Strawberry Cheesecake Flapjacks

3/4    Cup Strawberry Preserves
8       oz. Strawberries (hulled and halved)
2       Cup All-purpose Flour
2       tsp. Baking Powder
1/8    tsp. Salt
2 1/2 Cups Buttermilk
2       Large Eggs
1       Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1       tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2    tsp. Lemon Zest (finely grated)
6       oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
3       Tbsp. Butter
Confectioners’ Sugar (for garnish)

In a medium bowl, microwave the preserves on high 1 minute or until melted. Stir in the strawberries; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat buttermilk, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla and zest until combined. With hands, add cream cheese in chunks. Beat until the cream cheese is well distributed but still slightly lumpy. Add the buttermilk mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir gently until just combined (small lumps are ok).

In a 12 inch non-stick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium. When the pan is hot and the  foam from the butter subsides, add batter by heaping quarter-cupfuls. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles begin to appear and edges are set. Turn and cook another 2 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. If desired, transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and place in a 225 degree oven to keep warm as you finish making the remaining pancakes. Cook remaining batter in batches, add more butter as needed.

Serve the pancakes topped with the strawberry mixture and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Serves 6.

No-Bake Mini Gingerbread Cheese Cakes

12     Gingerbread Oreos (crushed)
8 oz.  Cream Cheese (softened)
1/3    Cup Confectioner’s Sugar 
1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1       tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4    Cup Prepared Gingerbread Pudding  (prepared according to package directions)
8       oz. Cool Whip (plus more for garnish)

Place the gingerbread oreos in a food processor and pulse a few times, until fine crumbs for the crust. Or place in a sealed baggie and crush with a rolling pin. Divide the crumbs evenly between six parfait cups. Gently press the crumbs into the bottom of each serving dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and gingerbread pudding. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are well combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cool whip until completely incorporated.

Spoon the filling into each dish. If desired pipe additional cool whip on top and garnish with a Teddy Graham or a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Makes 6 servings. Store in the refrigerator.

Vintage Christmas Ribbon Salad

2       (3 oz.) Boxes Lime Jello
2 1/2 Cups Hot Water
1/2    Cup Pineapple Juice
20     Large Marshmallows (cut up)
1       (3 oz.) Box Lemon Jello
8       oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
1 1/2 Cups Hot Water
1       (3 oz.) Box Cherry Jello
1       (3 oz.) Box Red Raspberry Jello
2 1/2 Cups Hot Water

Mix the lime jello and 2 1/2 cups hot water. Pour into a 9x13 inch pan. Let stand until firm in the refrigerator.

Heat the pineapple juice and marshmallows in a pan until melted. Dissolve the lemon jello in 1 1/2 cups water. Soften the cream cheese. Combine the hot marshmallow-pineapple juice, lemon jello and cream cheese. Mix well. When cool pour over the lime jello layer. Let stand in the refrigerator until firm.

Combine the cherry and red raspberry jello with 2 1/2 cups hot water. When cool. Pour it over the marshmallow cream cheese layer. Let stand in the refrigerator until firm.

When set cut into 2 x 3 inch squares to serve.

Keep chilled. Makes 18 squares.

Scrumptious Baked Chicken Breasts

4      Large Chicken Breasts
2      Tbsp. Olive Oil
2      Tbsp. Brown Sugar  
1/2   Tbsp. Paprika
1       tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2    tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2    tsp. Onion Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4    tsp. Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle the oil over the chicken breasts. Combine the brown sugar, paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and rub it all over the chicken breasts until evenly coated.

Place the chicken on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or in a greased casserole dish.

Bake in the oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Remove from the oven. Let the breasts rest under tented foil for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 4.

Note: If desired add a bit of cayenne pepper to the seasoning mix to heat it up.

Spiked Cranberry Sauce

1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/4    tsp. Salt
3/4    Cup Port or Dry Sherry
1       Cup Water
4       Cups Fresh Cranberries
1/4    Cup Orange Liqueur Triple Sec or Grand Marnier

Mix together sugar, port and water in a heavy 2-quart saucepan, over med-high heat. Stir well, add the cranberries. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until thickened. Stir often.

Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes.

If a chunkier cranberry sauce is desired, pour the sauce in a blender or food processor and chop or pulse a couple of times, until cranberries are almost pureed. (Easier yet, leave sauce in the pan and use a stick blender.)

If a smooth cranberry sauce is desired, pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl.

Stir in the liqueur. Pour the sauce into an air-tight container and let cool before covering. When the sauce has cooled, cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 6.

Note: Cranberry sauce can be frozen in a freezer container for up to 2 months.

Nutella Cookies

1 1/2 Cups Nutella
3       Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1       Egg plus 1 Egg Yolk  
3/4    Cup All-purpose Flour
3/4    Cup Chocolate Chips
Flaky Sea Salt (for sprinkling)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine the Nutella and brown sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and the egg yolk, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure there are no flour pockets. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Lay sheets of parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon balls and press down gently with the bottom of a glass. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are set and no longer glossy. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and let sit for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes 1 to 2 dozen.

