May 28, 2012

The Best Potato Salad Recipe

It's officially Memorial Day here in the USA and as raise a toast to our veterans and our current military, many of us are also spending time with friends, family and neighbors.  Need an incredible potato salad to bring to the bbq?  This is my favorite.  When I was sipping my coffee and thinking about recipes to feature on this morning's post I started to think to myself, "What's more American than potato salad and pies?"  So here is my favorite potato salad recipe that I came up with years ago by mixing and matching what I liked and didn't like in recipes and this was the winner that I've stuck with!

Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes
1/4 of a large, sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1-2 teaspoon salt (start with 1 teaspoon and after it's done, taste and add more if you need to)
6 hard-cooked eggs, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
salt to taste
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 c milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 cup mayonnaise

Place the potatoes into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain. Cool, peel and dice. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the onion, celery, 1 teaspoon of salt, and hard-cooked eggs.

Whisk together 2 eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the vinegar, milk, and mustard. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and then add mayonnaise. Stir the dressing into the bowl of potato salad gently until evenly coated. Chill several hours or overnight before serving for best flavor.


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May 27, 2012

Red, White and Blue - Ideas for Your Memorial Day Meals

It's Memorial Day Weekend in the USA and although most people aren't online too much this weekend since they are busy taking part in Memorial Day activities, get-together's with friends and family, etc.  However, you might be online right now trying to find something in 'red white and blue' to serve with your meal.

I too, am busy this weekend (although no Memorial Day plans... just slumber parties, two older kids traveling from college for a visit and preparing for a family vacation soon) so I wanted to build on posts I've already posted in the past and not reinvent the wheel.

Here is a quick look through my search engine to the right where I found a few patriotic themed foods I've posted in the past.

Have a good weekend!

Red, White and Blue Cookies
Vanilla Dipped Red, White and Blue Strawberries
Red, White and Blue Potatoes
Red, White and Blue Jello Dessert
Red Velvet Cheesecake

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May 26, 2012

Bloomin' Onion (or also known as Onion Blossom) with Southwestern Sauce

I had been craving an Onion Blossom (Blooming Onion) for about 2 weeks so made sure to pick up a couple extra onions during the last grocery shopping trip specifically for this recipe.  We go through a lot of onions and I wanted to make sure I had enough for all our dishes.  I posted an Onion Blossom recipe once previously, back in 2008 and I still make it basically the same except this time I didn't add cumin to the mix and I fried it both upside down and right side up.

I absolutely love these, but I rarely make them (maybe once a year - twice at most) because they are rather messy and the frying oil smells up the house (LOL).  It's much easier to quell the craving by ordering them at your favorite steakhouse restaurant.  However, I will say that I don't order them myself because I find they are usually too greasy.  The home version tends to be less greasy and you can always drain it and squeeze it a bit with paper towels to even get more of the oil out.

When it comes to cutting your onion you can use an onion blossom cutter or do it with a knife.  I actually own a blossom cutter - (I own the most basic and cheapest; Norpro Onion Blossom Maker) but it must have gotten lost in our recent relocation across the country because I couldn't find it this time so I just used a knife and sliced 16 times to make the petal without a guide.  You can do it either way and I'll put some other onion cutters at the end of the post you can check out if you want to as well.

The Southwestern Bloomin Onion Sauce: Prepare ahead of time so it has time to chill

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 tablespoons cream-style horseradish sauce (I use Kraft)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash ground black pepper

Prepare the dipping sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Keep the sauce covered in your refrigerator until needed.

Blooming Onion  (or Onion Blossom)

1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t dried oregano
1/8 t dried thyme
1 giant 'sweet' onion like a Vidalia

Vegetable oil for frying

Beat the egg and combine it with the milk in a medium bowl big enough to hold the onion. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, peppers, oregano & thyme.

To slice the onion - First slice 3/4 inch to 1 inch off the top and bottom of the onion. Remove the papery skin. Use a thin knife to cut a 1-inch diameter core out of the middle of the onion. Using a large knife you will now slice all the way across the onion but not down to the cutting board. You need to only cut 3/4 of the way through the onion so the bottom holds it together. You need to make 16 slices, or as many close to that number as you can to make the petals. Spread the "petals" of the onion apart gently, you'll want to separate them to make coating easier and to get the flour and seasoning mixture down into the onion base.

Dip the onion in the milk mixture, and then coat it liberally with the dry ingredients. Double dip your onions - wet, dry, wet and dry again. Then let the onion rest for at least 15 minutes to 'set' the breading.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350 degrees. Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the onion when it fries. Fry the onion upside down for about 6 minutes then right side up in the oil for 6 minutes or until it turns golden brown and the petals are done. Remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack or paper towels.  Salt and serve with the sauce for dipping.

You can slice it without an Onion Blossom Cutter but it's tricky

After slicing 16 slices not all the way through, I flip it over and open the petals

Dry, wet, dry, wet and set 15 minutes

Frying in a deep fryer or a deep pan

Here are the Onion Blossom Cutters I said I'd post for those interested:  (click on them to go to the detail page).



