July 31, 2018

BBQ RANCH SALAD - Spinach, cabbage, lettuce, kale, green onions... bbq sauce and ranch dressing!

I wanted to update my site but I absolutely don't have much time so I'm going to grab a few photos from my Snapchat story and just upload them here.

My Snapchat story is only for family and a couple friends - and I literally was going to throw together this salad for dinner so I snapped the steps for my kids too - because it's THAT GOOD and THAT EASY.

So dear readers... these 'snaps' were originally meant for my kids but it makes it really easy to post this 'recipe' for a kick-butt good salad for hot summer days!


Start with a lot of your main two ingredients:
Various romaine and dark green lettuce(s)


Spinach, fresh
Kale, optional of course
Green Onions just a couple
Broccoli, a little bit
Yellow or Orange sweet bell pepper* optional just a touch
carrots* optional, just a touch

Pulse in a food processor for just 4, 5, 6 times and only a second or two each time.  You want to finely chop the veggies; not puree' them!  Or if you have the time you can finely chop it all by hand. I always use the food processor with an S blade.  Pulse, pulse, pulse... done!

Then add a small amount (like 1 ounce of each for about 4-5 cups of veggie mix)
BBQ sauce of choice
Ranch dressing of choice
 Crunch some tortilla chips on top and serve nice and cold!


Print Friendly and PDF

July 26, 2018

I finally decided on what cherry pitter to buy....

As much as I like to eat cherries, and as many years as we've been married, and as much baking and cooking that I do, you would think I would own a whole bunch of awesome little fancy kitchen do-dads.  And I don't.  As a matter of fact I'm the queen of improvising... because I've never had money to buy fancy do-dads so I always made do without.  I even used a little $8 Hamilton Beach mixer for the first 12 or 13 years of marriage - even when I was making upwards of 1000 cookies each holiday season and doing baking and cooking daily for my family and friends.

But this past week I finally invested in a cherry pitter!  I normally just use a paring knife and cut around the pit if I'm using cherries in a recipe.  I was placing an order on Amazon for something or other (can't remember what it was) but I did a quick search that night of cherry pitters - found one I thought would work well for me and ordered it.  And?  YES I LIKE IT!

Ultimately I'd like to try two more; one of which is a 'multiple' cherry pitter that does a number of them at once; but for starters I got this single pitter.  After I got used to how it works, I found it was quick and simple - I went through an entire bowl of cherries in no time!

The one I chose is the one that looks like a tulip - or a flower.  It's the 'blossom' style: MSC International Joie Blossom Cherry Pitter.  You simply drop your cherry in, press the plunger, let it spring back and then give it a quarter turn to release the spring to 'dump' the cherry into your bowl or container.

A close up of it in action...

Here is what it looks like when there isn't a cherry in it - and this is a good photo to show you why I chose it.  Because the other similar 'plunger' style pitters didn't have the space this one does for my fingers!  Do you see how the petals of the flower blossom curve out?  They gave more space than the shorter and smaller versions of plunger style cherry pitters and I knew that if I was doing an entire bowl of fruit, my fingers would be more likely to slip off as there just wasn't enough to 'grab'.

The only tricky thing to remember is to line up the little notches inside so your plunger will go down through the cherry and then back up.  If they aren't lined up it will block it or lock it.  This is actually how you store it when not in use as well; you push it down, give it a slight turn so the notches don't line up and then it stays in the plunged position for storing in the drawer.

Cherries that have been pitted - quickly and easily!

Ready to be made into my pie filling.... (for a Cherry Crepe Cake - hopefully I'll get around to posting about it soon but... life.)

Print Friendly and PDF

July 23, 2018

Homemade Spicy Salsa - Can be canned or stored in the refrigerator

Admittedly I've posted this recipe a couple times already on An American Housewife but I've noticed that I'm often cooking and baking things I've made before - so I don't take new photos or post updates and then it looks like I'm just not making anything at all (at least from the internets view!) So yes, I've made this recipe a hundred times - and I've posted it twice before - but for those who haven't seen it before, this is my favorite salsa recipe, and the one I prefer to make when I have the time to simmer and can. You don't have to can it, you can just keep yours in the refrigerator or use it right away.

