Category Archives: recipes

What’s Going On Wednesday: How About A Recipe?

I missed a what’s going on post last week. Super busy week. In a good way. However, I do want to keep up with these posts. Look to the bottom of the post for an easy cucumber salad recipe.

Let’s get the yuck numbers out of the way first. Hoping I’ll still be able to find these numbers. I try not to get political around here but let’s just say I’m super opposed to this new give the numbers to the white house and not the CDC stuff. Maybe they’ll give the numbers to both. I sure hope so.

Numbers and COVID-19 Info for Our Area

Cases statewide:   29,714

Total deaths: 1,102

Total Tested*

PCR tested:  517,947 (fancy term for nasal swab testing)

Serology tested:  51,446 (fancy term for blood test for antibodies)

*They’ve changed the reporting on these numbers. Now dividing out the two types of tests. Actually, the whole website is updated and in a dashboard format. A lot easier to read and understand.

In the Kansas City Area:  3,294 and 36 deaths

Our local county: 1,681 and 35 deaths

And the number of cases within our zip code:  228

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Been a fairly regular summer week despite the odd pandemic times. A Monday spent at home. Yesterday and today at work (just a half day today). We’re going to go have cake and ice cream for my nephew’s birthday later (we passed on dinner out).

Had a very “2020” experience with my pink petunias yesterday. I arrived home to find them missing: 

Then, I found them. SIGH. No idea what happened.

Picked them up threw them back in the pot and we’ll see if they make a comeback. Then, I went inside and drowned my sorrows in cold cucumber salad.

Here’s a super easy summer recipe for you. Minimal ingredients and just a bit of marinating time.

Cucumber Salad

My late mother-in-law used to make this. I loved it when she had this on the table. Always ate too many servings. It’s a great summer side. It complimented yesterday’s dinner of fish (from a box, I’m not that fancy) really well.

Did I mention this was super easy? Slice up some cucumbers. Layer with slices of red onion. Don’t skip the onion. It gives the salad some pizzazz and color. Plus cuts down on the sweet.

I don’t like cold onions either. Just eat around them when it’s finished. Once you’ve sliced the cucumbers and layered them with the red onion slices, pour on the marinate. Another easy one. 

Mix one cup of rice vinegar with one cup of sugar. Done. See photo above. You don’t even have to clear off your counters to make it!  (You may need to adjust quantities based on how many cucumbers you slice. I used two in my salad and ended up using 1 1/2 vinegar to 1 1/2 sugar. Make sure the liquid covers the cucumber mix.)

Pour mixture over cucumbers & onions. Seal container and refrigerate. I’d suggest overnight but a few hours should work if you can’t wait. Then, enjoy!

What’s going on in your world this week?

Quick Comfort Snack

And it’s not a dessert! There’s an odd one coming from me.

Wait, is that celery? Yes, it is. Do you like celery? We’re a divided house when it comes to this one.

G and I like it. J and my husband, not so much. G usually dips it in peanut butter. I typically just eat it plain. Did you know that celery supposedly boosts your immune system?

Every Thanksgiving, my mom would set out a dish of the filled celery you see above. Hers was a lot prettier than mine. I loved this appetizer and still do. It’s super simple. This is a comfort snack for me because it reminds me of Thanksgiving time as a kid.

I’m sure by now you’ve guessed the celery is filled with cream cheese. However, not just cream cheese. Cream cheese mixed with a dash of garlic salt.

My  Bunco hosting plans (it was scheduled for Saint Patrick’s Day) included serve this as one of the all green foods on the table. Even had ideas of dying the cream cheese green

If you’ve not bought it before, do yourself a favor and pick up a tub of whipped cream cheese. Genius invention. For the amount of celery pictured above I used about 1/8 teaspoon to maybe 6 tablespoons (didn’t measure) of whipped cream cheese. This is very much a too taste kind of snack.  Start small on the garlic salt. A little goes a very long way.