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May 25, 2012

Summer Drinks for your Backyard Get Togethers: Mango Mimosa's, Sour Apple Martini's and Mojito's

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend in the USA and the unofficial start of summer parties, gatherings, bbq's, wedding showers, friends and more.  There are some social drinks that go perfectly with the warmer summer weather and these are three of them.  Mimosa's, Sour Apple Martini's and Mojito's.  The difference in this mimosa is that it's made with my personal favorite fruit; mangoes.  

I've had these drink recipes sitting in my personal files for about 5 years already and realized I've never posted them.  Well, here they are!   

Note that you will see one calls for simple syrup.  This is just a mixture of 2 cups sugar in 1 cup boiling water.  Let it cool completely (you can even keep it in your refrigerator if you enjoy these drinks often).   The recipes are for individual sized portions so adjust accordingly to as many as you want to make.

Mango Mimosa

Heavy splash  (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) of mango puree or nectar
Heavy splash of simple syrup
Heavy splash of peach schnapps
1 c  Champagne, chilled

Combine mango puree, syrup and schnapps in a champagne flute; stir. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a small piece of mango if you wish.

Sour Apple Martini

1/4 c vodka
3 T sour-apple schnapps
Splash melon liqueur
Splash of fresh lime juice
A thin Granny Smith apple slice to garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake 1/2 minute, until ice crystals form; strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish.


4 mint sprigs
6 thin wedges of a lime
1 t  sugar - superfine
1/4 c light rum
Chilled club soda
Mint sprig and lime slice, for garnish

Put 4 mint sprigs in tall glass with lime pieces and sugar. Using wooden spoon, mash mixture to release oil from sprigs and press out lime juice. Add rum; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add ice cubes. Top with club soda. Garnish.

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May 24, 2012

Belgian Waffles



You will need a waffle maker to make waffles.  You could still mix the batter and then cook a pancake out of it but it won't be the same.  Topped with whipped cream and strawberries, a light dusting of powdered sugar, or even just good old butter and syrup - they are a a great breakfast, dessert or comfort food.


1 1/2 c flour  (or 1 c Now - Gluten Flour  and 1/2 c coconut flour)
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
2/3 c sugar
2 T oil
1/2 c heavy cream
1 c milk  
1 T vinegar, white
1 t vanilla
1 egg

Mix all just until smooth.  Do not overbeat.  Heat your iron and pour into the slots.  Cook per instructions for your iron.  Serve with your favorite syrup (my sugar free version here) or top with powdered sugar, whipped cream and strawberries, chocolate chips or anything you wish!


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May 23, 2012

BLT Salad

I don't have a photo of this one because when I threw it together a couple weeks ago I was just winging it and didn't use a recipe.  However!  I wanted to get it typed out into my site as I use my own website to browse my personal files and brainstorm 'what's for dinner'.

My family loves BLT's.  We love bacon pretty much in any form, but BLT's are just the perfect quick, light meal when it's a hot summer day and we are hungry but don't want something heavy.  This salad uses the idea behind a BLT but is even lighter without toast/bread.  I added croutons for the crunch.  This one is easy to make 'low carb' if you need to by leaving out the pasta and croutons.  

BLT Salad

Cooked and diced or chopped chicken breasts - about 1 1/2 or 2 cups
Cooked and crumbled bacon - about 3/4 cup (6-8 slices)
1 c pasta (mini shells, bow ties or rotini are all good but any kind will do) - cooked and drained
1/2 c chopped onion (I like yellow as they aren't as strong)
1 tomato, chopped or diced
(My daughter will say to add some ranch dressing to this instead of plain mayo.  We do both)
3/4 c mayonnaise (play with the amount)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together except the lettuce leaves and croutons.  Serve the salad on a large lettuce leaf and top with crunchy croutons. Print Friendly and PDF

May 22, 2012

Homemade Sugar Free Pancake and Waffle Syrup

Over the past decade we've had many sugar free syrup options come available.  There are probably ten or more readily available now to purchase and some of them are quite good.  I have tried most of them (not all) and in general I don't care for them because they are too sweet and too runny.  I like a nice, thick, rich syrup that doesn't act like water on my plate or soak my waffles and pancakes as if I've dipped them in maple flavored water. The syrup I've had on hand since we moved here a few months ago is Walden's Farm. I found it at my local grocer since it's easy to find at most retailers now.  However, I ran out last week.

I washed and saved the bottle because I decided I was finally going to take the time to come up with my own recipe for a homemade sugar free pancake syrup.  

I've made homemade pancake and waffle syrup for years.  Actually, one of my favorite recipes is as old as your great, great, great grandmother I bet!  It uses potatoes.  But... I've never made sugar free.  I always assumed it would be too runny as sugar free sweeteners available over the past 11 years have never been able to thicken into a syrup.  This recipe will need a maple flavor extract.  I use Mapleine, which you can find at most stores (in the blue box) but if not, it is available online.  The problem, is that the one I found on Amazon only comes as a 6 pack.  Unless you make maple cookies, pies, cake, syrup and candies every single day... it's going to take you 10 years to use up 6 bottles.  The Durkee Maple Flavor comes in a pack of 2, which is better than six I guess, but I've not tried their product so I don't know how it tastes.  Here is the link for the Mapleine Imitation Maple.

