Easy Strawberry-Cheese Danish

Breakfast

I’ve loved breakfast pastries for years, and especially cheese Danish.  Although I don’t remember ever eating the cream-cheese variety until an adult, they fascinated me immediately.  I enjoy the sweet, rich cream inside flaky, buttery dough, and I’ve always wanted to try to bake it.

I didn’t, though.  It seemed quite intimidating, and while I’ve pinned lots of recipes, I never went ahead and tried it.

Until this week.  I had some extra strawberry filling on hand and decided to throw some stuff together and see what happened. 

The result?   This is the best picture you’re going to get, because we fought over every piece until it was gone.  That didn’t take long.

Of course, the rich creaminess is my favorite, but in this Danish, it’s complemented by the sweet, full flavor of the strawberry sauce.  We’ll definitely be making these again – and soon!

Easy Strawberry-Cheese Danish

Ingredients

  • 1 tube crescent rolls
  • 1 8-oz block of cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. strawberries, washed, capped, and mashed
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 3 T. water

Instructions

  1. Butter the bottom of a 8" baking dish.
  2. Spread 1/2 of the crescent rolls across the bottom.
  3. Soften the cream cheese. Mix in the powdered sugar.
  4. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the crescent roll layer.
  5. In a small saucepan, stir together the strawberries, cornstarch, and water.
  6. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for two minutes, then chill.
  7. Spread the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese layer.
  8. Spread the last crescent rolls on top of the strawberry layer.
  9. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.
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Creamy Wild Rice Soup

Wild Rice

I was a super picky eater as a kid.  I didn’t like anything that had multiple types of ingredients.  I was rather happy about having eating patterns that resembled my great-grandfather’s, and we happily avoided things like vegetable soup. 

Then I went to college.  While it was still very possible to eat well with my former eating plan, I decided it was time to add some new things to my foodie repertoire.  Since it was rather limited, that wasn’t hard to do.

My very favorite new food quickly became something the cafeteria called “Minnesota Wild Rice Soup.”  I carefully picked out all the mushrooms, but the soup itself was amazing:  thick and creamy, full of flavor, and the rice varieties were amazing.  I loved it, and I ate it for every meal it was offered.

Since then, I’ve searched high and low for a recipe that might mimic that taste, but it’s surprisingly hard to find good wild rice soup recipes without chicken.  Nothing I’ve made has even come close – until now.

Honestly, it’s been so long since I tasted that yummy Minnesota Wild Rice Soup that this might be nothing like it; however, it has all the notes I remember, and I love it!  Best of all, it’s super easy to make, so we’ll be eating it often.

Why now?  When it’s warming up?  Because pollen.  It’s pollen season here in the south, and my sore throat and stuffy nose is enjoying this creamy, hot soup.  Give it a try – it might cure what ails you, too.

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cans green chilis
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 boxes Zatarain's Wild Rice Pilaf
  • 3 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a stock pot.
  2. Saute the onions in the oil. Stir in the garlic and the chilis.
  3. Add the chicken stock.
  4. Add the rice pilaf with seasonings and the called-for amount of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer fro 25-30 minutes.
  6. Stir in shredded cheese.
  7. Serve hot.
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Easy Chicken Chili

Chicken Chili

I love finding easy recipes, and ones that we all like are even better.  My kids like this Easy Chicken Chili so much that they fight over who makes it – and I love any recipe that makes that happen! 

If you’re really in a hurry, you can use prepackaged ingredients that, while still whole, make throwing this together super easy. You know – a rotisserie chicken, boxed broth, and canned beans.  If you have a bit more time, you can cook your own chicken, broth, and beans, and still have a fast, easy, healthy meal on the table in a short amount of time.

One of my favorite things about this chili is its versatility.  The broth is really rich and thick, and it tastes great on it’s own.  I happen to love putting crunchy things into meals like this, though, and both crackers and tortilla chips work here. I like to top mine with a bit of extra cheese, too, but sour cream could also work if that’s your thing.

Even though the weather is getting warmer, with springtime allergies and runny noses plaguing us, we’ve been enjoying the fragrant steam from our bowls.  Give it a try – and let us know what you think.

Easy Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked, chopped chicken
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 small cans of diced green chilis
  • 3 cans white beans
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1.5 t oregano
  • 3 c. shredded Monterey Jack r cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in pan.
  2. Add onions and garlic.
  3. Sautee until clear.
  4. Add chilis and spices. Stir.
  5. Add broth and undrained beans.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  7. Add chicken and cheese.
  8. Stir until hot and thickened.
  9. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, and your favorite chili toppings.
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Easy Cheesy Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

I love being able to help people out, so when someone asked for our Easy, Cheesy Spanish Rice recipe, I excitedly said, “Sure!”

My kids love this rice.  They cheer every time I make it and fight over the leftovers – of which there’s never much.  It’s easy to throw together, full of flavor, and makes a great side dish.  We love to eat it alongside tacos, enchiladas, nachos, or just beside a big taco salad.

