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Butterscotch Cheescake

As I write (Mary) we are almost into November. Hard to believe how time marches on. When I think November, I think of my daughter and my father who were born on the same date. Their birthdays on the 25th often fall on Thanksgiving Day. I also think more of being thankful. I think of warm fires and a good Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. If your family is like mine, we don’t think pumpkin pie that day, it isn’t even on the menu. Typically, it is apple pie or pecan pie. If you are up for trying something new, this recipe at first glance may look complicated, but it is not. Compliments of Betty Crocker, this Butterscotch-Maple Torte is a knockout. Enjoy!

Butterscotch-Maple Cheesecake Torte

3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sugar

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

1 package (11 to 12 oz.) butterscotch chips (2 cups), melted

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

Maple Cake

1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ butter recipe yellow cake mix

Water, butter, and eggs called for on cake mix box

2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Maple Frosting

2 containers Betty Crocker™ Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting

2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Butterscotch-Maple Drizzle

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

½ teaspoon maple flavoring

¼ cup butterscotch chips

 

Preparation Steps

Heat oven to 300°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a circle of  parchment baking paper.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add 1 can condensed milk, and beat again until well combined. Add melted butterscotch chips, and mix well. Add 4 eggs and the vanilla; pour into pan.

Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until puffed around edge and center still jiggles slightly when moved. Cheesecake will puff up around the edges and then sink when taken out of the oven. Allow cheesecake to cool 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until chilled. Level top of cheesecake with large serrated knife.

Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Generously spray bottoms and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray with flour. In large bowl, beat Maple Cake ingredients with electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined. Pour into pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out on cooling racks to cool completely, about 1 hour.

In large bowl, place contents of both frosting containers. Beat in 2 teaspoons maple flavor with electric mixer on low speed. Remove 1/3 cup of the frosting, and place in decorating bag fitted with large star tip; set aside. Place 1 cake layer on serving platter or cake stand; frost top with thin layer of frosting. Top with cheesecake layer, and frost top with thin layer of frosting. Top with final cake layer, and frost entire side and top with remaining frosting. Pipe icing stars around top edge of cake.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat Butterscotch-Maple Drizzle ingredients over medium-high heat until melted and mixture can be stirred smooth with whisk. Let cool until barely warm but still pourable. Drizzle mixture over cake.

Enjoy! If there are any leftovers…cover and refrigerate them.

 

Corn Bread Muffins

As I write, there is falling rain and a chill in the air. Perfect autumn weather. The Minestrone Soup is on the stove (see recipe archived from October 2015) and I am about to make the Corn Bread muffins that go so well with this soup. I am including the recipe here, so that you may also enjoy this comfort food.              ~ Mary Zigan

 

 

 

Corn Bread Muffins                                                                                       Bake at 400◦

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

2/3 cup sugar

1 teas. Salt

3 1/2 teas. Baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup oil

Pepper-Jack cheese (handful)

 

Combine dry ingredients, stir in the egg, oil and milk.  And toss in a handful of grated pepper-jack cheese. Divide in a 12 portion muffin pan and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Chicken Grape Salad Recipe

Summertime…and the livin is easy! Mary Zigan has just the easy recipe! I dare say, we all want the easy, effortless, salad to toss in the summer. This recipe is especially quick when you have grilled chicken left over for last night’s supper, and this recipe is also tasty and will be “the go to one” time and time again. Enjoy

 

Chicken Grape Salad

 

2 cups cut-up cooked chicken                        1 ¼ cups mayonnaise

1 cup chopped celery                                     1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup seedless green or red grapes                ½ teaspoon salt

½ cup toasted slivered almonds*                  pepper to taste

 

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Will make 6-8 servings

 

TIP: *To toast almonds, spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 ◦ F. about 10 minutes,          stirring occasionally.

 

 

On the Lighter Side

On the Lighter Side

With heavy snow falling and temperatures dropping, soup sure sounds good!  I dug through some of my favorite soup recipes that are quick to make and comforting for the soul. Add Popovers (see recipe below) and jam…and the life of a Minnesota winter is not all bad!

 

Hearty Vegetable Soup

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups peeled butternut squash in ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Pinch smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups lightly packed kale-ribs removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas

Heat oil, add the onion and carrots, cook and stir about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add squash, spices, broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil then reduce heat cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add kale and chickpeas and cook another 10 minutes or until squash is tender and kale wilted. Pick out the thyme sprigs and discard before serving.

 

Yield: 4 servings

 

Per serving: (2 cups) 260 calories

 

Never Fail Popovers

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup milk

 

Beat eggs slightly. Sift flour and salt directly into bowl. Add water and milk and beat until mixed. Allow mixture to rest for one hour. Preheat the tin in a 425 degree oven about 10 minutes. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin with a liberal amount of butter Fill preheated cups ¾ full. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

Mary Z.

Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

November.  Are you already thinking of that special Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings?

If your holiday includes Green Bean Casserole like ours does, where we open a can of creamed soup and it is oh so quick and easy? Well, I ran onto the most delicious “Ultimate Green Bean Casserole.” You will agree it is worth a little more effort because your guests will be wowed!

I am including the complete recipe, however, if you would like more detailed step-by-step instructions, here is The Daring Gourmet’s Website: www.daringgourmet.com

 

Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces fresh button or cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed, halved, and blanched (boil 5 minutes, place beans in ice water for a couple of minutes, drain)
  • 1 can French fried onions

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in the same skillet and whisk in the flour. Once combined, continue whisking for another 2 minutes until the mixture has slightly deepened in color. Add the half-and-half and chicken broth while constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Once slightly thickened, add the cheese and whisk until melted and combined.
  4. Next add the mushroom/bacon mixture along with the salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the green beans. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour the bean mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish and sprinkle the French fried onions all over the top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serves 6-8 ENJOY!