Easy Taco Soup

2       lbs. Ground Beef
1       Envelope Taco Seasoning
1 1/2 Cups Water
1       Can (16 oz.) Mild Chili Beans (undrained)
1       Can (15.25 oz.) Whole Kernel Corn
1       Can (15 oz.) Pinto Beans (rinsed, drained)
1       Can (14.5 oz.) Stewed Tomatoes
1       Can (10 oz.) Diced Tomatoes w/Green
1       Can (4 oz.) Chopped Green Chilies
1       Envelope Ranch Salad Dressing Mix

In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking it into crumbles; drain. Add taco seasoning and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serves 8.

Note: Additional flavorful add-ins (to your taste) black beans, green or red peppers, onion (sauteed with the hamburger) hot peppers of your choice, black olives, beef broth instead of the water, extra taco seasonings such as cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, chili powder and hot sauces. Extra toppings for the soup are sour cream, corn chips, shredded cheese and chives.

Pecan Tarts

1 - 3 oz. Pkg. Cream Cheese (softened)
1   Stick Butter (softened)
1   Cup Flour
Dash Salt

2   Eggs (beaten)
1   Cup Brown Sugar
2   Tbsp. Butter (melted)
1   tsp. Vanilla
Dash Salt
1   Cup Pecans (chopped)

Crust: Mix together the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out a ball of dough into 12 muffin cups. Press each dough ball evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the cups with your fingers. Use extra dough to fill any holes you may create.

Filling: Combine the eggs, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix well (do not beat with a mixer). Divide the pecans evenly into the pastry shells. Pour the filling into the shells, filling 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pans. Cool on wire racks. Makes 12.

Nutty Cream Cheese Tassies

1/2    Cup Butter (softened)
4       oz. Cream Cheese (half 8 oz. pkg, softened)
1 1/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/3    Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/3    Cup Honey
2       Tbsp. Butter (melted)
1/4    tsp. Salt
1       Egg
1/3    Cup Walnuts (chopped)
1/3    Cup Pistachio Nuts (chopped)

In a medium bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes or until well blended. On low speed, beat in flour until soft dough forms. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 24 - 1 inch balls. Press in bottoms and up sides of 24 ungreased mini muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, honey, melted butter, salt and egg with a whisk. Stir in the walnuts and pistachios. Spoon filling evenly into dough-lined cups, filling three-fourths full.

Bake 22 to 24 minutes or until filling is set and edges of cups are golden brown. Immediately run knife around edges of cookies to loosen. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Makes 24 cookies.

Turkey and Stuffing Waffles

4    Cups Stuffing (classic or corn bread)
2    Eggs
1    Cup Cooked Turkey (diced) 
3    Tbsp. Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Crumble the stuffing and break up all the clumps. Combine the crumbled stuffing, eggs, Parmesan cheese and diced turkey in a mixing bowl.

Pour the chicken broth evenly all over the top of mixture and mix ingredients together until evenly incorporated.

Preheat the waffle maker and grease the grate if needed. Depending on the waffle maker and the size of waffles desired, scoop enough mixture and gently press it together. Place it in the waffle maker and gently press the lid to close. The mixture will spread. Keep lid closed while the waffle is cooking and cook until golden brown. Repeat till all mixture is used. Makes about 4.

Sweet Potato Casserole

1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter (4 Tbsp., plus more)
3    to 4 Sweet Potatoes (1 3/4 lbs., peeled, cubed)
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1    tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Salt
2    Large Eggs

1/2  Cup All-purpose Flour
1/2  Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/2  Stick Unsalted Butter (4 Tbsp., melted)
1/4  tsp. Salt
3/4  tsp. Cup Pecans (chopped)

For the sweet potatoes: Add the peeled, cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Mash the sweet potatoes.

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish. Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and it clumps together. Stir in the pecans. Spread the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.

Homemade Gravy

1/4    lb. Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 Cups Yellow Onion (chopped)
1/4    Cup Flour
1       tsp. Salt
1/2    tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2       Cups Turkey Drippings (defatted, plus chicken stock to help make the 2 cups)
1       Tbsp. Cognac or Brandy
1       Tbsp. White Wine (optional)
1       Tbsp. Heavy Cream (optional)

In a large (10 to 12 inch) saute pan, cook the butter and onion over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Do not rush this step; it makes all the difference to the flavor of your gravy when the onions are well cooked.

Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk in, then add the salt and pepper. Whisk together. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot drippings and chicken stock mixture and the cognac and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the wine and cream, if desired. Stir together. Taste and season to taste as needed. Makes 3 cups.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast

1  Whole Bone-in Turkey Breast (6.5 to 7 lbs)
1  Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
2  tsp. Dry Mustard
1  Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary Leaves (chopped)
1  Tbsp. Fresh Sage Leaves (chopped)
1  tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves (chopped)
2  tsp. Salt
1  tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2  Tbsp. Olive Oil
2  Tbsp. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1  Cup Dry White Wine

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and rub half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on top of the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer reads 165 degrees F. when inserted into the thickest part of the breast. If the skin is getting overly brown cover loosely with foil. When turkey is done, cover with foil and let sit for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with drippings or gravy. Serves 6.

