Cheese Balls

You know, I’m older than dirt per my children.  As a result, I have recipes that predate disco.  This one was in mom’s recipe box.  Cheese balls were a really big deal in the 80’s.  You could roll them into balls, logs or just serve them in a bowl (my personal choice).  I do like store bought cheese spreads, but this one is so creamy.  I also like that you can make it your own.  I like more garlic than the average person.  A dash of Sriracha totally changes the taste profile of this cheese.

This one calls for some ingredients you might not be able to find easily, but no matter, we can fake it.  I love having this in the freezer.  Whether you form it and roll it in nuts or keep it in a bowl, it’s so handy to have this.  I keep them in easy to defrost sizes.  You never know when someone is going to drop in and this makes a great nibble.  I like it on cheesy crackers or crustini, but it’s equally good on celery or sliced cucumbers.  You need to make some today.

 

1/2 pound butter

8 ounces cream cheese

1 5 ounce jar each Bacon, Roka, Olde English and Pimento cheese (Kraft makes these)

1 garlic clove

mix thoroughly and refrigerate overnight

Roll in into balls and then into finely chopped walnuts and parsley

Freeze until ready to use.

*  From the Recipe Box:

The Kraft cheese jars are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  I usually use what I can find and then replace the rest with a grated cheddar mix.  It still tastes wonderful.

I like a little more garlic than this, 2 to 3 cloves are my go to.

It really does freeze ever so well and keeps for several months.  Give it an hour or 2 to thaw out.

and remember:  You have to think anyway, so why not think big?  Big kiss, Lynn

And remember Life

For a long time, it had seemed to me, that life was about to begin – real life.

But, there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.

At last, it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

Big kiss, Lynn

Date Bars

Grandma Olson used to make these a hundred years or so ago.  I loved them as a little girl.  I didn’t know that dates were an acquired taste.  I just thought if Grandma made them, they must be good.  And I was right.  Well, a caveat.  That didn’t hold true for lutefisk however.  Some things just never improve no matter who made them.

These are a very soft bar cookie.  The filling is cooked before baking, but remains tender.  I don’t find them very sweet, but I wouldn’t add any extra sugar or sweetener of any kind.  Dates are amazingly sweet if you allow them to filter through your taste buds.  I usually add a bit more salt than called for, which adds to the illusion of sweetness.  I like these a lot and hope you will enjoy them as well.

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Mix together thoroughly:

3/4 cup soft shortening (part butter)

1 cup brown sugar

Sift together and stir in:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

Stir in:  1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Mix thoroughly. Place one-half of this crumb mixture in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Press and flatten with hands to cover bottom of pan. Spread with cooled filling (see below).  Cover with remaining crumb mixture, patting lightly.  Bake until lightly browned, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.  While warm, cut into bars and remove from pan.

Filling:

Mix together in saucepan:

3 cups cut-up dates

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 10 minutes).  Cool.

and remember this conversation between Mrs. Darling and Michael, in Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: 

There are many different kinds of bravery. There’s the bravery of thinking of others before ones self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.”

Where did he put them?”

“He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer… He does. And that is why he is brave.”

I was 11 when I first read this book up at Aunty Kay’s cabin at Warm Beach.  It had an amazing impact on me then and I treasure the memories to this day.  I don’t know if I still feel the same way about everything.  Time to read it again.  Big kiss, Lynn

Pshaw on Scones

I give up.  I’m done with scones.  I’ve tried several more recipes and the hockey puck industry has filed a cease and desist order on me.  They say I’m interfering with their ability to have a monopoly on hockey pucks.  I truly don’t get it.  I follow the instructions, I use the perfect ingredients, I don’t over knead.  Frustrating!  This is the second thing I’ve given up on.  Remember the baked donuts.  Oy!

