Reuben Nachos

I have to credit my love for cooking to my grandma’s yes, but later in life to Rachael Ray. Now I know a lot of people don’t like her and I have my moments where I just want her to come to reality because she always says, Your local store has blank blank blank. Well I live in Middle American and Rural America at that and our local store doesn’t always have things she refers to, example shallots. 

But the thing about her is she came up with the idea of 30 minute meals. I was home from college one Christmas and got in to watching her show. I guess there was nothing else on so I got hooked on Food Network but I believe one of the first recipes she ever made was Mexican Lasagna. Truth be told I love Mexican food and I love Lasagna so you combine the two in 30 minutes or less and I’m sold. I remember calling my mom at work and asking her to pick up ingredients (texting wasn’t really an option at the time). When mom got home I made it and fell in love.

From then on I was hooked on watching her show. I then branched out to others but like I said, I want to credit her. I think it was that 30 minute meals thing and the fact that even if we couldn’t find what she was talking about in Rural Middle America I learned how to substitute. As you can see from the above picture I also learned what a Rue is. It’s a combination of butter and flour cooked down and then added to liquid as a thickening agent. Oooo look at me go. Are you impressed?

Eventually Rachael Ray came into daytime TV. When Mark and I started dating I told him I really liked her and her show. I meant the one on Food Network but he thought it was the one on daytime tv. Because of that miscommunication I started watching her daytime TV show. 

Since 2010 I have quit watching her as much. In fact in the last year I can’t remember a time I’ve taken a minute to watch her daytime tv show or really any show of hers on Food Network. Is she even on Food Network anymore? I don’t know. One of the shows I did watch though, she made New York Deli Nachos.

I tried them once before, in fact it was early on in Mark and my marriage. It’s a combination of kettle chips and all the things that go into a Reuben Sandwich. Holy YUM! Mark loves Reuben Sandwiches so I knew this would be an easy sell for him. But here recently I was sitting here thinking, what are we going to have for dinner. Like I said the initial time we had these was early on in our marriage (we’ll have been married 7 years this year) and it hit me like a freight train I wanted these reuben nachos.

When he got home from work, I left our little girl with him and ran to the store after the ingredients. The only thing I couldn’t find was the shredded lettuce, but we luckily had a brand new package in the refrigerator. It’s a layer of kettle chips and meat and cheese sauce and sauerkraut and lettuce and just yummy stuff.

Let’s just say this hit the spot. Between the 4 of us who were eating on this for dinner, there wasn’t a bite leftover. Yes, they were that good. I’m just saying, go to the store, get the ingredients, and try them now. You won’t be disappointed!

New York Deli Nachos

Ingredients
  • Ridged, thick-cut or kettle potato chips or frozen waffle fries
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 3/4 pound thick-cut deli pastrami, about 3 slices, diced
  • 3/4 pound sliced 1/4-inch thick corned beef, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup chopped or grated Muenster cheese
  • 2 rounded tablespoons spicy deli mustard
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup relish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced or chopped deli pickles

Preheat oven to 250F.

Place potato chips on a large rimmed baking sheet and warm in oven or bake waffle fries to package directions.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Add beef and onions, and cook until crispy at edges and hot through. Add sauerkraut and saut until warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.

Heat a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat. Melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk in milk, season with salt and pepper, and thicken. Melt in cheeses and stir in mustard.

In a bowl, stir together sour cream, ketchup and relish; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange warm chips or waffle fries on a platter. Top with meat and cheese sauce. Drizzle with Russian dressing and top with lettuce, onions and chopped deli pickles.

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Corn Cakes

Corn is one thing my family can agree on liking. I know I know it doesn’t provide much nutritional value, yada yada, but it’s A-maize-ing. haha. You know, corn is Maize. Please tell me I’m semi funny? *crickets* Ok fine….