What are some of your non-sweet comfort snacks?

Fall Recipe: Apple Chip Cake

Recently, I was craving a piece of apple chip cake so I decided to use up some over their prime apples and make it.  I loved when my mom would make this as a fall dessert.

My mom always made this cake in a 13 x 9 pan and generously added in the chopped pecans. However, this time I cut the recipe in half, used a 9 inch round cake pan, and omitted the pecans (didn’t have any…).

The most important part of this cake is of course, the apples. 

I’m sure although she never told me, my mom most likely used Missouri Jonathon apples in her cake. As an adult, I’m not a fan of those so seldom buy them. The apples getting a bit mushy in our bowl were golden delicious so that’s what I used. I do think the cake would work with any type of apple you prefer.

The recipe is pretty straight forward, cream the butter and sugar, add the dry ingredients. Then, fold in the chopped apples and nuts. Note: the cake batter is thick, not runny.   

I went old school and followed the recipe directions exactly, buttering my pan. It gave the cake a nice crunchy edge. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Know your oven and adjust the time accordingly. I checked mine after 30 minutes and found it done.

Recipe: Apple Chip Cake

2 Cups sugar

1/4 lb oleo

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 cups diced raw apples

1 cup chopped pecans  (or 1/2 cup black walnuts) (optional)

Cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs and the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in chopped apples and nuts, if desired. Spread mixture in buttered 13 x 9 pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Serve warm with topping.

Can also make 3 layers, frost with powdered sugar glaze or dust with powdered sugar.

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My notes: I used butter instead of oleo and 1/2 the amount of apples. My mom never frosted this cake or dusted it with powdered sugar.  I remember her serving it plain with Cool Whip as a topping.

We ate ours warm with whipped topping. J gave my favorite fall cake a favorable review. Said it reminded him a bit of banana bread except with apples. And yes, I should make it again. 

Do you have a favorite fall dessert?

Organizing Brunch For A Bunch

Since another successful Easter brunch has become history, I am going to take a few minutes to offer my hints and tips for organizing brunch for a bunch.  I’ve been hosting Easter brunch for over 10 years now and have figured out a few things about what works and what doesn’t work when organizing brunch.     organizing brunch

While I host Easter brunch each year, these tips and tricks could easily be applied for almost any brunch you find yourself needing or wanting to host.  I’ll go ahead and also confess that I do one of these organizing brunch type posts about my Easter brunch each year so I will have a point of reference for the next year.  That sentence actually brings me to my first tip for organizing brunch if it is an annual holiday type event you host.

Tips and Tricks for Organizing Brunch For A Bunch:

  1. If it is an annual holiday brunch, keep records each year.  The easiest way to do this is to take pictures and (ahem) write blog posts about it if you have a blog.  A word document file is another great option.  It is also helpful to have all the recipes stored in one spot.  I like to keep most of mine pinned over on my Easter Brunch Ideas pinterest board.  I add ideas to it all year but I also have all my tried and true recipes pinned on it as well with a few exceptions.

  2. Make notes of which dishes are popular and what dishes have lots of leftovers.  I run out of blueberry muffins each year.  This year I made more bacon during brunch (in the oven).  I probably need to make more of those two items in the future.  I will probably drop one my ham and cheese quiches as well since I had a full one left this year and make a few different muffin choices.  Muffin choices are a bit tricky because everyone has their favorites and I like to make my guests happy.

  3. Work ahead of time so you can actually enjoy the event.  Organizing brunch should not mean missing out on the fun.  Most quiches can be made well in advance.  This year I actually cooked them about 2 days prior and then reheated them on Easter morning.  In past years, I’ve frozen them uncooked and cooked them early on Easter morning.  The can be frozen up to about a month.  organizing brunch They can also be kept uncooked overnight in the fridge and prepared the next morning (I did that with  a sausage puff dish).  Chocolate covered fruit can be made the night before the event but I wouldn’t advise making it any sooner as the chocolate does tend to pull the moisture out and I’ve not had good luck with berries keeping more than a day (usually, there aren’t too many left at the end of brunch to store).  Fruit can be sliced ahead of time and stored in Ziploc bags until you are ready to make a fruit tray.