Mary Z.

Easy Pan O’ S’mores

RECIPE

 

One can hardly think October without thinking bonfires and S’mores. There is something very comforting about sitting around the fire sharing stories as the cool air and rustling leaves remind us these days are numbered. Yet, at least for these few hours with family and friends, “everything feels right with the world.”

Seems S’mores are a comforting treat that usually only happen around the fire in the fall. And just in case you don’t feel like running through the woods looking for the perfect roasting sticks, I would like to share with you a recipe for S’mores with three classic ingredients. So get out your 8” square pan, and let’s get the job done–start to finish in less than 15 minutes!

 

Easy Pan O’ S’mores

(6oz) Hersey’s Milk Chocolate bar, chopped

(9) Graham crackers, broken in half

(36) Marshmallows, large size cut in half and divided

 

Heat the oven to 350◦

Place the graham crackers on the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate and cover the chocolate with remaining graham cracker squares. Arrange 4 marshmallows cut side down on top of each graham.

Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool about 5 minutes…if you can wait!

Makes 9 servings

Enjoy!

 

 

BLT Wraps

 

BLT Wraps

 

August…ah…tomatoes are plump and plentiful, so why not enjoy BLTs?

Also, why not do them with a new twist–securely snuggled in Tortilla wraps. Purchasing thick-cut bacon and frying it to a nice crispiness adds crunch to every bite. I like to prepare the bacon ahead of time.  It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. When a quick supper or picnic party comes along it will be easy-peasy to grab and go!

Cast of characters:

  • Tortilla wraps
  • Tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Mayo
  • Lettuce
  • Onion…and any other ingredient ideas you may have.

Enjoy!

Fruit Pizza

Have you ever had a Fruit Pizza?

July (or anytime) is a good time to try this cookie with fruit on it…piled high.

Your party fans will love you for your creativity.

This recipe is easy to make, and not a whole lot of ingredients are required.

Ingredients

1 (18 ounce) pkg. refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 (8 ounce) pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. milk, cream, or orange juice

Strawberries, kiwi, peaches, blueberries

1 jar of apricot or peach jam

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the cookie dough and place on a greased pizza pan. Press and flatten dough into the pan, forming a crust. Bake 10-12 minutes and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, soften cream cheese with milk or juice and spread over the cooled crust. You may want to zap the cream cheese mixture in the Microwave 10-15 seconds if it is not spreading at a consistency that is to your liking. Or mix a dollop of Cool Whip into the cream cheese before spreading.

Begin arranging your fruit by starting from the outside working into the center. Make it as colorful as you would like.

In a sauce pan on low heat, spoon in about a ½ cup of the jam with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. cornstarch. You may need about a ¼ cup of water also. Just bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow to cool but not set up. Gently pour over the fruit.  Chill for two hours, then cut into wedges.

Yum Yum!

Mary Z.

Rhubarb Dessert

June seems to be rhubarb season, and I can still smell and taste my Mother’s rhubarb dessert. Every farm lady had her own rhubarb patch, and not to be wasteful, when everyone had enjoyed lots of rhubarb pies, breads, and desserts, most mothers would also make rhubarb sauce. The dessert recipe I am about to share has a mile-high meringue, with a custard filling and wonderful crust. It sounds complicated….but it’s easy and well worth your time and effort. Enjoy!

 

Rhubarb Torte

Crust:

½ cup soft butter

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 cup flour

Mix all together and pat in a 9×9 pan. Bake in 350◦ oven for 10 minutes.

 

Filling:

2 ½ cups rhubarb, cut up

3 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

4 Tbsp. flour

½ teas. salt and ½ teasp. vanilla

½ cup cream

Mix all together and pour over the partially baked crust. Bake at 350◦ for 40 minutes.

 

Topping:

3 egg whites

5 Tbsp. sugar gradually added to egg whites while beating, then add

½ teas. Vanilla

When the whites hold stiff peaks, they are ready to spread onto the warm filling. Brown the meringue in the oven, (about 5-8 minutes) but watch closely.

Mary Z

 

Yummy Lemon Bars

YUMMY LEMON BARS

Who doesn’t think about lemon desserts in the springtime? This lemon bar recipe is old, but tried and true. They cut, keep, and carry well. That is, if they last that long!

Crust

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar (plus more for decoration)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoon butter, slightly cooler than room temperature, cut into 1″ pieces

Filling

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice from 4 large lemons, strained
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 13″x9″ baking dish and line with a sheet of parchment paper. Dot the paper with butter, then lay a second sheet crosswise over it.
  2. Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor or blender. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds. Pulse until the mixture is a pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle the mixture into the lined pan, and press firmly with your fingers into an even 1/4″ layer over the entire bottom of the pan and about 1/2″ up the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake about 20 minutes.
  3. While the crust is cooling and baking, whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour for the filling in a medium bowl, then stir in the lemon zest, juice, milk and salt to blend well.
  4. When the crust is done baking ,reduce the oven to 325F. Stir the filling mixture to re-blend, then pour into the warm crust. Bake about 20 minutes, or until the filling feels firm when lightly touched (about 20 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Lift the confection up by the parchment paper and transfer to a cutting board. Fold the paper down and cut into serving size bars.
  5. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the bars for decoration.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Mary Z.