Sweet & Salty Treat

pretzels a

With the holidays around the corner, you will probably need a little treat.  If you want to make something that’s super fast and super delicious, I have the perfect suggestion.  I’m not sure you could even call this a “recipe” because it requires no baking or even baking skills!  Melt some chocolate, caramel and pour over pretzels.  That’s pretty much what you do!  Here are the ingredients and the instructions:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a chocolate bar I had on hand)
  • 8 ounces mini pretzel twists , half of a regular 16-ounce bag
  • 11 ounce bag Kraft Caramel Bits
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

pretzels

Instructions
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth.

  3. Spread the chocolate evenly over the parchment. Immediately add the pretzel twists over the top (it’s fine if they overlap!) and gently press them into the chocolate.

  4. Add caramel bits to a microwave safe bowl with 2 tablespoons water and melt according to package instructions (on high for 2 minutes). Stir well and drizzle the melted caramel over the top of all of the pretzels.
  5. Melt remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and drizzle over the caramel. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Refrigerate until hardened.
  7. Cut into pieces, I found it best to serve them in cupcake liners for individual servings.  It looks better than a pile would!

pretzels 2a

These are delicious and so easy.  What event is coming up that you could take these to?!  I took them to the Pinterest Party at our church this past weekend and came home with empty platters!
With love from my country kitchen,
Denise Signature 150 px

Best-Ever German Chocolate Cupcakes

Last week I shared with you about the Fall Bridal shower I had the joy of hosting.  However, I left you hanging about the most important component of the day – DESSERT! I had asked the bride-to-be what her favorite cake was and learned that she loves German Chocolate.  I set out looking for what looked like the best Cupcake recipe.

German Chocolate Cupcakes a.jpg

I found it via Pinterest – it is Ina Garten’s recipe – always a winner in my book!  These were the most moist little cakes – even before the decadent icing was added!  The buttermilk and sour cream do the trick!  Even if you don’t love German chocolate icing, you need this chocolate cake recipe!  But if you’re a German Cake lover, too, I bet you’ll love them as much as we did!!

 

The recipe says it Makes 14 cupcakes – I got more like 21!

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 14 paper liners.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

3. Divide the batter between the cupcake pans (I use one rounded 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop per cupcake). Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE FROSTING
For 14 cupcakes

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the milk, sugar, egg yolks, almond extract, vanilla extract, and salt with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens a little and coats the back of the spoon. Don’t allow it to boil! If the mixture gets lumpy, turn off the heat and beat it vigorously with a whisk. **My personal note on this would be to cook it a little longer than five minutes, or at least be sure you can refrigerate it overnight so it has time to get nice and thick!  My icing did drip a little, but it was spreadable the next morning and delicious!

2. Off the heat, add the coconut, almonds, and pecans and allow to cool about 1 hour. Frost the cupcakes with a dinner knife or metal spatula

Whatever your need for cake is in the near future, these little chocolate cupcakes will make your guests smile!  I plan on making these again this week for a whole different celebration and a new icing!  I’ll share in an upcoming post!

Happy baking!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Catfish Sandwich and Easy Dessert

The meal I’m sharing today reminds me of childhood, only we’re going to take something simple and make it a little more special!

I love fish, but I especially love a fish sandwich!  I recently tried a Cooking Light recipe for…

Catfish Sandwich a

It was as amazing as it sounds! I used frozen catfish filets and we grilled them.  That alone added a great flavor to the fish, and of course it cooked up in no time.  This peanut sauce takes it up a whole new notch, adding great flavors to the sandwich!

Also, I don’t often make dessert for us on a weeknight, but for this meal, I wanted a little something sweet afterwards.  So, I did a flashback dessert, making a pudding parfait.  Again, it was bumped up a whole notch by doing two things:

  1. I used the new natural flavored Jell-O Pudding mix.  Have you tried them?  The Vanilla and chocolate have both been really, really good, and I’m not usually a fan of the instant varieties!
    Chocolate
  2. I made fresh whipping cream instead of Cool Whip!  Yum.  The end.

Let’s get on with the recipes!

