Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Chess Squares, Nieman Marcus Bars, Paula Deen and Gooey Butter Cake....The real origin

So, I saw this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought, hmmm.  I need to try this! With my daughter's open heart surgery, starting my final year of school and then a few major work projects, the blog got lost in the shuffle for a bit. 

Last week however, I started on a cooking binge and the first thing on the clip board to try were these chess squares.  I read the blog that posted the recipe and realized they were reminiscent to her of another recipe.  I thought they sounded (and looked) like something I used to have at my grandmas.  So the sleuth in me kicked in, and a hunting I went, trying to find the progression on the variations of  this recipe and ultimately, the origins.

Searching for "Chess Squares" took me to Nieman Marcus Bars, which led me to the Nieman Marcus Website and their Butter Cake.

I then found the Paula Deen "Gooey Butter Cake recipe" - which is no different than all the other recipes for Chess Squares out there, but she called it…

Sweet Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken

Summers, we grill.  Spring we grill and fall we grill.  My goal - figure out a way to endure the winter and continue to grill.  I grill more now that I live slightly out into the country where the local natural gas companies line stops short of my house by 50 feet. UGH.  So, I grill. 

We had been up at the hospital with my daughter for the past two weeks and I wasnt in the mood to prepare anything extensive, so i pulled  out the iPad and searched through my saved Pinterest recipes.  Scoured the fridge and we came up with the following:


Grilled Chicken marinated in Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette with Zucchini and Mushroom Cheesy Rice and a side of grilled cabbage

All of these recipes were inspired by Pinterest finds, but they also reminded me of favorites from home and friends.  Of course,  We adapted them and made them our own, as usual.  I think that's what we all sort of do, especially in a pinch.  I will link you the original inspiration for the dish as well - to pay homage to t…

Strawberry Freezer Jam

I have to say that the best success I have had with Strawberry Freezer Jam was this year!

I got my hands on a boatload of berries this year and brought them home, with the absolute intention of making enough
freezer jam to last us for a few years.  I ran out to get the pectin and containers and the store only had 1 box of the dry pectin but had 5 boxes of the liquid.  I had never used the liquid before, but thought, oh, what the heck.  Lets try it.
I am in love.  It was easier and the freezer jam had a softer and more jam-like consistency as it gelled. 

I took some out of the freezer today and opened it up for the first time and it was just like my mother's!  All the years before,  I could never get it to be the consistency that hers was.   I just love it.  Now, please note - its the full sugar recipe.   I have tried this year, all variations and this is for me, the better of the bunch!  So I am sharing... Enjoy!!!

This recipe is for 1 puch of liquid fruit pectin:

2 C of full…

Sour Cream Cucumber Salad

My sister Charlene emailed the other day.  She wanted my mom's Sour Cream Cucumber Salad recipe.   Its not the first time someone has been asking for that salad lately.  Almost all the kids are home right now and everyone has put in their order for the good stuff!  So, nature is hinting that its a must on the menu tonight or tomorrow (along with a special strawberry cake for a special girl - which we will post as well).

Its interesting to me that at times of stress or anxiousness, we long for the things that bring us a sense of home and family - peace and comfort.  I mean it's a duh - that's why they call it comfort food.  It's security, familiarity, all of that.  They also make us feel special.  When someone goes out of their way to make us something that is comforting a a taste of home, it brings us a feeling of being important.    I know that's what cooking with my mother Arlene brought to me.  The kitchen was a place where I could set aside the differences and…

S'Mores Bars

So again, I love Pinterest!  I get the greatest ideas and especially reminders of foods eaten and enjoyed throughout my formative (and non-formative ha ha) years.  I mean really - its rare these days to find someone who has not had S'Mores!   Call me crazy - but in the middle of summer a real S'More is the best.  Fire pit in the backyard or over a camp fire while camping with family, friends, scout troop, church group, whomever.  Charcoal fire crisped marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers.  Upscale all you want - nothing beats the original.

HOWEVER, I was COMPLETELY intrigued by the recipe being passed around Pinterest for a S'Mores bar.  Again, call me crazy - but baking a S'Mores bar in the middle of the summer and on one of the hottest days - crazy, but we had to try it.  I had a houseful of upper teens to mid-20 somethings and of course - my rationalizing that heating up the house wasn't a smart idea.  They suggested then that we make t…

Zesty Italian Grilled Chicken Thighs

My mother was a very inventive and resourceful cook.  With 7+ kids and usually a few dinner guests to boot, she had to be pretty ingenious and creative.  She too, loved a good cookout and last night, I made one of her more "regular" recipes.   She would buy Zesty Italian Dressing by the caseful.  Not cause she loved Italian dressing, in fact, I cant even remember having a salad ever in our house with Italian Dressing.  No, this was her marinade.   Now remember, this was back a few years ago....before any of the dressing companies


got clever with their marketing their product as anything but what it was!  She would buy a family pack of chicken thighs, then throw them into several Ziploc bags (or before she used those, she would put the thighs into a large baking pan and pour the dressing over) and marinate for most the day.   There was nothing else you would need to do to it.  Nothing.

