Strawberry Pretzel Salad

If you are a fan of the salty-sweet combination, this recipe is an absolute MUST to add to your arsenal.

I first tried this dish at a bed and breakfast in my hometown (which is, unfortunately, no longer in business). Fortunately, they included their recipe in their fantastic cookbook, so their legacy lives on. A note at the bottom of the recipe mentions that this salad was one of the most requested items on their menu. Try it, and you’ll see why. It’s a versatile dish–works as a side, a dessert, breakfast, snack, etc.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Served at The Inn at Harvest Farms Lake

2 c pretzels, crushed
¾ c butter, melted
3 T sugar

Mix pretzels, butter, and 3 T sugar. Press into 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool 30 minutes.

Cream Filling:
1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
1 c sugar
2 c whipped topping

Blend cream cheese and 1 c sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled pretzel crust.

1 – 6 oz pkg strawberry Jell-O
2 c boiling water
2 – 10 oz pkgs frozen strawberries

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries. Chill 10 minutes—watch it to be sure it doesn’t begin to congeal. Pour over cream cheese filling. Chill until set.

Yield: 12 servings


Z’Tejas Style Cornbread

I still remember the first time I ate at Z’Tejas in Salt Lake City. I still remember the cornbread. It came to the table in a cute mini cast iron skillet–fresh from the oven. Absolutely melted in my mouth. If any of you out West find yourself near one of their restaurants, I highly recommend you pay a visit. We’ve tried several things on the menu and have never been disappointed.

You can imagine my delight when I found that Melanie over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe had published a copycat recipe.

I usually put about half the batter into a cast iron skillet and the rest of the batter into a muffin tin (makes at least 12 muffins). You can freeze the muffins and pull them out when you need them for another meal.

Z’Tejas Style Cornbread
from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 1/2 cup corn meal
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup creamed corn
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, whisk yogurt, buttermilk, eggs and butter together. Add the creamed corn and frozen corn.

Pour into a greased 9X13 pan or use a buttered cast iron skillet and fill the skillet 1/2 full (if using a skillet you will have leftover batter so go ahead and make some cornbread muffins or a smaller pan of bread).

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes for a 9×13 or 8-inch skillet or 26 minutes for a 10-inch skillet or 15-20 minutes for muffins. (Verify it is thoroughly cooked by inserting a toothpick. If it is done, the toothpick should come out clean).

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

My SIL first made this soup for our Halloween dinner several years ago. We immediately fell in love with it, and it has become part our traditional Halloween meal.

If serving to kids, you may want to reduce or omit the cayenne, since they will most likely find it too spicy. The original recipe called for twice as much cayenne as I’ve listed here, but it was too spicy for this mild girl’s taste. You can adjust to your on taste.

The original recipe called for a finely chopped onion, but I didn’t like having the onion chunks floating in my bowl. Instead, I prefer the onion to be pureed after it’s been softened. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a food processor or blender. Just be sure to add a little of the veggie stock to the onions to help them puree more easily, and NEVER add hot liquids to your blender or you can plan to take cover from the imminent explosion.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Cups vegetable stock
1 Can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 Cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp curry powder
1½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt (I used coarse sea salt)
20 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped for garnish

Over medium heat, add oil to large stock pot. When oil is hot, add onion. Saute onions 5 minutes. Add broth and pumpkin puree. Use immersion blender to puree onion and combine ingredients. Add tomatoes and black beans. Stir to combine ingredients, and bring soup to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne, and salt to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve. Garnish with chopped chives.

Halloween Party 2011 Menu

This year, we planned a somewhat impromptu Halloween Party for a few of my daughter’s friends. We had some yummy treats…Pumpkin Krispy Treats (see recipe below), Candy Corn Sugar Cookies (I used my favorite recipe for the dough and just doubled the vanilla and almond flavorings since there is no frosting on the cookies. At a minimum, I also recommend dipping each cookie in the coarse sugar before baking. The white candy melt or almond bark on portions of some of the cookies was quite tasty, too. I’ll do more of these next time), and No Bake Cookies transfigured into cute spiders.

There were Mummy Dogs and Candy Corn Pizza for our main course. We agreed that hot dogs wrapped in crescent dough are WAY tastier than hot dogs in a bun. We’ll be having these more often. I didn’t get around to dotting the eyes on the faces, but I think everyone still got the point.

Boo Brew. One of the comments on this recipe suggested using Peeps Ghosts instead of creating your own using whipped cream and mini chocolate chips as the recipe instructed. I went with the time saving tip and was happy with the outcome.

I also made this Caramel Toffee Dip and served with Winesap and Granny Smith apple slices from our apple picking trip the previous day. Somehow missed getting the photo. It is seriously so incredibly delicious. We made it again over the weekend, and it vanished quickly.

Pumpkin Krispy Treats
Modified from Little Family Fun

  • approximately 6 cups of crispy rice cereal (white or brown puffed rice cereal)
  • 1 package of marshmallows (I think minis are easier to melt)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 (3 oz) envelopes of orange Jell-O or Kool Aid (I used Jell-O)
  • Tootsie Roll midgets or large pretzel sticks
  • baking spray
  • wax paper
  • green icing, optional


Melt the marshmallows and butter in microwave or on stove top. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the Jell-O or Kool-Aid. If it is not “orange enough” for you, you can add some red and yellow food coloring to enhance the color. (I didn’t need to do this). Add the crispy rice cereal and stir well.

