Bacon-Ranch Spinach Dip

2       Pkgs. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese (softened)
1 1/2 Cups Bacon Ranch Salad Dressing
1/4    Cup Milk
2       Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
1       Can (14 oz.) Water-packed Artichoke Hearts (rinsed, drained and chopped)
1       Pkg. (10 oz.) Frozen Spinach (chopped, thawed and squeezed dry)
2       Plum Tomatoes (seeded, finely chopped)
1/2    Cup Bacon (cooked, crumbled)
4       Green Onions (thinly sliced)
Assorted Crackers and Fresh Vegetables

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, salad dressing and milk until blended. Stir in the cheese, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, bacon and green onions. Transfer to a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours or until heated through. Serve with assorted crackers and vegetables. Yields 6 cups of dip.

Tomato Bacon Bites

1       (10 oz.) Can Rotel Diced Tomatoes (drained)
2 1/2 Cups Bacon Crumbles*
1       Cup Swiss Cheese (shredded)
8       oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
45     Frozen Phillo Pastry Cups (thawed)

*Bake and crumble your favorite sliced bacon for best flavor. If you buy bacon crumbles make sure they are 100% real bacon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the drained tomatoes, bacon crumbles, swiss cheese and cream cheese in a bowl till blended.

Spoon the mixture into thawed phillo cups. Fill them very full, around 1/2 inch above the cup. Place filled cups on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated and cheese is melted. Makes 45 appetizers.

Date and Nut Swirls

2   Cups Dates (chopped)
1   Cup Water 
1   Cup Sugar
1   Cup Nuts (chopped)
2   tsp. Lemon Juice

1    Cup Butter (softened)
1    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1    Cup Sugar
3    Large Eggs (room temp.)
1    tsp. Lemon Extract
4    Cups All-Purpose Flour
1    tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda

In a saucepan, combine filling ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes stiff, 15 to 20 minutes. Chill.

For dough, cream butter and sugars in a bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon extract. Combine flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Chill for at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to a 12x9 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread with half of the filling. Roll up, starting with the long end. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Wrap in plastic; chill overnight.

Cut rolls into 1/4 inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Yields 4 dozen cookies.

Walnut Pillows

1/2    Cup Butter (cubed)
3       oz. Cream Cheese (cold)
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4    Cup Walnuts (ground)
1/4    Cup Sugar
2       Tbsp. Whole Milk
1/2    tsp. Vanilla (or Almond) Extract
1       Large Egg (lightly beaten)
Confectioners’ Sugar

In a large bowl, cut butter and cream cheese into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Blend mixture together until smooth dough forms, about 3 minutes. Pat into a rectangle; wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

For filling, in a small bowl combine the walnuts, sugar, milk and vanilla and mix well.

Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 17 1/2 x 10 inch rectangle; cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Place a level teaspoonful of filling in the center of each square. Moisten edges with water; fold in half and seal with a fork. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with egg.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Yields 28 cookies.

Christmas Chocolate Cutouts

1       Cup Butter (softened)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2       Large Eggs (room temp.)
1       tsp. Vanilla Extract
3       Cups All-Purpose Flour
2/3    Cup Baking Cocoa
1/2    tsp. Baking Powder
1/4    tsp. Salt

2       Cups Confectioners’ Sugar
2       Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Water
4 1/2 tsp. Meringue Powder*

1/4    tsp Cream of Tartar

* Meringue Powder is made mostly of dried egg whites. It is a baking substitute that is used instead of raw fresh egg whites. It’s used mostly in making meringue, frosting and royal icing. It can be found in with the spices or baking section of most larger grocery stores.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually beat into creamed butter mixture. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a disk; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll each disk of dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with floured 3 inch cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Remove from sheets to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, water, meringue powder and cream of tartar; beat on low speed just until blended, beat on high until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Keep unused icing covered at all times with a damp cloth. If necessary, beat again on high speed to restore texture.

Using pastry bags and small round tips, decorate cookies as desired. Let stand at room temperature until frosting is dry and firm. Yields around 5 dozen cookies, depending on size of shapes.

Mom’s Buttermilk Cookies

1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg (room temp.)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Buttermilk

3 Tbsp. Butter (softened)
3 1/2 Cups confectioners’ Sugar
1/4 Cup Whole Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Walnuts (finely chopped, optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake until edges are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Frosting: Combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread over cookies; if desired, sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookies

1/2   Cup Butter (softened)
3/4   Cup Sugar
1      Large Egg (room temperature)
2      Tbsp. Milk
1/2   tsp. Vanilla Extract
1      Cup All-Purpose Flour
6      Tbsp. Baking Cocoa
1/4   tsp. Baking Soda
1/4   tsp. Salt
1      Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chunks
1      Cup Dried Cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate and cherries. Drop by rounded tablespoonful, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets lightly coated with cooking spray. Bake until firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack. Yields about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

Pecan Roll-Ups

1       Cup Butter (softened)
1       pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4    tsp. Salt
2       Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 Cups Confectioners’ Sugar (divided)
96     Pecan Halves (about 2 cups)

In a large bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and salt until smooth. Gradually beat in flour. Divide dough in half; shape each into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dust a work surface with about 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar. Roll 1 portion of dough into an 18 by 8 inch rectangle; cut dough crosswise into six 3 inch wide sections. Cut each section crosswise into eight 1 inch wide strips. Roll each strip around a pecan half; place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and pecans, dusting work surface with an additional 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Place remaining confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar, coating well. Yields 8 dozen cookies.