So in tribute to Arlene and summer grilling - Here is the very simple, very affordable an…

Burgers and Grilled Asparagus

Summer, grilling and all that is fine.   I think we spend 80% of our time cooking on the grill in the summer, for several reasons.  First, its just so nice to grill and its so easy and after a long day at work, with the kids, etc., etc., all you want to do is easy.  Makes for a great cleanup too, no pots or pans.  But the main reason I have been grilling more this year, than every before is I have no GAS STOVE!  Yes, I live in a part of a community that has NO GAS LINE - well it does, but they wanted 10k to bring the gas line to my house.  I said no.  It was a sad day.  So, I/we jumped at the chance to have a pretty decent gas grill this year and I promised myself that within 3 years, I would have an AWESOME gas grill.  Cheaper than bringing the gas line to the house, but satisfies the need to cook over a flame!  Zippideedodah!

Today's recipes - Grilled burgers, a tad different than you are used to, but oh so good.  Everybody will love helping out to make their own, as well.   And…

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Salad

My mother, for many years, took in ESL students from all over the world.  They would come to the US from the respective countries and stay about 6 months or so, attending an English Second Language school in my home town.  They would be housed with English-speaking families, so that they could be immersed in the language with the ultimate goal of passing their TOEFL exam.  They would either then return to their home country or go on to school in the US.   While the students were in our home (most of the students, by the way, were male), my mother would require them to cook at least one meal for the family and a dish that was native to their home.  She usually asked for them to make the favorite meal that their mother’s would cook for them.  One year, we had a student from Thailand.  He was quite the character and worked for a local Thai restaurant.  We became fast friends.  He was a great cook and many evening would bring home food from the restaurant.  We would sit up for several hou…

Stuffed Cube Steak

The other day, I had a hankering for cube steak, but did not want Swiss Steak or
Chicken Fried Steak - my usual go to's.  I wanted to do something else with cube steak
and remembered I had bookmarked a recipe from Pinterest that involved cube steak, bacon
and goat cheese.  I tried it, we liked it, and it is now in the regular dinner rotation.
I also discovered that this recipe can be done on the grill and is quite tasty either
broiled or grilled.  You dont need a potato or rice dish with it.  A really nice salad
and some crusty bread with some homemade lemonade really makes this a great summer meal.
It is also very quick.  Just what we all want out of our summer dishes!


Stuffed Cube Steak

Serves 4

4 Cube steaks
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz cream cheese (or goat cheese) softened - very soft.
2 T coconut oil
1 small sweet onion (Vidalia or Maui) finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 c baby spinach - stems removed and coarsely chopped
6-8 slices sun dried tomatoes, julienned
6-…

Creamy Chicken Rollups

Creamy Chicken Rollups
1 can of Pillsbury Big & Buttery Crescent Rolls
SAUCE 1 (10-3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 c grated Velveeta Con Queso Cheese
1/2 c heavy cream
FILLING6 oz softened cream cheese
4 T softened butter
1 t garlic salt
1/2 c fine chopped green onions
1 can chopped jalapenos
2 larged cooked chicken breasts (I cook them during the day in the crockpot, while at work with some salt, pepper and onion)
1 c grated Velveeta Con Queso Cheese
1/2 t Lawry's Seasoning Salt
1/2 t fresh cracked pepper
4 T mayonnaise 2 C grated pepper jack cheese
Mix chicken soup, 1 c Velveeta Con Queso cheese and heavy cream in a small bowl.  
Pour the mix into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.  
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, garlic salt, onions, jalapenos, chicken,
Con Queso cheese, seasoning salt, pepper and mayonnaise.  Mix completely until well-combined.
Open crescent roll package and pull apart the individual crescent rolls.  Roll them out to make a perfect triangle…

Pineapple Mango Salsa

I have always wanted to try a salsa like this.   Its the combination of sweet fruit with the spark of an onion and cilantro, add the lime juice and it just sounded yummy.  

The hubby grilled some pork chops and I made the salsa as a topping of sorts.  I loved it.  He liked them separate and even had some alternative ideas to use the salsa with - with some kind of chip or cracker.  Then I thought, those butter crackers, spread with cream cheese and topped with the salsa - would make an excellent appetizer.  My mouth is already watering.   Yummy. 
Here is my version:
2 c diced fresh pineapple. 2 mangos, diced 1 red bell pepper, diced fine 3 scallions, diced 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped 2 limes, juiced pinch of kosher salt

Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so, to allow flavors to blend.  (Now, last night, I did use this within 30 minutes and it was still really good). 

Serve with tortilla chips, on crackers spread with cream chee…
Jalapeno Poppers Grilled Cheese

Inspired by:  http://bsinthekitchen.com/jalapeno-popper-grilled-cheese-sandwich/

Okay - I saw this recipe on Pinterest.  (Once again, thank you Pinterest!  Its such a great idea place.) And of course, I couldnt leave it alone.  I had to adapt it and make it my own, to a degree.  I had our date night group in mind from last year and thought what a wonderful Date Night,  late night dinner/snack this would make. 