Adjust the 'heat' of your salsa by the variety of peppers you use and how many/much you use!

Homemade Salsa

10 Cups of peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes**
5 c chopped onions
3 sweet banana peppers, diced
4 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 t minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 1/4 c vinegar
2 T chili powder
2 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 T sugar

Mix all the ingredients for your salsa and simmer 1-3 hours.

While simmering, be sure to either run your jars and lids and seals through an extra hot dishwasher cycle or boil them in another pot of water so they are hot and sterilized when you are ready to use them.  Ladle salsa into the jars with about 1/2 inch head space at the top.   Wipe the edges completely clean with a clean cloth and place the lid on it and then the ring.  You don't have to tighten them hard - just a quick twist to hold the seal/lid on during the process.  Now, originally this old time recipe did not call for a water bath.  The heat from the salsa and the jar will seal the lid.  However, I like to boil them in a water bath as an extra precaution for 25 minutes for pints.

Remove from the water, set on a towel on the counter and let them cool at room temperature.  You will hear popping noises.  That is the lids sealing.  When completely cooled, store in your pantry or cupboard.

**To peel/skin your tomatoes easily just put them in boiling water. Skins will split in 10 seconds - 2 minutes. Remove as soon as the skin splits and lay on a clean towel to cool until you can handle them comfortably - or you can dip them into a bowl of ice water if you wish. Some tomatoes won't split but they are still ready;  if it has been in the water for approximately 1-2 minutes, lift it out and feel it. If it looks tight and ready to burst, yet it feels like a water balloon, then remove it to cool. It's ready.  The second your fingers or a knife touch the skin it will probably split on contact.  Tomatoes can be seeded and the juice canned separately or you can use the whole tomato in your salsa and skip that process.  Up to you.

Tomatoes from the garden, ready to be made into salsa

Immersing in boiling water to easily remove the skins

The skins will split within about 30 seconds and they literally slip right off.

Print Friendly and PDF

July 18, 2018

Frozen Fruit Smoothie Puree'

I'm not a fan of sweets, which includes sweet fruits.  I'll invariably choose vegetables over fruits and when I do eat fruit, there are only a handful I like.  But those I like, I love!  And when they are frozen? I love them oh-so-much more.

Nectarines, mangoes, cranberries, cherries, pineapple and strawberries are on the list and when frozen, I'll eat a pound them;  blended in almost any combination, with just enough liquid to make them smooth.  The end result is a gelato looking blend that is nothing but frozen fruit slushy goodness.

Here was what I ate 3 nights last week - as my 'go to' snack.  My body was craving the vitamins I guess, because I seriously was craving it.

I do not like dairy products in my smoothies... at all.  So YOU can feel free to add yogurt, milk, almond milk, etc. to this but... I won't don't.


Fruit of your choice - frozen
Liquid of choice - just enough to make it smooth (water, seltzer, fruit juice, etc.)
Options:  yogurt, milk, sweeteners like a tablespoon of honey, sugar, etc. (I don't add but you can!)

Blend in a good quality blender or food processor - pulsing and scraping down the sides until smooth.  Adding a small amount of liquid when needed to get the consistency you prefer.  Pour into a bowl or glass and eat with a spoon or use a thick 'smoothie' straw.

You can see the bits of cranberry in it... yum!

Frozen goodness

It almost looks like gelato...but no dairy! Just yummy frozen, pureed fruit!

Print Friendly and PDF

July 16, 2018

That Yummy Zucchini, Bacon, Mushroom Alfredo Thingy! Yeah, I don't have a recipe for that.

Although I have the best intentions of posting every day - with photos and recipes of all the things I make or make up, the truth is... life.  So instead, I usually forget to take photos until I've already eaten most of it, or more than likely, it's all gone and dinner is over and I say "oh yeah....".  But sometimes I do take photos (on my cellphone) and even remember to email them to myself to keep in my food file  on my laptop.  And then... more than likely I am too busy to post.

By the time I remember I wanted to post that recipe, I can't 're-find' my recipe or I forgot how I made it because I didn't write it down.

And that is almost, kind of, this 'recipe'.

About 3 weeks (?) ago I needed to use up zucchini before I left town for a week and The Husband was going to be fending for himself.  He would never in 100 years make zucchini in any way, shape or form, so like I said, I needed to use it up.

