Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

I just found a way to make my husband’s day start in a more delicious way with Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches! This is the year that I want to get better at making things ahead and making my life and the lives of my family easier. My husband is famous for making egg sandwiches for our kids over the years. He made them for sleepovers, after sports practices and events, after choir concerts, after band concerts, after theater events, you name it. If someone came home hungry for any reason, he’d get out the fry pan and make up egg sandwiches for all. He still does (he’s such a pushover). Well, they do take some time to make – time he doesn’t have in the morning – so it’s not something he makes himself for breakfast very often. So instead of his usual quick breakfast of peanut butter smeared between two pieces of whole wheat bread (gulp – how can he even swallow?), I made a batch of these sandwiches he can grab for a good breakfast either before he heads to work, or on the way. This was so easy to do, I feel like I’ll be making these a lot. They’re so good we’ve found ourselves enjoying them for breakfast, but also for a light lunch, a snack, or a late dinner. Recipes for these are all over the internet – I kind of put my own twist on these.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

Whisk together:

12 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

splash of milk (maybe 2-3 Tablespoons)

At this point you could also add some sautĂ©ed onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc.- I’d do that next time.

Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Cool and cut into 12 squares.

Separate:

12 English muffins

Lay out the bottoms.

Layer on:

12 slices of cheese (I used cheddar)

12 pieces of your favorite breakfast meat – cooked bacon, Canadian bacon, ham, cooked sausage patty (I used bacon and ham for this batch)

the squares of cooked egg

English muffin tops

Wrap sandwiches in waxed paper and label with whatever is inside.

Freeze in zip top freezer bag labeled and dated.

The best way to serve – take out of freezer and thaw in refrigerator overnight. Don’t forget to take it out the night before!

Take sandwich out of waxed paper, wrap in paper towel, and place on a plate.

Microwave 1 minute on 50% power and then on high for 30 seconds.

You can thaw it in the microwave in the morning, but we’ve found that the sandwich doesn’t cook as evenly as when you take it out the night before.

It’s amazing how easy it is to cook eggs this way – and they don’t drip all over the front of your shirt when you bite into it and the yolk isn’t cooked through!

I just lined up the bottom of the English muffins and layered all the goodies on!

Wrap them up, but don’t forget to label what’s inside.

The next morning, wrap in a paper towel and it’s ready for the microwave.

There you go! The hubs is off to work and ready for the day! Carpe Diem! The egg and meat are warmed up and you can see how melty the cheese gets – yum! These breakfast sandwiches are delicious. It’s so great to just have them ready to go – this is making our lives so much easier – unless I have to make more than a batch a week! đŸ™‚ Assemble some of these Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches with your family’s favorite breakfast meats, and send them off to have an amazing day!

 

 

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Freezing Cookie Dough

I want to discover the joys of Freezing Cookie Dough, because I’m all about anything easy and make-ahead these days. Our kids all live on their own now, and I really don’t find the need to make a big batch of cookies – unless they are coming for dinner and we all need a treat. Instead of making and baking whole batches of cookies, I’ve decided to try and freeze the cookie dough balls before baking them. This is supposed to be good for making just 1 cookie, or making a whole pan full – depending on your craving for said cookies. Now, to be fair, by husband is not really in favor of this system. He’d rather we just make a whole batch at a time and have them available for munching at that time. I’m trying to watch the fat (for Ebenezer’s sake), and I like this idea. I sometimes just want a cookie, or have a craving for one (just like anyone else), but if there’s a whole batch available for munching, I will munch the whole batch. You see where I’m going here – and I don’t need any cracks about my willpower – or lack thereof. So here we go – let’s give this freezer thing a try. I used the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies – Made with Butterscotch Chips for this batch.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I doubled this recipe.

Sift together:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup soft shortening (I used butter)

Blend all ingredients.

Add:

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

3/4 cup chocolate chips

First I mixed up the batch of cookie dough. I made a double batch of this recipe since they’re going in the freezer, and this recipe makes a small batch.

Next I used my trusty scoop and scooped the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

I got 2 baking sheets full of cookie dough balls (44 balls) from this double batch. Then they went into the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Once the balls had been in the freezer for 30 minutes, I took them out and put them into a zip top freezer bag.

I labeled the bag with the date (they should be good at least 3 months), the kind of cookie dough (I may have several different kinds of cookie dough balls in the freezer at one time), and the baking instructions.

Just to show him how great this system is going to be, I took pity on my husband and left out 6 balls to bake for him that night. (Ok, ok, I had a couple – man, these are good!) I put the frozen balls on the baking sheet while preheating the oven, then baked the frozen balls for a few more minutes than if they weren’t frozen – these baked at 375 degrees and took 15 minutes to bake instead of the 10-12 minutes recommended on the recipe.

The cookies are delicious – that goes without saying – but I LOVE doing this and having them ready in the freezer. I have made other kinds of cookies that you roll into a log and can freeze for later use, like Butterscotch Cookies and Christmas Cookies, and you can also freeze cut-out dough in a disc like pie crust for cutting out and baking later, but THIS is a game changer. I’m going to try other kinds of cookie doughs to do this with, like Ranger Cookies, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, Date Rocks, and maybe even Aunt Julie’s Summer Cookies. Try Freezing Cookie Dough and you, too, will see how easy it is to pull out just the right number of cookie dough balls to bake for your cookie craving!

 

 

 

 

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Sharon’s Veggie Dip

Oh how I love Sharon’s Veggie Dip! This recipe comes from Sharon, who is one of my dear friends – the Coffee Babes – 4 friends who have had coffee together every Friday (most weeks) for over 20 years, until we lost one of our babes to colon cancer two years ago. The 3 remaining Coffee Babes still meet on Fridays whenever we can! All those years ago, Sharon and I started a newsletter for our daughters’ volleyball club, met for coffee to discuss it, and have been meeting for coffee ever since! She does a lot of entertaining, and when at her house for a gathering years ago, she had this dip and I had to have the recipe for it. I’m addicted to it – it’s so good – and I make it all the time. I have altered it a bit to keep it more low-fat for me, but that doesn’t change how delicious and addicting it is. This dip is easy, tasty, and made with things you probably have in your frig and cupboard. Perfect for upcoming football parties!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sharon’s Veggie Dip

Mix all together:

1 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise)

1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)

1 Tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

1 1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon grated onion (I have used dried minced onion flakes in a pinch – like here)

4-5 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

Let flavors mingle for a few hours or overnight.

This is another great recipe to be able to make from things you probably have in your cupboard and frig. It’s totally alright to make this according to the recipe – it’s delicious – but I use the low-fat options for me. You can also totally use fat-free options, if that’s how low you want to go.

I have to say, this dip is so fresh – because of the dill weed – and tasty – because of the other ridiculously tasty flavors that go in.

It’s great with fresh veggies – carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, pepper strips, jicama, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower – I’ve tried them all! It’s also great with crackers – regular, if you like, or low-fat, as I have here – reduced fat Wheat Thins, Less Fat Cape Cod Potato Chips, Corn Thins! So good!

I have this dip in my frig most of the time – all year round – because it’s just so stinkin’ good! Did I mention that I’m addicted to this? I know you’re gonna love this one – bring it to any upcoming football party and you have your own little less fat, healthier snack amidst all the crazy, high fat, yet delicious options that usually show up at that kind of event. I’m addicted (have I mentioned that?) to Sharon’s Veggie Dip, and I know you will be, too – it’s a good thing to be addicted to!

 

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Roast Beef French Onion Sliders

I made up a new recipe called Roast Beef French Onion Sliders. I shouldn’t really say I made it up – it’s a rif on or compilation of both the Copycat Lipton Onion Soup Mix and Poppy Seed Buns recipes that I’ve posted in the past. Ok, ok, I’ll take the credit for this one – but only because it’s soooo good! We’re always on the lookout for tasty, fast, easy to make snacks or appetizers for parties, and this one is just in time for you to make for your New Year’s Eve party!

Back when I was growing up, mom and dad would sometimes have New Year’s Eve parties to go to and my sister and I would stay overnight at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. Sometimes we’d go to their church, where they would have a little party for people to go to, but sometimes we’d just stay at their house, make decorations for New Year’s, play all the games – cards and board games, and have snacks. They’d even let us stay up until midnight – or as long as we could. Grandma loved to celebrate everything – birthdays, holidays, accomplishments. It didn’t matter what the occasion was, it was an excuse to get together, enjoy the great food she’d make, and be with each other.

I love that we can make up recipes like this – take a couple of recipes used in the past, and make up something new using part of one and part of another! Come on, step outside the box once in awhile! It’s easier than you think! Try something new! If it doesn’t work out – oh well – and if it does, it might just become a new favorite – like this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Roast Beef French Onion Sliders

When making these sliders, either make up a batch of homemade Copycat Lipton Onion Soup Mix or use an envelope of the store-bought kind, but you’ll need onion soup for this recipe.

