McCormick's Salad Supreme...and then any veggies, meats or cheese you love!   Really, that's it! 

I just finished making one and sent my hubby to the store for all his favorites.  He returned with salami, ham, fresh mozzarella, peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, cucumbers...uh, you get the picture!  Ha!  But, seriously, it's all up to you.  Make it meat-free if you like, it's going to taste great whatever you do.   Make it your own and "play with your food!"


Ingredients: (The Basics)

1 (12 oz.) box Rotini or your favorite salad pasta
8 oz. Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
1/3 jar McCormick's Salad Supreme Seasoning
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 medium purple or red onion, chopped
1 medium firm red tomato, cubed
3/4 cup green onions, chopped (optional)

Boil pasta in large pot until al dente; drain.  Do not rinse, let cool for a few minutes.

Add Italian dressing and 1/3 jar of Salad Supreme seasoning.  (This mixture can marinate a few hours or overnight before continuing.)

Mix in chopped vegetables (and any other goodies you like) and chill.

You might like to add a couple of tablespoons of grated Romano or Parmesan for extra flavor.



Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.  -Psalm 1:1



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Twice Baked Potatoes

For love of a good baked potato!
 

I love dressing up plain ol' baked potatoes!   I mean, there's nothing wrong with a good baked potato, but it's such fun to turn them into something a really amazing...especially for the holidays!
 
These are also great to make for a Baked Potato Bar!  Just put out various toppings and let your family and friends build their own baked potato!   It actually becomes the main dish for your meal and is great fun for everyone. 
 
The most popular are bacon, cheddar cheese, chives, green onions...anything that makes your taste buds happy!   Use your imagination and offer other meats, shrimp, tuna, chili, veggies.  My granddaughter came up with the idea of pizza toppings (she's a pizza fanatic), but, it does sound good!

Now, you can use just plain baked potatoes, but you know I just wanted to change things up a bit.  Have fun with your food!   You know I love saying that, right?  Ha!
 
If you're not into having different things on your "tater", these are more than delicious just as they are...there's no way you'll be disappointed!  



INGREDIENTS:

4  large baking potatoes, scrubbed                            
3 Tbsp.  butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (I use granulated garlic)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
Dash of celery salt 
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded           
3 Tbsp.  to 1/4 cup half and half  (to desired consistency)   
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Paprika (optional)

 

Found this on Pinterest...so cute to label the toppings!
Preheat oven to 350'F.

Wash potatoes and pierce once or twice with a fork.  Bake for 60-70 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a thin shell about 1/4" thick.
Set shell halves aside.
                                                             
In a large bowl, mash potato pulp; add the butter, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, celery salt and enough milk to reach desired consistency.  Pipe or spoon into shells; place in two greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pans.
 
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika if desired.
 
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and browned. 
 
Serve with sour cream, chives, crumbled bacon, etc...this is where you can have fun toppings for the family to choose their favorites!
 
Yield: 8 servings (1 stuffed potato half each).  
 
   
"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." - 1 Peter 5:4
              
 
 

 
                                                                  
                        
                               

Friday, June 26, 2015

Maryland Crab Cakes

Tender and delicious!


Crab cakes are traditionally associated with the area surrounding the Chesapeake Bay , in particular the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore.  Now, I must admit, we don't have these very often, due to the cost of the crab meat...but, once in a while, you just have to splurge! 

I like to serve these with coleslaw,  fries, veggies or as an open-faced sandwich.  Many restaurants give their patrons the choice of having their crab cake fried or broiled, but I've always fried mine.  You can vary the size, from no bigger than a small cookie to as large as a hamburger.  The smaller ones are great for party appetizers.

Hint: - Do NOT over-mix the crab meat - it will not turn out the way it's supposed to if you do - it's supposed to be lumpy!   And, if you can find Old Bay in your supermarket,  BUY IT - it makes the difference!


Ingredients:

1 large egg
2½ tablespoons mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise)

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

¼ teaspoon salt
2 green onions (use green and white parts), finely chopped
¼ cup finely diced celery (about 1 stalk)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lump crab meat (check for any hard or sharp cartilage before using) 

½ cup Panko crumbs
Canola oil (plus a pat of butter)

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery, and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. 

Add the crab meat and Panko crumbs; gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. Shape into 6 crab cakes (about ½ cup each), dust with flour and place on prepared baking sheet.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat a large nonstick pan to medium heat and coat with canola oil. When oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Be careful as oil may splatter.  Or broil them for

Serve immediately with tartar sauce and/or fresh lemon wedges.