Walnut Cookies

1       Cup Granulated Sugar
1       Cup Shortening
1       Large Egg
1       tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1       Cup Whole Milk
4 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
4       tsp. Baking Powder
1/2    tsp. Salt

1 1/2 lbs. Walnuts (chopped fine)
4       oz. Unsalted Butter (melted, 1 stick)
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
4       Large Egg Whites (lightly beaten)

2       Cups Confectioners’ Sugar
1       tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
4       Tbsp. Whole Milk (approximately)

Place oven rack in center position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of electric mixer or by hand, cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with the milk to the shortening mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, making sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. The dough will be soft. Divide the dough into four even pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the Filling; Either process the nuts through a food processor until finely chopped (just a little larger than all-out ground), or chop by hand. The smaller the pieces, the better. Combine the chopped nuts with the sugar and then add in the melted butter. Mix well, making sure there are no large clumps. Add the egg whites and again, mix well.

On a well-floured surface, roll out a piece of dough into a rectangle measuring about 6-inches by 18-inches. Spread 1/4 of the nut filling onto the dough, leaving a small border around the perimeter of the dough. Roll up as you would a jelly roll, with the short ends to the left and right of you, and seal the ends. Cut the roll into 1-inch pieces and place on the cookie sheet. Bake until the tops are just starting to turn light brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set on wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and filling.

Once the cookies are cooled, prepare the icing by mixing together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. You’ll want the icing to be thick enough to not be runny, but still easily spreadable. Ice the tops of the cookies and let set completely before storing in an airtight container. Makes about 7 dozen cookies.

Jumbo Brownie Cookies

2 2/3 Cups 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
1/2    Cup Unsalted Butter (cubed)
4       Large Eggs (room temperature) 
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
4       tsp. Vanilla Extract
2       tsp. Instant Espresso
         Powder (optional)
2/3    Cup All-purpose Flour
1/2    tsp. Baking Powder
1/4    tsp. Salt
1       pkg. (11.5 oz.) Semisweet Chocolate Chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat; cool until mixture is warm.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and if desired espresso powder until well blended. 

Whisk into chocolate mixture. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the chocolate mixture, mixing well. Fold in the chocolate chunks; let stand until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until set, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on pans 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Soft Ginger Cookies

3/4    Cup Butter (softened)
1       Cup Sugar
1       Large Egg (room temperature
1/4    Cup Molasses
2 1/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
2       tsp. Ground Ginger
1       tsp. Baking Soda
3/4    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2    tsp. Ground Cloves
1/4    tsp. Salt
Additional Sugar (in a shallow bowl)

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Pour some sugar in a shallow bowl and then roll each ball in sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. until puffy and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

For the Crust:
1 1/2 Sleeves Graham Crackers (about 15 cracker sheets)
1/2    Cup Powdered Sugar
1       Stick Butter (1/2 cup, melted)

For the Filling:
1    Box (3 oz.) Vanilla Cook and Serve Pudding
1    Cup Half-and-Half
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
Pinch Cinnamon
Pinch Nutmeg
Pinch Ground Cloves
2    Tbsp. Whisky (optional)
1/2 Cup (plus 3 Tbsp.) Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup (additional) Heavy Cream
2    Tbsp. Brown Sugar
Extra Graham Cracker Crumbs (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Grind the graham crackers in a food processor (or if you do not have a food processor, place them in a large ziploc bag and pound them with a rolling pin) Add powdered sugar and melted butter and process until totally combined.

Press into the bottom and up sides of a 9 inch pie pan until nice and firm. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until warm and set. Remove from the oven and allow crust to cool completely.
In a medium saucepan, mix the dry pudding mix with half-and-half and the 1/2 cup heavy cream. Add the spices, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly and thick.
Remove from the heat and stir in the whisky, if using. Add the pumpkin and stir to combine. Place lid on the pot and set aside to cool. When cool enough, place pot in the refrigerator to cool completely.

When the mixture is cool, remove from the refrigerator. In a bowl, add the additional 1/2 cup heavy cream and brown sugar. Beat until very light and fluffy. Fold in the pumpkin cream mixture until combined. Pour into the cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight. Garnish with extra graham crackers crumbled on top. Serves 8.

BBQ Meatballs

For the Meatballs:
1 1/2 lb. Ground Beef
3/4    Cup Oats
1       Cup Milk
3       Tbsp. Onion (very finely minced)
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

For cooking Meatballs:
1   Cup All-purpose Flour
Canola Oil

For the Sauce:
1   Cup Ketchup
2   Tbsp. Sugar
3   Tbsp. Vinegar
2   Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
4   Tbsp. Onion (fine dice)
1   Dash Tabasco Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix until combined. Roll mixture into medium sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from the freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.
Brown the meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Pour mixture over top of the meatballs and bake them at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes or crusty French bread. Serves 6.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls

For the Dough:
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
1/2    Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2    Cup Sugar
1       Pkg. Active Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1       Cup Pumpkin Puree
5       Cups All-purpose Flour (divided, plus more for rolling out dough)
1/2    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4    tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4    tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2    tsp. Baking Soda
1/2    tsp. Salt
3/4    tsp. Baking Powder

For the Filling:
1/2   Cup Salted Butter (melted)
1/2   Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2   Cup Brown Sugar
1/2   tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/4   tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2   tsp. Ground Ginger
3/4   Cup Pecans (finely chopped)

For the Frosting:
8     oz. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1/2  lb. Powdered Sugar
2     Tbsp. Whole Milk (plus more as needed)
2     Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (melted)
Dash of Salt
1/2  tsp. Maple Extract (optional)
1/4  Cup Pecans (chopped)

Dough: In a large saucepan, combine the whole milk, vegetable oil and sugar. Heat until hot but not boiling, between 105-115 degrees F. Remove the pan from the stove. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid and allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree until combined.