Hazelnut Yule Logs

1       Cup Butter (softened)
3/4    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1       Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1       tsp. Grated Lemon Zest
2 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/4    tsp. Salt
1 1/2 Cups Hazelnuts (finely chopped)
2       Tbsp. Water

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon juice and zest. In another bowl, mix flour and salt; gradually beat into the creamed mixture. Place the hazelnuts in a small bowl. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/2 cupfuls of dough into 1/2 inch thick ropes, about 22 inches long. Cut ropes into 2 inch logs. Lightly brush each log with water; roll in hazelnuts to coat. Place logs 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookie logs.

Christmas M&M Cookies

1 1/4 Cups Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1       Cup Brown Sugar (lightly packed)
1       Cup Granulated Sugar
2       Eggs
1       tsp. Vanilla
3       Cups All-purpose Flour
1       tsp. Salt
1       tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 Cups Christmas M&Ms (red and green)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Add flour, salt and baking soda and beat on low speed until combined. Stir in half of the M&Ms. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and bake 2 inches apart for 8 to 9 minutes, until cookies are light in color but no longer glossy.

Remove from oven and press remaining M&Ms into the tops of the cookies. Allow to cool before removing from baking sheets. Makes 36 cookies.

Baked Candied Yams

5    Medium Size Yams
8    Tbsp. Salted Butter
1    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Ground Cloves
1/4 Ground Ginger
1    Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1    Tbsp. Vanilla Extract (not imitation)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash the yams, peel and slice them to 1/2 inch thickness. Place the yams into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Place the butter into a medium size pot and melt it over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle in the white and brown sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Turn the stove off, mix the ingredients then add the vanilla extract and stir till mixed. Pour the sugar spice mixture over the yams and try to coat all the yams with the mixture. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove yams from oven and baste them with liquid from bottom of pan. Cover them back up and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the yams from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Green Tomato Pie

3    Cups Green Tomatoes (sliced, do not peel)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Molasses
1/2 Cup Water
1    tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
2    Tbsp. Flour
2    (9 inch) Pie Crusts

Slice tomatoes into thin slices. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Arrange slices of tomato in the unbaked pie shell. Combine the dry ingredients. Add molasses and water. Mix until smooth and pour over the tomato slices. Cover the pie with the second shell and using a fork, pierce the crust several times.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 and bake 30 minutes longer. Serves 4 to 6.

End-of-Harvest Green Tomato Soup

4  Carrots (cut into thin rounds)
4  Ribs Celery (sliced)
2  Large Onions (diced)
2  Tbsp. Olive Oil
2  Zucchini (cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
2  Small Butternut Squash (peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks)
2  Cups Beans (cooked or canned, any variety)
3  Ears Corn (kernels cut from cob, about 3 cups)
4  Green Tomatoes (cored and diced)
3  Cups Greens (chopped, such as kale, beets, turnip or collard)
3  Potatoes (peeled, cut into bite-size chunks)
1  tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
3  Tbsp. Scallions (minced)
6  Cups Vegetable Stock (or water)
Salt and Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

In a large stock pot over a medium flame, saute the carrots, celery and onions in the olive oil until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add the zucchini, butternut squash and the beans. Cook until the mixture begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, green tomatoes, greens, potatoes, thyme and scallion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock (or water) and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 12.

Oven-Roasted Pulled Pork with Sweet & Spicy Sauce

1    Tbsp. Ground Cumin
1    Tbsp. Ground Coriander
1    Tbsp. Paprika
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1    7 lb. Bone-in, Skin-on Pork Butt or Shoulder Roast (cut into 3 pieces)
1/2 Cup Apricot Jam
2    Medium Onions (thinly sliced)
4    Jalapenos (seeded, thinly sliced)
Thick Sliced White Bread (for serving)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine cumin, coriander, paprika, 5 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper in a bowl. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place pork on baking sheet and rub with the spice mixture. Spoon jam on pork and turn to coat. Scatter onions and jalapenos around the pork. Cover with aluminum foil, crimping edges to seal. Roast until pork shreds easily, 4 to 5 hours.

Transfer pork to a large bowl. Shred meat using two forks; discard bones, skin and fat. Add onions, jalapenos and pan juices and toss to combine. Serve with thick slices of white bread and sweet and spicy sauce on the side. Serves 10

Sweet and Spicy Sauce:
Whisk together apple cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, granulated sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Makes 1 1/4 cups sauce.

Swedish Meatballs

1       Large Egg (lightly beaten)
1/2    Cup Saltines (crushed, about 10 crackers)
1/4    tsp. Salt
1/4    tsp Pepper
1/2    lb. Ground Beef
1/2    lb. Ground Pork Sausage
1/4    Cup plus 2 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour (divided)
2 1/2 Cups Beef Broth (divided)
Fresh Parsley (minced, optional)

Mix together the beaten egg, cracker crumbs,salt and pepper. Add the beef and pork and gently mix together. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place balls into a plastic bag, add 1/4 cup flour and toss to coat the meatballs.

In a large skillet, brown the meatballs over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon. Mix the remaining flour and broth until smooth; add to the pan. Bring back to a boil; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened. Return the meatballs to pan; heat through. If desired sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles. Serves 4

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

2       Tbsp. Olive Oil
2       Carrots (sliced)
2       Ribs Celery (sliced)
1       Small Onion (chopped)
5       Cloves Garlic (chopped)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4    Cup Dry White Wine
8       Cups Chicken Stock
2 1/2 lbs. Bone-in, Skinless Chicken Breast and Thighs
2 1/2 Cups Uncooked Wide Egg Noodles
3       Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
2       Tbsp. Fresh Dill (chopped)
2       Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine and cook until syrupy, 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove chicken; shred thighs with two forks and chop breast meat into large bite-size chunks.  

Return meat to pot; discard bones. Add the noodles to soup and cook, stirring often, until tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, dill and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serves 8

Turkey and Rice Vegetable Soup

2     Strips Bacon (cut into 1/2” pieces)
1     lb. Ground Turkey
1     Garlic Clove (minced)
1     Cup Red Onion (chopped)
1/2  Cup Carrots (chopped)
Salt and Pepper
1     Yellow Bell Pepper (chopped)
1/4  Cup Dry White Wine
3     Cups Chicken Stock
1     Cup Cooked White Rice
1     Cup Fresh Parsley (chopped)

In a large pot, over medium heat, brown bacon until crispy and fat is rendered. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown the ground turkey in the bacon fat, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red onion and carrots and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; saute for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, white wine and stock; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice and parsley, simmer until warmed through and serve immediately. Divide bacon in to 4 parts and garnish top of each bowl of soup. Serves 4.

Triple-layer Pumpkin Spice Pie

2    pkg. (3.4 oz. each) Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding Mix
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
2    Cups Cold Milk
1    Graham Cracker Pie Crust (6 oz.)
1    Tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping (thawed, divided)
1/2 Cup Pecan Halves
1    Tbsp. Honey

Beat the dry pudding mixes, cinnamon and milk with a whisk for 2 minutes; spread 1 1/2 cups onto the bottom of the pie crust.
Stir 1 1/2 cups of cool whip into the remaining pudding mixture; spread over the layer in the pie crust. Top with the remaining cool whip.

Refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, cook nuts and honey in skillet on medium-low heat 2 to 4 minutes or until nuts are caramelized, stirring frequently. Spread onto waxed paper, separating larger clusters. Cool. Sprinkle over pie just before serving. Serves 10.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

The Crust:
1 3/4 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (about 10-12 whole crackers)
1/2    Cup Salted Butter (melted) 
2       Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

Pumpkin Filling:
4     tsp. Cold Water
1     tsp. Gelatin
4     oz. Cream Cheese
1/2  Cup Powdered Sugar
3/4  Cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2  tsp. Cinnamon
1/4  tsp. Ginger1/4  tsp. Nutmeg
1/8  tsp. Ground Cloves
1     Pinch Salt
1     tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4  Cup Whipping Cream

The Topping:
4     oz. Cream Cheese
3     tbsp. Powdered Sugar
2/3  Cup Whipping Cream
1/4  Cup Toasted Pecans (chopped)

The Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 square baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Press firmly into the bottom and partly up the sides of the prepared baking dish. Baked in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until crust is just starting to change color. Set aside to cool completely.

The Filling: Place the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, salt and vanilla and beat again until smooth.  Heat the gelatin mixture over the stove, whisking often, until gelatin completely dissolves. Pour into the pumpkin mixture and beat well.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the pumpkin mixture in 3 even additions. Be careful not to deflate the whipped cream too much. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge while you make the topping.

The Topping: In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Gradually add whipping cream. Beat until stiff peaks form.

To Assemble: Gently scoop pumpkin filling onto crust and smooth over until it is level and covering entire crust. Then spread the topping over the pumpkin filling with an offset spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the bars in the fridge until they are set, about 4 to 6 hours. Just before serving sprinkle with the toasted pecans. Cut into bars and serve chilled. Serves 16.

Spiced Apple Pancakes

1 1/3 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon (divided) 
1       Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1/2    tsp. Salt
4       Tbsp. Butter (divided, plus more for cooking)
1       Large Egg (separated)
1       tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 Cup Milk
4       Large Apples (peeled, cored and finely chopped, about 5 to 6 cups)
1/2    Cup Brown Sugar
1/4    Cup Water

Mix flour, baking powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. In a large bowl, whisk to combine egg yolk, vanilla, milk and melted butter. Gently fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, then fold in 1 1/2 cups of chopped apple.

In another medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Fold egg white into the batter gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Make apple topping:  In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Add the rest of the chopped apples, brown sugar, remaining 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples have softened and mixture is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp. butter. Pour about 1/4 cup pancake batter into pan. When little bubbles appear, about 1 to 2 minutes, flip and continue cooking until both sides are lightly golden. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter as needed. Serve pancakes topped with apple mixture. Makes 12 - 14 pancakes.

Fun and Flavorful Apple Baked Beans

3    (16 oz.) Cans Pork and Beans (drained)
1/2 Cup Prepared BBQ Sauce* (your choice)
1    Medium Sweet Onion (chopped)
2    Red Delicious or Granny Smith Apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
1/4 Cup Yellow Prepared Mustard (scant)
6    Slices Bacon (or more! cooked, crumbled)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Raisins (optional)

*Note: For a bit of a kick, it’s fun to use Sweet Baby Rays Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine beans, BBQ sauce, onion, apples, mustard, bacon, brown sugar and raisins (if using). Pour into a greased glass baking dish (9x13x2) or a cast iron Dutch oven coated with cooking spray. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until they are bubbly and thickened. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Nonstick Cooking Spray
2 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1       tsp. Baking Soda
1       tsp. Baking Powder
1       tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2    tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2    tsp. Salt
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1       Large Egg
1/2    Cup Butter (1 stick, softened)
1       Cup Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
1       tsp. Vanilla Extract

Glaze Topping:
1    tsp. Vanilla Extract
2    Cups Powdered Sugar (sifted)
3    Tbsp. Milk
1    Tbsp. Butter (melted)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside. Beat sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in the pumpkin, egg and 1 tsp. vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle with the glaze. Makes abut 36 cookies.

Glaze Topping: Combine sifted powdered sugar, milk, 1 Tbsp. melted butter and 1 tsp. vanilla in a small bowl, stir until smooth. Use to drizzle on top of cooled cookies.

Note: You can use any of your favorite icing recipes to top these cookies, but Cream Cheese Icing really, really goes great with this cookie!

Spiced Apple Cider

1   Gallon Fresh Apple Cider
10 Cinnamon Sticks
5   Anise Pods
3   tsp. Whole Cloves
Orange Slices (for garnish)

Pour the cider into a large pot and simmer with the spices for 10 to 15 minutes. If you want, tie the spices up in cheesecloth for easy removal later, or let them in as part of the garnish. Garnish with slices of orange. Makes 15-16  8 oz. cups.

5-Minute Enchiladas Sauce

1       (14.5 oz.) Can Diced Tomatoes (or Tomato Puree or Sauce)
1/4    Cup Water
2       Tbsp. Olive Oil
2       tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1       tsp. Cumin
1       tsp. Onion Powder
2       tsp. Chili Powder
1/2    tsp. Chipotle Powder (optional or add a canned chipotle pepper, or smoked paprika and cayenne pepper for heat to your taste)
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2       Garlic Cloves (or 2 tsp. Granulated Garlic)
1       tsp. Oregano (dry or fresh)

 Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes a little bit more than 2 cups sauce.

Chicken Enchiladas with Black Beans

2    Cups Chicken (cooked, shredded)
1    (14 oz.) Can Black Beans (rinsed, drained)
1    tsp. Cumin
1    tsp. Coriander
1    tsp. Chili Powder
1    tsp. Granulated Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt (or more, to taste)
Optional additions: Sauteed Onions, Garlic, Canned Green Chilies, Cilantro, Chipotle Pepper (to your taste)
2    Cups Pepper Jack Cheese (shredded)
12  to 15 oz. Bottle Enchilada Sauce (or 2 cups of 5 Minute Enchilada Sauce *see below)
8    (6 inch) Tortillas
Garnish: Cilantro, Scallions (chopped), Jalapeno  Slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix the shredded chicken with the black beans and spices and salt. Taste, adding more salt if you desire. Also add any additional ingredients.

Pour 1/2 cup Enchilada sauce in the bottom of a well greased 9x13 inch baking dish, to lightly coat. Divide the filling among the tortillas (about 1/3 cup each) adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of cheese. Roll them up and place them seam side down in baking dish, over sauce. Pour remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake, covered for 20 minutes. Uncover for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Yields 8

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder

1 lb. Baby Red Potatoes (halved or quartered)
1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour
Salt and Black Pepper
8 Cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth
2 1/2 Cup Corn (fresh or canned)
2 Sprigs Thyme
1 tsp. Dried Basil
1 tsp. Onion Powder   
3 Cups Chicken (shredded)
1 1/3 Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
1/4 Cup Whole Milk
2 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
6 Slices Bacon (cooked, crumbled)
2 Tbsp. Fresh Chives (chopped, for garnish)

Place potatoes and flour into a slow-cooker, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Stir in the broth, corn, thyme, basil and onion powder. Cook on high for 3 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the chicken, cheddar, milk and cream until cheese is melty and fully incorporated. Heat for an additional 10 minutes to warm the chicken. Ladle soup into bowls and top with more pepper, bacon and chives before serving. Serves 6.

Vegetable Cabbage Soup

2    Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1    Large Onion (chopped)
2    Carrots (chopped)
2    Ribs Celery (minced)
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
Black Pepper (ground)
1    Can (15 oz.) White Beans (drained, rinsed)
2    Cloves Garlic (minced)
1    tsp. Thyme Leaves
4    Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2    Cups Water
1/2 Large Head Cabbage (chopped)
1    (15 oz.) Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes (chopped)
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
2    Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
Parsley Sprigs for garnish if desired

In a large pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery, season with salt, pepper and chili powder. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the beans, garlic and thyme and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and water and bring to a simmer.

Stir in the tomatoes and cabbage and simmer until cabbage is wilted, about 6 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the red pepper flakes and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Serves 6.

Thick & Zesty Salsa

20 Cups Whole Tomatoes with Juice (peeled & chopped)
4   Cups Onion (chopped fine)
4   Jalapeno Peppers (seeds removed, chopped fine, small peppers for a milder salsa, larger ones for hotter salsa)
1   Cup Green Bell Pepper (chopped, any color will do fine)
6   oz. Tomato Paste
2   Tbsp. Salt
1   tsp. Garlic Powder
1   Tbsp. Ground Cumin
1   Cup Brown Sugar (lightly packed)
2   tsp. Dry Mustard
4   Dashes of Tabasco Sauce
2   Tbsp. Dry Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1   tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1   tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1-1/2 cups vinegar (add to ingredients if you plan to can the salsa, vinegar is NOT needed if you’re serving the salsa fresh)

Mix all ingredients together in a very large pot.  Bring to a boil & slow boil for 30 minutes. Use in recipes calling for salsa or serve with corn or tortilla chips, etc.
Makes about 7 quarts.

*If canning your salsa, put the hot salsa in warm, clean, pint-size jars, top with warmed lids, & process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Dutch Apple Cake

1/2    Cup Shortening
1       Cup White Sugar
1       Egg
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1       Tbsp. Baking Powder
1/2    tsp. Salt
3/4    Cup Milk
2       Medium Apples (approx. 3 lbs. total)
1/4    Cup White Sugar
1       tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Peel, core and slice the apples into eighths. Sift the flour with baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until mixed. Add the sifted flour ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the sifted ingredients. Spread the batter into a greased 7x11 inch baking pan. Place the apple pieces in rows on top of the batter with the sharp edges pressed in slightly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon over the top.
Bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees F. for about 50 to 60 minutes or until apples are tender and the cake tests done. Serves 15.

Best Ever Apple Pie Bars

Cooking Spray
1       Cup Butter (2 sticks, softened)
1/2    Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2    tsp. Salt

6    Apples (peeled, cored, sliced)
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1    tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Salt

1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1       Cup Pecans (chopped)
1       Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/2    tsp. Salt
3/4    Cup Butter (1 1/2 sticks, melted)
Caramel Ice Cream Topping (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease it with cooking spray. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Press into the prepared cake pan, going about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss apple slices, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt together. Spread this over the baked crust.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, brown sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle crumb topping over the apple slices and bake 1 hour or until the top is golden and the apple slices are soft. Let cool at least 15 minutes then slice into squares and drizzle with the caramel ice cream topping. Servings 18

Grilled Sausage & Vegetable Skewers with Pineapple BBQ Sauce

Pineapple BBQ Sauce:
1/3 Cup Pineapple Puree (*see note)
2/3 Cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite)

1    Pkg. Smoked, Cooked Sausage/Kielbasa  (about 14 oz., sliced)
1/2 Fresh Pineapple (cut into chunks)
1    Large Zucchini (sliced)
1    Red or Yellow Bell Pepper (cut into chunks)
3    Mushrooms (halved or quartered)
1/2 Red Onion (cut into chunks)

Instructions for BBQ sauce:
*Note: Place 1 to 2 cups of fresh pineapple into a blender and puree until it is smooth. Pass it through a fine mesh strainer and discard any solids.

Place a small saucepan on the grill top and combine the pineapple puree and BBQ sauce. Heat grill and stir sauce until combined and heated through. Set it aside but keep it warm.

Instructions for skewers:
Preheat the grill to medium heat. Thread vegetables and sausage on four 12 inch metal skewers, alternating items as you go. Lightly sprinkle each skewer with salt and pepper. Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the sausage is heated through and there are grill marks visible. Brush generously with the BBQ sauce and continue cooking for a couple more minutes, rotating them once or twice. Watch them closely so the sauce does not burn. Remove from the grill, brush with more sauce and serve immediately. Serves 4

Honey and Cinnamon Grilled Peaches

4 Peaches (ripe)
4 tsp. Honey (more or less)
Ground Cinnamon 
Vanilla Ice Cream

Leave the peel on the peaches, Wash, cut them in half and remove the pits from all 4. Pour a bit of honey on each half and spread it to cover the entire cut side of each peach half. Then shake a bit of cinnamon across each half. Preheat grill to high so it is hot enough to sear the peach halves. Then turn the heat down to low and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until grill markes are nice and the peaches are soft. Serve with a scoop or two of ice cream. Serves 4.