Out came my handy-dandy spiralizer and brainstorming 'what sounds good' I grabbed some mushrooms that also needed to be used up as well as some bacon, cream cheese, heavy cream and a couple other items. (This is the sprializer I own and use but I'll link to more options at the bottom of this post - OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction )

The result was a really delicious zucchini alfredo type thing that was a huge hit.

And I even took pictures.  Well, two pictures, but pictures!

And then I left for the week, came home and got crazy busy with appointments and errands and landscaping projects and other stuff.  And here I am now, attempting to post this recipe for me and my kids to be able to make in the future and what do I have to work with?

A memory and a list of things I thought about putting into it when I was brainstorming!  So without further rambling, here is my list.  Basically just put in the amounts you think sound good or you think you and your family will like.  Lots of zucchini and less of everything else.

Zucchini Bacon, Mushroom Alfredo

Zucchini - spiral sliced, thin sliced or perhaps grated but that will cook SUPER fast so don't let it get mushy
Garlic, fresh, minced or fine chopped
Cream Cheese
Chives or Green Onion Tops, diced
Salt and Pepper
Heavy Cream 

That is what I have wrote down on the index card I scribbled on as I made it.  I recall spiralizing the zucchini and setting it aside.  I diced the bacon and cooked it in a pan on the stove and when it was almost done, I added the chopped mushrooms and finished cooking both.  Add the garlic at the end and after only about 30 seconds, add the cream cheese and whisk or stir.  

Add the zucchini, some heavy cream and Parmesan to make a simple sauce, finished off with the seasonings and green onion tops.

Print Friendly and PDF

The One I Love The Best: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce

20 oz. tomato puree' (approximately) I often used diced tomatoes and put them in the blender
1 c water
1 1/2 t fresh, minced garlic
3 t fresh minced onion
1 1/2 T sweetener (sugar, honey, etc)
1/2 t salt
1 T lemon juice
1/4 c dried parsley
1/8 t thyme
1/2 t dried basil or a few leaves fresh, minced or chopped
1/4 t oregano
black pepper - dash

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan on the stove.  Bring to barely a boil, turn it down to simmer and let simmer about 1 hour.  I cover mine but leave it open about an inch or two for condensation to escape so it doesn't get too watery.   Use right away or freeze in containers or food sealer bags.  I also sometimes store extra in mason jars in the refrigerator but haven't 'canned' them to store on the pantry shelf as I haven't tested the ph level of this recipe. 

Let simmer 1 hour or so

Use right away, freeze or store in the refrigerator

Print Friendly and PDF

July 13, 2018

Updated Turkey Piegga - Turkey Panini

Almost ten years ago I posted a recipe for Turkey Piegga (2009 link here:  Turkey Piegga).  At the time, my oldest was in school and raved about this awesome sandwich she had in the school lunch room called Turkey Piegga and wanted me to make it.  The problem is, I went through my recipe books and then checked online and the only mention I could find was on school lunch menu's - but no information or recipes as to what it was.  And I had never heard of them before!

She had a 'guess' as to most of the ingredients, but having never seen one, I had no idea what it was or how to make it.

Finally, giving up, I wrote to the head cook of the school and requested the information. She was more than happy to give it to me and to hear that one of the students loved it so much that they were trying to make it at home.  At the time I made it with my pizza dough (as her recipe called for) but I had still never heard of it, nor having seen it, I didn't even know what it was supposed to look like when I first made it.

Since then, a hot sandwich called 'panini' has gotten very popular and of course, looking back, I can see that this sandwich known throughout high school lunch rooms across the country was Piegga was just a version of what we now call Panini's.

This is an incredible sandwich - and so filling!  The other night I made it for dinner using store bought Naan and it's become my favorite way to make it!  Not only because it's faster and easier than making my own pizza dough but because the flavor is incredible and we love it more than any other breads we've tried.

One sandwich made from 2 slices of Naan will easily serve 2 adults when sliced in half.

Updated from 2009 - the original Turkey Piegga recipe and then the version in the photos of this post.

Original Turkey Piegga - Turkey Panini
School Lunch Recipe Scaled Down

Dough for (2) 16” pizzas
Olive oil – 1 oz.
Italian seasoning – ¼ oz.
Shredded Parmesan – 3 oz.