In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Sprinkle it into the saucepan and stir until it just comes together. Cover the saucepan with a dish towel and set in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. After 1 hour the mixture should be very puffy and doubled in size. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until totally combined.

Make the rolls: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9 inch round baking dishes or pie pans. Turn out the dough onto a well floured surface and press it into a rectangular shape. If it is overly sticky, sprinkle generously with additional flour until it is easier to handle. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches by 24 inches.

For the filling: Drizzle the melted butter over the dough and smear it all over the surface with your fingers. Mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Sprinkle this all over the buttered surface of the dough. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over this. Starting at the top, use a typewriter motion to roll the dough toward you, into a large roll. Roll it tightly as you go so the roll will be nice and neat. Pinch the seam closed and turn the roll so the seam is facing down.

Slice 1 1/2 inch thick slices and place them in the greased pans, 8 rolls per pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until nice and golden brown on top and around edges.

For the frosting: Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add the butter, salt and maple extract and beat until combined.
Ice the rolls immediately when they come out of the oven. Sprinkle more chopped nuts over the frosting, then allow them to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Makes 16 rolls.

Chunky Apple Cake

1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs (room temperature)
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 1//2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
6 Cups Tart Apples* (peeled, chopped)

Butterscotch Sauce:
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/4 Cup Butter (cubed)
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and beat well after each addition. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add this to the creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in the apples until well combined. Spread the batter into a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serves 15.

Butterscotch Sauce; In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add the heavy cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat Drizzle over top of the cake.

* Note: Granny Smith are the best known tart apples for baking, as well as Northern Spy and Braeburn which are also good.

Apple Crisp

1    Cup All-purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1    Cup Packed Brown Sugar  
1    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Butter (softened)
4    Cups Granny Smith or Honeycrisp Apples (peeled, chopped)
1    Cup Sugar
2    Tbsp. Cornstarch
1    Cup Water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the rolled oats, pecans pieces, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Dump the dry ingredients into the prepared baking pan. In the same bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, milk, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and vanilla. Drizzle the pumpkin mixture over the oats. Stir lightly with a fork to evenly incorporate everything. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven allow to cool 10 minutes. Leftovers can be stored, refrigerated for 1 week. Serve warm.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

5  lbs. Fresh Assorted Tomatoes (or all Plum)
2  Tbsp. Olive Oil
5  Cloves Garlic (minced)
1  Yellow Onion (diced)
2  Tbsp. Tomato Paste
2  Tbsp. Fresh Basil
Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)

Heat a sauce pan and add the oil, saute onion and garlic until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner and set aside.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, blanch the tomatoes by dropping them a few at a time, into the boiling water until they begin to wrinkle and peel. This takes 2 or 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove each tomato from the water and place on a sheet pan to cool. Blanch all tomatoes. Carefully peel the skin off the tomatoes and cut out the stem area. Roughly chop up the tomatoes and add them to the onion and garlic pan.

Add tomato paste and a pinch of salt to the pan. Bring to a simmer and then let them simmer on low for up to 2 hours, stirring often. When sauce is finished add the chopped fresh basil, salt to your taste and a dash of black pepper.

Cool sauce completely, store in sealed mason jars or other airtight containers and keep in fridge for 5 to 7 days. To freeze store in airtight containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 8 servings.

Use this on any pasta dish, it is also great as a homemade pizza sauce.

Cinnamon Apple Tacos

6       Large Flour Tortillas
Vegetable Oil (for frying)
2/3    Cup Sugar
2       tsp. Cinnamon
4       Large Apples
1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter
3       Tbsp. Sugar
1       tsp. Lemon Juice
1       tsp. Cornstarch
1       tsp. Cinnamon
1/3    Cup Water (divided)
Whipped Topping (your choice)

For the shells:
Using a small circle cookie cutter or the top of a glass or mason jar, cut out circles from your tortillas. Each tortilla should yield around 3 circles. Combine 2/3 cup sugar and the 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat about 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Place a scrap of tortilla in the oil to gauge if it is hot enough, it should bubble instantly.

Using tongs, place one circle in the oil for 5 seconds, flip it over and fold it in half, holding it folded for about 5 seconds or until browned. Flip over and fry the other side until crispy. Immediately remove it from the oil, give it a little shake and place it in the cinnamon sugar mix.

Set it in a taco rack or on an up-side down muffin pan to cool by placing them between the muffin domes.

For the filling:
Peel and dice the apples. Toss with the lemon juice. Over medium heat, stir together butter, chopped apples, cinnamon and sugar. Add about 1/4 cup of the water and let cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Stir cornstarch into the remaining water and add to the pan. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is reduced and apples are soft.

