(L)Oven Monday – Summer Menu Family Favorites

Hello friends!  I trust you had a great weekend.  We sure did!  On top of the wonderful church service on Sunday (I’m so thankful for my church!), getting to go hear Chonda Pierce Friday night (hilarious!), and a fun day on Saturday, my cup was just running over!

We had a delicious Sunday dinner at home. I know, it was Mother’s Day, and mom’s aren’t supposed to cook, but I was glad to help. My husband did steaks on the grill for us and I happily contributed all the other parts of the menu.  Everything on the menu is literally a family favorite for summertime cuisine!  This menu is perfect in every way in our house!  I’ve shared them all in times past, but let me tell you about it –

mother's day 1

I usually always make a Teriyaki Marinade for our steaks because it makes them THE BEST EVER!  Spinach Salad has a crunchy element of Water Chestnuts, some boiled eggs, bacon pieces and is then topped with a dressing that is a cross between Catalina and French dressing.  Yum. Every now and then we step into the unhealthy realm and make our family’s favorite Golden Onion Rings.  Again, they’re just the most delicious recipe ever, yet very easy to make.  Lastly, dessert consisted of another family favorite – Fresh Strawberry Pie.  In case you haven’t made any of these, or if you haven’t made these recipes in a while, let me share the links so you can put them on your menu soon!!

Teriyaki Marinated Steaks
Golden Onion Rings
Spinach Salad
Fresh Strawberry Pie

I was too involved with the guests to get good pictures of the food,
but here’s a little peek…

mother's day 1a

Dessert’s grand appearance was the Pie!

mother's day 2

My “centerpiece” may seem a little odd to you, but let me explain – I wanted all three of my girls represented on the table.  The Yankee Candle has a label on it with my oldest and youngest daughters pictures on it!  A sweet friend gave that to me for a Mother’s Day gift and it touched my heart so much!  Not only did it represent the girls, it gave a pretty ambiance to the table and it smells wonderful!  Then the little pink rose in the bud vase and the porcelain baby shoes were to represent our second daughter, Ashley.  She’s rejoicing in heaven, and we’ll join her before long!!

mother's day 3

Our youngest daughter and her husband were here with us for supper, and I got to talk to my oldest daughter and my mom on the phone, so that was wonderful!  Even though we had some of our favorite foods, the people we got to be with were the best part of the meal!

What was the best part of your weekend?

With love,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Super-Fast Drop Sugar Cookies

sugar cookies 2

Not all sugar cookies are created equal.  Many recipes call for an hour of refrigeration before you can roll out the dough.  But what if you need a dessert in a hurry and decide that sugar cookies would be the perfect ending for your  meal for guests that’s just 45 minutes away?!

That’s exactly the predicament I was in a week ago!  I decided last minute to add cookies to the menu.  So what did I do? I made Drop Sugar Cookies!  This soft dough is whipped up in the mixer, then spooned onto baking sheets for a quick bake.  These make a delicious dessert!  Because I was in a real hurry, I only baked up one sheet (a dozen), which was all I needed, then after my guests left, I baked the remaining dough and froze the extras.  Yay for cookies in the freezer!!  This recipe was found on Pinterest and is a family recipe from The Mom Who.

sugar cookies 3

Drop Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ¾ cup Milk
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Crisco
  • 1 Egg
  • 2½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Sugar Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and Crisco.
  5. Then add the egg to your mixture.
  6. Next add the milk and vanilla extract to your wet mixture.
  7. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture that’s in the large bowl. Mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix!
  8. Scoop dough into 2 tablespoon sized scoops and drop them on your sheet.
  9. Bake for 6- 7 minutes and then carefully add sprinkles to the tops of the cookies. Continue baking for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  11. Enjoy!
  12. *Note- You can add the sprinkles to the cookies before baking, but the sprinkles sink down into the cookies. You decide on when to place the sprinkles- Before, During, or After baking.

Is there a recipe you pull up if you need a fast dessert?  I’d love to hear what it is!

Happy Baking!