Catfish Po’boy with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

 

Ingredients

  • Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Catfish:
  • 1/4 cup Thai chile sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 (6-ounce) farm-raised catfish fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 4 (2 1/2-ounce) hoagie rolls, split and lightly toasted
  • 2 cups shredded napa (Chinese) cabbage

To prepare sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Add hoisin sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, and sugar; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside.

Prepare grill or broiler.

To prepare catfish, combine chile sauce and garlic in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add catfish; seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Remove fish from marinade; discard marinade. Place fish on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Cook 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Spread 1 tablespoon sauce over bottom half of each hoagie roll; top each serving with 1/2 cup cabbage, 1 catfish fillet, and top half of roll. Serve immediately.

Catfish Sandwich

Sometimes we overthink dessert. Why not do a simple dish like pudding and make it a little more special with fresh whipping cream and a berry!

Pudding Parfait

Mix up a package of Jell-O pudding. Let set until firm (about 5 minutes). Then you can either layer the pudding and the whipping cream, or you can line the dish with the cream and put the pudding over the top…Pudding in a Cloud!

I add a little powdered sugar to the whipping cream to sweeten it.

Top with a strawberry!

pudding 1

A fish sandwich and Pudding…it doesn’t get any more reminiscent or delicious than that!

Do you remember this pudding dessert as a kid?  

With love from my country kitchen,

No-Churn Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

ice cream b

On this (L)Oven Monday, I’m sharing a recipe that has NOTHING to do with the oven!  This is all about cold, creamy homemade ice cream!  I’m thinking that homemade ice cream is dying.  That makes me sad.  Very sad!  Sure, store-bought is cheap, easy and good, but there’s something really special about making up your own flavors at home!!  You don’t have an ice cream freezer?  Then this recipe is especially for you!

No ice cream could be easier!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it because it just seemed too good to be true.  Now mind you, this doesn’t take the place of home-churned ice cream, but it is a great second!  The ingredients are few and the method is simple!  Check out this easy recipe!!

No-Churn Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS
2 cup Heavy Cream
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
Red or Pink Food Coloring (if desired)
1 cup Miniature Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Peppermint Extract

DIRECTIONS
Whip heavy cream and peppermint extract until stiff peaks form.
Beat in condensed milk.
Add food color and beat until color is uniform.
Fold in chocolate chips (reserve a few to sprinkle on top).
Spread mixture in loaf pan.
Distribute remaining chocolate chips on top.
Place in freezer for at least 5 hours.

ice cream collage.jpg
It’s as easy as these these pictures show!

This would be great served with these brownies or between two cookies or in a dish all by itself!  This is one of those great do-ahead desserts.  Mix it up, pop it into the freezer the night before you’re having company, and boom!  Homemade dessert is served!

ice cream c

Who owns a freezer and makes homemade ice cream?  
Who’s going to try this simple recipe?

8e63c63ac0bc189bf1c68b03c74dbb5f (1)

 

Individual Berry Cobblers & What We Really Eat

berry cobbler.jpg

Happy Monday!  First let me start with sharing a new recipe that I made as a special treat for my cobbler-loving husband!  If you need a treat for Fourth of July these would be perfect.  You can make one, or you can multiply the recipe to make as many as you need.  These are Berry Cobblers,  served in individual ramekins, making them a perfect size and also easy to serve!

I found the recipe here on this site. They were so easy to pull together, and with no sugar added to the fruit, I think they’re a really healthy little dessert, well, maybe the ice cream added some fat and calories, but you can’t eat cobbler without ice cream!

Individual Berry Cobblers
Ingredients
  • NOTE: These directions are per each serving so multiply it by how many servings you plan to make.
  • ½ cup berries or fruit of choice
  • 2 tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, slightly packed
  • 1½ tbsp softened butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • a couple drops of vanilla

Instructions –
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place berries/fruit In a ramekin or other small baking dish
In a separate bowl, Mix all other ingredients….oatmeal, flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Use your hand or a fork to make sure all ingredients are incorporated well.
Sprinkle oatmeal mixture evenly over berries/fruit.
Place ramekin on a baking dish (just in case it boils over a little bit) and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until topping is beginning to brown.

berry cobbler 2.jpg

Do you ever look at people’s You Tube videos of their food and wonder if they really eat? I mean, sometimes it’s more about the tableware and presentation than the food.  To me, the most important part of mealtime is the food!  We really enjoy our food over here and I want it to be delicious and pretty – not just pretty!