So here is my version.
6-8 medium sized jalapenos.
2 T olive oil 4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing
2 T Chives, chopped
6 slices of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 Package of real bacon peices. 4 slices of Monteray Jack Cheese (not the processed kind, but the good deli slices. 
 You can pick your favorite cheese to shred on top too, if you wish.  4-6 pieces of bakery sour dough bread (large long, slices)
Butter, softened
First - Place the jalapenos on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Add a lit…

Mediterranean Cabbage Rolls with Lemon Sauce

So the official name is Lahanodolmades Avgolemono (Cabbage rolls with egg Lemon Sauce).  I love it.  My hubbie liked the cabbage rolls, but is still not converted to the lemon sauce yet. 
Its easy, great with the kids help (they love to stuff and roll cabbage leaves) and it cooks on top of the stove and not in the oven, so nice for the spring, summer months as well.  The lemon sauce makes it lighter for this time of year too. 
Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Lemon-Egg Sauce (Lahanodolmades Avgolemono)
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage (seasoned ground lamb sausage is good too)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c risotto rice (uncooked)
2 T dried dill or 3 T fresh dill, chopped
1-1/2 t fresh ground sea salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper 1 T fresh dill
1 med onion, chopped fine
1 T olive oil
1 T water
100 g pine nut, coarsely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes, shredded
3 T fresh chopped Italian parsley 3/4 c olive oil
1 onion sliced, thin
3 med carrots, sliced lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick
2 …

Asparagus Pasta Salad

It's spring and asparagus abounds.  I love asparagus.  I have memories of stopping at the road side with my mother and picking wild asparagus.  She had some in the garden, but that never seemed to be enough.  All the asparagus I ever ate as a kid and young adult came from the wild or from her garden.  It wasn't until I was on my own that I actually bought asparagus in the store.  I noticed the difference right away. 
So it's been my desire to scatter the asparagus seeds along the back fence of our new property.  I know, I will share it with the deer, the bunnies and the occasional cattle that roam; but there will be enough for us all, I am sure.
We had a carry-in lunch at work yesterday and one of the nurses' brought in an asparagus pasta salad, which I had never had before.  It was wonderful.  Of course, that got the ideas flowing and away we went with our own version.
Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad with Lemon and Crumbled Goat Cheese
1 lb Penne Pasta 2 T Olive Oil 2…

Chocolate Chip Reeses or Rollos Brownie thingys?

I have no idea what to call these, but oh my goodness are they easy and good.  This recipe comes to you via Pinterest.  I tried to trace it all the way back to its originator, but failed.  It just kept going.   So, I do not claim these as mine - although I have tweaked them and will try something new this weekend.  
As the picture indicates, these were done with premade cookie dough, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and box brownie mix.  Thats the "easy" no frill recipe.   Here it is:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray the insides of a square all edges brownie pan with Pam spray.   Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of premade cookie dough and press into the bottom of each square.  Top the cookie dough with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup placed upside down.  Then fill up the well with your favorite prepared brownie mix up to 3/4 full.   Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes.  Remove and cool slightly.
Here are some tips:  
You can use cupcake/muffin tins (either small or large) in r…

Texas Carrot Cake

What makes it a Texas Carrot Cake versus just a Carrot Cake?  I have no idea, so if anyone knows the answer to that story, let me know!  Must be Texans just make good cake, cause this is my favorite carrot cake and my Texas Sheet Cake is my favorite chocolate cake.  No matter, this one is for the middle daughter.  Its her favorite cake in the whole world.   Where did I get it?  From a Texan of course.  It was a copy of a recipe that was out of one of those local church cookbooks from some small town somewhere in Texas.  I loved this woman.  She was a riot and a great cook!   This was the gift she gave me before she moved back to Texas, where else?  Its a little different and do not be afraid of the German chocolate.   It makes a difference!
Texas Carrot Cake, vis Missouri
3 c cake flour, sifted 2 c bakers sugar (or regular sugar) 1 oz (or 1 square) of German sweet chocolate, grated 2 t ground cinnamon 1-1/2 t salt 1-1/2 t baking soda 1 t baking powder 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, dr…

Scotch Eggs with Mustard Dippling Sauce

My daughter got married last month.  It was beautiful.  Scottish wedding with Thistle and English Roses, groom and groomesmen in kilts and foods from the British Isles.  One of her requests was Scotch Eggs.  Now, the scotch eggs never did make it to the reception food table.  They ended up on the Sunday morning after-the-wedding brunch table, but they were there.   My kids have been dining on Scotch Eggs for as long as they have been my kids.  As a single mom, they were great school day breakfast food.  I dont even remember when I started making them.  Long before I had kids.  I remember eating them as a wee totter at my Great Aunt's house when I was young. 
Here's a little history about those tasty, protein packed breakfast yummies.  They have been claimed to have been invented by Fortnum and Mason department store of London in 1738, as a snack food for coach travelers exciting the city.  There is a more ancient Moghul version of the egg called nargisi kofta.  They were small…