Denise Signature 150 px

Angel Food Cake Video Tutorial

I LOVE watching the British Bake-Off on Netflix!  Recently the technical challenge was…Angel Food Cake!  I smiled as I watched some of them grease their pans, wonder how stiff to beat the egg whites, and what to do with the dry ingredients.  I only knew because I’d recently made one!  But it’s really not difficult at all!

I’d love to show you my technique!  So here’s a speedy video of making an angel food cake.  You can pause the video at any time if you need to see something a little more closely!  I hope this helps and encourages you to make an Angel Food really soon!

I don’t know what Paul or Mary would think of my finished product, but we enjoyed it!!

Happy baking!

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – A Healthy, Yummy Dessert

Angel Food.jpg

Cooking Light has great recipes for Angel Food Cakes.  These cakes have no fat, making them a healthier dessert than most.  The nice thing about baking your own Angel Food cake is:

  1. They taste better
  2. You can add flavorings
  3. They cost pennies
  4. You can make it ahead of time and freeze it

This recipe  – Cafe’ au Lait Angel food has a coffee flavor and we love that!  Cafe’ au Lait means coffee with milk.  This recipe also has a custard-like sauce to serve with it,which gives the coffee flavor it’s “milk addition.  It takes regular old Angel Food to the next level, and certainly makes it company worthy!  Here’s the recipe:

Cafe’ au Lait Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour – Don’t have any?  Try this – Take one level cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons, and then add two tablespoons of cornstarch back in. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it in your cake batter.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso granules or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sauce:
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur) –  I didn’t use this or substitute
  • Remaining ingredient:
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk, and set aside. Combine espresso and hot water, stirring until espresso dissolves; set aside.

  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

  4. Beat in espresso mixture and vanilla extract. Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg white mixture; fold in. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

  5. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate.

    I had to work just  a little to loosen my cake from the pan, but it did come out whole after a few little “tugs” with my metal spatula.

    I saw that eggs are on sale at Kroger this week for .79, so it’s a good time to make one of these cakes!  I’m going to attempt to upload a video  this Wednesday of how to make this cake.  You can see just how simple it really is!  It’s really fun to venture out a little a make something a little challenging.  I hope you’ll give this a try!  Plus it’s just fun to say – Cafe’ au Lait!

    Happy baking!

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    Friday Favorites- Countdown To Christmas

    In this week before Christmas, I was blessed to do some things that I LOVE.  Let’s start with the pictures in the left column below:

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    1.  My husband and I got to go to Abington, VA to the Barter Theatre to see A Christmas Carol.  Before the play, we went to a favorite restaurant, Rain.  We shared a bowl of their fabulous Butternut Squash Soup, and their Grilled Chicken Sandwich.  Outstanding.
    2. We picked up our tickets and made our way to the play. Abington is a charming town!
    3. This fountain is across the street from the theatre.  What a fun date this was!  My husband, who isn’t a book or movie fan, really wasn’t sure he’d ever read or seen the story we were about to see, so he saw it all through new eyes.  One of the young actors is a member of our church, so it was especially fun to see him on stage!  He did a wonderful job!
    4. Having a daughter who lives in my town and goes to my church is a blessing!  Sometimes our lives are so busy that we don’t get to spend a great deal of time together.  We made a lunch date this week in our little town and caught up on one another’s lives.  She makes me laugh.  She encourages my heart, and she always picks the best desserts for us to share!
      Now the pictures on the right side:
    5.  Liza cuddled up on my lap one morning this week while I was having my Bible study.  That’s a special treat from a normally not-so-cuddly kitty!
    6.  I had a baking day that included making these Cream Cheese Danishes.  The recipe makes four at a time, plenty for us and for sharing.  The dough is soft and sweet and the filling makes them irresistible.  I like to also add a little bit of fruit preserves to the cream cheese filling.  Mmmm, these will be good for breakfast this Christmas weekend!  You could ask my husband who already enjoyed a couple slices when they were warm from the oven.  He washes most all of my baking dishes, so I’m happy to give him a taste of anything I’ve baked!
    7. We went caroling Wednesday night.  It’s a blessing to sing the songs of Christ’s birth and wish the folks at the door a Merry Christmas.  We are singing the Gospel and it doesn’t get any better than that!