The important ingredient that made this recipe work for me;  Ideal Brown Sugar-free Sweetener. The flavor could not be a true pancake syrup without brown sugar of some sort and this gave me the sugar free brown sugar taste and texture I needed that Brown Sugar Twin never could. 

Sugar Free Pancake Syrup

1/2 c brown sugar sweetener like Ideal****
1/2 c Xylitol crystals (I used NOW brand)
1/4 c water
1/4 t vanilla
1/8 t Mapeline flavoring
1/2 T real butter

In a saucepan over medium heat, place the sugar substitutes and water.  Stir until smooth and completely melted.  Raise the heat just a tiny bit to bring it just to the verge of wanting to boil without actually boiling it.  As soon as the little bubbles appear on the bottom of the pan, remove from heat.  Add the vanilla, mapeline flavor and butter.  Stir smooth.  Let cool and pour into a reused syrup bottle or mason jar.  Use in place of sugar laden pancake and waffle syrups.  Will thicken if you store it in the refrigerator so you will need to shake it well and either let it set at room temperature for a few minutes or briefly heat for 15 seconds in the microwave.  Nice and thick while still being sugar free!

Ideal is the perfect brown sugar substitute for the texture I wanted

Cook while stirring to melt the sweetener with the water

Add the flavorings and the butter for the finishing touches!

Some sugar free versions you can purchase;

Walden's Farm Sugar Free Pancake Syrup
Smucker's Sugar Free Breakfast Syrup
Joseph's Sugar Free Maple Flavor Syrup
Ihop At Home Pancake Syrup- Sugar Free
All Natural Sugar-free Maple Pancake Syrup
Maple Grove Farms Sugar Free Butter Flavor Syrup

***UPDATE***  2016 - Ideal no longer makes their brown sugar version but Just Like Sugar is a good substitute


Dineen - Yep! I only used that much water because I wanted a nice, thick syrup without having to use any thickeners. Another option is to use more water and add Xanthan Gum for a thickener, but I have never done that with this recipe and have only made it this way. Feel free to experiment though and let me know if you find using more water and a low carb thickener to work well.

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May 19, 2012

Chocolate Cake with a Vanilla Cream Filling and Deep Chocolate Glaze

A couple years ago I brought you a recipe for a Ho Ho Cake (I made it for my son's birthday) and tonight I whipped up another creamy double layer cake that reminded me of Ho Ho's although this filling is a bit more creamier.

The flavor is incredible and as a matter of fact, although I only finished assembling the cake about 20 minutes ago, there are only 6 small pieces left!  Yes, it is that good!  I don't like chocolate or sweets and even I had 2 pieces.

It uses a cake mix for the base because it's fast and easy but you can absolutely improve on this by making your own chocolate cake from scratch.  I have some awesome recipes here on the site (try a search on the right for my chocolate mayonnaise cake).  I also opted to make the creamy white filling and the chocolate glaze sugar free by using Swerve Sweetener. You can use sugar or a sugar substitute - both work great!

The original recipe idea came from a church dinner cookbook but I improvised, changed some ingredients, changed the method and 'played' with my food as always.  I hope you like it as much as we do!

Chocolate Cake with a Vanilla Cream Filling and Deep Chocolate Glaze

1 chocolate cake mix - make according to directions
1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 1/4 c sugar or substitute like Swerve
3/4 c milk
1 t vanilla
1 c sugar or substitute
1/3 c cocoa powder
3 T cornstarch
1/2 c cold water
1/2 c cold coffee
3 T butter
1 1/2 t vanilla

Bake the cake in a 9x13" inch pan according to directions.  Cool for 10 minutes and turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.  You can use half the cake mix and make half the cake and bake in an 8X8" pan as well.  Cool completely.

Make the creamy filling by creaming the shortening, butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Microwave the milk for about 1 minute and drizzle slowly into the sugar butter mixture, beating with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the vanilla.

Split the cooled cake in half lengthwise.  Spread the filling evening and replace the top of the cake.

Mix the glaze ingredients except for the butter and vanilla in a bowl with a whisk.  Microwave 1 minute and stir.  Microwave another minute and stir.  At this point if you have a strong microwave it will be thick and smooth.  If it is not, microwave another 45 seconds.  Whisk smooth.  Add the butter and vanilla and whisk until the butter is melted in.  Spread this over the top of the cake.  If you can wait, let it stand until the filling and frosting set up but my crew ate over half of it immediately.  Refrigerate leftovers.

I wish you could see how satiny this looks!  Beautiful.

Spread the filling over the bottom half

The yummy glaze. If you don't have coffee just use all water.

A blurry action shot.

This is ooey gooey goodness!


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