To assemble:
Fill each taco with warm apple mixture and top with a bit of whipped topping, add a sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish. Makes 18 small tacos.

Grilled Peach Cobbler

7    Cups Fresh Peach Slices (1/2 inch thick, or 2 (20 oz.) bags frozen peach slices, thawed and drained)
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
2    Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
1    tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
2    Tbsp. Butter

Biscuit Topping:
1       Cup All-purpose Flour
1/4    Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2    Cup Heavy Cream
1/4    Cup Butter (melted)

Heat one side of the grill to medium-high (350 to 400 degrees F.) Place the peaches in a large bowl. Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and  nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over the peach slices and stir gently to combine. Spoon peach mixture into a buttered 10 inch cast iron skillet. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces over peaches. Cover skillet tightly with aluminum foil. Place the skillet over the lit side of the grill and grill, covered until bubbling and hot. About 15 minutes.

Biscuit Topping:
Stir together flour, sugar and baking powder in a small bowl. Make a well in the center and add the cream and melted butter. Stir just until mixture comes together. Uncover grill and discard the foil. Dollop across the top of the bubbling peaches with dough mixture. Cover with the grill lid and grill for about 15 minutes more. Remove skillet from the grill and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, if desired or at room temperature.

Fresh Peach Smoothie

16  oz. Frozen Peach Slices
1    Fresh Peach (pit removed)
1    Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1    Cup Milk
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Rolled Oats
4    Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup

Add the frozen peach slices, fresh peach, yogurt, milk, cinnamon, oats and maple syrup to a high speed blender. Blend on high until thick and creamy. Pour into glasses and enjoy immediately. Yields 2.

Fresh Peach Popsicles

3/4 Cup Whole Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 tsp. Salt
3    Ripe Peaches (peeled, diced, divided, about 2 1/2 cups)
10  Popsicle Sticks

Process the buttermilk, honey, cream, salt and 1 1/2 cups of the peaches in a blender or food processor until completely smooth, about 1 minute.

Finely chop remaining 1 cup peaches; stir into the buttermilk mixture. Divide peach mixture among plastic frozen pop molds, leaving some room at the top to allow for expansion. Cover with lids and insert wooden craft sticks. Freeze until pops are completely firm and sticks are set, 6 to 8 hours. To remove pops, run outside of the molds under hot water for a few seconds and remove lids. Yields 10 popsicles.

Tomato Bacon Squares

6    Slices Bacon
1/3 Cup Green Bell Pepper (chopped)
1/3 Cup Onion (chopped)
4    Plum Tomatoes (seeded, chopped)
1    tsp. Dried Basil
2    Tbsp. Mayonnaise
1    Clove Garlic (crushed)
1    Refrigerated Pizza Crust Dough
3/4 Cup Swiss Cheese (shredded)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place bacon slices in a large skillet over medium heat and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Crumble bacon into a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix in the bell pepper, tomatoes and basil. In a separate small bowl, combine mayonnaise and garlic.

Roll pizza crust into a 12x15 inch rectangular baking sheet. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the bacon mixture over the mayonnaise. Top the entire pizza with cheese. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the top is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cool and cut the pizza into 24 squares. Serves 24 as appetizers.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

3     Cups Tomatoes (chopped very small)
1     Cup Onion (small dice)
1/2  Cup Green Bell Pepper (chopped small)
1/4  Cup Fresh Cilantro (minced)
2     Tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
4     tsp. Fresh Jalapeno Pepper (chopped very fine, include seeds)
1/2  tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2  tsp. Salt
1/2  tsp. Ground Black Pepper

Stir tomatoes, onion, green bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl. Makes 5 cups, about 40 servings.

Summer Pesto Pasta

1      lb. Spaghetti Pasta
2      Ears Corn (shucked)
1      Medium Yellow Squash (cut into 1/2 inch thick slices)
1      Medium Zucchini (cut into 1/2 inch thick slices)
1      Small Bell Pepper (seeded, cut into sixths)

4      Green Onions (trimmed)
2      Tbsp. Olive Oil
1      Lemon
1/2   Cup Store Bought Refrigerated Pesto
1      pt. Grape Tomatoes (halved)
1/4   Cup Fresh Parsley (chopped, packed)
1      tsp. Salt (divided)
1      tsp. Black Pepper (divided)

Heat the grill on medium-high. Cook spaghetti as directed. Rinse, drain well and let cool completely.

In a large bowl, toss the ears of corn, squash, zucchini, bell pepper and onions with the oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until well coated. Grill the corn, turning, 10 minutes or until charred in spots. Grill squash, zucchini and bell pepper 4 to 6 minutes or until tender and grill marks appear, turning once. Grill onions 2 minutes or until tender and slightly charred, turning occasionally.

Into a large bowl, from the lemon, grate 1/2 teaspoon zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. Whisk in the pesto and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Chop squash, zucchini, pepper and onion and add to the bowl with pesto. Cut the corn from the cobs and add to the bowl along with the tomatoes, parsley and cooked pasta. Toss to coat. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8.

