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Saturday, February 26, 2011

soup kind of day

It was a wet and dreary day. Nothing beats a bowl brimming with soup to warm things up.  We wanted something kind of like a taco soup we recently had so the cookbooks came out and we soon eyed this South-of-the-Border Soup.  One thing that caught our eyes was the fact that this soup earned a first place in a Wisconsin Beef cookoff.  Another selling was discovered in the Big Book of Soups cookbook which has been faithful over and over by producing successful soups every time!  The final straw was that we had all the ingredients needed to achieve the final results. 

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Friday, February 25, 2011

winter salad

I'm pretty sure that our school secretary is the one who introduced me to this sweet and scrumptious salad.  For this salad, select an Anlou or Bosc pear which are both available from October through the winter months.  Both varieties are sweet; Bosc pears have a slightly spicy flavor.  A blender, food processor or emulsifier is the quickest way to prepare the dressing.  You can also make the dressing by hand, using a wire whisk to blend.  I use an emulsifier to mix the dressing.  If you don't own an , emulsifier, I highly recommend investing in one.  An emulsifier will combine liquids that normally do not combine easily, such as oil and vinegar.  This method doesn't allow later separations. Any left-over dressing is great poured over fresh fruit.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

at our table

One of my favorite cookbook series is written by Roxie Kelley and illustrated by Shelly Reeves Smith. I was introduced to this wonderful series when visiting their store in the Lake of Ozarks...Among Friends.  This store is no longer open but these two friends continue to contribute wonderful cookbooks.  Their most recent "At Our Table" holds true to the inclusion of wonderful and delicious recipes and beautiful illustrations.  Many of the recipes in their cookbook series have become our family's favorites.  This recipe for Baked Mostaccioli caught my eye when I was browsing the cookbook.  I found it easy and delicious!  You can find more information about this cookbook (At Our Table) and the two friends who made it possible at the following websites.

sweet life cafe         shelly reeves smith           about the books        the three trees

Baked Mostaccioli
1 (1 pound) package mostaccioli
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound Italian sausage
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (2-ounce) package spaghetti sauce seasoning
1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

one bowl cupcakes

Making cupcakes is usually on my agenda each Valentine's Day.  I make them for my husband, kids and now my grandchildren.  Looking for a new recipe was on my "to do" list this year.  My daughter recently shared a cookbook with me...Martha Stewart's Cooking School:  Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook.  This is a "how-to-cookbook" for beginners and experts and everyone in between.  Looking through the maze of techniques and more than 200 recipes in Martha's cookbook made me aware that I'm definitely an "in-between."  I've always found Martha Stewart fascinating, but a little too deep for me.  But guess what?  I made her...what seemed to be difficult...cupcakes and had much success!  Maybe I'm an inch or two over "in-between." 

There are two things I love about these chocolate cupcakes...(1)  They are a "one-bowl" recipe. (2)  The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is terrific!  One warning...the frosting contains 4 sticks of butter ...Paula Deen would be so happy!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
2 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Swiss Meringue
Buttercream Frosting

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Souper Bowl

My friend, Francine, shared this different and delicious soup recipe with me recently.  I knew she was bringing it for a carry-in at school today, therefore I was anxious to try a bowl.  Francine discovered this Stuffed Green Pepper Soup at another school's carry-in and sought out the recipe.  I'm so glad she did!  I made this tonight for a "girl's night out" and it was enjoyed by all.  My results were a little different, but the taste was the same. I decreased the green peppers by one.  I did this because my audience was not as crazy about green peppers and they suggested that I not put as many in.  I chopped the green peppers and Francine put small chunks in her soup.  I really don't have a preference between the two.  My soup was a little too thick compared to Francine's which had more liquid. I will definitely ask her what she might have done differently.  Overall...a great soup that I will make again.  

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup 

1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage
1 1/2 lb. ground beef

(2) 16 oz. cans beef broth
(2) regular sized cans tomato soup
20 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
2 c. cooked white rice
1 large white onion, chopped
3 green peppers, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Brown and drain the meats. Layer in soup pot or crock pot:
cooked and drained meats, veggies, canned items and broth
then rice last. Cook till warm.

Friday, February 4, 2011

rescued bananas

I have to confess.  Bananas are abused in my home.  First, I tend to buy too many so they don't all get consumed.  Second, they are left alone too long on the shelf....neglected.  When I find the final few, they are a totally different color, not bright and cheerful as they were when they traveled home with me, but black and bruised ready for the trash.  I often make banana bread and put a loaf in the freezer for later enjoyment.  But, on this very day I wanted to make it up to those neglected bananas and make something different and special out of them.  So I dug out the cookbooks and found something new and exciting...Banana Nut Cake.  The note in the recipe said the bananas should be at least 7 days old for maximum flavor...YES!.  It also said "the browner the better."...YES!  Just a few more words....This cake was loved and devoured quickly by many of my family members.  It will absolutely make future appearances on our tables. 

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a slice of pizza casserole

I'm almost certain that my friend, and now principal at the elementary school where I teach, shared this pizza casserole with me years ago.  If I remember correctly, we were taking a literature class together at the time.  It was an evening class after a long day at school so we all took turns bringing in dinner.  Della brought this delicious casserole dish and I have made it many times since for my family.  If I remember, the only modification I've made to this recipe is to leave the mushrooms out that Della included in her casserole.  While I remember the mushrooms making a great addition to this dish...I left them out because my children were young at the time and they were not too crazy about mushrooms so I've made this casserole without them since.  I usually use jar spaghetti sauce but I forgot to purchase it at the grocery store and since I was snowed in, I made my stand-by homemade sauce to substitute for the jarred sauce.  This is the first time I've had to do this.  I can honestly say...I will probably do this from now on because the casserole was even better than before and I didn't think that was possible. 

7 oz. thin spaghetti pasta
1/3 cups Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 pound lean ground beef
 small onion
30 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
8 oz mozzarella cheese
12 large, deli thin pepperoni slices
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