I used a dozen Hawaiian Rolls for this one, but you can use whatever slider buns you want. I cut them in half horizontally.

This used about 3 slices of provolone cheese and about 1/2 pound of deli roast beef. Cut the slices of into fourths to fit on the buns and put about 1/2 of a slice of roast beef on each bun.

Put on the tops of the buns and then cut the buns apart. It really doesn’t matter how you cut the buns – either all at once like I did above, or cut them apart at first and then put the cheese and meat on. Either way works.

Next, it’s time to mix up the sauce that goes on top of the sliders.

Melt in microwave:

1/2 cup butter

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons Copycat Lipton Onion Soup Mix or from an envelope of the store-bought kind

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

Oh boy this smells good.

Spoon the sauce evenly over the top of the buns. They can now go into the refrigerator until it’s time to serve them.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The recipe card for the Poppy Seed Buns says that those can be made the night before – I don’t know why this recipe wouldn’t be the same, but I made these right away, so I’m not totally sure.

These are so good – the cheese gets melty and the roast beef is delicious and the onion soup mix makes them salty and perfect for a party. I know that you and your friends and family are going to LOVE this new recipe for a great appetizer. Make a lot of these – I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to get enough of these Roast Beef French Onion Sliders!

 

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Cranberry Grape Salad

This recipe for Cranberry Grape Salad has been in our family for 3 generations. It looks like it might have been Grandma’s youngest sister who originally found it, because Grandma wrote her sister’s initials on the recipe card. This is one of my favorite parts of our holiday meals – a favorite of my whole family, really. Family is what the holidays are all about, so I’m sharing this photo of Grandma and Grandpa with my uncle and my mom at the farm at Christmastime from sometime around (or just before) 1950. It looks like this may have been their Christmas card that year, showing the kids reading from what I assume would be the Christmas story.

Everyone sure is dressed in their finest here – and I love the little tree covered in tinsel. Seeing this picture reminds me of how much I loved going to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm at Christmastime. When I was a kid, they had a silver tree (like built-in tinsel) with blue ornaments on it. The blue ornaments didn’t stop them from using the color wheel that would go around and around and constantly change the colors of those shiny branches. Of course, the colors were just the reflected colors on the wheel, but it was magical! I’d lay there for hours in the dark watching that tree sparkle and change. Then I’d move to rearranging the animals in the stable of the manger scene with the Christmas bulb star and from that to staring at the little church that was lit by a Christmas bulb glowing red inside, both always residing in the dining room to be front and center during all of the Christmas celebrations. Those are all things ingrained in my psyche – those memories that will be with me always, just like the ornaments and the light up church that are still part of my Christmas decorating, and the manger scene that is now a part of their oldest great-grandchild’s Christmas decorating. I will always remember those special decorations, and I will always remember just how special those two were to me, and how much I miss them.

Ok – wipe away the tears – back to the recipe. Grandma had written Salad on this one – which would make this Salad #11, but we’ve always CALLED it Cranberry Grape Salad. So that’s what the name is, henceforth. đŸ™‚

Note the “Very Good” connotation here, and where she had written (Marshmallows) – more on that later!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Cranberry Grape Salad

Put in bowl of food processor (or grind together):

2 cups cranberries

2 cups sugar

Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

Drain.

Add:

2 cups (or more) red grapes, cut in half

Fold in:

2 cups whipping cream, whipped

(She just says “whipping cream” here, with no amount, but I know from years of making this salad that a pint is about right.)

Nuts (chopped) may be added (I’d say 1/2-1 cup).

Here’s another hint – about the marshmallows – Grandma has written (Marshmallows) on the card, because she always said that if the salad got too juicy, you can just add some miniature marshmallows to take care of that. There. That’s an extra special hint – for if that situation ever arises.

Sometimes the ground cranberries and sugar gets pretty juicy after standing in the frig overnight – sometimes it doesn’t.

Whip the cream and add in the cranberries, sugar, and grapes.

If the cranberries are juicy, the salad will be more pink than this – it just depends!

I never add nuts – my family doesn’t care for them in a salad – and I’ve rarely needed to use the marshmallows, but if your salad gets too wet or juicy – you know what to do!

This is another one of those salads that really is more like a dessert, but this is the time of year for indulgence, and because this one is so traditional for our family, we’d never be without it at some point during the holidays. It’s pretty easy to do, it’s amazingly delicious, and it’s a tradition that brings back so many memories of Christmas past with the family. Make this Cranberry Grape Salad for your holiday dinner this year and your family will want it EVERY year!

