Archive | Cooking RSS feed for this section

Just a Small-Town Girl: Oldsmar’s Centennial Cookbook Challenge   

2 May

I always have and will always be a small-town girl. Once upon a time, I dreamed of moving to NYC to work as a fashion-magazine editor, and then I saw Times Square. Amazing and beautiful, yes, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea full-time. Originally from Granger, Indiana, I left that small town for another small town (Bloomington, Indiana) and eventually another small town (Oldsmar, Florida).

There’s just something magical about living in a small town. (Is John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” playing in your head yet?) I love knowing my neighbors, I love that my community feels more like a group of friends than strangers, and I love that we all wave to each other when we pass by.

And I particularly love living in Oldsmar — close enough to Tampa, Clearwater and Orlando so you get all the big-city fun but far enough of way that you retain the small-town charm in your everyday life. I love that I can walk to the library or to the water any afternoon, and I absolutely love the rich history of this area. Ransom E. Olds, the automobile pioneer, purchased nearly 38,000 acres of land in April 1916 to establish Oldsmar, and this year marks the city’s Centennial Celebration!

As part of that celebration, Oldsmar has been hosting themed concert events every fifth Friday of the month —and it was at one such event that I found an absolute gem: the Oldsmar Centennial Cookbook, featuring nearly 120 recipes from local residents just like me. The Friends of the Oldsmar Library put together this collection of treats, and I had to have one. $15 dollar later, I snatched up my copy and tucked it under my arm for safe-keeping until I could get home.

IMG_5456

On Sunday afternoon, I read the cookbook cover to cover, soaking in not only the recipes but a lot of wonderful history on Oldsmar and its residents. Each recipes has a notes area, filled with the lovely stories about the background of each dish, like the one Grace Kinane shared with the Stuffed Olives entry: “Longtime teacher at Oldsmar Elementary, Helen Scott, shared this after we swooned over them!” Or Bette Rae Maltinos’ submission for Brown Bread, “I have made this since my sons were very small and they could not wait to cut it and eat. I still make this for them even though they are now men.”

The cookbook is also filled with old photos documenting Oldsmar’s history like the town’s very first library and Mr. Olds and President Roosevelt in our streets among others. Who knew that Oldsmar hosted beach parties in the 1920s? Looks like quite a fun time from the photo! I wondered if they served any of these recipes there.

IMG_5472.JPG

The cookbook inspired me to start a challenge. I’m going to cook my way through each and every entry, starting with the very first one: Joan Wallace’s Bacon-Shrimp Bites. And so I did! Jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and honey make Sunday just that much sweeter. And with that first bite, I thought, “Yes, Joan. You were right. I should’ve planned for leftovers, because this was delicious!” Thank goodness for those notes.

IMG_5477.JPG

And as I continued read through the pages, I stopped thinking of this as a cookbook all together. It was so much more than a cookbook in my eyes. It was a book, filled with amazing stories. And it reminded me what recipes actually do — they let you gather as a family and make memories over some delicious meals. And within those note sections and among the old photos, there lied our real truth … we are neighbors who share, we are families that love, and we are a community with a treasured past. And that’s why I love being a small-town girl right here in Oldsmar. And that’s life in a nutshell.

Joan Wallace’s Bacon-Shrimp Bites

Jumbo Shrimp: As many as needed

Bacon Slices: Half the amount as shrimp

I cup barbecure sauce

1 drizzle of honey per shrimp

Toothpicks

Cut bacon in half and wrap around the shrimp. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Broil 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp (we actually grilled these instead on foil). Drizzle with barbecue sauce and honey, and serve.

Note from Joan: I have been serving this for years. It is very quick to make and is low calorie (30 calories per shrimp). I love to have leftovers of this. Keep them in the fridge until the next day and have a few as a tasty lunch.

To purchase your own copy of the cookbook, visit the Oldsmar Public Library at 400 St. Petersburg Drive East in Oldsmar. You can also read more about it here.

MommaNut

 

Advertisements

Campfire-Inspired Dessert: S’mores Bars

25 Jun

If you haven’t been watching the news, you’re blissfully unaware of the tropical storm that has taken up residency right above my home. With flooded streets and down trees, it is easy to get a bit antsy once the DVR is void of any new shows. So, I fired up the oven and got to work.

This s’mores bar recipe is really easy and super delicious. And most of the items are probably already in your pantry!

 

Ingredients

1 pouch (1lb. 1.5oz.) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter, melted

3 cups milk-chocolate chips

4 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13×9-inch pan.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 5 to 6 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.

These are so filling that it doesn’t take much to satisfy your sweet tooth. Wishing you knew the recipe for a similar cupcake recipe? Here you go!

