Sunday, October 29, 2017

Quick Bread Sticks

I got this many years ago from Cherise.  Raleigh wanted it and I noticed it wasn't on the blog so I thought I'd share it.

1 1/3 C water
3 1/2 C flour
1 pkg. yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar

Dissolve sugar in very warm water.  Sprinkle in yeast, let yeast foam.  Mix flour and salt well.  Stir in yeast mixture.  Mix well.  Turn onto well floured board and knead 5-7 minutes or use your mixer :-).  Shape into 8 breadsticks.  I just roll them out between my hands.  Place on greased cookie sheet.  Place in 425 oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with seasonings if desired.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cherise's Bean Soup (Taco Soup)

from: Cherise

1 lb chopped chicken, roast, hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 16 oz kidney beans, with liquid
1 16 oz white beans, with liquid
1 16 oz pinto beans, with liquid
1 16 oz corn, with liquid
2 14.5 oz mexican stewed tomatoes
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg ranch dressing

Saute gord beef and onion, drain.  Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil nd swimmer 20 minutes.  Top with sour cream, tortillas chips and grated cheese.

Maria's notes:  I like to use one pint of canned chicken for the meat.  I also like the tomatoes blended up pretty smooth instead of just diced.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Maria's notes:  The filling has to freeze for 1-2 hours.  The recipe made 28 muffins for me.  Best eaten the next day.  :-)

From: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I often sub half applesauce/half oil)
  • 2 cups (15 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree (15-ounce can)


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar


  • 1/2 cup (3.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FILLING, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar and mix with a handheld electric mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) until smooth. On a piece of parchment paper or greased foil, form the soft mixture into a log making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan once cut into pieces. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours. ALTERNATE METHOD:sometimes I use my small cookie scoop (about a tablespoon in size) and portion out 24 cream cheese dollops on a parchment-lined plate or tray and freeze that way.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners (can bake in batches if you only have one pan) – see the note below for tips on muffin tins and how many to use.
  3. FOR THE MUFFINS, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Whisk to combine; set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil (and applesauce if using), sugar and pumpkin puree until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t overmix; a few lumps are ok!).
  4. FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING, in a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix together with a handheld electric mixer, pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.
  5. Fill each muffin cup 1/3 of the way with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices (no need to slice if you portioned the cream cheese mixture into individual dollops and froze). Place a slice or dollop of cream cheese on top of the batter in each muffin well and press lightly into the batter (no need to aggressively shove to the bottom, just a light press).
  6. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups on top of the cream cheese (filling the muffin tins about 2/3 to 3/4 full, depending on how deep the muffin cups are). Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of each muffin. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of the muffin (about 1/3 of the way down) comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving. 
All images and text ©.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Russian Potato and Mushroom Leek Soup


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (see note)
  • 2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed, and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and small diced (about 5-6 cups)
  • 1 cup milk (preferably not skim)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crumbled bacon, fresh dill, for serving (optional)


  1. In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and golden, 4-5 minutes. Remove to a plate (keeping as much liquid/oil in the pot as possible).
  3. Add the leeks and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add the broth, dill, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
  5. Stir in potatoes; the liquid will just barely cover the potatoes, most likely. If it doesn’t, add enough extra broth to just cover the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes (depending on how large or small you chopped them).
  6. Optional step: for a slightly thicker soup, right now, take out the bay leaf, grab a potato masher, and lightly mash the potatoes right in the pot until desired consistency before proceeding.
  7. Stir the mushrooms back into the soup.
  8. Whisk or blend tog ether the milk, sour cream and flour (I prefer to use a blender for an ultra-lump free mixture).
  9. Quickly stir the milk mixture into the soup, and heat until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  10. Serve with crumbled bacon or fresh dill, if desired.

Mel's NOTES:

I prefer portabella or baby bella mushrooms for a richer flavor, but white button mushrooms can be used, too. Also, as noted in the post above, you could probably sub in another type of chopped onion for the leek, but I highly encourage the use of leeks if at all possible (because, yum). See the post for a quick tutorial on trimming, cutting and washing leeks.
Maria's notes:  I really like this soup.  I would use six cups of potatoes and mash them up a little into the soup.  I just used white button mushrooms and it was good.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Peachy Fresh Salsa

1 T red onion, minced
1 T jalapeno, minced
1 T cilantro, chopped
2 T red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C fresh peaches, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels sliced off cob
1 C tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 lime's worth of juice (approx. 2 T)
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix everything together.  Adjust spices to taste.  Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 48 hours.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Best Ground Beef Tacos

author mel's kitchen cafe

yield 4-6 servings

Note:  I made these tonight and loved them!  Maria


  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeƱo, seeded and finely minced (optional)
  • Taco shells
  • Taco toppings of choice


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef or turkey, onion, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often and breaking the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Off the heat, drain any excess grease, if needed.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat and stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds until the mixture smells fragrant.
  4. Add the tomato sauce and minced jalapeƱos, if using. Simmer the mixture for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve in taco shells with your choice of toppings (makes great taco salad, too!)  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Macaroni and Cheese

1 to 1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni, rigatoni or spinach egg noodles (about 6 oz)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cups milk
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Cook macaroni as directed.  Cook and stir butter, onion, salt and pepper over medium heat until onion is slightly tender.  Blend in flour.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.  Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.

Place macaroni in ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Stir cheese sauce into macaroni.  Cook uncovered in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  5 servings.

Note:  I got this recipe from Cherise :-).