Turkey – 1 lb.
Provolone cheese – 8 oz.
Spinach – 6 oz.
Fresh basil – ½ oz.
Olive oil – 1 oz.
Kosher salt
Pepper –
Mayonnaise – 4 oz.

Mix together olive oil and Italian seasoning. Proof pizza crust to double in thickness, brush with olive oil/Italian seasoning mix. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 convection oven 5-8 minutes.

Place one of the baked crusts upside down – layer as follows;

Salt, pepper, olive oil

Top with second crust.

Cut into 10 pieces. Sandwich can be prepackaged and served cold or grilled on a Panini grill for 3 minutes to serve hot.


Turkey Piegga - Turkey Panini

Naan - (I usually buy mine from Sam's Club, Walmart or Publix)
Italian seasoning
Turkey slices - good quality
Fresh Mozzarella cheese
Fresh tomato sliced thin
Fresh spinach 
Basil - fresh or dried
Olive oil 
Salt, Pepper (I used Four Pepper Sliced Deli Turkey and omitted this)

Brush one layer of Naan with olive oil and place it on a plate/parchment/etc with the olive oil layer down (bottom slice).
Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on top of the bottom Naan, and on the 2nd slice of the Naan to be used.
Layer your ingredients across the bottom Naan.

Salt, pepper

Top with second Naan and press down a bit. Brush the top with olive oil. Carefully transfer your sandwich to a hot Panini Grill or George Foreman Grill, etc. And grill until hot. (Sandwich can be prepackaged and served cold or grilled on a Panini grill for 3 minutes to serve hot or grilled first and then cooled, packed and served cold later.)

Print Friendly and PDF

July 09, 2018

Lithuanian Torte - also known as a Napoleon Torte

Originally posted on An American Housewife in 2013

Known as a Lithuanian Torte or sometimes a Napoleon Torte, it is layer upon layer of flaky, pastry, a vanilla custard tasting creamy filling and just a hint of apricot between some of the layers.  To make this, be sure you plan for enough time.  It is on average, at least 10-12 layers of pastry sandwiched between 10-12 more layers of filling with layer of filling and pastry crumbs on top.  Each of the layers is rolled, pricked, baked and cooled one at a time so allow time to make the dough, chill it, roll it, bake it, cool it and then time to make the filling and assemble. 

It's a little involved to make, with an average of 10 pastry layers to cut and bake, but in the end, it's a beautiful, amazing dessert that can serve a large group of up to about 16-20 people or you can keep it for your own family and freeze it - slicing off servings and returning it to the freezer.

Originally I had a similar dessert at a wedding rehearsal dinner that was from a very well known bakery in the United States.  However, they put a very thin layer of apricot jelly between the layers and I prefer a vanilla custard and flaky pastry without any hint of fruit.  (I cut that part out and leave it on the plate - as I do when having a layer cake that has a fruit glaze between the layers as well.  I just don't like 'sweet' desserts very much!)  I know most people love a hint of fruit in their desserts so I'm leaving the apricot jam listed in the ingredients.  If you are like me, you can leave it out.  

I took some liberties with the old way of making the dough and used a food processor.  I took a chance by doing this, but I decided my favorite pie crust recipe could be made in a food processor, so why not this?  And in the end, I'm glad I did.  You don't have to though.  You can make it the traditional way if you are more comfortable with it.  I also don't like fruit in my desserts so I don't care for the thin layer of apricot glaze between a few of the layers.  It's subtle, but I don't care for it so I always use my fork to cut and eat around those layers when I've had this, and I leave out the apricot completely in my homemade version. 

Napoleon Torte (or Lithuanian Torte)

1 c butter
4 c good quality white flour*
1 c sour cream
2 T cold water

2 c whipping cream
1 c sugar
3 egg yolks
6 oz. butter
1 t vanilla
Apricot jam (about 1/4 cup)

To make the dough, combine the flour, butter, sour cream and water on a butcher block board and chop with a meat cleaver, turning often until it becomes a dough consistency.  Chop, don't knead, as the dough will not be flaky if you knead it.  I chose to use my food processor, as chopping/mixing the dough can take up to an hour or more to finish.  I place the butter, flour and sour cream in the food processor with the S-blade and pulsed it to combine.  Slowly adding 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time through the top feeder tube and stopping the water as soon as the dough comes together to form a ball.

