Aglio Olio with Mushrooms

A long time ago I had a friend that loved to cook Italian foods.  Spaghetti Aglio Olio, a.k.a garlic pasta,  and a red meatless “gravy” were the only two thing I ever cooked with that friend.

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that I can never leave well enough alone in a recipe and have taken liberties over the years to adjust this recipe to my own preferences.  I think this is the way most folks cook Aglio Olio, as no two recipes ever seem the same.

The way I learned to cook Aglio Olio was to start with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies.  I know that the anchovies are supposed to melt into the sauce and provide a rich flavor.  I find it leaves too fishy of a taste for me and have chosen to not use them.  If you like that flavor, all you have to do is add 4 to 6 anchovy filets to the cold skillet with the garlic and oil when you first start the dish.

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Lazy Cream Horns

Lazy Cream Horns were just an experiment in the kitchen to recreate cream horn flavor without having baking tubes handy.  I could have ordered them online, and maybe one day I will, but for now I do not own any.

It is kind of like a Napoleon pastry, but instead of being filled with whipped cream or pastry cream, it is filed with a cream horn filling.

I had never heard of a cream horn before I met my husband.  I never ate one until our first trip to Florida together.  If I remember right, he found them at a gas station, wrapped individually.  They seemed to be pretty elusive back then.

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Baked Potato Soup

Baked potato soup is another restaurant inspired soup that I keep in my wintertime menu rotation.

The recipe that was given to me by one of the restaurant owners is long gone.  After making it so many times, I just throw things together in a pan and serve it up.

He swore that his secret ingredient was ham soup base.  This can usually be found in the Latin section of local grocery stores.  Apparently, Wally World no longer carries this product.  I prefer to use Goya brand, since it comes in perfect sized little packets, but I have been known to grab a jar of it in the regular soup aisle if the packets aren’t available.

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Cherry Coffeecake

I have been on a cherry recipe kick lately.  Everyone seems to love cherry anything!  Cherry Coffee Cake is no exception to this rule.

Cherry Coffee Cake is always a welcome morning addition.  I hate to admit it, but we even have this sometimes in the hours between dinner and bedtime.  It goes great with coffee or a glass of milk.  The leftovers are best sent off to work with someone so that it is no longer hanging out at your house.

It does not have to be made with cherries though, any pie filling can be used as a replacement.  If you choose to use another flavor, you might want to omit the almond extract in the cake batter.  Cinnamon would be a much better flavoring for apple and blueberry.

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Bark

Dark Chocolate Cherry Bark is an easy, last minute treat that is perfect for Valentine’s Day.  It is also great for any other day you want to give a sweet something as a way to say thanks to someone.

I make a lot of different bark recipes because it is so easy.  Peppermint Bark is my go-to quick recipe for last minute Christmas and holiday gifts.

If I don’t happen to have almond bark or melting wafers laying around, I generally have chocolate chips of many varieties in the pantry and those can also be used to make bark.

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Angel Food Layer Cake

Angel Food Layer Cake has a creamy middle layer of cream cheese.  Topped with cherries makes a beautiful presentation.  Other pie fillings can be used to fit your own tastes, I just prefer the stunning contrast of the white and red.

This can be made with either a box mix or by making your own.  I use a box mix because I hate the thoughts of wasting so many egg yolks or looking for a use for them.

There is no rule that says you must bake and angel food cake in a tube pan.    It can be made in a 9 X 13.  It will take less time to bake and it will require some patience and gentle effort to get it out of the pan.  In retrospect, I probably should have used parchment paper or wax paper on the bottom of the pan.

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Dijon Chicken Salad Spread

I had never eaten a chicken salad that was heavy on Dijon mustard until I ate it in a restaurant for lunch one day.  It was a shock since I had been expecting the standard fat laden chicken salad you usually find.  I had asked about fruits or nuts in the salad, as I am a puritan in that arena.

The salad was different and interesting, not in a bad way though.  I found myself thinking about this chicken salad sandwich a few days later.  I had some boneless chicken breasts in the freezer and thought I might give it a try.

It has taken a few tries to get the Dijon mustard to mayonnaise ratio right for the way I like it.  Because Dijon can be overpowering, even when you like Dijon, there needs to be a bit of mayonnaise to cut through the mustard and finish moistening the spread.

Dijon Chicken Salad Spread is a tasty way to eat chicken salad that has a lower fat and calorie count than my basic chicken salad recipe that has mayonnaise and sour cream.

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Sweet Bacon Crackers

Sweet Bacon Crackers are an idea that have been running around the internet for quite some time.  Lord knows, I have looked at a few of them, so it is hard telling which onse was the first one I saw.  It is also hard to tell if there was any one recipe that I have used so I apologize to any other blogger out there who believes this recipe may belong to them.

This can be made any type of cracker that you would like.  I prefer the buttery small rectangles, only because I like the shape that this cracker becomes.  All of the cracker types will shrink somewhat in the general area the bacon is wrapped.

The key to keeping your crackers together is to keep the heat high in the oven.  If you cook these too slow, there is more time for the grease to absorb into the crackers and they will be soggy in the middle.  But if you like your pork fat, this might be the way you want to cook them.

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Spicy Pretzels with a Kick

This recipe is a close relative of spiced crackers.  The only real difference here is the choice of spice add in used.  I prefer to keep the cayenne pepper out of my spiced crackers, but it pairs well with pretzels, at least in my mind.

Spicy Pretzels with a Kick pairs well with beer because of the kick.  I like to serve these when we are having a few folks over to watch football games.

These pretzels also serve well as hostess gifts just like Peppermint Crunch and Spiced Crackers do.

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Crunchy Cherry Coconut Granola

Crunchy Cherry Coconut Granola is a perfect portable snack for the whole family.  It travels well and provides plenty of energy to get past a morning or afternoon slump.  Granola can also be eaten for breakfast with milk or yogurt.  It is even really good crumbled on top of a small bowl of ice cream.

Our recipe for granola produces large and crunchy clusters.  Some people use flour as a binding agent, others use egg whites, but this one uses neither.  We use the addition of crispy rice cereal for our binding agent.

Crispy rice gives the honey and brown sugar something to grab ahold of.  I find that using a 1:2 ratio of crispy rice cereal to rolled oats works the best.  Too little cereal and you still have a lot of oats rolling around by themselves at the end of cooking.

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