 

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Swedish Rice Dessert

Today’s recipe for Swedish Rice Dessert is one of our family’s favorites, and we couldn’t imagine Christmas without it! It’s one of the most traditional dishes we have at Christmastime. The name calls it a “dessert”, but we usually have it as part of our Christmas dinner. Because it’s made with whipped cream and rice – and that’s about it – it’s ridiculously good. Then when you top it with the sauce made with Junket Danish Dessert with some added raspberries or strawberries, or lingonberry jam, it’s just absolutely, crazy how good this is! It can be made ahead and it’s pretty easy to make, so we’re hitting all the boxes here!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Swedish Rice Dessert

Put in small saucepan:

1/2 cup uncooked white rice

1 pint (2 cups) milk

Cook rice in milk until thick and creamy, about 15-20 minutes (watch it as it tends to boil over and make a total mess of your stovetop – this has happened to me very single time I’ve made this).

Add:

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dissolve 1 envelope of Knox gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water and add to hot rice (this usually gets lumpy and it takes a bit of stirring to get the gelatin mixed into the rice mixture).

Let rice mixture cool until it begins to set (about 20-30 minutes).

Whip to soft peaks:

1 pint whipping cream

Add:

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

Fold whipped cream into the rice mixture.

We sometimes I’ll put a whole almond into the mixture, and then whoever gets it in their serving of rice will have good luck for the upcoming year!

Set in a 2 quart mold (lightly sprayed with non-stick spray) or a pretty serving bowl.

Serve with Junket Danish Dessert with fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries added.

Because the name of this dessert is SWEDISH Rice Dessert, we sometimes use lingonberry jam to put on top of the rice instead of the Junket Danish Dessert.

The gelatin looks a little weird, but it works.

After following the recipe and mixing it all together, it goes into a mold that is sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray. You can also put it in a pretty glass bowl – that would also be just fine.

I unmold it by dipping the bottom in warm water in the sink until it melts just enough to let it come out of the mold. Flip it onto a plate, and listen for that oh so satisfying “plop” that tells you it’s come out of the mold and is now sitting deliciously on the serving plate! Ha! I just happen to have a small bowl for the lingonberry jam that fits right in the middle of the ring. If serving this with the Junket Danish Dessert and berries, you can serve that in a separate bowl.

Oh, how I love this rice dish. It brings back Christmas from childhood!

It’s supposed to be dessert, but we serve it with dinner. You can do it either way – whatever works for you!

This is a pretty special and traditional Christmas dish for our family. You and your family and friends are going to LOVE this creamy rice dish with the added sauce – whether you use lingonberry jam or the Junket Danish Dessert with added berries. Put in the whole almond and let everyone try to find it for good luck in the coming year – it’s just a bit of added fun! Make this Swedish Rice Dessert this Christmas and start a new tradition!

 

 

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Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert

Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert – that’s quite a mouthful. That’s exactly what you’re gonna want of this dessert – a mouthful! Well, more than a mouthful, for sure! Oh my goodness – this is the tastiest thing I’ve tried in many, many years. I have done other pumpkin desserts on Plenty Sweet Life, like Pumpkin Crunch Dessert and Pumpkin Pie Dessert, plus many other pumpkin pies and cakes, but this one is the tastiest – in my opinion. I keep saying it, and you all know how I feel about it, but those old church cookbooks are THE ABSOLUTE BEST. Especially in this case. This recipe came from one of Grandma’s church cookbooks, and it. Is. So. Good. I’m not even kidding with this one. The best thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead. I should have posted this in the first part of September, because it would be great anytime from September through the end of December. This is a total make-ahead wonder. You HAVE to make this one ahead of time, which is absolutely perfect for holiday entertaining. You’ll see what I mean as we go along. I’m not sure how long you could keep this in the freezer, but I had it in there at least a week and it was perfectly fine. That’s the beauty of this one – you can make it ahead and it’s unbelievably delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert

Mix:

30 gingersnaps, crushed (yes – store-bought)

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar

Press into a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Freeze until firm.

Spread over crust:

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened (most ice cream containers are 1 1/2 qts now, not 2 – I used the 1 1/2 qt one and it was fine – you can use the exact amount, if you want to, then just buy two containers)

Combine:

1 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Spread over ice cream.

Spread over top of all:

12 ounce Cool Whip (I couldn’t find a 12 oz container, so I used an 8 oz – I’d use 2 of those next time)

Sprinkle additional gingersnaps over top, if desired.

