Kool Aid Play Dough

Kool-Aid Play Dough

My grandmother made this recipe for my daughters often when they would sleep over at her house.  She’d make it for them and then they’d sit for hours at her kitchen counter, with rolling pins and all of her cookie cutters at their disposal, happily chatting away to her as they rolled this out over and over, cutting out their favorite shapes.  This recipe not only smells great, but has the added advantage of being completely non-toxic, in case your little one decides to take a taste (as little ones are known to do!).  I’ve pulled it out now because one of my girls, working her way through college as a nanny, asked me for it so she can make it for the kids she watches a few days every week. This is one recipe that simply builds its own memories.  


                                                                    Kool-aid® Playdough


3 cups flour

½ cup salt

2 packages unsweetened Kool-Aid

2 cups boiling water

3 Tbls vegetable oil


Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.   Carefully add the hot water and stir with a large  spoon until all is moistened.  Knead the oil in to the mix as soon as it’s cool enough to handle. Continue to knead until the dough is completely smooth.  Store in zip-loc bags or Tupperware.  


Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
This is a wonderful, basic, go-to dressing to whip up and use on any salad…. so much better than any store-bought dressing out there!  Very classic in taste, yet so easy to make.  Once you start making your own salad dressing you’ll wonder why you ever bought bottled to begin with!
                                                              Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
1/3 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chives, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or cruet  and mix or shake well.  Drizzle over salad and toss lightly.

Cherry Pecan Bread

I love quick breads, and this is one of my favorites.  I made it over the holidays and took it to work for a pot-luck we had on Christmas Eve.  It went over as well there as it does with my family and friends.   Maybe because of the pretty red color, but I do tend to make this mostly over the holiday season…something I just may change this year! 
Cherry Pecan Bread

Cherry Pecan Bread

                                                Cherry Pecan Bread
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 8-10 oz jar maraschino cherries, drained and diced
Preheat oven to 350 ͦ
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffly.  Slowly add some of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, alternating between the two until each is incorporated well.  Fold the pecans and cherries into the batter and turn the batter into a buttered or sprayed 9inch bread loaf pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a baking rack to cool completely.
*No buttermilk on hand?  Measure just under one cup of milk and add 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar; mix until the milk looks “curdled.”  It’s a perfect substitute for buttermilk!

Japanese Mushroom Soup

Happy New Year! Working in retail, the holiday season was a busy one for me so I haven’t been blogging much but I hope to do more of it now!  And I was cooking this soup up today so I figured what better time to start.
One of my girls loves the Japanese steakhouse near us… in fact we’ve gone there every year for her birthday as long as I can remember.  We all love the near-clear soup they serve, with just a few mushrooms and onion bits floating in it and when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it.  I tweaked it a bit and, while it’s not exactly like the local  restaurant’s, it’s pretty darn good as is.  
Japanese Mushroom Soup
                                                               Japanese Mushroom Soup
1 celery stalk
1 small onion
2 carrots
Canned French fried onions
1 small piece fresh ginger (about 1 inch long)
3 garlic cloves
2 large beef bouillon cubes
2 large chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
8 cups water
Cut the celery, onion and carrots in fourths and add to the water in a large stock pot.  Cut the ginger and garlic into a few pieces each and toss into the water, along with the bouillon cubes.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for a least an hour.  Strain the vegetables, discarding them and leaving just the broth.  Add the sliced mushrooms and simmer a few minutes more.  Serve with a few French fried onions sprinkled on top. 

Spicy Deviled Eggs

Spicy Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs, and I have to give credit to my friend and coworker, Deena, who came up with this recipe to serve at an event we did for work.  She’s a wonderful chef and has had a private catering business for many years, and she’s so much fun to work with because some days all we do is talk food!  I figured with the holiday season upon us I’d post this recipe as it’s really different from any other deviled egg recipe I’ve ever had. 
                                                        Spicy Deviled Eggs
12 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and chilled
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. drained capers
1 T. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, minced
½ t. red chili???? Oil
1 T. fresh parsley, minced
A thick balsamic vinegar or reduction for drizzle
Cut eggs in half lengthwise.  Place yolks into a bowl and mash with a fork.  Mix in mayonnaise, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and chili oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Mix in parsley.
  Pipe or spoon egg mixture into egg halves, mounding slightly.  Drizzle with a thick balsamic vinegar and serve.
Makes 24.