And that’s life in a nutshell. Don’t the let rain get you down! See it as a GREAT excuse to pull out your recipe book and create something amazing!

MommaNut

Easy Dessert: Scotcharoo Family Recipe

5 Jun

When I started college, I was pretty homesick. I had never really been far away from home, and Indiana University was nearly four hours away from my familiar stopping grounds. My birthday is in September, just a few short weeks after my freshman year had started, and I was in desperate need of something from home. And my sister being the most wonderful sister in the world, she must have known that, because a homemade recipe book made its way to my new address.

Inside, my sister had documented all of our family recipes inside. With a handwritten inscription, my sister brought me to tears with her words. And I have held on to that recipe book with dear life every since. It has accompanied me to my first apartment after college, to my apartment with my cousin Ashley, to my first place with PoppaNut, and now to our beautiful home. I’ve added my favorite recipes over the years, and I consult is each and every time I’m in the mood to make something new.

My favorite entries are the ones in my grandmother’s own handwriting. Her famous Texas sheet cake, which my cousins hid each Thanksgiving in Indiana in order to save the most for themselves, is documented inside, along with her peanut-butter balls, her scotcharoos and more. The only one missing is her famous strawberry jam, which I hope to learn to make someday as well.

So, with my recipe book in hand, I flipped through the familiar, recipe-stained pages for just the right thing to make. Scotcharoos it was! Now, if you haven’t heard of scotcharoos, it is basically Rice Krispy Treats with chocolate and butterscotch chips melted over the top. However, I made a few adjustments of my own.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. butter

4 cups of mini marshmallows

Six cups of Rice Krispy cereal

Bag of chocolate chips

Bag of butterscotch chips

Directions

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on low heat. Then, add in marshmallows, and mix until well-blended. Add in cereal, and mix well.

Pour into a rectangle pan, and place wax paper over the top. Then, press down and carefully remove wax paper.

In a microwave-safe bowl, add in chips (I actually used chocolate chips and peanut-butter chips). Place in microwave on high on 30-minute intervals, stirring each time, until all chips and melted and blended together. Pour over the top and place in fridge to set. Serve with a tall glass of milk!

I sure hope you enjoy them. My little Cashew literally stretched out and watched me make them. I think he was hoping I might drop some so he could sample it too!

And that’s life in a nutshell … making scotcharoos not only satisfies my sweet tooth but it warms my heart thanks to the family tie.

MommaNut

Cupcake Dreams: Reese’s Pieces Cupcake Recipe

29 May

I love to bake, and I especially love baking when I have a long weekend to enjoy the final product. So, knowing last weekend was gonna be a long one, I asked PoppaNut to pick a flavor of his choice. He picked “Reese’s Pieces,” and I went on a hunt for a new recipe.

I found this delicious recipe that combines Reese’s Pieces with cream-cheese frosting. Need I say more? My search was complete and I ran to the grocery to pick up everything I needed.

Ingredients:
Butter pecan cake mix (I couldn’t find this anywhere so I got Butter cake mix and added in two big spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter)
Muffin tin
Bag of Reese’s Pieces
Cream-cheese Icing
Cupcake Liners
AND my special secret ingredient … applesauce to substitute for the oil called for in the cake mix

Directions:
Mix up the cake mix according to the directions, substituting oil for your cup of applesauce of course. Place the cake mix into your lined muffin tins. Place about five Reese’s Pieces right on the top and pop into the oven.

Once the cupcakes are cooled completely, put the frosting into a plastic bag. Snip the corner and easily frost each cupcake. I decorated the tops with a few more Reese’s Pieces (I’m clearly not on a diet this weekend!). Then, enjoy!

With the cupcakes complete, PoppaNut got started on the main course of hamburgers and hot dogs on our new grill! Yummy! Plus, this gave us a chance to enjoy the new rock that PoppaNut put in at the front and sides of the house. Looking good!

And that’s life in a nutshell. Let your loved one pick a favorite flavor, and then explore a few new recipes that you can create at home!

MommaNut

Friday Food Day: Peppermint White-Chocolate Fudge

17 Feb

Any day is a great day to make fudge in my book. I happened to make this little bit of heaven for Valentine’s Day but you can certainly make it for any occasion. Did you have a good week at work? Make this fudge. Did you have a bad week at work? Make this fudge. I think you get the picture.

It literally only took me about 15 minutes to put this together, and it was simply delicious. It is very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package of white chocolate chips or high-quality white chocolate bar
  • 1 (16 ounce) container vanilla frosting
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 drops red food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed peppermint candies

 Directions

  1. Line an 8X8 pan with waxed paper.
  2. Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval.
  3. Stir in the frosting into the white chocolate chips.
  4. Stir in peppermint extract.
  5. Spread into prepared pan evenly.
  6. Drop 8 drops of food coloring evenly spaced on top of the fudge.
  7. Using a knife swirl the food coloring.
  8. Sprinkle top of fudge with crushed peppermint candies and press down slightly.
  9. Cool for about an hour in the fridge.
  10. Once firm, turn fudge onto a cutting board and cut into small squares.