Fresh Peach Pancakes

1       Cup Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4    tsp. Salt
1       tsp. Butter (melted)
2       tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2    Cup Plain Yogurt
3/4    Cup Milk
1/2    Cup Peaches (peeled, finely diced)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter and vanilla. Mix in the yogurt, stirring until no large lumps remain. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, stirring just enough until incorporated. (if you over mix the pancakes they will become tough). Gently fold in the peaches. (Again, use a light touch or the pancakes will not be light and fluffy).

Lightly coat a large, non-stick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and pre-heat over low heat.

Using 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake, dollop the better onto the hot pan, spread into a circle shape. Let pancakes cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until a light skin begins to form on bottom, flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove when done. Repeat until all batter is gone. Use more cooking spray between batches if needed. Serve with maple syrup if desired. Makes around 16 small pancakes.

Creamy Italian Chicken

2    lbs. Chicken Breast (skinless, boneless, cut into wide strips)
1/4 Cup Butter (melted)
1    (8 oz.) Pkg. Cream Cheese (softened, cut into cubes)
1    tsp. Dried Chives
1    Can (10.75 oz.) Condensed Cream of Onion Soup
1    (.7 oz.) Pkg. Dry Italian Salad Dressing Mix
1/4 Cup Water
1    tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning
1/8 tsp. Pepper

Place chicken strips into a 3 to 4 quart crock pot.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, softened cream cheese, canned soup, Italian dressing mix, water, Italian seasoning and pepper and stir until blended. Pour mixture over the chicken in crock pot. Cover and cook 6 to 8 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked to 165 degrees F. Stir well and serve over pasta or rice. Serves 4 to 6.

Note: If sauce is not thick enough, combine 2 tbsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp water, blend till smooth. Stir into crock pot and cook on high for 10 minutes until sauce thickens.

Roasted Red Beets with Balsamic Glaze

2    lbs. Medium Sized Red Beets (scrubbed clean, remove tops)
2    tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2    tsp. Sugar
1    tsp. Grated Orange Zest
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line a baking pan with aluminum foil.

Prepare the beets: Place clean beets in the pan. Rub with oil and sprinkle with salt. Cover the beets with another sheet of aluminum foil.

Roast the beets for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the beets and how old they are. After 1 hour test every 15 minutes by poking a beet with a fork. Once the fork tines go in easily, the beets are tender and cooked. Remove from the oven.

Prepare the glaze while the beets are cooling.
  In a small, shallow saute pan, add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar. Heat on high until vinegar has reduced to a syrup consistency. Remove from heat. Peel and cut cooled, but still warm, cooked beets. Discard skins. Cut beets into quarters or bite-sized pieces. Place the beets in a serving bowl. Pour glaze over beets and stir in orange zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a bit of orange zest if desired. Serves 6 to 8.

Sausage and Barley Stuffed Tomatoes

4       Medium Tomatoes
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock (divided)
2       Tbsp. Olive Oil (divided) 
1       Medium Shallot (minced)
1       Clove Garlic (minced)
1       Cup Pearl Barley (uncooked)
1/4    lb. Sweet Italian Bulk Sausage
1/4    Cup Fresh Parsley (chopped)
1/4    Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Cut the tops off of the tomatoes (large enough to use them as caps), Scoop the pulp out of each tomato and reserve   for later use. This creates a tomato cup with a cap.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat saute shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender (2 to 3 minutes). Add enough chicken stock to reserved tomato pulp to equal 2 cups. Add the chicken stock mixture and the barley to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer until barley is al dente, about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, saute sausage, breaking up with a spoon until browned. In a large mixing bowl combine barley mixture, sausage, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Salt and pepper the inside of tomatoes and fill with mixture. Do not pack stuffing tight. Set aside.

Use remaining olive oil to grease a 11x7 baking dish. Add extra barley mixture to bottom of baking dish and spread out evenly. Add the stuffed tomatoes, nesting them down into the mixture. Replace the tomato caps and drizzle another 1/4 cup of chicken stock over contents of baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until tomatoes are soft and the skins start to split. Serves 4.

Crab Stuffed Summer Tomatoes

8 Ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes

Crab Filling:
1    Cup Crab Meat (picked over for shells)
1/2 Cup *Rough Bread Crumbs
1    Clove Garlic (minced)
1    tsp. Dried Thyme
1    Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Additional Olive Oil (for drizzling)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With a serrated knife, slice the top of each tomato off and discard. Do not cut too much off, just the very top. Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato pulp and save it for another use (soup/stew). Season the inside of each tomato with salt and pepper. Combine all the filling ingredients. Stuff all 8 tomatoes, drizzle the tops with olive oil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 8 stuffed tomatoes.

*Rough bread crumbs have a better texture for this recipe than finely ground bread crumbs. You can make your own by drying slices of bread or rolls and then crushing them roughly to about the size of peas.

Baked Sweet Corn Croquettes

3    Cups Fresh Corn (divided)
1    Cup Cornmeal
1    Cup Milk 
1    tsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon (optional)
4    oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4 Cup Butter (softened)
2    Large Eggs (room temperature)
3    Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream and Minced Chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 2 cups of corn kernels in a food processor; process until pureed. Transfer   pureed corn to a large bowl; whisk in cornmeal, milk, sugar and remaining corn kernels, if desired also add the cinnamon. Whisk until blended. In another bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and eggs until pale yellow and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Fold in the cheddar cheese. Stir in the corn mixture.