Super Sugar Cookies

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Super Sugar Cookies
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Icing from recipe below
colored sugar, sprinkles or gel to color icing
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt and stir together.
In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until well blended.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well mixed.  Lower speed, and scraping down the sides, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.  Do not overmix.
Gather the dough into a ball, then flatten slightly and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. 
When chilled through, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to a 1/2-inch thickness.  Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching carefully from the 12 minute mark so as not to brown.  Immediately transfer the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack to cool.  Cool completely before decorating with the icing.
Cookie Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  Divide into smaller bowls to color different colors with liquid or gel food colorings.  Sprinkle with colored sugar or candies while still wet.  Allow to set before serving. 

Crostini, plain and simple

Crostini, plain and simple Crostini, plain and simple

Pizza Fondue

pizza fondue 001

This make a great appetizer for sure, but I’ve long served it as a quick dinner for my girls.  I’ve paired it in the picture with crostini but it’s also great with garlic bread as a dipping tool!  The recipe calls for mozzarella cheese and one thing I want to point out is that mozzarella can be a salty cheese, so choose wisely, or at least know how it tastes before you put it into this recipe.  If you make it and it turns out too salty, try adding a little more cheddar.  Other add-ins could be those that you’d put on to a pizza, such as sliced olives, diced pepperoni, green peppers etc., so whether you try this for dinner or a game-day appetizer table, you can make it your own.
                                                                         Pizza Fondue
1 pound ground beef
1 Tablespoon oregano
24oz jar marinara sauce
16oz grated cheddar
10oz grated mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until well done.  Add the marinara sauce and oregano and mix well.  Stir in both cheeses and stir until the cheeses melt.  Keep warm in a chafing dish if serving as an appetizer.  Serve with crostini or thin slices of garlic bread.

Truffle Twice-Baked Potatoes

truffle pots 2 006
Truffle is all the rage right now, and working for a store that sells artisan cooking oils and vinegars I find that people either love it or hate it.  I am a lover of it, but oddly enough I didn’t know this until I did, in fact, start selling it.  If you don’t like the flavor, skip it in this recipe, as I did for the first 20 plus years I made it for my family!  Also, as with most of my recipes, feel free to add bacon bits, green onion,  sun-dried tomatoes…you get the idea.  I’m a “whats-in-the-fridge-today?” kind of gal. 
                                              Truffle White Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes
4 large Russet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk, warmed
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
2Tablespoons  Truffle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan Scrub the potatoes clean and then bake in a 425 oven for an hour until done. Let cool 10 mins, then slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides of each half, leaving a small amount around the side to form a wall. Place potato in a mixing bowl and add the rest of ingredients, except the Parmesan. Mix until well blended and fairly smooth. Spoon the mixture back into the shells and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. You can drizzle with your choice of melted butter or extra Truffle oil at this point, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

The Girls’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

I call this “The girls’ recipe because it’s one that actually started with them, or one of their friends rather.  Then they just became the cookie makers in the family, which was fine by me!  With so many chocolate chip cookie recipes around, it’s hard to say what makes one better than another… As for me, I like this one the best because it was passed “up” to me for a change!  Grab a glass of milk and sit around the table for some talk with these cookies…you never know the stories you’re going to here with all these girls!
The Girls’ Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk, mini, YOU choose!)
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
Combine the Crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg and beat until well blended.
In another bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix into creamed mixture.  Stir the chocolate chips and nuts in.  Drop by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 8- 10 minutes.  Cool 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. 

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