Freeze until serving.

Even though the recipe doesn’t say to melt the butter, the crust reminded me of a graham cracker crust, so I thought melted butter would work best.

I just put all the crust ingredients into the food processor. Easy peasy.

If you have the pumpkin layer ready to go before starting, it’s pretty fast to pull together.

I felt that since both the ice cream and Cool Whip amounts were smaller than the recipe called for, I might be able to get away with a smaller pan. Nope.

Once the crust and ice cream layers were in, there wasn’t much room in my smaller pan.

There was room to put the pumpkin layer on, but no room for the Cool Whip. Don’t panic – just worry about the Cool Whip later. At this point, into the freezer with the pan.

You can see here how close I was cutting it for fitting it all into the smaller pan. No worries – a spoonful of Cool Whip will work just as well! The 8 ounce container worked just fine for putting a dollop on top, but if I had used a bigger pan and had the room, I’d have put in the exact amount called for.

See? How pretty is this?!! I used sprinkles, of course, and they are so cute! There’s no reason not to be festive at the same time. For some reason, the gingersnaps stayed in bigger chunks instead of breaking up more into crumbs. Good thing I used the food processor on the crust!

Let me just say this one more time – this is the best pumpkin dessert I’ve had in many, many years!!! It is so flavorful and tasty – I could hardly believe it! It’s my new favorite! I know, I know, I say that all the time. This time I mean it! Make this now for your thanksgiving gatherings. I think if you make it this weekend, or next, and wrap it well, it should be fine. Just wrap well (airtight) to stay away from that “freezer” smell and taste. Let other people bring the pies – your Gingersnap Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert will be the big hit – I guarantee it!

 

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Spinach Dip

We’re going back to the 80’s today with this Spinach Dip. It was the 80’s wasn’t it, where this dip showed up at every gathering everybody went to – EVERYWHERE? I think we just got sick of it, because we had it so much, but it’s so delicious and tasty! We should bring it back – cuz it’s so easy to make and it’s so good and good for you and – why not? This recipe comes from one of Grandma’s sisters, who got it from her daughter, who just happens to be my godmother. Got all that? Good!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spinach Dip

Mix all together:

1-10 ounce package frozen spinach, chopped and drained

1 can water chestnuts, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped, white and green parts

1 pint sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 package dry vegetable soup mix

Refrigerate overnight or several hours.

I thawed the frozen spinach, drained it, and then put it into a tea towel and twisted it to squeeze all the water out. We don’t want your dip to be runny or too wet.

I flattened out the spinach on the cutting board, cut one way and then cut it the other way, all the way across to make small pieces.

This takes a little bit of chopping, but it really is a fast and easy dip.

These are pretty simple ingredients.

Mix it all together, and it’s ready to go.

!!!Warning!!! – Do not, I repeat, DO NOT serve this right away. It needs to sit overnight (that’s best) or at least several hours. It has to have time for the flavors to meld and get all yummy and delicious. That’s why this is in the “Make Ahead” category.

You can serve this with any fresh veggies like I did here – with snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes. Or like the recipe says, you can serve it with – potato chips or sour dough bread.

Everybody’s into bringing back the 80’s, and that includes the weird clothes, the funky music, and the amazingly delicious food. This is so typically 80’s – I say we start with bringing this Spinach Dip back – don’t you agree?!!!

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Homemade Ricotta on Toasts with Tomatoes

I can’t wait to share this Homemade Ricotta on Toasts with Tomatoes today! This is something I’ve never tried to do before, and with the help of the unbleached, natural cheesecloth from Cheesecloth.com, I’m giving it a try! I love that Cheesecloth.com has an unbleached variety, because sometimes the cheesecloth that’s bleached white can have a bit of a bleachy smell, and who wants that? Not me! I LOVE this unbleached variety (plus its pretty). Who knew making your own ricotta cheese at home would be so easy? I loved making it! It’s like magic – only it’s science! It was easy to do, it was delicious, and I can’t wait to try it again. Let’s just get on with it so I can show you how I did it!

There are recipes for how to do this all over the internet, so I’m just going to type it out.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Homemade Ricotta

Set over a large bowl:

a sieve lined with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth (if you don’t dampen the cheesecloth, it may spill out over the top of the sieve instead of draining properly)

Pour into a large stainless steel pot:

4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

Stir in:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and add:

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice (I used white wine vinegar)

Allow to stand one minute (I did give it a little stir), until the vinegar causes it to curdle and separate.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined sieve and allow to drain about 20 minutes (the longer your let it drain, the firmer the ricotta will be).