Spray your hands with baking spray and roll the mixture into balls and place them on wax paper. Make a dent into the top of the pumpkin and insert pretzel or tootsie roll. Mold pumpkin around the stem. Cool before piping on leaves.

Yield: approximately 2 dozen pumpkins

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

So good that I had to stop everything and share. I had some Mahi Mahi that needed to be used, so I found this recipe courtesy of the fabulous Alton Brown. My husband and I both loved it. It was fast, easy, and delish!

I really liked the flavor of the macadamia nuts and the light, airy crunch of the Panko.

If you’d like the fish to have a bit more flavor, sprinkle a little lemon juice on top.

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi
Source: Alton Brown

5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) coarsely ground, roasted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for brushing foil
4 (6 to 8-ounce) Mahi Mahi fillets
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the nuts, panko, flour, and butter. Set aside.

Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and brush it liberally with vegetable oil. Place the mahi mahi on the foil and sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush each fillet with the coconut milk. Divide the nut mixture among the tops of the 4 fillets, patting the mixture to spread and adhere to the fillets. Return to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Ellen’s Famous Apple Crisp

I’ve been on a semi-quest, sort of, for the past couple years to find “the best” apple crisp recipe.  To be honest, it’s been a half-hearted effort, but it’s at least been on my mind during apple season.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to try the recipe that my fabulous SIL Becky loves. It comes from a friend of hers named Ellen and is apparently THE go-to apple crisp recipe amid some Bostonian circles.

At the time, we were visiting family in the DC area, and we weren’t able to find non-instant butterscotch pudding. Since Ellen’s instructions specifically state that instant is NOT to be used, we had to go with another recipe, which was good, BUT I felt compelled to try this one.

I’ve since been able to procure the proper pudding mix. It was so worth the wait. I made it for my family while visiting TN a couple weeks ago, and it rapidly disappeared amid lots of “mmming” and “yumming.”

TO. DIE. FOR!!!!!

I’ve never been one to crave apple crisp–except during apple season. Now that I’ve found this little gem, though, I’ll be craving apple crisp year round–and frequently.

Ellen’s Famous Apple Crisp

Mix the following ingredients together and pour into ungreased 9×13-inch pan.

8 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 T flour
½ cup milk
1 cup water

1 1/3 cup flour
1 cup oats
½ cup sugar
1 cup margarine, melted
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 packages dry Butterscotch pudding (not instant)

Mix topping ingredients together and crumble on top of apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, approximately 45-50 minutes. (I accidentally only baked for 35 minutes, and it seemed to cook throughout, so take that for what it’s worth).

Butter Crescent Rolls

This is probably my most requested recipe. In fact, that’s why I’m posting this now. It’s been in my “drafts” for months and months–with good intentions to post it. Anyhow, just got another request for the recipe, so here it is…FINALLY!

These are my never fail, go to rolls! Very easy. Very yummy. Always a hit! In fact whenever I’m in UT visiting family there, my cute nephews always ask me to make them some of “Aunt Julee’s Rolls.” Can’t say no to that! My nieces and nephews even like to help spread the butter, roll up the crescents, and butter the tops. Great memories!

These are the rolls my mom always made when I was growing up. The recipe comes from a cookbook that was published by a family friend nearly 30 years ago. I have so many memories tied to food that was prepared out of this cookbook. It is autographed by Ms. Julia, well-worn and much-used. I wish I could get a copy of my own. Perhaps one day, Mom will get tired of using it and pass it on to me. I’m not going to hold my breath, though. I might have more luck just “accidentally” packing it with my stuff as I load up the car tonight to return home.

Crescent Rolls4

Butter Crescent Rolls
from Julia’s Favorite Recipes by Julia Read Clark, p. 42

1 package or 1 T yeast
1 c warm water
1/2 c sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, melted
4-1/2 c all-purpose flour
about 1/4 c butter, melted (for spreading on rolled out dough and on top of the rolled crescents)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. (If desired, add sugar at this point and proof the yeast; otherwise add sugar later).

Melt butter & add to yeast. Also add sugar, eggs & salt. Combine well.

Gradually add flour, mixing well after each addition. (I normally start by adding 2 cups of flour and then adding 1/2 c – 1 c in the subsequent additions). Be careful to not add too much flour, which will result in drier bread.

Cover with clean, damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size (about 4 hours). Punch down and allow dough to rise again, doubling in size.

Cut the dough in half and knead each half. Roll out each half into a large circle. Brush the rolled out dough with melted butter. Using a knife, slice the dough into 4 equal parts. Continue slicing until there are 16 “slices.”

Roll each “slice,” starting with the widest end. Place the rolls on an ungreased baking sheet with the thin end of the roll on the bottom.

Brush tops with remaining butter. Allow rolls to rise on the baking sheet for 1/2 hour – 1 hour before baking.

Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes til golden brown.

Yield: 32 rolls

Note: Recipe can easily be doubled.