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    The last picture above is a weekly event at my house- Bible Club.  What a blessing to pull out my flannel graph (yes, it’s an antiquated teaching tool, but the kids love it!) and remind the children of the reason for Christmas, starting with the fall of man.  They had fun adding the flannel graph pieces as I told the story.  My heart is full as I pour into my young pupils each week the Truth of God’s Word.  They are like sponges, listening, asking questions and responding with tender hearts.  I thank the Lord for this rich privilege!

    Now here we are at the end of the week, just days away from Christmas.  Our whole family will be together, and I’m excited to celebrate with my girls and their husbands! There will be worship together, lots of good food, laughter, more laughter and probably some music!

    I pray that your Christmas will be simple, special, and full of talking about and worshiping the Savior.  He came to die for each of us, and that makes every day worth celebrating!

    John 1:29 Behold the Lamb of God,

    which taketh away the sin of the world.

    Merry Christmas!

    Denise Signature 150 px

    (L)Oven Monday – Hungarian Nut Rolls

    hungarian-nut-rolls

    It’s the week of Christmas, Y’all!  Most of our ovens will probably be producing all kinds of yummy treats this week.  I still have a bit of baking to finish up, but let me show you what I made this weekend!  Years ago I made a cookie similar to the one pictured above. You know how it goes – the recipe gets misplaced and then forgotten.  Recently a sweet neighbor brought us a plate of Christmas goodies, and on the plate was this cookie!  We remembered how delicious they were by her kind deed!

    So, my husband requested these to be added to my Christmas baking list.  They are a little time consuming, but hey, it’s Christmas!  Also, they’re totally worth it!  They’re a cute little cookie full of a flaky dough, nuts, and sugar granules that give that extra special crispy crunch.  Yum!

    picmonkey-collage

     

    Hungarian Nut Rolls

    Ingredients

    For the Pastry:
      • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
      • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
      • ½ cup granulated sugar for rolling
    For the Walnut Filling:
    • ½ pound freshly ground walnuts (finely)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ½ cup of boiled milk
    • 1/8 cup melted butter

    Instructions

    To make the Walnut Filling:
      1. Mix filling in a medium bowl using only ¼ cup of the boiled milk. The mixture should be thick.
      2. If the filling is not spreadable, use the rest of the milk.
      3. Note: You can make the filling ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Just thaw at room temperature when you are ready to use. – I found that I had about half of the filling left over.  It’s in the freezer for another batch!
    For the Pastry Dough:  Taking my own advice, I made the dough one day and assembled and baked the cookies another day.
      1. Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
      2. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until completely incorporated and creamy (3-5 minutes).
      3. Reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add in the flour. I used 5 additions and completely mixed in the flour each time. The dough will be soft but not sticky.
      4. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and flatten each to ¾” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, at least 2 hours.
    Assembling the Walnut Rolls:
    1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Move the oven rack one setting higher than the center.
    2. Take one of the disks of dough from the refrigerator and lightly flour both sides. Spread granulated sugar on your pastry board or work surface. Place the dough on top and roll out pastry to 1/16” thick or as thin as possible. Thinner is better. If you roll them too thick, the bottom will burn before the inside has a chance to fully cook and puff up. They still taste good but they taste so much better when properly rolled. I halved the disk, and rolled it into a 6″ square, then divided it into 9 2″ squares (see photo above).
    3. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, trim the dough into a square and then cut the square into 16 smaller squares. My dough never rolled out into a perfect circle so I would just cut as many 1 1/2 “ squares a possible, saving the scraps for later.
    4. Place a dollop of filling in one corner of each square. I used ½ teaspoon.
    5. Starting in the corner with the filling, roll the dough around the filling from corner to corner, gently pressing down as you roll. Grab the roll on both sides and pinch as you bend the roll to create a crescent shape. Gently move it to a parchment covered baking sheet, placing the Rolls no closer than 1” apart.
    6. Repeat with all remaining squares.
    7. Sprinkle the middles of the Rolls with just a touch of granulated sugar.
    8. Bake 12-14 minutes (I baked mine for 11 minutes) or until the bottom edges are a golden and you can smell them. They should puff up slightly in the middle. Let cool slightly on the pan on a wire rack and then move them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.