Everyone in our house loves rice, so I tend to make a double batch each time we make it.  That means we’re ending up with a large bowl of this Spanish rice, but that’s okay – it’s good and moist, so it reheats well.  Not that there is much of this left – we usually eat the majority of it.

I make this rice in my rice cooker; I bought this appliance at a great discount last year after struggling to cook different varieties of brown rice properly.  The procedure should work just the same, however, for preparing regular not-minute rice.

Easy Cheesy Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • rice
  • chicken stock
  • water
  • olive oil
  • salsa
  • shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Measure your rice directed.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Replace 1/2 of the water with chicken stock.
  4. Add 1/2 c. of salsa.
  5. Replace the remaining missing liquid with water.
  6. Cook as directed.
  7. Stir in 1/2 - 3/4 c. of shredded cheese.
  8. Cover rice again, let sit for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  9. Serve hot.
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Grandma’s Whoopie Pies

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I hear it’s long been a debate between Pennsylvania and Maine bakers as to who first created the whoopie pie.  My great-aunt even joined the fun and always told the story of one of her ancestors naming the treat at their family store; in my hometown they’re usually considered an Amish thing, but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from making – and loving – them.

They’re my absolute favorite baked treat, and I have many fond memories of them.  My mom used to bake large quantities of them, wrap them individually in waxed paper, and hide them around the house and in the freezer.  While she was at work, my dad and I would seek them out and enjoy them.  I even remember some emerging from the freezer and then dancing impatiently beside the woodstove, watching them as they sat on the brick barrier beside the stove, waiting for them to thaw just enough for us to nibble and gnaw on them.

My great-aunt seemed to bring them to every family get-together and often served them to visitors, too, and Aunt Mary was an excellent baker.  My great-grandmother, though she made them more rarely (at least by the time I came along) could bake absolutely anything, and when she offered you a whoopie pie, you happily sat down and enjoyed it with a glass of fresh milk – and maybe angled for an extra one.

whoopie Pies

I love having some of their recipes, and since we recently lost Aunt Mary and my kids never got to meet Grandma, it feels a bit like introducing them to my Big Helper and Little Man when we make their recipes together.

whoopie pies

Yesterday we tackled Grandma’s amazing whoopie pies.  It was hard not to be impatient as they danced around in excitement and flour flew, but in record time we had a finished batch of whoopie pies, ready for sharing consumption.

whoopie pies

Making whoopie pies is a bit more work than traditional cookies, as you have to making icing, too, (and I hate making icing) but they’re worth it.  Since the kids (and a visiting aunt) made the process happen speedily yesterday, I definitely see whoopie pies appearing – and probably disappearing – in my kitchen more often from now on.

whoopie pies

 Want to make Grandma’s Whoopie Pies?  Try her recipe here:

For the cookies:
1 c. Crisco
2 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
4 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 c. cocoa powder
1 c. sour milk
1 c. hot water
 
For the icing:
2/3 c. Crisco
5 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 c. powdered sugar
 
Directions for the cookies:
Cream the Crisco and sugar until fluffy.
Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together.
Mix the dry ingredients alternately with the sour milk and the hot water.
Bake the cookies at 350 for about 8 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.
When the cookies are completely cool, ice the flat side and place a cookie of the same size and shape on top, flat sides together. 
Store in an airtight container or wrap well in waxed paper.
For the icing: 
Combine all ingredients and mix until fluffy.
 
What are your favorite treats?
 

Grilled Zucchini Pizza

Zucchini

I’m always trying to find new ways to get veggies in my people. 

Since My Little Man ate a head-and-a-half of Romaine for lunch yesterday – by itself, like an apple – it’s not that I’m worried about rickets or anything. 

I like expanding our palates, though, and it’s always fun to cook and eat a wider variety of foods.  Since everyone here frowns at the sight of zucchini on the kitchen counter, I decided to start with that – and I’m glad I did.

We like this best when the zucchini is sliced then.  Grill it long enough to soften it a bit and get the pizza toppings sizzling.  You can add whatever you’d like to make it your own perfect pizza bite.

While this may not be the *healthiest* way to eat your veggies, it’s certainly a tasty and healthier way to eat your pizza!

Grilled Zucchini Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini
  • pizza sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • dried oregano
  • pizza toppings of your choosing

Instructions

  1. Wash zucchini.
  2. Slice zucchini thin - about 1/4".
  3. Brush both sides of each zucchini slice with a light layer of olive oil.
  4. Layer each slice with a small amount of pizza sauce, cheese, herbs, and your favorite pizza toppings.
  5. Grill on a hot grill until toppings are sizzling and zucchini is cooked through.
  6. Serve.
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How do you eat your veggies?

Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes

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I’ve got this thing for pancakes.  I love fluffy, rich pancakes dripping with syrup.

Of course, I don’t actually like the huge amounts of empty calories that accompany those tall stacks of sticky goodness, so for years I’ve been trying to create a recipe that would keep the tasty goodness but put some nutrition back into those calories.