I stumbled across this recipe so many years ago that I’m not even sure when, where, or how. Like I mentioned above, my husband really likes corn and one night I came across this recipe and we decided to give it a whirl. OMG, I think we wound up having it 4 or 5 times in the next 2 weeks or something like that. Yeah, it’s crazy they were that good. Then we didn’t have any for I don’t know… years.

One night a couple weeks ago, however that changed. We were trying to come up with a side dish for dinner that was different that what we’ve been eating a lot of lately and that’s when I remembered about these Corn Cakes.

That night we invited our friend Jared over and asked if he’d ever had corn cakes. He kind of thought I was crazy I think until he actually tried them. Then he seemed to be sold. Now one thing I learned that night is these are a lot better when they are warm and fresh than when they cool off and sit there. So keep that in mind and maybe come up with a way to help keep them warn; then share your advice with me! Enjoy!

Corn Cakes

(adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, cooked and drained
    • What we like to do is place the corn in a skillet with a few tbsp of butter and some season salt. Just as the butter melts and gets a “sizzle” sound to it add the corn and sauté it up a bit. Adds another level of flavor!!
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • Don’t have? Don’t worry! Just add a splash of vinegar to milk (preferably low fat or skim but doesn’t have to be…)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Method:

  1. In a medium size bowl combine dry ingredients with grated cheese and set aside.
  2. In another bowl whisk together corn, buttermilk, egg, and melted butter.
  3. Pour corn mixture over dry ingredients and stir just until moistened, like you would for a muffin batter.
  4. Scoop batter for each cake on a hot grill (350º) which has been lightly greased.
  5. They will spread a bit so no need to flatten them.
  6. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes on one side, until brown at the edges, flip and cook another 4 minutes.
  7. Yield: 7 cakes
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Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

Do you ever just get it in your head you want to do something? Please tell me I’m not alone on that! Friday I spent the day decorating some cookies for a birthday party. I asked my friend Jody if she had a cake for her son’s birthday and she said that her kids don’t really like cake. Not like cake? What a sin. haha! Nah, not really.

I can’t always say I’m a huge fan of cake, but sometimes I just want cake. That day I just so happened to get it in my head I wanted cake. Earlier int he week I found a recipe for a cake I thought I might want to try but the “icing” has white wine in it and it isn’t cooked down. When you cook with alcohol, if you actually cook it, you’ll get rid of the alcohol. If you cook a cake such as a rum cake, the icing on it doesn’t get cooked either.

The other cake that really stood out to me was one of my grandma’s recipes for a Deep dark chocolate cake. This cake is friggin awesome! Now truth be told I’m not a huge chocolate anything fan. This cake though makes me want to eat every last bite. I found the recipe a few years ago in some of my grandma’s recipes. After she passed away I got all of her recipes/recipe books. I just stumbled across this and have loved it ever since. In fact, this is the best chocolate cake I’ve had I think!

The real kicker about the recipe is it said milk but there wasn’t a given amount. Later in the instructions it said it was supposed to be a thin batter. Mark and I set out to figure out how much milk was needed. We played around with it and decided the amount of milk is 3/4 of a cup. It works and we get a thin batter. When you bake it… Oh. My. Gosh!

Prepare your pan. I always use Bakers Joy. Like I’ve stated before, Food Network did a study to find the best and I swear it’s only like around $3 for the can. It’s not the most expensive. That makes it even better, right? Yeah, I thought so too!

The icing in grandma’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon milk. When I was making my icing the other day the humidity was really wonky. If you didn’t know, we’re kind of floating away here in the midwest. Hey, come dead of summer we’ll be asking for rain. Unfortunately a bunch of people have a lot of flood damage so I’m not writing it off or anything, just simply saying. One last thought, I saw on Wednesday we’re supposed to get more rain.

Anyway, back to the icing. Play with the icing. Sometimes you need a few more tablespoons of milk to make it thin out and other times you don’t. Weather has a HUGE factor on baking sometimes. Just make iced sugar cookies! You’ll quickly learn!