Quick Tartar Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Hint: If you can only find jumbo lump crab meat, you may need to break the pieces up a bit. If the clumps are too large, the crab cakes won't hold together well.


“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  -Luke 12:6–7

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Orange Creamsicle Poke Cake

Attention, Orange Lovers!




Oh my word!  I figured this cake would be a refreshing summer dessert, but I had no idea how delicious it was going to taste!  This was the best poke cake yet...and you know how much I like poke cakes.

The frosting, oh yes, the frosting!  Well, I could just devour the frosting all by itself!

It tastes just like those Orange Creamsicle ice cream bars we used to get on the beach in New Jersey, when I was a little girl.  We spent a week each summer in Wildwood with all the family, and they were some of the best times ever.  The only "not so happy" memory I have of those ice cream bars is the time my tongue got stuck to one.  Ever see "A Christmas Story"?  It looked a lot like that famous scene when they triple-dared that poor boy (minus the flag pole).  I was slightly hysterical...crying, screaming and running around trying to unstick my tongue.  Good times, yeah!  Haha!

At least no one will get their tongue stuck to a piece of this cake...I hope!


Ingredients:

Make cake mix as directed on package:
1 (18 ounce) box orange cake mix (Walmart carries Duncan Hines Orange Cake)
  *If you can't find the orange, a yellow cake is perfectly fine to use.
3 eggs (or as called for by your cake mix)
1⁄3 cup oil (or as called for by your cake mix)
1 cup water (or as called for by your cake mix)
 

Mix together:
1 (6 ounce) box orange Jell-O
1 1/2 cups hot water

1 cup cold water
 

Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 (3 1/2 ounce) box orange Jell-O
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

8 ounces Cool Whip, thawed

Set out Cool Whip to thaw.


  • Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with baking spray with flour.
  • In large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, 1 cup water and the oil with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter into pan.
  • Bake 28 to 33 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.
  • Poke cake all over with fork or wooden skewer. In medium bowl, pour boiling water on 1 box orange gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in cold water. Pour gelatin over cake. Run knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Refrigerate 2 hours.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth with electric hand mixer (or other); add orange jello, instant vanilla pudding, 1 cup milk, orange and vanilla extract.  Immediately beat until smooth and well blended.  (Don't let the jello and vanilla pudding sit or they'll get lumpy).   Fold in Cool whip.   
Spread over the cake and keep refrigerated until serving.   Garnish with additional whipped topping and orange peel. Refrigerate any leftovers.


Praise the Lord because He is good to us, and His love never fails.    -1 Chronicles 16:34

Friday, June 19, 2015

Baked Beans

The Most Excellent Baked Beans!

Since the summer is upon us...big time, it's going to reach a balmy 98 degrees again today!   I thought that many people will be grilling out this Father's Day weekend.   You're going to need some sides with those burgers and dogs, and this is a great one! 

This recipe is good enough to just dive in and eat your way out.   Okay, I have to concede,  it's too hot for that today, but if you like Baked Beans, you're gonna love these.  And they use canned pork and beans!!!  Yay!

*Oh, and don't worry about using your oven, this recipe is easily converted to your slow cooker!   Would I let you down?  Hehe!


Ingredients:

6 slices bacon, cooked crispy and halved or coarsely crumbled
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup bell pepper, minced (optional)
3 (28 oz.) cans of pork and beans (we like Bush's)
2 teaspoons dry mustard or 1 tablespoon Dijon
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. molasses
1/2 cup ketchup or your favorite BBQ sauce
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325'F. 

Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan until bacon has partially cooked and released about 3-4 tablespoons of drippings.  Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.

Add onions and pepper to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, approximately 5 minutes.

Add beans and remaining ingredients, except bacon; bring to a simmer.  Pour into a greased 3 quart baking dish. Top with bacon.

Bake, uncovered, until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours.  Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

*SLOW COOKER TIP:  If it's too hot to turn your oven on (like today), you can make these in the slow cooker!  Just pour the mixture into your crockpot (I always line mine with the Slow Cooker Liners for easy clean up.)  Cover and cook on low heat setting 4 to 5 hours (or high heat setting 2 1/2 to 3 hours) or until desired consistency.


"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:30

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Italian Hot Dogs

Now this is the way to eat hot dogs!