So, I’ve chosen to move on.  I’m still looking at scone recipes, but I change the ingredients into muffins.  I’m usually not a quitter, but the whole scone thing has defeated me.  The next scone I was going to try was dried cherry.  This makes a great muffin.  Since the muffin batter is mildly sweet, adding the tart dried cherries is the perfect counter balance.  I didn’t have a full cup of dried cherries so I added some craisins as well.  We’re big craisins fans and like them in sweet and savory items.  Dried blueberries would have worked as well, but there weren’t any.  We are big nibblers.  C’est la vie!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

topping:

14 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

14 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

muffins:

2 cups flour

12 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

12 teaspoon baking soda

12 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

13 cup vegetable oil

12   cup milk

1 cup dried tart cherries

12 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For the topping: Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; mix well.  Set aside.

For the muffin:  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In another bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, oil and milk; mix well. Add egg mixture, cherries and pecans to flour mixture; stir only until combined. Portion batter evenly into 12 paper-lined or lightly greased muffin cups (2 3/4 inches in diameter). Sprinkle reserved crumb topping evenly over batter.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

*  From the Recipe Box:

That incredible fruit distribution is from mixing the cherries and pecans into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.

and remember:  If you knew success was a certainty, what would you do?  Big kiss, Lynn

(I know I wouldn’t waste it on donuts or scones!)

Broccoli Pasta

I’ve discovered You Tube.  That’s not quite true, I’ve had several people knock me upside the head and say, “What, you’ve never looked at You Tube?”  The very brilliant G is the biggest You Tuber.  He uses it for everything from repairing the bathroom drain to finding a recipe for Gravlax, which he will be sharing soon.  I don’t know why I’m such a late bloomer when it comes to video learning, but I’ve jumped on the train now.

The current track I’ve been following (get it, train…track) is Tasty.   Now I can’t tell you if it’s a cookbook or simply a compilation; I don’t know my You Tube well enough yet.  I will do more research.  Promise.

This recipe really appealed to me.  I’m trying to include more and more broccoli into our meals.  I keep hoping these super food lists are true.

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup yellow onion, about half an onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, about 1 tablespoon, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 16 oz pasta shells
  • 4 cups broccoli, or one head of broccoli
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot. Add chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, and allow the chicken to brown on one side.

Flip chicken, then add onions and garlic as the second side browns.

Once the chicken has browned on both sides, add chicken broth, water, and pasta to the pot.

Stir all ingredients, cover the pot with a lid, and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, uncover and stir. Bring the heat to low, stir, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes has passed, uncover and add in the broccoli. Stir continually as the broccoli steams until the rest of the liquid evaporates.

Add milk and cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese melts and you have a smooth cheese sauce.

Add salt and pepper (to taste), cayenne, and nutmeg. Stir once more, then you’re ready to serve. Enjoy.

*  From the Recipe Box:

OK, lazy butt time.  You’ll probably notice in the picture that I used rotisserie chicken.  I heated olive oil in a Dutch oven sauteed the onions and garlic and then completed the recipe as written.

Both G and I gave it our seal of approval.

It was totally better the next day.  The pasta shells absorbed all the liquid.

and remember what Charles Bukowski said:  If you’re going to try, go all the way.  Otherwise, don’t even start.  Big kiss, Lynn

Gougeres

G and I have spa days and drink the waters.  Basically, we’re having drinks and nibbles at an Island establishment every month or so.  We like making things special and we’ll go hither and yon to find new experiences.  We’ve been together a long time and you need to keep having new adventures or things go stale.  We were lucky enough to enjoy the gougeres at Prima Bistro recently.  I’m now a fan, so I needed a recipe.

If you want to get technical, we’re talking cream puffs with Gruyere cheese.  They’re light and very satisfying.  If you love cream puffs, you will love these even more.  The flavor of the Gruyere raises these to a whole new level.  Now picture your Martini in one hand and a gougeres in the other.  Life is good.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (I’m not a nutmeg fan, so you will have to decide)

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like Alain Ducasse’s recipe.  Picture a 5 star recipe with almost 5K reviews.

If you’re good with a piping bag, give it a try.  I’m not so hot, no hand strength.

I’d rather make approximately 18 per batch but still bake the same amount of time.  I like them a tad smaller and a bit firmer.  It’s all about holding the Martini.

and remember one of the best lines from the Princess Bride:  Who said life is fair; where is that written?   Big kiss, Lynn