I think this one will do it. Pancakes

These are the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever seen.  They beat out all those pancake-house offerings by far.  In fact, when I made them a few weeks ago, the batter rose so much that it spilled over the edge of my bowl and creeped down the sides!

Pancakes

The rising continues on the griddle.  These pancakes are definitely fluffy – and they’re made with white-wheat flour and ground flax seed, so they’re also full of fiber and nutrients. 

Topped with a bit of butter and some real maple syrup, and I’ll choose a stack of Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes over those empty restaurant ones any day.

Mile-High Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 c. white-wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 T + 2 t. baking powder
  • scant 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Stir together dry ingredients.
  2. Add the wet ingredients and combine until just mixed.
  3. Fry on a hot griddle, flipping when pancakes rise and get bubbly on top.
  4. Serve with your favorite pancake toppings.
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How do you like your pancakes?

This is my favorite pancake gear!

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Triple-Chocolate Brownie Pie

Chocolate Brownie

Last week I suddenly realized that it was Pi Day and I had made no plans for pie.  Not a catastrophe, I know, but it’s fun to celebrate those light-hearted holidays with the kids.  They make fun opportunities to learn on the fly, and I decided to challenge the kids to create some sort of chocolate brownie pie.

And then we headed down a rabbit hole during school, as we often do, and time got away from us.  I ended up playing around, and this is what I created.

It’s a simple, quick pie to make that’s chock-full of chocolate.  With an Oreo-crumb crust and chocolate chips in the brownie batter, there’s a lot of molten chocolate in this pie – and that’s before you add the ganache topping.

It’s good cold but way better warm, when the chocolate oozes out and the gooey richness melts onto your tongue.

Serve it with some whipped cream and a big glass of milk and you’ll have happy customers.

Forget creating a new pie – this is what we’ll be making next year on Pi Day.

Triple-Chocolate Brownie Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. chocolate chips + 1 handful more
  • scant 1/3 c. whipping cream
  • 15 Oreos, cream scraped out and crushed

Instructions

  1. Press Oreo crumbs into a pie pan.
  2. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, eggs, butter, vanilla, and the handful of chocolate chips well.
  3. Smooth into pan over the crumbs.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Cool.
  6. Meanwhile, heat cream until just shy of bubbling.
  7. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips.
  8. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  9. Let ganache cool until thick, at least 20 minutes.
  10. Pour ganache over the top of the pie.
  11. Serve warm.
  12. Store in refrigerator.
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Nutty Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve got a thing for cookies.  Especially oatmeal cookies.

I think it’s because they seem healthy.  I mean, all those oats are just chock-full of fiber, and that’s a good thing, right?

The great thing about these particular cookies is that they really are pretty good for you.  Full of nut butters, nuts, and oats – with a fairly low amount of sugar – they make a rather decadent healthy treat.

These Nutty Oatmeal Chip cookies just might be my new go-to cookies for traveling and field trips and the like.  I love how soft and chewy they are – and yet the nuts provide just the right amount of crunch.

The only problem with these cookies is trying to keep some in the house.  Somehow they ‘magically’ disappear from the kitchen whenever I make them.

Maybe you’ll have better luck at hanging onto them than I do.

Then again, if your family is anything like mine – you probably won’t.

Nutty Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 c. peanut butter
  • 2/3 c. chopped almonds
  • 1 1/2 c. white wheat flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Stir in peanut butter and nuts.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Stir dry ingredients together.
  5. Add dry mixture to wet mixture.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Add chocolate chips.
  8. Chill for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto tray.
  11. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes.
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Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Cheesecake

My husband took me out for Valentine’s Day about bought the most amazing piece of cheesecake for our dessert.  I’ve never had anything like it – it was the perfect chocolate food.  Smooth, silky, and rich, it was absolutely wonderful.

So color me thrilled when he decided later that he’d try to make one for me himself.

This is what he came up with.

The texture is a bit different than the restaurant version, but it’s no less amazing.  It’s chocolate-y and rich and completely decadent. 

I think that he needs to make these on a very regular, frequent basis – right??

If you like cheesecake or chocolate or dessert, grab your supplies and get baking.  You won’t be sorry.  (The extra-good news, besides the it’s-delicious part?  This cheesecake is easy.  No water baths, no foil bibs for the pans, no myriads of ingredients necessary.  All told, for a cheesecake, it’s pretty simple – which means you get to enjoy it sooner.)

Oh – and be prepared to hide the results.  You won’t want to share.

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 18 crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with the icing removed
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 3 8-oz packages of cream cheese
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. hazelnut liqueur
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet Baker's chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and butter.
  3. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9" springform pan.
  4. Bake crumb crust for 10 minutes.
  5. Beat cream cheese, sugar, liqueur, and vanilla with mixer until blended.
  6. Add melted chocolate and mix well.
  7. Mix in eggs individually.
  8. Pour cream cheese mixture over crust.
  9. Bake for 50 minutes.
  10. Chill for 4 hours before removing from pan.
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Are you a cheesecake fan?  Try this amazing Black Magic Cake, which has a cheesecake center, or these Party Perfect Cheesecakes.  Yum!

 

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