Ready to make our sandwiches...or eat it just as is!
Yes!  This is the best way I know to eat hot dogs!  There's not much else to say about Italian Hot Dogs, except that my whole family loves them!  

If you've never had them like this, I highly recommend you give it a try.  There are other ways to make these too.  For instance, you can leave the hot dogs whole and grill them, then cover them with the peppers and potatoes; or bake it all together in the oven.  You can leave out the sauce or potatoes.  But, I stand on my earlier statement..."these are the best!"

My mom did it this way, and since I don't believe in "fixing what isn't broken"...I make them the same.  I just can't help myself! 


Ingredients:

1 pkg. hot dogs (use your favorite brand)
6 medium potatoes, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 red, yellow or green peppers, sliced (or a combination of all three)
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic or 2 cloves fresh, minced
1/2-3/4 cup tomato sauce (depends how "wet" you like it)
1/4 tsp. basil
1/8 tsp. oregano (optional)
6 Italian rolls (heat them in the oven for a crisp crust)

Fry potato slices in olive oil until just starting to soften; add sliced peppers and onions.  Cook until all are tender.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

Slice the hot dogs into 1" circles, place in the same pan and let cook until heated through and a little browned; this takes almost no time at all.   Then, pour the rest back into the pan; stir gently to combine.

Stir in tomato sauce,  and seasonings; simmer until heated through.

Serve on warm Italian rolls! 



There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends.   -John 15:13

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Tasty and filling...a great zucchini dish!



There's just nothing better than vegetables, fresh from the garden.  So, when a neighbor sent over some zucchini (along with other yummy veggies) I knew it was time to make these Stuffed Zucchini Boats again!

My husband was so excited to see these on the table for dinner, and it was the first time my granddaughter ever had them.   She really enjoyed them, too.  This surprised her a little, since she thought she didn't like zucchini, but one bite changed her mind. 

This is another one of those "play with it" recipes.  You can add Italian sausage to the ground beef, cooked rice, chopped mushrooms or diced up mozzarella.  I used what was in the pantry today, but I have used all the above at one time or another. 
 

Ingredients:

2-3 medium zucchini
1 lb. ground beef
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tsp. parsley flakes or 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 350'F.  Spray a 7x11" baking dish and spread a scoop of sauce around the bottom.

Hollowed out zucchini "boats"
Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the insides, leaving a shell. (I use a grapefruit spoon, with serrated edges...works great!)  Chop and reserve about 3/4 of the zucchini pulp for the stuffing.

In a large frying pan, brown ground beef with onions and garlic; add reserved pulp and cook until squash is soft.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat, stir in egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley.  Add enough tomato sauce to moisten. 

Season squash shells with salt and pepper, stuff with filling; mixture should be piled up over the top.  Place the filled zucchini halves into the prepared baking dish.  Spoon the marinara sauce over the tops of the zucchini.  Sprinkle with more grated parmesan.

Ready for the oven.



Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes.

Covering this dish saves the bubbly splatter from messing up your oven.  I'm all about easy clean-up!

 












Now, that's a perfect dinner!



I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   -Isaiah 41:10b

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Chocolate Italian Love Cake

That's amore'!

photo from Pinterest

If you need a special dessert, you know, something to fill that sweet craving and still look amazing when served?   Your search is over!  This cake comes together in about 10 minutes, it's so easy to make.  Then, into the oven for an hour, and you have something really spectacular!   
Chocolate Italian Love Cake incorporates chocolate cake, ricotta cheese and a pudding topping that your friends and family will love.   If chocolate isn't your thing, just switch the cake mix and pudding to another flavor, vanilla, lemon or even German Sweet Chocolate.   They are all delicious! 

Make it the day prior and let it sit in the refrigerator over-night, and it will taste even better.  You can keep the cake itself, covered, in the fridge until ready to serve and then put the pudding on top or frost it when cooled, and refrigerate.  Be sure to keep any leftovers refrigerated.


Ingredients:

1 pkg. chocolate cake mix (Use your favorite brand, and the ingredients listed to make it)
2 lbs. ricotta cheese
4 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 (5.1 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup cold milk

8 oz. Cool Whip

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350'F.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together your cake mix according to the directions on the box. Set aside.


In another bow, using a hand mixer, beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.


 *The following directions are correct.  The layers switch during the baking.


Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Spread to fill the pan evenly. Once the cake batter is in place, carefully pour the cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Spread to cover the cake batter as best as you can.