Charred Salsa

1    lb. Tomatoes (halved)
1    Small Onion (skin on, halved)
1    Small Clove Garlic (skin on)
1    Jalapeno Pepper
1/4 Cup Cilantro

Heat the grill to medium-high. Grill tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapeno, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Let cool 10 minutes.

Remove the skins from the onion and garlic and transfer all vegetables to a blender. Add cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to your taste) and puree until mostly smooth. Yields 12 servings.

Brown Butter and Corn Pasta

4    Medium Ears Corn
1    lb. Campanelle or Fusilli Pasta
6    Tbsp. Butter 
1    Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves (packed)
1/4 tsp. each Salt & Pepper (plus 1/8 tsp. more)

Heat a large covered saucepan of salted water to boiling on high. Meanwhile, cut kernels off ears of corn; set aside.

Cook the pasta as directed. While pasta cooks, in a 3 quart saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and very fragrant, swirling frequently. Reduce heat to medium. Add the corn and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes or until corn is heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.

Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta well; return to the pot along with the corn mixture, Parmesan, basil, 1/8 tsp. salt and reserved pasta water. Toss until well coated. Yields 6 servings.

Grilled Chicken w/ White BBQ Sauce

4 lb. Asst. Chicken Thighs, Drumsticks, Wings
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 Batch White BBQ Sauce
Parsley Leaves (for garnish)

White BBQ Sauce:
1 1/2 Cups Mayonnaise
1/4    Cup Cider Vinegar
2       Tbsp. Horseradish (drained)
1       Tbsp. Lemon Juice
3/4    tsp. Sugar
1/4    tsp. Cayenne Pepper
3/4    tsp. Salt
1/2    tsp. Black Pepper

Heat the grill on medium-low. Season the chicken all over with the salt and pepper. Grill chicken covered, 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

While the chicken grills, make the white sauce. Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Makes about 1 3/4 cups of sauce.

Place 3/4 cup of sauce in a bowl. Uncover the chicken; generously brush with sauce. Turn chicken pieces over. Cook, brushing and turning chicken two more times, 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (160 degrees F.) Garnish with parsley; serve with remaining sauce. Serves 8.

Ginger Pork Meatball Subs

1    lb. Ground Pork
2    Scallions (finely chopped)
1    Tbsp. Fresh Ginger (grated)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce
1/2 Seedless Cucumber
1    Baguette
Mayonnaise, fresh mint, cilantro and thinly sliced red chile for serving

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the pork, scallions, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Drop 16 meatballs, about 2 tablespoons each, of pork mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with chilli sauce.

Meanwhile, cut the cucumber into matchsticks. Cut baguette crosswise into 4 pieces, then split each piece in half. Spread bread with mayonnaise and fill with meatballs, cucumber, fresh mint, cilantro and sliced chile. Yields 4 servings.

Tortellini Salad w/ Tomatoes and Corn

1       Pkg. (9 oz.) Refrigerated Cheese Tortellini
3 1/3 Cups Fresh Corn
2       Cups Cherry Tomatoes (quartered)
2       Green Onions (thinly sliced)
1/4    Cup Fresh Basil (minced)
2       Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (grated)
4       tsp. Olive Oil
1/4    tsp. Garlic Powder
1/8    tsp. Pepper

 In a 6 quart stock pot, cook the tortellini according to package directions, add the corn during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain; transfer corn and tortellini to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, onions, basil, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic powder and pepper and toss to coat well. Serve at room temperature or chill for 2 hours. Serves 4

Turkey Rice Casserole

For the Topping:
14      Ritz Crackers (1/2 Cup)
1        Slice Hearty Sandwich Bread (1/4 Cup)
3        Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (melted)

For the Casserole:
1        Tbsp. Olive Oil
1        Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1        Medium Yellow Onion
2        Medium Carrots (peeled, sliced thin)
2        Cloves Garlic (minced)
1        Cup Long Grain White Rice (uncooked)
1        Cup Water
2 1/2  Cups Unsalted Chicken or Turkey Stock
1        Cup Heavy Cream
1/4     tsp. Salt
1/4     tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2        Cups Cooked Turkey (shredded or cubed)
8        oz. Water Chestnuts (sliced, drained)
3/4     Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice of 1 Lemon
1        tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2  tsp. Dried Tarragon Leaves
1 1/2  Cups Frozen Baby Peas

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Spray an 8x8 inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

For the Topping:
Place the crackers and bread slice in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until fine crumbs. Place the crumbs in a small bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well and set aside.

For the Casserole:
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the oil and butter. Add the onion and carrots and cook about 6 minutes or until the carrots have softened and are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, until the garlic has bloomed and is fragrant. Add the rice, cook and stir until coated. Add the water, chicken stock, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat to low.