Divide the dough into 8-12 equal parts.  Wrap each in plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill overnight.  The next morning, roll each out to a circle the size of a standard pizza pan. I rolled on parchment paper so I could transfer easily to a baking sheet to bake.  Prick the dough all over before baking each rolled layer for approximately 10 minutes at 400.  Have a lot of counter space ready as you bake each one individually as you need to let them cool completely and they are delicate.  I chose to make 10 layers pastry.

To make mine all uniform, I used the bottom of a 9" springform pan round and laid it on top of the hot pastry directly out of the oven.  I quickly scored and cut around it with a sharp knife while it was hot. I saved the cuttings in a bowl to crush later for the final top layer instead of making an extra disk to bake and crumble.  If you can roll perfect circles in uniform shape, you won't need to do this.

Make the filling:  Beat the whipping cream and sugar together and cool in the refrigerator.  Mix the eggs yolks and butter together and add vanilla.  Fold into the cream to keep it light and fluffy.  Note:  I didn't have 2 cups of whipped cream so I used 1 cup cream and 1 cup half and half.  Obviously this doesn't whip up stiff so I ended up making my own filling version using a frosting-type mixture similar to what I make for Red Velvet Cake.  It's butter, sugar, vanilla and then mixing it with a cooked and cooled flour/water mixture.  I added this to the eggs and cream to stiffen it up and it was wonderful and light and delicious.  You can really use any vanilla filling you like best but the one listed is simple and perfect if you have the whipped cream on hand.

To assemble, I chose to use a large 10" round springform pan but that is just me because I'm not making this to serve right away for an event and will be freezing it.  Most people just assemble it to serve.  Start with one pastry, spread a thin layer of filling and top with another pastry.  Warm the apricot jam to melt smooth.  Every third or fourth layer of pastry you can brush it with a thin layer of apricot glaze.  Continue until all the pastry layers and fillings are used up.  Top with a last layer of filling/frosting and cover in the crumbs from a crushed pastry or if you have scraps from cutting circles.  Chill.  This can serve about 26-30 people if  you need it to as it's very tall and rich and a small piece goes a long way!

*Some people may use Wondra flour.  I used White Lily in these photos.

I chose to make my dough in a food processor instead of a traditional way

You decide how many layers you want it to be but make it at least 8 or 10 and up to about 15
I decided to build it in a spring form pan as I am storing ours in the freezer and not using it all right away
Mine is 10 layers pastry and 10 layers filling with a top layer of crushed pastry for a total of 22 layers

This can serve from 16-30 people depending on how you cut it. It's rich and pieces should be small!

Print Friendly and PDF

July 08, 2018

The best fish batter, chicken batter, shrimp batter or fried oyster batter! Very similar to Long John Silver's in taste!

Originally posted in October, 2017

Years and years ago, I started making this batter for fish as it was a great copycat to my favorite; Long John  Silver's.  Last fall I was craving fried oysters and had a seafood mix in the freezer so I whipped up this batter and used it on various pieces.

I love this on fish fillets and chicken strips - oh so good!

Seafood and Chicken Strip Batter
You can double this too if you want/need to

1 cup flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
2 t salt
1/2 t onion powder
4 t yellow mustard
1 egg
1 c sparkling water
Seafood or chicken, etc. you want to batter and fry

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Beat the egg in a separate bowl but only until just blended; don't over beat.  Pour the carbonated water into the egg, stir briefly and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix or whisk quickly just till blended; again, don't over beat.

Dip pieces of seafood of your choice or pieces of chicken into the batter and fry in hot oil until golden brown - be sure to turn a couple times so they cook evenly and don't crowd the pan.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot.

I had some mixed seafood in the freezer so I just thawed that and used it.  Oysters are my favorite!

The dry ingredients in one bowl

Sparkling water mixed with the eggs

Just mix until blended; don't over beat

Shrimp, oysters, chicken pieces... it's up to you!  Have your oil hot and ready to go

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - An American Housewife at Amazon

Print Friendly and PDF