Bake the cake at 350'F. for about 1 hour (mine was done in 45 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.  The layers will switch places during the baking process.


Once the cake is cool, stir the pudding mix and milk together with a whisk until combined. Carefully, fold the Cool Whip into the pudding until blended. (This will be like a chocolate mousse.)



photo from All-recipes.
Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake or wait until just before serving and put a dollop of "mousse" on top of each piece.  Add a few raspberries and chocolate shavings.  Beautiful presentation!) 

Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. (It tastes even better the next day.) 

Refrigerating it overnight will allow the flavors to marry together, and give maximum taste.





The Lord will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants.  -Psalm 135:14

Monday, June 1, 2015

Black and White Birthday Cake

The birthday cake of my youth!


Growing up, this is the cake we had for all our birthdays and celebrations.  My mom would bake it, assemble it, and then dad would decorate with his little metal flower tube decorator.   You wouldn't believe how beautiful those cakes looked when he was finished...or how good they tasted!  

This past weekend was my husband's birthday, and I haven't made one of these Black and White Cakes since my kids were little.  I figured it's about time!   Not only was he thrilled, but the whole family just loved having "two cakes in one!"

These are the two favorite cakes I use, but you can bake your favorites and assemble them in the same way.  This recipe makes one chocolate, 9" cake and one yellow, 9" cake.  The filling is the one I use for everything and I've never had one better.  I changed the frosting from a cooked white decorator icing to a light chocolate, fluffy one.  It suited the cake perfectly.

Your whole family will love the looks and taste of this wonderful cake!

Bottom Layer: (Chocolate Cake)
Ingredients:


1 1/2 c.  flour
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsweetened baking cocoa
6 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. cold water

Preheat oven to 350'F.

Put dry ingredients in a bowl, mix lightly with fork to blend.  Make a well in the middle; add liquids; mix well until all ingredients are blended and the batter is smooth. 

Pour into a greased 9" round cake pan.

Bake at 350'F for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Top Layer: (Yellow Cake)

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350'F.  Grease and flour  a 9" round cake pan. 

Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl.  Blend 1/2 minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat 3 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour into pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool.


Filling: (Mom's Vanilla Cream) 
*You'll only need half of this recipe. 


6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter

Combine flour, sugar, salt and eggs in saucepan and stir until smooth; gradually add milk and continue to stir constantly over medium heat, until  thickened.  If it looks lumpy, use a wire whisk and it will smooth out nicely. 

Add vanilla and butter after pudding has thickened.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use. 





Frosting: (Fluffy Chocolate Frosting)

1 cup milk
1 (3.5 oz.) pkg. instant Jell-O pudding, chocolate
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

Pour milk into bowl with instant pudding, sugar and vanilla.   Beat with a wire whip for 2 minutes or electric beater until smooth and well blended.

Fold in Cool Whip until all blended and no streaks remain.  Spread evenly over top and sides of cake. 

This makes a lot of frosting, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator...or eaten with a spoon!   Tastes like a light chocolate mousse! 

When both cakes have cooled (yes, you can bake them together), place the chocolate one onto a pretty cake plate and use about half the vanilla cream over it.  Now, carefully place the yellow cake on top and your all set to frost it.  Keep finished cake refrigerated.



"It is more blessed to give than to receive."  Acts 20:35

Favorite Macaroni Salad

My family's favorite Macaroni Salad!

This is the easiest, best tasting macaroni salad I've ever made.  My family has loved it and will not let me make any changes.   My mom used to make it with shrimp and mandarin oranges, but some of my kids don't care for shrimp, so if you don't like shrimp or tuna, switch them out for chicken.

The ingredients may not sound like they would taste good combined, but they really do!   I've had to give this recipe to so many people, but it wasn't until today that I actually figured out amounts and wrote it down.  

I hope you'll give it a try!


Ingredients:

1 lb. macaroni (elbow with ridges)
1-1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 (5 oz.) cans albacore, solid white tuna
1 cup Mt. Olive Sweet Cubes, drain off a little liquid first

Cook macaroni in a large pot until al dente.  Drain, but do not rinse.   Never rinse pasta!   Transfer to a large bowl.

Add mayonnaise, crushed pineapple, tuna and sweet cubes.  Mix well until blended.

That's all there is to it...super simple and simply delicious!


"But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children — with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts." - Psalm 103:17-18