Cover and cook, stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be just tender. Add the turkey, water chestnuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, tarragon and peas. Cook uncovered, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Pour the turkey/rice mixture into the prepared casserole dish, sprinkle with the cracker crumb topping and bake at 375 degrees F. For 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

2       Cans (10.75 oz. each) Condensed Tomato Soup
2       Tbsp. Tomato Paste
2       Cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth
2       tsp. Garlic (minced)
1/2    Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2    tsp. Dried Basil
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
2       Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1       Pkg. (9 oz.) Fresh Cheese Tortellini

 In a medium pot, combine the soup, tomato paste, chicken broth, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, dried basil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the butter and milk. Stir to combine. Add the tortellini to soup and cook according to package directions. Remove from the heat and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Southwestern Rice

1    Tbsp. Olive Oil
1    Medium Green Pepper (diced)
1    Medium Onion (chopped)
2    Cloves Garlic (minced)
1    Cup Uncooked Long Grain Rice
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/8 tsp. Ground Turmeric
1    Can (14 1/2 oz.) Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2    Cups Frozen Corn (thawed)
1    Can (15 oz.) Black Beans (rinsed, drained)
1    Can (10 oz.) Diced Tomatoes w/Green Chilies (undrained)

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat; saute pepper and onions 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute.

Stir in the rice, spices and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients; cook, covered, until heated through. Serves 8.

Garlic-Cheese Crescent Rolls

1       Tube Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
3       Tbsp. Butter (melted)
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1       tsp. Dried Oregano
2       Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Separate the crescent dough into 8 triangles. Roll up from the wide end and place them point side down, 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Curve the ends in to form a crescent shape.

Combine the butter, garlic powder and oregano; brush over the rolls. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 rolls.

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta

1       Cup Uncooked Bow Tie Pasta
1 1/2 tsp. Butter
2 1/4 tsp. Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp. All-purpose Flour
1/2    tsp. Garlic (minced)
Dash Salt
Dash Dried Basil
Dash Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
3       Tbsp. Milk
2       Tbsp. Chicken Broth
1       Tbsp. Water
2       Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (shredded)
1       Tbsp. Sour Cream

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the oil, flour, garlic and seasonings until blended. Gradually add the milk, broth and water. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat; stir in the cheese and sour cream. Drain pasta; toss with the sauce and serve. Serves 2.

Toasted Ham & Cheese Melts with Salsa

5       Eggs
1/4    Cup Water
1/4    tsp. Dried Chilli Flakes (optional)
1/4    Cup Fresh Cilantro (finely chopped)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
4       Large (or 8 small) Ham Slices
8       Slices Jarlsberg Cheese*
8       Slices White Bread
2 1/2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1       Tbsp. Olive Oil
Tomato Salsa or Sweet Chilli Sauce (for serving)

*Jarlsberg cheese is a mild cheese made from cow’s milk

Beat the eggs with the water and chili flakes (if using) and the chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the ham and cheese slices between the slices of bread to make 4 sandwiches. Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture on both sides and shake off any excess.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add 2 sandwiches to the pan and weigh down with a heavy-based pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until the outside is crisp and golden and the cheese has melted. Remove and repeat with the remaining two sandwiches.

Cut the sandwiches in half and serve with the tomato salsa on the side or drizzle with sweet chilli sauce. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Some other good choices of cheese are: Monterey Jack, which is a mild, creamy cheese that melts well and mixes nicely with a bit of sharp cheddar. Gruyere, Raclette and Blue are also good choices.
To add a bit of extra flavor to your basic toasted ham and cheese try adding ingredients like chutney, pepper jelly, tomato jam or bacon jam.

Sicilian Chicken Thighs

1    Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
3/4 tsp. Salt (divided)
4    Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil (divided)
1    tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
4    Bone-in Chicken Thighs (about 2 lbs total, skin removed)
1    lb Yellow Potatoes (diced)
4    Medium Carrots (diced)
2    Cups Grape Tomatoes (halved)
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1/4 Castelvetrano Olives* (quartered)
1    Tbsp. Capers (rinsed)
1    Sprig Fresh Parsley (chopped, for garnish)

Mash the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt, using a fork, to form a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Italian seasoning and the crushed red pepper.

Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate and top with the garlic mixture.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes and carrots and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown and stick to the pan, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, olives and capers; cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, for 1 minute. Nestle the chicken back into the pan, cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken, without touching bone, registers 165 degrees F. 10 to 15 minutes. Serve garnished with the parsley, if desired. Serves 4.

*What makes Castelvetrano Olives different?
Castelvetran olives are a vibrant green Sicilian olive that is processed by treating them with lye before rinsing and storing, instead of brineing or salt-curing. The result is a very mild olive with a salty-sweet flavor and a buttery texture. They definitely taste different (better) than your average jar of pimento stuffed olives.

Creamy Ranch Beef and Noodles

1    (12 oz.) Package Wide Egg Noodles
1    (8 oz.) Container Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Milk 
2    Tbsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1    Tbsp. Olive Oil
1    lb. Ground Beef

In a large pot of heavily salted water, cook noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, milk and seasoning mix and stir until well blended. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the noodles and sour cream mixture to the skillet and stir until well combined and warmed through. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Crunchy Baked Ranch Chicken

1    Cup Mayonnaise
2    tsp. Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing Mix
3/4 Cup Unseasoned Breadcrumbs
4    Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves (4 to 5 oz. each)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and seasoning mix until well blended. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or plate.

Dip each breast in the mayonnaise mixture, turning to coat all sides until well covered, shaking off any excess. Lay the chicken in the breadcrumbs and turn until evenly coated.

Arrange the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and bake approximately 25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. or until juices run clear. (for chicken breasts weighing 6 to 8 oz. increase baking time to 40 to 45 minutes.)
Serves 4.