So, I’m going to close today by giving you a little look at my plates from this past week so you can see what we really ate.
Here’s a real look at our meals:

wp-1498945762059
Grilled Marinated Steaks, Twice Baked Potatoes, Berry Green Salad
0622171822
Perfect Pork Tostadas, Spanish Rice, Fresh Fruit
0526171712
Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce, Corn on the cob, Oven Garlic Fries
0626171753
Chicken Fajitas, Refried Beans, Lime tortilla chips, Cantaloupe
0625171328
Turkey Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus and Berry Green Salad

I don’t just take pictures of pretty food – we eat real meals every day at home.  Presentation is part of that, but also good food, prepared and cooked at home to nourish body and soul! Also the time at the table, sitting and talking as we eat, sip on glasses of tea, or nibble on sweet treats like this berry cobbler!  Meal time is a huge part of family time.  Let’s make dinner delicious, nourishing, pretty and memorable!

What have you made this week that your family loved?

From my country kitchen,

8e63c63ac0bc189bf1c68b03c74dbb5f (1)

 

 

(L)Oven Monday – Strawberry Shortcakes & Menu Inspiration

recipes 1

Happy Monday, friends!  I had a great time Friday night sitting out on my back porch with a stack of food magazines and iced coffee.  Most of the periodicals had been given to me by others who had looked through them, then passed them along.  How sweet!  Why do I flip through food magazines?  Or why do I sit with one of my cookbooks and put page markers in the pages? Not just to “Oooo” or “Ahhh” over the pictures (though I do that!). I do it for three reasons:

  1. I get tired of eating the same things
  2. I like to try stirring new things up in my kitchen!
  3. I like to surprise my husband with special recipes I’ve made for him!

I sat there for about a half an hour and ripped out recipes I want to try.

recipes 2

How about you = are you in a menu rut?  Spaghetti, frozen pizza, chicken tenders from the freezer section, steamed veggies in a bag…it just gets old.  I would challenge you to pull out either the magazines that have been delivered to your mailbox or one of your favorite cookbooks.  You can even go to the library and check out a cookbook from there to get some fresh ideas.  The point is, flip through and find recipes of menu items that you maybe already have most of the ingredients for.  If you know you purchased chicken breasts and they’re in the freezer waiting to be cooked, look for a recipe for chicken!  You might only try one new recipe this week, but add something to change up your normal routine.

Here are some of the recipes I found:

  • A supper Entree’ – Chicken breasts with Strawberry Salsa and Feta cheese – I have all the ingredients!
  • A fish recipe – Salt and Vinegar Baked Fish – You use the Salt and Vinegar chips as the coating!  That’s brilliant! Similar to this
  • A weekend breakfast – Sausage and Egg Flatbreads – I’m going to make my own .
  • flatbreads for this.
  • A dessert – Strawberry Icebox Cake – This will be great for company this summer! Similar to this one.

I won’t make all these this week, but I will try at least one!  It’s amazing how much money and time is saved when you make a menu.  It is so helpful to me to know what’s for supper, so I can plan and work ahead.

So, if you’re not in the habit of making a menu, plan at least few nights for starters.  If you’ve been making a menu, but you’re in a rut, go find some new, yummy sounding recipes to add!

Now let me share a recipe that I love.  This is a quick and delicious Strawberry Shortcake, made a little lighter.  These sweet biscuits are so much better than the store bought sponge cakes!  The addition of the orange juice and vanilla to the fresh berries makes it SO good!

strawberrry shortcake1

Lite Strawberry Shortcakes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups halved strawberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chilled stick margarine or butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
  • Whole strawberries (optional)
    1. Combine 1 cup strawberry halves, 1/3 cup sugar, orange juice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 2 1/2 cups strawberry halves. Cover and chill.

    2. Preheat oven to 425°.

      Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist (dough will be sticky).