Fill greased mini-muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm; top with sour cream and chives. Yields: 5 1/2 dozen.

Pimiento-Cheese Tea Cookies

8       oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese (coarsely grated)
1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2    tsp. Mustard Powder
1/2    tsp. Salt
2       Tbsp. Pimientos or Roasted Red Peppers (chopped)
1/2    tsp. Tabasco
1/2    Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter (cold, cut into cubes)
1/4    Cup Red Currant Jelly

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse together Cheddar, flour, mustard powder and salt until combined. Pulse in the pimientos and Tabasco. Add the butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form.

Transfer dough to a bowl. If dough is dry, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough holds together when squeezed. Using your hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls, press thumb into centers to leave deep indents, and place on prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate until very firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake, rotating pans halfway through cooking, until light golden brown around the edges, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once cool, spoon jam into the center of each cookie. Makes 40 cookies.

Deviled Egg Potato Salad

3 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes (peeled, cut into  1 inch pieces)
Salt and Pepper
1       Cup Mayonnaise
3       Tbsp. Yellow Mustard
6       Large Hard Boiled Eggs (peeled, chopped)
3       Ribs Celery (thinly sliced)
1/4    Cup Celery Leaves (chopped)
6       Scallions (thinly sliced)
1/3    Cup Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley (chopped)
1       (4 oz.) Jar Pimentos (diced, drained)
Sweet Paprika (for garnish)

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with cold, salted water. Simmer until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain.

Combine mayonnaise and mustard in a bowl. Add potatoes, eggs, celery, leaves, scallions, parsley and pimentos and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper (to your taste). Chill. Garnish with paprika. Serve cold.

Campfire Nacho Skillet

1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Jalapeno Pepper (sliced)
1 Bunch Green Onions (thinly sliced white and green parts)
1 Bag Tortilla Chips
2 Cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
2 Cups Iceberg Lettuce (chopped)
1 Tomato (chopped)
1 Jar Salsa or Taco Sauce for Drizzling or Dipping (size depends on how much you like it)

I n a cast-iron skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat (use grill, campfire or stove top) until no longer pink. Create a hole in the center of the meat and add jalapenos and green onions. Cook, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and line the bottom of the hot skillet with tortilla chips. Pour ground beef mixture evenly over the chips. Top with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa/taco sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Note: This recipe is very versatile. Swap out veggies for your favorites or use a flavored variety of chip. Use sausage or chicken instead of beef. Add avocados and sour cream. Get creative!

Foil-Pack French Dip Sandwiches

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (softened to room temperature)
1    Package Au Jus Gravy Mix (separated)
1    tsp. Worcestershire Sauce 
3/4 tsp. Dried Minced Garlic
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
1    Long/Large Baguette (or 2 smaller ones)
1    lb. Deli Roast Beef
1    pkg. Sliced Provolone Cheese (12 slices total)

Preheat grill (or oven) to medium-high heat (400 degrees F.)

Start by making the butter mixture. Combine the softened butter (not melted), 1 Tbsp. of the au jus gravy mix, Worcestershire sauce, dried minced garlic and onion powder in a small bowl. Stir until ingredients are completely combined and set aside.

Cut the baguette into 4 equal parts about 6 to 10 inches in length each. Next make an ODD number of slices (approx. 1/2 inch wide) into each piece of the baguette, cutting only about 3/4 of the way down. It is important to cut an ODD number of slices so that each sandwich pull-away has two pieces of bread.

Separate the butter mixture into 2 equal parts. Set 1 aside for later. Using a butter knife, spread a small amount of butter mixture inside each slice. Slice the individual pieces of cheese in half and place 1 piece, along with 1 piece of roast beef in between every two slices in the bread. (this will create small pull-apart sandwiches, so you do not want meat and cheese in each slice).

Take remaining half of butter mixture and brush it along the tops and sides of each of the bread pieces with a pastry brush.

Wrap each baguette section completely in foil. Make sure none of the bread is exposed.

Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes or the preheated grill for 6 to 9 minutes, turning frequently, or until bread is toasty and cheese is melted. If you have a thicker baguette it might take longer.

To prepare au jus. Take remaining mix and place in a small saucepan over medium heat, Add 2 cups cold water and whisk. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer to allow it to thicken slightly. Serve on the side in 4 small, individual bowls.

Remove foil packs and open carefully to let steam escape. Serve hot. Serves 4.

To eat, pull a small sandwich free and dip in au jus sauce.

Sweet & Fiery Pineapple Salsa

1 1/2 Cups Fresh Pineapple (diced small)
2       (4 oz.) Hatch Chiles (diced small)*
1/4    Cup Red Onion (finely chopped)  
1/4    Cup Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
1       to 2 Fresno Chiles (seeded, diced small)*
2       Tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Toss together pineapple, Hatch Chiles, red onion, fresh cilantro, Fresno chiles and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yields 2 cups.