I have to say I couldn’t wait to dive in to this cake. Holy yum! It has a nice soft silky taste to it while the icing sets up and almost has a fudgy type consistency to it. And the chocolate isn’t overbearing. One factor when you are someone like me who isn’t a HUGE chocolate fan. I’m okay not having chocolate for months at a time, but every once in a while you just need chocolate and on top of that cake. So why not combine the two and have this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s dreamy! LOL

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water

Combine dry ingredients.
Add: eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, water
Pour into a 9×13 greased & floured cake pan. Batter will be thin.
Bake at 350 degrees. 35 to 40 minutes.

Fudge Icing

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

Melt butter. Add cocoa. Mix in milk and powdered sugar.

Frost Cake

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Cherry Pie

What is the best Pie Crust recipe without a good pie to go in it? Earlier this month I shared with you a recipe for PW’s Flat Apple Pie (also known as a Galette as we found out) and that was the pie crust I used for that. Really though, my favorite Pie when it comes to fruit pies is a Cherry Pie. YUM!

While you can buy cherry pie filling in the can, it’s almost just as easy to make your own. Now once upon a time I had a cherry tree in my yard. Boy I miss that cherry tree. The thing with Cherry trees is really the only time of year they give off cherries is late May early June depending on the weather. You also have to be especially quick so the dumb birds don’t eat all your fruit! The off time of year, where in the world do you find the tart cherries (or sour cherries as I like to call them)? 

When I went to Walmart, because as you may or may not know I live in one of those small towns in a flyover state where all we really have is Walmart, all they had were the big sweet cherries. They are okay to make a Cherry pie with, except you just cut down on the sugar added. But truthfully the tart cherries are the better tasting cherries in a cherry pie.

Finally I went to Reasor’s in Tulsa one one of my trips there and they had the tart cherries in bags. I may or may not have stocked up on them. Then once I came back home, I went to Food for Less and they have them too. <insert Happy Dance 💃> With that being said, all you need to make your own cherry pie filling is the cherries, water, sugar, and cornstarch. Yes, it is easy to open up a can, but it tastes so much better when it is homemade! And it is truthfully just as easy!

If you’ve noticed, usually a cherry pie has the lattice work on top. In the past, Mark and I have placed each piece right there on top of the pie, but the other day we decided to do the lattice work on a piece of parchment paper, place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, and then transfer it over to the pie. Do you hear those angels singing? OMG, that made all the difference in the world and it was super simple! Yey!

This particular pie was made for a Bake Sale for Trails for Kids. Trails for Kids is a trail ride used to raise money for our local CP Center.

Last year I made a giant chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron pan that went for $130. I felt the pressure to try again to outdo myself. This year it didn’t just rain but it poured! We had flooding and almost had to emergency evac due to rivers flooding and everything else. I’m pleased to announce that we were all okay and even with the horrible weather we had a great turn out. Numbers were down but you always have good and bad years.

Anyway back to this Cherry pie… I placed it in a Cast Iron Pie Plate that my friend Tracy introduced me to last fall. This particular pie brought $50. Okay okay, so not as good as last year but I’ll definitely take it! 

Here was my finished pie that went into the auction. Really, the real winners are the kids who benefit at the CP Center from the Trails for Kids trail ride and all the other fundraisers and activities throughout the year.

So my Cherry pie………

Cherry pie

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • approximately 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 Cup cornstarch matched with just enough water to make a slurry
Instructions:

1. Combine fruit and sugar in a pan and stir together. If cherries are soft and mushy, you won’t need additional water, but if cherries are firm, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil.
2. Mix cornstarch with some cold water (about 3 tablespoons of cold water with 1/4 c cornstarch making a slurry), whisking to remove lumps.
3. When cherries are boiling, add cornstarch slurry mixture while stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add enough thickening agent to make the consistency you desire. We like our pies fairly thick.  Stir until the juices are clear.  When the filling looks clear, it’s fully cooked. Over-cooking will start to break down the filling. If you want your pie to be more of a red color, add a couple drops of food coloring (optional; I never do this.)
4. Pour into pie crusts and bake pies at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until browned.