Discard the liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl.

Transfer ricotta from the sieve to another bowl.

Discard remaining liquid and cheesecloth.

Use immediately (if you like it nice and warm) or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

For the tomato topping (depending on taste), mix all together:

2-3 red, ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

4-6 Tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

basil leaves, chopped (as much as you have in your garden or as much as you like)

Like I mentioned above, I LOVE this unbleached cheesecloth from Cheesecloth.com!

I cut the cheesecloth to the appropriate size and dampened it, then gave it a shake to get rid of any threads left on it from cutting it. Lay a double layer into your sieve over a bowl and you’re ready to drain the mixture.

4 simple imgreidents – that’s it!

Once your mixture has curdled, pour it into the sieve. My sieve is small, and I didn’t know if it would hold all of the mixture, so I made another sieve with cheesecloth using my colander (in the background).

It worked! Look how pretty! I got too excited and ripped the cheesecloth off and pulled a chunk off the side, but wow! I impressed myself!

I took the ricotta from both sieves, mixed them together, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it all into the refrigerator until I needed it. It should last about 4-5 days covered in the frig.

I cut slices of a baguette, lightly drizzled olive oil on them, and baked them at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until they were crisp, but not too crisp.

Next I made the tomato bruschetta-type mixture to put on the top.

I originally wanted to make this tomato mixture with balsamic vinegar (above photo), but when I was about to pour it in, decided to use a lighter red wine vinegar instead.

OMG. Yum. The ricotta cheese is SOOOO smooth and creamy and delicious and the tomato mixture adds a punch of flavor.

I know ricotta cheese is an Italian thing, but the kitchen totally smelled like Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen when I was making this – they were dairy farmers, after all. Watch for a Scandinavian idea using ricotta cheese later this fall! Making ricotta cheese at home was SO easy to do, especially when I used the unbleached cheesecloth from Cheesecloth.com. The ricotta cheese is simple, pure, and made from totally natural ingredients. I will be making this again and again and again. I have found a new appetizer that really packs a punch and is amazingly smooth and creamy at the same time! It’s so easy to do – try this fun little science experiment, make your own Homemade Ricotta Cheese on Toasts with Tomatoes, and be the hit of your next party!

 

 

 

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Garden Salad

My mom had this Garden Salad recipe, and it’s perfect for this time of the summer – August and September – here in Minnesota because it includes all the vegetables that are ready to pick right now in our gardens. I mean, who doesn’t like a good garden salad this time of the summer? Both of my sets of grandparents had gardens, and we had one, too. I loved this time of year when things were ripe and ready to pick (that’s why I love Farmer’s Markets so much – that works, too). We’d all go out and pick boxes full of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, zucchini, carrots, green beans, and pumpkins. One year my mom decided to grow cabbage, and after a bout with some big green caterpillars found in them after they were picked, we never grew those again. When you grow a garden, you end up with a lot of vegetables ready to pick all at the same time, and in addition to freezing or canning the vegetables (and back when we were kids, we canned and froze A LOT), we look for salads and dishes that use those vegetables RIGHT NOW, when they’re fresh and sweet and juicy and ripe and . . . ok, ok. Whew. Guess I get carried away with the garden vegetable thing. This is one of those recipes – one of those salads.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Garden Salad

Cook according to package instrucitons:

1-7 ounce package of ring pasta (I used a half of a 1 pound box of the large rings)

Drain and cool.

Combine:

1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Combine in a large bowl:

1 small head of cabbage, finely chopped (I shredded the cabbage)

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1 large cucumber, finely chopped

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

Fold together dressing, pasta, and vegetables.

Refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight.

I shredded the cabbage (out of habit, I think) instead of chop it, but next time I’d just chop it so all the vegetables are the same shape.

When chopping the cucumber, I left the seeds in the first half until I remembered to use a small spoon and run it down the middle of the cucumber to take out the seeds. Nobody wants a runny salad.

Here we are, all ready to fold it all together.

I’m pretty sure someone decided to stretch this salad, at some point, by adding the pasta. Good idea!

Oh yum.

What a great side dish. You get to use some of your garden vegetable abundance, while enjoying a delicious, creamy, sweet and sour kind of salad. This salad would go perfectly with any main from sandwiches to pork chops to steak or burgers. If you have an over abundant garden right now, you’re going to want to make up a big batch of this Garden Salad – enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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