Serve on grilled hot dogs with cooked bacon and melted pepper Jack cheese!

*Can substitute chiles of your choice if desired.

Note: Hatch Chiles are actually a generic name for New Mexican Peppers that are grown in the Hatch Valley. They have a perfect balance of flavor and heat. They are harsh eaten raw, so nearly always roasted. Flame roasting these peppers creates caramelization of sugars which add a tantalizing smoky flavor to the chile.

Sweet-Heat Baby Back Ribs

2    tsp. Smoked Paprika
2    tsp. Chili Powder
2    tsp. Dry Mustard
1    tsp. Garlic Powder
1    tsp. Ground Ginger
4    tsp. Salt
2    tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2    (3 lb.) Slabs Baby Back Ribs
1    (12 oz.) Can/bottle Cherry Flavored Soda
1    (15 oz.) Can Tomato Sauce
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1    Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2     tsp. Chili-garlic Sauce (or favorite hot  sauce)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir together paprika, chili powder, dry mustard, garlic powder, ginger, salt and pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons spice mixture over the ribs, dividing evenly between slabs, front and back. Place ribs on a rimmed baking sheet; wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove foil; rest for 30 minutes.

Combine cherry soda, tomato sauce, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, chili-garlic sauce and 1 tablespoon of spice mixture in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups, around 25 to 30 minutes.

Heat grill to medium. Grill ribs, basting with 1 cup of the  cherry soda sauce, turning frequently, until lightly charred and lacquered, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve with remaining cherry soda sauce and spice mixture. Serves 6 to 8.

Strawberry Limeade

1/3   Cup Sugar
1/3   Cup Water
1/2   Cup Lime Juice 
1/2   lb. Strawberries (sliced)
20    to 30 Mint Leaves
2      Cups Cold Water

To make the simple syrup, combine the 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Cool completely.

In a large mason jar or a pitcher, combine the lime juice, simple syrup, strawberries, mint leaves and 2 cups cold water. Let sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours for the flavors to meld. Serve with ice and enjoy. Serves 2.

Frosted Lemonade

1/2   Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2   Cup Sugar
2      Cups Water 
6      Cups Vanilla Ice Cream
Lemon Slices (for garnish)

Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a pitcher until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add water to dilute and chill. Into a blender, add lemonade and ice cream. Blend until smooth and divide among 3 cups. Garnish with slices of lemon and serve. Serves 3.

Popsicle Punch

4  Cups Lemon Lime Soda
4  Cups Lemonade
1  (12 oz.) Can Seltzer
1  Cup Strawberries (sliced)
2  Mangoes (cubed)
3  Strawberry Popsicle Fruit Pops
3  Mango Popsicle Fruit Pops
Extra Strawberries and Mango (for garnish)

In a large pitcher, stir together soda, lemonade, seltzer, strawberries and mangoes. Pour into glasses and garnish rim with a strawberry and a mango slice. Place a popsicle in each glass, instead of ice to keep it cold. Serves 6

Mason Jar Citrus Coolers

1 1/2 Cups Fresh Orange Juice
1/2    Cup Lime Juice
1/2    Cup Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Sugar (times 8)
Lemon Slices (for garnishing)
Lime Slices (for garnishing )
6       Cups Club Soda

In a measuring cup or pitcher, stir together fresh orange juice, lime juice and lemon juice. Spoon sugar into each of 8 mason jars and top with juice mixture. If desired add lemon and lime slices. When ready to serve, fill each mason jar with ice, cover and shake to dissolve sugar, then top with club soda. Serves 8.

BBQ Glazed Pork Chops

1    Tbsp. Olive Oil
2    Cloves Garlic (pressed)
1    Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1    Cup Ketchup
3/4 Cup Bourbon
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
2    Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar
2    Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1    tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
8    Bone-in Pork Chops (1 inch thick)

Heat oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic sizzles (do not let it brown), about 1 minute. Add chili powder and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

Add ketchup, bourbon, molasses, vinegar, sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat grill to medium-high. Season chops with salt and pepper. Grill, turning once, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part (avoiding the bone) registers 135 degrees, 10 to 14 minutes, basting with the glaze (about 2/3 cup) during the last 4 minutes of cooking. Transfer to a platter and baste again. Serve with remaining glaze. Makes 8 servings.

Chicken Pasta Salad

1    lb. Fusilli Pasta
1    lb. Chicken Breasts
      (boneless, skinless)
1    tsp. Garlic Powder
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
1    Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
4    Slices Bacon (cooked, crumbled)
2    Cups Grape Tomatoes (halved)
2    Cups Spinach (packed)
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese (crumbled)
1/4 Cup Red Onion (thinly sliced)
2    Tbsp. Fresh Dill (chopped)

1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3    Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1    Clove Garlic (minced)
1    Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Ground Black Pepper

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook fusilli according to package directions until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Season chicken breasts with garlic powder, salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook chicken until golden and cooked through, 8 minutes per side. Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into 1 inch pieces.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a medium bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic and mustard. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).
n the large bowl with the pasta, toss together all remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over salad and toss until coated. Serve. Serves 8.