    nut-rolls

    These are so delicious!  I’m so happy to have discovered the recipe for these little gems!

    What have you baked (or getting ready to bake) in your oven this week?

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    Easy Entertaining Menu

    coffee-pie-1

    Entertaining at any season can be overwhelming, but especially so at Christmas, right?  I came up with an entertaining menu that can be made completely ahead of time and simply warmed up when ready to serve.  This is a Mexican Food feast that is delicious and stress-free!  Talk about simplifying things – this will do just that when you invite folks over!

    Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Salsa

    Spanish Rice

    Refried Beans

    Coffee Pie

    spiced-pork

    Spiced Pork Tenderloin Tacos

    • 1 pork tenderloin (about 4 pounds)
    • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive

    Preheat the oven to 375°. Set the tenderloin on a large rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix the smoked paprika with the cumin, garlic powder, oregano and cinnamon. Rub the pork with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the pork. Roast the tenderloin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the centers registers 145°. Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred the tenderloin for tacos.

    Salsa Ingredients

    • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    • 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo
    • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground pepper
    • Warm tortillas, for serving

    For Salsa:

    In a medium bowl, mix the onion with the red wine vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the tomato, avocado, chipotle, oregano and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss gently. Fill warm tortillas with the sliced pork, top with the salsa and serve.

    spanishrice

    The Spanish Rice is every bit as easy as a boxed brand but even tastier!  You may already have every ingredient in your pantry for this recipe!

    Spanish Rice

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
    2. Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

    refried-beans

    Refried beans are not the most beautiful dish to photograph, but when they’re made from scratch, they are a beautiful thing! This recipe is so delicious.  Here’s how I made mine using the crock pot to simplify the recipe:

    Refried Beans
    (I halved the recipe and it made plenty for 6-8)

    6 cups dried pinto beans
    4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch slices (or you can use salt pork, ham hock or diced ham instead)
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
    2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more if needed
    1/2 stick butter
    1 onion, diced
    2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
    Sliced jarred jalapenos

    Put beans in a pot of water and let sit overnight.  In the morning, cook beans at medium-high temp until boiling.  Add 2 tsp baking soda.  Cook for 2 minutes. (This releases the gases in the beans and will keep tummies from feeling like they’ve eaten beans!)  Drain off water, rinse and place beans and bacon in a crock pot with enough water to cover.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.  Simmer butter and cook onion until tender.  Add the beans and liquid into a cast iron skillet, along with seasonings.  Cook until the sauce thickens and beans are tender.  Mash with potato masher until some beans still remain whole.  Serve with Cheddar cheese and Jalapenos.

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    Coffee Pie

    1 Cup Water
    1 tlb instant coffee granules
    30 Large marshmallows
    1/2 Cup walnuts
    1 cup Whipping Cream
    Cool Whip
    Chopped Coffee Beans or Mini Chocolate Chips
    Baked pie Shell

    Bake Pie shell.  Let cool.
    In a medium sauce pan, boil water.  Add coffee granules and marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted.  Let cool completely.

    Whip the whipping cream.  Fold into cooled coffee mixture.  Pour into bake pie shell.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

    Cover with Cool Whip and Coffee beans or Chocolate chips.  Serve (with coffee!)

    Take the stress out of entertaining and make a menu like this one that can all be prepared ahead of time!  My guests enjoyed it, and if you invite people that love Mexican food, they’ll be really glad you invited them over!

    Happy entertaining!

    Denise Signature 150 px