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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fusilli with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper ala ~DKBB~

I saw this on Giada at Home and just had to try it; I love black pepper!

Kosher salt
1 lb. fusilli pasta (or any kind of corkscrew-type pasta)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups baby spinach leaves (5 oz.)
Freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (6 oz.)*
1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 oz.), at room temperature
* If you can't get this in the backwater you live in, other Italian cheeses will do in a pinch.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm to the bite (about 8 to 10 minutes). Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook until lightly browned. Remove the crushed garlic and discard. Add the spinach, 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, and 2 tsp. minced garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted.
  • Remove skillet from heat, add pasta. Add Pecorino Romano cheese and 2 tsp. each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss all until well coated.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the mascarpone cheese and the 3/4 cup reserved pasta water until smooth. Pour over the pasta and toss until well coated. Season with Kosher salt.
  • Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and serve.
If you like bold flavors, you'll likely enjoy this, little ones!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lemon-filled Cream Puffs

My Mom used to make these as a special dessert treat for us when I was a kid. I found the recipe in one of her old cookbooks and gave it a whirl...and they are just as wonderful as I remember!
Cream Puff Shells ala ~DKBB~
(from High Altitude Recipes, ©1951)
1 cup water
½ cup shortening
1 cup flour
4 eggs
·         Place water and shortening in pan and bring to a rapid boil.
·         Add flour all at one time; stir and beat vigorously, while still over heat, until mixture forms ball which leaves sides of pan.
·         Remove from heat; cool slightly.
·         Add unbeaten eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition until mixture is smooth.
·         Drop in portions about the size of a half-dollar on oiled baking sheet, allowing space for expansion between each portion. Make portions bigger to get bigger, but fewer, shells.
·         Bake at 450̊ F (hot oven) for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350̊ or 325̊ F and continue baking about 20 minutes longer. Puffs must be well-baked or they will fall after they are taken from the oven (it is well to remove 1 puff from the oven as a test).
·         Allow to cool.
·         Cut in horizontal crease toward top of puff; fill with desired filling and replace top; sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with your choice of Chocolate Icing (2 recipes below).
Makes 2 doz. small or 1 doz. large. Fill shells with lemon pudding (or anything else your heart desires).

Never Fail Chocolate Icing ala ~DKBB~
2 squares baking chocolate
1⅓  cups condensed milk
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
·         Melt chocolate in double boiler.
·         Add milk and stir over boiling water until mixture thickens.
·         Add water and spread icing on cooled cake. This is a smooth fudge-like texture and not too sweet.

Bittersweet Chocolate Icing ala ~DKBB~*
4 squares baking chocolate
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. hot milk
3 Tbsp. butter ~or~ margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
·         Melt chocolate over hot water in double boiler.
·         Beat eggs; add sugar gradually.
·         Add hot milk and egg/sugar mixture to melted chocolate.
·         Cook in double boiler until thick, stirring constantly.
·         Remove from heat; add 1 Tbsp. butter (or margarine) at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition.
·         Add vanilla.
* This one is my favorite!

So, little ones, think back to simpler times when you were but a wee one, and recall those wondrous treats your Mom made...then go dig out the old recipes and go for it! It's pure joyous memories in each bite!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bacon Cheesburger Rice ala ~DKBB~

This is surprisingly yummy, and rather kid-friendly! And according to my husband, it goes great with smoked amber beer.

1 lb. ground beef
1¾ c. water
2/3 c. barbeque sauce
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
2 tsp. dried minced onion
½ tsp. pepper
2 c. uncooked instant rice
1 c. (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. chopped dill pickles
1 medium onion, diced
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
  • Add water, barbeque sauce (I prefer Pine Ridge Jalapeno Barbeque sauce –, mustard, dried minced onion, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, then stir in the rice; sprinkle with cheese, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid is all absorbed.
  • Sprinkle each serving with pickles, onion, and bacon.
(Original recipe by Joyce Whipps of Des Moines, IA, in Dec 2011/Jan 2012 issue of Taste of Home magazine.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turkey Puffs with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce ala ~DKBB~

(Original recipe by Suzanne Clark of Phoenix, AZ, in the Nov. 2011 Taste of Home magazine.)

The original version of this recipe won Third Place in the November 2011 competition in Taste of Home magazine for recipes using leftover turkey. I made a few modifications, and it will now become a staple for using leftover turkey at my house.

Turkey Puffs
1 cup chicken broth
1 4oz can mushroom pieces, drained
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced fresh tarragon (or ½ tsp. dried tarragon)
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
8 oz. leftover turkey, diced
½ cup spreadable chive and onion cream cheese
1 egg, beaten

·         In a small saucepan, combine broth and mushrooms; bring to a boil; remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms with slotted spoon, reserving broth. Chop mushrooms.
·         In large skillet, sauté onion and celery in butter until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until onions become golden brown. Add tarragon, salt, white pepper, chopped mushrooms, and broth. Bring to a boil; cook over medium heat until liquid is evaporated. Add turkey, continue cooking on low heat.
·         On a floured surface (or a silicone mat), unfold the puff pastry sheets. Roll each sheet into a 12-inch x 10-inch rectangle; cut each sheet into 2 pieces. Transfer to a greased baking sheet (or a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil). Spread cream cheese on each rectangle; top ½ of sheet with turkey mixture.
·         Brush pastry edges with water. Bring long sides up over filling, pinching to seal. Place seam side down. Cut silts in top of each filled pastry. Brush top of each pastry with egg. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

The sauce is made while the puff pastries are baking; the recipe follows:

Cranberry Cabernet Sauce

1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry red wine (or ½ cup additional chicken broth)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup jellied cranberry sauce, mashed
  •   In a small saucepan, combine the broth, wine, and vinegar. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half.
  •  Stir in cranberry sauce until completely melted. Serve as a dipping sauce with pastry puffs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cabbage Burgers (or Kraut Kuga)

My maternal grandmother was German and made a few iconic German dishes in her day. My personal favorite was kraut kuga (or cabbage burgers). She only made them once a year, so they were a real treat. She left this earth without writing down the recipe, so over the years, I've come up with my own. For me, the best ingredients are those I have a hand in, so I try to always plant cabbage in my garden every year, and we cut up our own beef - which we purchase from a rancher we know in central Nebraska - so I know where that beef comes from. If possible, I get onions from my neighbor's garden, since we don't grow any ourselves. I usually make up a huge batch in the fall and freeze a ton...and we enjoy them throughout the winter months.

Kraut Kuga (from ~DKBB~ via Marie M. Amend Cox)
2 36-count packages of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
4 pounds of lean ground beef, browned and drained
Canola oil
3 heads of cabbage (I use purple, cuz that's what we plant), sliced/diced small
2 to 3 onions, diced small
Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Brown and drain ground beef, set aside.
  • Add 2 to 3 Tbsp. oil to large frying pan (with lid), heat a bit, then add the cabbage, cooking until it is tender (no longer crunchy); you may need to fry the cabbage in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
  • In a separate medium frying pan, add 1 Tbsp. oil and fry the onions until they are translucent.
  • In a very large bowl (or multiple bowls , if you don't have anything really big), mix the ground beef, cabbage, and onion together; add salt and pepper to taste (it does take quite a bit of each)
  • Thaw rolls per package instructions (takes 3 to 5 hours) on cookie sheets
Creating the Kraut Kuga:
  • When rolls are thawed and risen, take them one at a time and roll them out flat, add about one good sized ice-cream scoop of the filling to the middle of the flat roll, then pull up the side to cover the filling, pinching the top shut.
  • Place the filled kraut kuga pinched side down on a cookie sheet. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (if you are using air-bake cookie sheets, plan on 18 to 22 minutes).
  • Cool completely before packaging for freezing. To package for freezing, wrap each kraut kuga individually in plastic wrap, then place 9 wrapped kraut kugas in a gallon zip loc freezer bag. Place them flat to freeze.
  • To reheat in microwave: remove the plastic wrap, place the frozen kraut kuga pinched side up on a microwave safe plate, heat at a power of 3 for 2 minutes then turn it over and heat for an additional 45 seconds on high (adjust times and power levels if you are heating up more than one at a time). Be careful as the inside will be very hot!
Granted in real German cooking of this dish, the kuga (or bread) is a homemade sweeter tasting bread, but I have chosen to take the easy route by using the frozen Rhodes dinner rolls...they taste good and are way the heck easier than making my own bread dough. 

So next Oktoberfest, little ones, rolls up your sleeves, pour yourself  big ol' stein o' beer, and make yourself a batch of kraut kuga!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best Spaghetti Squash Recipe Ever

We had an abundance of spaghetti squash in this year's garden. I searched the Internet for some recipes, and stumbled upon this one in several different variations. I tweaked it a little to suit my own tastes, and the result is awesome! My husband, who does not like spaghetti squash, told me that "Now I *love* spaghetti squash, as long as you always make it like this!"
1 spaghetti squash
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
½ cup cream
1½ cups milk
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. flour (I like to use Wondra for sauces like this)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half; remove seeds; place in large pot of boiling water; boil for approximately 30 minutes, or until you can insert a knife into the rind of the squash and have it come out easily.
  • Remove cooked squash from water, cool. Once it has cooled, you can scrape the inner flesh into a big bowl with a fork. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Put minced peppers into a small sauce pan; add cream; bring to a simmer.
  • Add milk; cook just until bubbles form around the edge of the pan; remove from heat and let it set for 15 minutes.
  • Strain the minced peppers out of the cream mixture.
  • In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • When the butter stops foaming, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
  • S l o w l y pour in the cream mixture, whisking constantly, and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
  • Once mixture is thickened, stir in salt.
  • Pour sauce mixture over the spaghetti squash and mix well.
  • Place all into a 2-quart casserole/baking dish; sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top.
  • Bake until brown and top and bubbling throughout, approximately 30 minutes.
This is great as a side dish, or as a main entree with a salad and some warm bread/rolls.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lentil Tomato Soup

4 1/2 cups of water
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. garlic salt)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon (or 1 tsp. minced fresh )
1/4 tsp. pepper

  • In a large pot, combine the water, carrots, onion, and lentils; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until veggies and lentils are tender.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients; return to a boil.
  • Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
This is a quick fix for a cool fall, or cold winter, night. Add some biscuits or bread, and you have a good meal.

(I adapted this recipe from the November 2011 Taste of Home magazine.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Best Traveling Birthday Cake Ever

Years ago I started mailing my homemade angelfood cake to my niece, Meghan, for her birthday, so no matter how far away from me she may be, I'll always be with her in some small way for her birthday. It's tradition now, so for every birthday for her, and for AA&T, I bake an angelfood cake, wrap it in plastic wrap, pack it in a foil-lined box filled with air-popped popcorn for packing, and mail it off. I make a kickass angelfood cake, if I do say so myself. Here's the recipe:

1 cup flour (cake flour OR regular flour)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups egg whites (12 JUMBO eggs, warmed to room temperature BEFORE breaking)
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix flour and powdered sugar together, set aside.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixer bowl on medium speed until foamy.
  • Beat in granulated sugar on high speed, 2 Tbs. at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy.
  • Add salt, vanilla, and almond extract with last addition of sugar. Do not underbeat!
  • Sprinkle flour/powdered sugar mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, over meringue, folding in just until flour/powdered sugar mixture disappears.
  • Pour batter into ungreased tube cake pan (not a bundt pan; use a regular angelfood cake pan).
  • Cut gentlely through the batter with a metal spatula.
  • Bake until cracks feel dry and top springs back when touched lightly.
  • Invert pan onto empty glass (wine) bottle and let hang until completely cool.
  • Remove from pan.
You can glaze or frost the cake as you wish. We prefer our angelfood cake naked, sometimes with a little bit of fresh berries for garnish.

And the secret ingredient, corny as it may sound, is love. Make this cake with patience and lots of love, and it will be beyond perfection!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Perfect Summer Brunch Casserole

Egg & Squash Brunch Casserole
(adapted from a recipe by Liz Shenk in the Sept. 2011 relish magazine)

3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 glove garlic, chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
3 eggs
½ cup half-&-half
½ to 1 tsp. salt
½ to 1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
½ package peppered bacon bits

Optional topping:
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat butter and oil in large skillet and cook 2 minutes.
  • Add zucchini and yellow squash; cover and cook over medium heat 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • With slotted spoon, transfer mixture to a buttered 2-quart casserole.
  • Combine eggs, half-&-half, salt, pepper, thyme, and bacon bits.
  • Pour egg mixture over squash in casserole dish and mix well.
  • Bake 35 minutes.
For optional topping:
  • Remove from oven and top with panko breadcrumbs and cheese.
  • Place under broiler and broil until brown, about 3 minutes.
I made this for Labor Day brunch, using zucchini and yellow squash from our garden. It's a great way to use some of the squash bounty from your garden this time of year, little ones. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Treasures Deep in the Recipe Box

I was trying to figure out what to make for supper earlier this week and coming up with nothing, so I started going through one of my recipe boxes to see if anything sounded good. I came across a recipe I wrote done in either the late 1970s or early 1980s. My memory is shot, but I *think* it originally came from Lora. 

St. Paul's Casserole

  • 1 lb. sausage, browned and drained
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup raw rice (NOT instant)
  • 2 packages chicken noodle soup mix
  • 1 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 4oz. can mushrooms, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the water, add rice and soup mixes, and boil another 7 minutes. Mix all ingredients together and put all in a greased casserole dish. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

This is super simple and super good. Chuck said, "I remember this; we haven't had it in decades. It's a keeper for sure!"

So, little ones, next time you're stuck for an idea for dinner, mine through your recipe might be pleasantly surprised by the gems you find in there!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Broccoli/Tortellini Salad

This recipe comes to me via my friend Paula, who says she's "not a salad person, but this is wonderful!" I made a few minor tweaks, but the majority of the recipe Paula shared is in tact.

Broccoli/Tortellini Salad
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled -OR- 6 Tbsp. of bacon bits (I prefer Hormel Real Bacon Bits - Peppered)
  • 1 9 oz. package of cheese tortellini 
  • 3 crowns (small heads) broccoli, trimmed and cut
  • 1 cup raisins or craisins (I prefer craisins)
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced (you can use any type of onion, including green onions)
Cook tortellini as directed; drain, rinse with cool water and let cool. Mix all ingredients together in big bowl.

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Kraft Olive Oil w/Cracked Pepper Mayo)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (the original recipe called for 2 tsp.)
Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Serve chilled.

I AM a salad person, and Paula's right, this IS wonderful; and the bonus, little ones, is that it's a great way to use the abundance of broccoli in the garden this time of year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Baking in the Backwoods

I love to bake. I love to cook. (And I love to eat.) I'm not a very original cook...nearly everything I make starts from someone else's recipe. But nearly every recipe I use, I alter...a little more of this, leave out that, substitute those...and sometimes the final product is actually something good enough to merit the words "that's a keeper!"

I live in a small rural town in northwest Nebraska. Access to fresh ingredients is spotty at best (except in the summer when gardens are growing), and access to any "out of the ordinary" ingredients is, well, nonexistent - except for the occasional trip to Rapid City, SD, where I try to stock up on any "out of the ordinary" ingredients I might have occasion to need. My local grocery stores just don't like to think outside the box, so there's a lot I buy either in Rapid City, or online ( has been a good source for my pantry more than once...).

But even with the limitations I sometimes face re: ingredients, I manage to create some pretty decent dishes in my kitchen. I love my's truly the heart of my home. And this summer it was remodeled from the top to the bottom. Here are before and after collages:


I now have a kitchen truly made for cooking, and I fully intend to use it to the max! The "keeper" recipes are what I plan to share on this blog. Hope you enjoy them, little ones!