    3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Pat dough into a 6 x 4-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 6 squares. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

      Split shortcakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife; place each bottom half on a dessert plate. Spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each bottom half. Top with shortcake tops; spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each top. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping; garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.

      strawberry shortcake 2
      This dessert is as delicious as it is pretty!  

I hope you’ll add this to your menu and also find some other great recipes to freshen up mealtime at your house this week!

Refresh your menu!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

A Spring Tea Menu

Noodle Salad

Happy Monday, friends!  I trust your weekend was fabulous!  I had a weekend of watching God at work! I can’t wait to tell you about it!  Thanks to those of you who prayed for me!  I’m so grateful!!

I promised I would share the recipes from the gathering here a week ago, so let’s start with one of the savory dishes!  When I was making my menu for my Spring Ladies’ Tea I knew I wanted some kind of salad that was refreshing, pretty and satisfying.  Then I saw Pioneer woman make an Asian Noodle salad on her show and knew I’d found what I needed!  The original recipe calls for spaghetti noodles, but I wanted to keep the menu to need a “fork only,” so I changed it to pasta shells and I was well satisfied.  This is so colorful, and it made a ton!  The leftovers were really good, too!  You could adjust the vegetables to your family’s liking, of course!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
Salad:
8 ounces thin spaghetti
One 8-ounce bag julienne/fine-cut carrots (about 1 1/2 cups)
One 6-ounce bag baby sweet peppers, seeded and sliced thinly into rings (about 1 cup)
One 4-ounce bag bean sprouts (about 1 cup)
3 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced
3 scallions, sliced
Up to 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 head or more napa cabbage, sliced
1/2 head or more purple cabbage, sliced
1/2 bunch kale, leaves torn off the stalks and shredded
2 cups peanuts, chopped
Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped

P.S. I added a bottled Peanut Sauce to the salad for a little heat and we loved it!

For the salad: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Drain, rinse and let cool.
Mix together the cooked spaghetti, carrots, peppers, bean sprouts, cucumbers, scallions, cilantro, napa cabbage, purple cabbage and kale. Add the peanuts and toss together.
For the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, sesame oil and garlic in a medium bowl.
Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together with tongs or your hands. If the salad seems a little dry, just mix up a little more of the wet ingredients of the dressing and throw it in. It’s a very organic process.
Transfer to a large platter and serve.

One of the desserts I served that seemed to be a favorite was Key Lime Tarts.  I wish I could say they were so complicated and I labored hours over them, but that is not true at all!  They were the easiest thing I made!  

Key lime tarts 2

I made up my pie crust recipe – 2 Cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 Cup Crisco, ice water and cut out small circles and baked them in a mini tart pan.  (If you need a video tutorial on pie making here’s one I did several years ago) https://youtu.be/d3Wn-4bLdWI

I froze the shells early in the week then on the day of the Tea, I pulled them out and piped into each shell some Key Lime filling I purchased at an Amish Store nearby.  It was sooo flavorful and delicious!  Then, I whipped up fresh cream with a little powdered sugar added, and piped it onto the top of each tart.  I finished by zesting a lime and sprinkling the zest on top!  Yummy!

key lime tarts

I failed to get a good picture of tea Tea punch I made, but it was refreshing and simple, so I need to share it with you!  The tea was in the punch bowl below!0416161318.jpg

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

3 family-size tea bags
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 (33.8-oz.) bottle peach nectar
1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
1 (1-liter) bottle club soda, chilled
Garnish: fresh peach wedges
Preparation
 Hands-on: 10 Minutes
Total: 9 Hours, 5 Minutes
1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add tea bags and mint leaves. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.

2. Discard tea bags and mint. Pour into a 1-gal. container; add peach nectar, lemonade concentrate, and Simple Sugar Syrup. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
3. Pour chilled tea mixture into a punch bowl or pitcher. Stir in ginger ale and club soda just before serving. Garnish, if desired.

My menu also included Chicken Salad, Crackers, Cheese Straws, Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Honey Lemon Drop Cookies (here is my outcome of that recipe). 

Oh, I made sugar cookies shaped into tea cups…and promptly left them in the freezer!  Do you ever do that?!  

With love from my country kitchen,