  4. Plan to get up early and get yourself ready prior to making the last-minute dishes.  I’ve found I enjoy brunch so much more in the years when I’ve done this than when I’m hurrying to shower and get dressed before the guests arrive.  I usually get up early, start the coffee, turn on the oven, and take my shower before proceeding to preparing the final dishes.

  5. If you can’t make it good, then make it pretty!  I’m not even going to pretend I’m a great cook.  Honestly, more than a few of those muffins pictured up above come from box mixes (made a day ahead of time and kept in Ziploc bags overnight). I pull out my fine crystal (I love that hosting Easter brunch once a year gives me an excuse to use my special dishes), and try to make a pretty centerpiece.

    organizing brunch

    Easter Centerpiece

    organizing brunch

    Silverware station

  6. Accept that you are going to make a few mistakes but don’t let them ruin your brunch.  Bonus points for making the same mistakes each year like not trying out a new recipe ahead of time.  My big mistake this year was grabbing shredded carrots to use in these inside out carrot cake muffins instead of reading the recipe and realizing that grated carrots were the ingredient listed.  There IS a difference in those items.  Then, there was the year I forgot to thaw the frozen quiches overnight.  We ended up thawing them on the grill as I cooked the other last-minute dishes.  My experience is that everything always comes together nicely in the end.

  7.  It’s best not to plan for an exact number of guests.  Circumstances change and the number of guests always tends to be a bit higher or lower than I expect.  I prefer to error on the side of too much food as opposed to running out of things.

  8. Know your guests.  Hopefully, this isn’t too hard to do if you are hosting family.  I always try to have at least one vegetarian dish on my brunch spread (I was quite surprised when the vegetarian Quiche I simply threw together was all gone!) and a good variety of fresh fruit as even the most picky eaters generally can find a form of fresh fruit they enjoy.  Since I knew there would be a few more kids in attendance this year, I tried to offer a few more “plain” items like regular bacon and sausage patties in addition to my sausage pinwheels and caramelized bacon twists.

    organizing brunch

    another view of brunch

  9. If you are working on a budget for organizing brunch, then start early and buy just a few ingredients extra on each of your regular grocery store trips.  I always start early and start buying muffin papers at least since I know I will need a bunch for my Easter Brunch.   After Easter is a great time to find deals on pretty muffin papers, sprinkles, and other fun supplies to make the table setting pretty.

  10. Know when to stop.  I want to make everything for Easter brunch.  I always over plan the dishes that I plan to prepare and find myself with the ingredients for them.  I have almond flour sitting in the cabinet right now for cookies that didn’t come to pass.  Nuts as well.  Luckily, there are plenty of occasions after Easter to try new recipes so my ingredients won’t be wasted.

Those are my best 10 tips and tricks for organizing and hosting brunch for a bunch.  I’m sure I missed many tips and tricks that should be shared.  I didn’t give any clean up advice but that’s not really an area where I excel.  My only advice there is to start early and pace yourself.

Do you host a special brunch or holiday dinner?  What advice have I missed?

*just for fun I’m linking this post up at the following fun places:  Pintastic Pinteresting Party #58 over at Blessed Learners, This Is How We Roll Thursday #9 over at Wondermom Wannabe, & Pretty Pintastic Pinterest Party over at Divas Run For Bling.

 

 

Easter Brunch Menu Plan

It’s past the time for me to sit down and make an Easter brunch Menu Plan.  My boys are on spring break this week and we’ve been out-of-town visiting relatives so my weekly planning was pushed into mid-week.  If I was a bit smarter, this would have all been done prior to our leaving on Saturday.  However, it didn’t work out that way.