Easy Ranch Roasted Carrots

1 1/2 lbs. Whole Carrots (peeled, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices)
2       Tbsp. Olive Oil
3       to 4 Tbsp. Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Place the sliced carrots into a mixing bowl and drizzle them with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lightly toss them to coat all of the carrots in oil.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the ranch seasoning mix onto the carrots and toss to coat. Lay the seasoned carrots in a single layer onto the baking sheet. You may need to do this in batches or use more than 1 cookie sheet if they do not all fit on one sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 18 to 20 minutes, until the carrots are starting to turn golden brown with slightly crisp edges.

Remove the carrots from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning and a pinch of black pepper. Toss lightly and serve warm. Serves 4.

Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken Dinner

2       Tbsp. Butter (melted)
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1       tsp. Black Pepper
1       lb. Baby Red Potatoes (halved)
1       Cup Carrots (peeled, 1 inch cubed)
1       Cup Onion (chopped)
1       (3 to 4 lb.) Whole Chicken (giblets removed)
5       Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1       Sprig Fresh Rosemary
5       Cloves Garlic
1       Small Lemon (cut into wedges)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a 13x9 inch (3 quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Stir in the potatoes, carrots and onions. Pour into the baking dish.

Rub the chicken all over with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place the thyme, rosemary, garlic and lemon wedges in the cavity of the chicken. If desired, tie the legs together with 6 inch piece of cooking twine.

Place the chicken, breast side down, on top of the potato and vegetable mixture. Roast for 30 minutes; then carefully turn the chicken breast side up. Continue to roast for 25 to 35 minutes longer, until the legs move easily when lifted or twisted (at least 165 degrees in thickest part of thigh) and potatoes are tender. Remove chicken and place on a serving plater and surround with the vegetables. If desired, use pan drippings on the side. Serves 4

Garlic-Cheese Crescent Rolls

1       Tube Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
3       Tbsp. Butter (melted)
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1       tsp. Dried Oregano
2       Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Separate the crescent dough into 8 triangles. Roll up from the wide end and place them point side down, 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Curve the ends in to form a crescent shape.

Combine the butter, garlic powder and oregano; brush over the rolls. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 8 rolls.

Easy-Peasy Shrimp Ziti

1    lb. Ziti or Rigatoni
3    Tbsp. Olive Oil
3    Cloves Garlic (chopped)
1    (14.5 oz.) Can Crushed Tomatoes
2/3 Cup Half-and-Half
1    lb. (31 to 40 count) Shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1    Cup Frozen Peas
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Green Onions (sliced, if desired for garnish)

Cook pasta as directed on box.

Place a deep sided, 12 inch skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and half-and-half to skillet. Heat to simmering, then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the shrimp, peas, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook until shrimp are done, about 5 minutes.

Plate the pasta and cover with the sauce or toss the sauce with pasta then serve. Garnish with sliced green onions if desired. Serves 6

Strawberry Valentines Chex Mix

4    Cups Rice Chex Cereal
1    (8 oz.) Bag Strawberry Candy Melts
1/2 tsp. Shortening
Valentine M&M’s and Sprinkles

Measure out the Chex cereal into a large bowl.  Pour the candy melts into a small glass bowl. Add 1/2 tsp. shortening. Microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds. Let sit in the microwave for 3 minutes.

Remove and gently stir. If the candy melts look smooth, it’s done. If not, return to the microwave and heat in 15 second increments, letting it sit for 2 to 3 minutes each time, until they are melted and smooth.

Pour the melted candy melts over the Chex cereal and stir gently to coat. Transfer the cereal mix to a large piece of wax paper.

Spread out. Sprinkle with M&M’s and Valentine sprinkles. Let it cool to set. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container to save. When ready, divide into festive containers for gifting. Makes 20 individual serving.

Baked Chicken Alfredo

1    lb. Penne
4    Tbsp. Butter (plus more to grease baking dish)
2    Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1    lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1    tsp. Italian Seasoning
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2    Cloves Garlic (minced)
4    Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
3    Cups Half-and-Half
1/2 Cup Parmesan (freshly grated)
1    Cup Mozzarella (shredded)
1/4 Cup Parsley (freshly chopped)

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain immediately and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter a large 9x13 inch baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Season both sides of the chicken with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and wipe the skillet clean. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing crosswise.

Make sauce: Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and melt butter. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture is bubbling and golden, 1 minute more. Gradually pour in half-and-half, whisking constantly.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Let it simmer until sauce thickens, 1 minute, then season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken and alfredo sauce. Spread about half of the pasta mixture on the bottom of the baking dish, then sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Add the remaining pasta mixture and top with more mozzarella. Bake until cheese is melty, about 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving. Serves 6.

Roasted Broccoli

1/2    Cup Olive Oil
4       tsp. Garlic (minced)
2       Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
3/4    tsp. Black Pepper
3       Broccoli Heads (cut into medium florets)
1       Cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or grease the baking sheet.

Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Strain oil and discard the pieces of garlic.

Whisk in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss the broccoli with the oil mixture and spread onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, toss the broccoli once during the baking time. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.