 

 

And that’s life in a nutshell … fudge makes everything okay in the end. Enjoy!

MommaNut

Toes in the Water, Ass in the Sand: Tailgating at a Country Concert

31 Jan

I have never really tailgated much, mainly because I have never been that good at it. I’m never prepared the way I should be. Well, that all changed with the Zac Brown Band concert this past weekend. PoppaNut and I got completely prepared, and we reaped the benefits over and over again. And so, I’m sharing my tailgating wisdom for you!

1. You Must Have a Monster Vehicle: Leave the sports car at home. You need an SUV/Hummer-type vehicle for this. It’s not that you’ll get stuck in mud or something if you don’t have a big car, but there is no way in hell you can jam all the gear you need to bring in a little two-seater. Go big or go home. And so, we brought the Commander!

2.  Prepare for Disaster: While you monster vehicle may make it there, it could potentially die as you blare the finest in country music from its speakers for the four-hour tailgating festivities. And so, come prepared with some jumper cables! We sure put them to good use.

3. Bring Durable Seats: You are gonna want some place comfy to sit with a beer in hand, and the back of your vehicle is not the best spot. Bring some lounge chairs that you know are good. Our friend Sam brought an old chair with a busted leg, and just made the best of it. Ours were too low to the ground and super old … we should have upgraded before we headed to the concert. Lesson learned!

4. Find the Perfect Cooler: This is also a lesson learned for me. I went to Walmart that morning, and I picked up a cooler I thought was perfect. It would keep our food cold and it was deep. However, I failed to see the value of a locking lid and wheels at the time. Who knew those two features could make or break your tailgating day? I certainly know now.

5. You’ll Want Good Food: Yeah, you can bring your Publix subs and some chips, but you are going to want something special to put you in the mood. This is not a picnic. You need man food for a tailgate. And the meatballs I made that morning seemed to do the trick. Just throw meatballs, grape jelly and Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce in a Crock-pot on High for 2.5 hours, and then finished getting all your tailgate stuff together. When they are done, put them in a heat-safe bowl, cover and head on out!

6. Red Solo Cups Are Fun for Singing and Drinking: We listened to “Red Solo Cups” (It’s a country song for those of you who don’t know) on repeat again and again … all while drinking out of our red solo cups. They are great for holding limes, beer and whatever else you need. Plus, they are super cheap for your friends that need an extra cup.

7. You Need Protection: Protect yourself at all times. Bring a hat to keep your skin healthy all day long while you are in the sun. You probably thought I was talking about something else, but your skincare is just as important to me. Plus, your cowboy hat helps with the country-concert theme!

8. Fill that Cooler with Corona: There is nothing like a cold Corona at a country concert that just let’s you kick back and enjoy the day. I don’t even like to drink beer, but I can sip Corona until the cows come home. A cold Corona and a sliced lime is just that little piece of heaven you need to keep you going hour after hour in the hot sun!

9. Bring on the Tequila: You are gonna want to get rowdy, and tequila is the answer to that. We brought Patron and Jager to the party, and everyone was quite happy to have them there. In fact, I think some people were hoping their friend Jack Daniels had showed up as well. Bottoms up!

10. You Need Good Friends to Complete the Tailgating Package: You can have all the gear and food you could imagine … but without amazing friends, you might as well tailgate in your driveway. We had great people surrounding us, some that we met that night. We all had such a blast together!

And that’s life in a nutshell … tailgating can be an experience of a lifetime if you prepare in advance.

MommaNut

Mission Wives Relax: Cooking Dinner for Your Spouse

20 Jan

This post is dedicated to my amazing sister-in-law, Stacy. She is a woman who really does it all. She helps her dad with work, she works herself, she takes care of her husband and her three amazing children (Hi, Karissa, Kayla and Christopher) and still finds time to comment on almost every single one of my blog posts! And not only that, she keeps up with the five Facebook pages that PoppaNut and I have … and she comments on those too.

Plus, she texts us through the week and tries to schedule SKYPE calls with us too. She is just always there when we need her, and I know she generally cares about what we having going on with our lives … and I’m forever grateful for that.

Stacy and Chris

So, when Stacy emailed me an idea for my blog, I was all over it. It’s called “Mission Wives Relax” because wives certainly need a break from time to time. I mean, look at all the things I listed that Stacy does … this woman needs a tall glass of wine STAT!