Additional Notes:

*You can use sour or sweet cherries for this recipe, but you will need to adjust the sugar if using sweet cherries. I would use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar for sweet cherries.
**Cornstarch thickens, and will continue to become thicker as your mixture cools. Do not make it as thick when hot as you would like it to be when it has cooled, or it will be too thick.

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The BEST Pie Crust

I have the Best Pie Crust Recipe for you today. How do I know it’s the best? Because I’ve tasted it obviously!
A couple years ago at our house we had a cherry tree, boy I miss that cherry tree! Mark and I went out and picked the cherries and then it was time to make a pie. That particular day we didn’t have any eggs so we were trying to come up with a recipe for pie crust that didn’t require it to sit in the refrigerator for hours upon hours AND didn’t require eggs. Finally I went through a cookbook that my grandma had placed some recipes in. I read through the list of ingredients and it didn’t say eggs so SCORE! We started measuring out all the ingredients and then as we got halfway or better through it, bam, 1 egg. Palm to forehead moment. At that time we had some friends who lived just around the corner so we went and grabbed some eggs from them.
At that time I think we remarked, this better be a good pie crust. Let me tell you, this pie crust is awesome! In fact, another story, my father-in-law wasn’t having the best of luck with pie crusts and one day was talking to me about that. I mentioned I had my grandma’s and told him to at least try it once. From then on he was hooked. With all that, I’m telling you, this is THE BEST Pie Crust.
If you are looking through the list of ingredients, you’ll notice 5 cups of flour. That seems like a lot. But one thing to consider is this makes 4 pie crusts. Perfect. Use 1 or 2 for your pie and save the other two for another pie. Just wrap tightly in cling wrap and put in a freezer bag, then place in the freezer for that next time you need or want a pie.
If you plan on blind baking this (aka nothing in it but pie weights) bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes. If you plan on baking with pie filling then bake at the temperature and time of the specified pie. Simple as that! And trust me, you’ll thank me for this recipe! It’s our go to pie crust and boy is it yummy!

The BEST Pie Crust

Ingredients (4 crusts)
  • 5 Cups Flour
  • 2 Cups Shortening (can use cheap kind and using part margarine works too)
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg
Instructions:
Blend to small lumpy stage.
Then put an egg in a 1 cup measure. Add 2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice and blend. Fill to top of cup measure with very cold water, stirring as you do. Then pour over above mixture and toss lightly until it rolls into a ball.
Divide into 4 smaller balls; flatten each slightly. Use what you need for your pie or pies and put remainder in a plastic zip lock bag and freeze until needed. Keeps very well.
Then fill with your favorite filling. If you’re making a cream pie of sorts, place in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to bake, otherwise, bake the crust when you’re baking your pie (ie apple, cherry, etc).
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Carrot-Walnut Cupcakes minus the Walnuts!

Here it is Monday after Easter and I think I’m still in a food induced comma. I sure hope you ate well, I know I did! By now I’m sure you’re aware I challenged myself to bake all 12 cupcakes in the Food Network Magazine January/February 2017 edition. The editor says there doesn’t need to be a reason to have a cupcake, therefore one for every month. This month happens to be the Carrot-Walnut Cupcakes. Those would be perfect for Easter, right? We didn’t eat them on Easter though… nope, but the week of, you bet!

I should immediately point out, I didn’t put in the walnuts, that’s why the title says minus the walnuts. Mark doesn’t handle nuts real well (we’ll leave it at that.. haha) and I’m not crazy about Walnuts. If I had used any nuts, they would have been Pecans. I prefer the milder taste of a pecan over a walnut any day.I wasn’t sure about these cupcakes when I initially started mixing up the batter. The smell of the cinnamon and nutmeg seemed to overpower the small amount of flour. Truthfully, how they know how to mix up to get exactly 12 cupcakes is amazing. Now If I could just learn to measure out exactly 12 cupcakes. I tried the ice cream scoop method and came up shy. If nothing else, I hope to learn how to make perfect cupcakes by this challenge!

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Gluten Free Fudge Brownie Cookies

There are a lot of people who have jumped on the Gluten Free bandwagon for different reasons. I personally don’t know much about it other than what little research I did once upon a time when a friend’s daughter had issues. They thought she needed to be gluten free so I did a little research but not much and after they realized that wasn’t her problem and she could eat gluten, my research days on it went out the window.

One of Mark’s co-workers though, he and his family have gone gluten free for heath reasons. Mason shared this recipe with Mark and he sent it to me in an email. I wasn’t sure why and emailed him back asking if he’d tasted them. He told me no. Friday night we changed that answer to yes. I was interested in trying them and of course they’re cookies, so I must try them, right? My dad and I joke that he’s the cookie monster and I’m pretty sure I get that from him.

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Sweet Buttered Carrots

I think I’ve liked carrots since I was a little kid. My grandpa used to always say, “Have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses?” Sometimes I would respond no and other times I would respond yes. The yes would catch him off guard. Then I’d tell him Buggs Bunny wears glasses sometimes. He’d laugh at me. But he always said that to convince me to eat carrots. By the way, I’ve worn glasses since I was 7 years old and I’ve eaten carrots for as long as I can remember.

I must say, raw carrots happen to be my favorite. I’m just not a huge fan of cooked carrots. While I was in graduate school though, my grandma would make us dinner on Monday nights. One particular Monday she made cooked carrots and Mark and I just absolutely LOVED them. By far the best cooked carrots I’ve ever eaten! So I asked her how to make them one day. I’ll share the secret now. You’re welcome!

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PW’s Flat Apple Pie

Back in December I was in Texas. One of our favorite places to visit while down there is World Market. While we were walking around looking at this and that, really eying the silverware that I’ve wanted for years but still won’t buy, I stumbled across a book called Pie School | Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter. I made mention that I wanted it and low and behold I got it for Christmas! I started reading through it right away and the author, Kate Lebo, discusses things called a Galette. I’m sorry, a what? Basically it is a pie that is free form, as in you don’t bake it in a pie plate, but roll it out, place your filling in the middle, and roll the sides up over the edge of the filling. The more rustic you make it, obviously the better.

Why do I mention all of that? Well back in 2010/2011/2012 I embarked on an adventure of 101 items to complete in 1001 days. I didn’t get them all complete, but it was a good attempt. One of my items was at the time Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond released her first cookbook and I planned on trying to cook/bake my way through the entire book. Again, not something I was able to complete. This Flat Apple Pie happened to be one of the items in the book that I didn’t accomplish.

Last night was dive club meeting. I made some sugar cookies to take but I also wanted to make something else. For some reason this flat apple pie jumped out to me so I gathered up the ingredients and went to baking. By the way, I kind of love to bake… I’m learning this. As I was piecing this together, I started wondering, is this a Galette? Based off the description Lebo gives, I believe it is. You’re welcome.

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Rainbow Cupcakes

I’m sure you were worried, but no need to. Just because I took a few weeks off to move over to WordPress with this blog, I am still keeping up with my Monthly Cupcake from Food Network Magazine, January/February 2017 issue.

When I woke up the morning I made these, I was worried about having 2 ingredients. Lemons, which I was fairly certain I had and Cake Flour, which I was pretty sure I didn’t have. I did go to the pantry to see if I had cake flour and surprisingly I did. WHAT?!?! I guess I bought it for something else one day and had some left over. So… if you don’t have cake flour, not to fear! Make your own! Wait, what? Make your own cake flour. Yup! You read that right!

Cake flour:

1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tbsp (that is subtract 2tbsp of the ap flour). Then add in 2 tbsp corn starch. Use your handy dandy sifter and sift 5-6 times to incorporate the corn starch. Bam, your own homemade cake flour.

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