Easter brunch menu

Part of the Easter Brunch Spread from 2013

Each year I host Easter brunch for our family.  I’ve claimed Easter as my holiday and I do love having everyone over for brunch.  I prefer to host an Easter brunch as opposed to a big dinner for a few simple reasons.  The most important reason is simply I am better at preparing breakfast and brunch food than dinner food.

At some point in the past 13 years I’ve been hosting the annual Easter brunch for our family, I became smart enough to record the menu from the previous year.  Since I’m working with a new computer this year that I haven’t completely figured out, I’m really excited that I posted the menu from our 2014 Easter brunch on my recipes page.  By the way, I see I really do need to update the recipes page.

I love planning our Easter brunch menu each year although typically I have it done before the Wednesday prior to Easter.  Oops!  Thank goodness some of the dishes stay standard each year.

My rough count for Easter brunch attendees this year (including us) is roughly 25.  This number could increase by a few or decrease a bit as life happens.  I’m planning for 25 though.  Time to get to the Easter brunch menu for 2015.   If an Easter brunch menu is not your thing, I will go ahead and include our regular menu at the end of this post but it is going to be super simple.

Here’s the plan for Easter brunch:

Traditional Muffin choices:

Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Triple Berry Chocolate, and Pecan Pie muffins.  I may make a very small batch of cappuccino muffins as well.

Muffin choices I may add depending on time and ingredients:

Poppy seed (special request), lemon, orange muffins with orange glaze, and inside out carrot cake muffins.

Standard “side dish” choices:

Bacon hash brown bake (my husband’s annual request), caramelized bacon twists, sausage pinwheels, fresh fruit, vegetable tray, and chips.

Side dishes I’m thinking of adding in 2015:

Trail mix with glazed nuts, cucumber tomato bites, and perhaps some sort of take on macaroni and cheese bites or this asparagus and pesto tart.

Main Dish Choices:

Ham and cheese Quiche, Southwestern Quiche, Sausage bake, and a vegetarian Quiche of some sort (I threw one together last year-no recipe-and it was a bit of a hit).  And of course, we’ll also have brisket with some sort of sandwich rolls.  I generally don’t mess with adding new main dishes very often although I’m debating adding some sort of baked oatmeal dish to the mix for this year as well as these breakfast stuffed peppers.

My favorite category, Desserts and Table Décor:

Chocolate covered fruit, coconut nests, angel almond cookies, yogurt filled tart shells, and of course, various candy.  I’m still searching for a fast, easy way to add cinnamon rolls to the mix.  I’m toying with an idea for it in the back of my mind.  I usually let the desserts double as my center piece and table décor but I am really tempted by this lollypop flowerpot idea.

Drink choices:

Pretty standard fare here with coffee, juice, tea, or water.  This “sophisticated sangria” may need to make an appearance though.

Most of these recipes (and pictures…still haven’t mastered how to make the Pinterest images show up in my posts) can be found over on my Easter brunch Pinterest board.

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And now for the hard part of this menu plan, it turns out that even if I am hosting an Easter brunch for 25+ people in a few days, my husband and boys still want to eat dinner each night.  Both boys also want to have friends stay over during their spring break. Here’s the basic plan for this week (I did get a bit of a break as we were out-of-town for the first part of it and are having dinner with my in-laws on Friday night).

Monday:  Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Salad (served at an out-of-town relative’s home)

Tuesday:  Frozen Pizza

Wednesday:  Tacos (frozen meat in freezer) or some take on them.

Thursday:  Lasagna (from a box), garlic toast, and salad

Friday:  Dinner with my in-laws

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Not exactly the most exciting weekly menu and it may change or end up being more dinners out this week but at least, we have a plan.  It is never too late to menu plan and that is why even though it is Wednesday, I’m still going to link up my post over at Menu Plan Monday hosted by Laura from I’m An Organizing Junkie.

What is on your menu for this week and weekend?

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