Stacy and I are both lucky enough to have amazing hubbies that love to cook and will cook for us all the time. My dinner pick is always homemade sauce, and PoppaNut is always happy to make up a batch from scratch. It’s just a wonderful thing that PoppaNut does that reminds me how much he loves me. And Stacy is married to Chris, a chef who makes the most amazing food for his family and friends.

PoppaNut and I were lucky enough to try Chris’ homemade watermelon salsa when we visited Stacy and Chris last summer. Boy, was that yummy! And Stacy recently shared with me photos from a dinner Chris made for her, and I want to share them with you.

Chris made roasted pork with a raspberry sauce, sautéed corn with onions, broccoli with olive oil in garlic, and cous cous with sunflower seed and red peppers. If your mouth is not watering, you must have just ate lunch! I’ve requested a recipe to share with you guys, so look for that in the comments! I’ll share it as soon as I have it.

The point of this post is not to make you hungry … even though my tummy is talking to me at this very minute. It is to remind the men out there to pick up a spatula and get to work in the kitchen every now and then. My hubby certainly pulls his weight in the kitchen and he knows how much I appreciate that (and how much my tastebuds appreciate it too).

With Valentine’s Day coming up, this might be a good idea for you men to try. Cook up a specialty meal for your sweetie. Then, take pictures and send them to me so I can share them as well!

And that’s life in a nutshell … making dinner for the one you love works up quite an appetite for dessert!

MommaNut

Dropping the Bomb: Jalapeno-Popper Dip

10 Jan

I’m crazy about jalapeno poppers! Those hot peppers dance on my tastebuds like no other item in the grocery store. And when I ran across this recipe on Pinterest for Jalapeno-Popper Dip, I couldn’t resist giving it a try.

It was really easy to make, and most of the ingredients I had on hand in my pantry. I must warn you though … you’ll want to have a tall glass of milk on standby for when your mouth is on fire! You can reduce the heat by not adding the actually jalapeno peppers, but that just seems wrong to me. I mean, you might as well call it just popper dip if you are going to do that. But, it’s your tummy so do as you please!

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
1 (4 ounce) can sliced jalapenos (pickled)
2 jalapeno peppers (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano

Directions
1. Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano and jalapenos in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.
2. Mix the panko bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano and sprinkle over the dip.


3. Bake in a 375-degree oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 10-20 minutes.

This hot dish is great for group gatherings or special events like Super Bowl. I would call it “Man Dip” and the men in the room will eat it right up!

And that’s life in a nutshell … spice up your Super Bowl party with jalapeno-popper dip. Note to self, have mints on the table, too!

MommaNut

A Childhood Classic: S’mores Cupcakes

5 Jan

My parents and grandparents used to take me camping as a little girl. And while I never really liked roughing it, there is one reason that always kept me coming back for more: S’mores. I mean, who can resist marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate all melted together in one gooey mess. Not this sweets addict! I can’t get enough.

So, when I ran across a simple recipe for S’mores cupcakes, I couldn’t resist trying them. I must warn you though … these little bits of heaven are more addicting than a Real Housewives marathon. I couldn’t have less than two per sitting. So, bake with caution!

Ingredients for S’mores Cupcakes

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix

1-1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy, finely chopped

24 baking cups

Frosting

1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons milk

1 bar (1.55 oz) milk chocolate candy, if desired

24 bear-shaped graham crackers, if desired

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box; fold in graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate bars. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread over tops of cupcakes. Divide chocolate bar into rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half and place on top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with bear-shaped cracker. After frosting has set, store loosely covered.

And that’s life in a nutshell. Finding a simple recipe to bring back a childhood classic is simply classic in every way!

MommaNut

Welcome 2012: New Year’s Eve

3 Jan

Welcome to 2012, dear readers! I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Year’s Eve. I wanted to share a few photos of our celebration! Enjoy!

Thanks to Pinterest, I found a few little crafts to dress up the food table. I made NYE letters (bought the wood letter from Michael’s and used spray paint and stickers to dress them up) and printed out a sign I found online and just framed it! I added some holiday decorations I found around the house as finishing touches!

Every year, I also type out all the amazing moments PoppaNut and I have had over the years. It helps me keep track of all the special memories since I can’t remember hardly anything these days!

I used this amazing three Crock pot kit from my parents to make most of the food. I had homemade mac n cheese, meatballs and artichoke dip. All turned out super yummy, and I’ll share the recipes later. For dessert, I made s’mores cupcakes!

My father-in-law was the first to arrive. Then, my sister-in-law Tracy came over with Jason, Josh, Jordan and Halie. Finally, Brooke, Brad and Lily made it to take part in the festivities. We all had a blast!

And that’s life in a nutshell … good food and good family time is all you need for one amazing NYE celebration!

MommaNut

%d bloggers like this: