August 30, 2012

Beat the Heat Dessert

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Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme


I remember the first -- and only time -- I ever made banana pudding.  It was the early 1990's and my husband and I were newlyweds.  We'd invited some friends over to eat supper and, since it was a hot summer day, I decided to make banana pudding for dessert.  I never liked my mother's recipe which called for the custard to be cooked, so I tried a recipe that started with a package of instant vanilla pudding.  Afterwards, my husband and I realized neither one of us really cared for banana pudding, either the old fashioned kind or the no cook version.

Several years later, a friend gave me the recipe for Banana Cream Supreme.  In some ways, it reminds me of banana pudding, especially the versions made with pudding mix and Cool Whip.  It's also layered like banana pudding, but there's no soggy vanilla wafers!  It's not, like my son used to call it, cheesecake because there's no cream cheese in the recipe.

The dessert is made in a spring-form pan.  If you don't have one, substitute a similar size serving dish.  Depending on what you use, you might not be able to slice the dessert into pieces, but it tastes just as good scooped into bowls.

If you use a spring-form pan, don't use nonfat or low-fat ingredients because the dessert won't be firm enough to cut.  This is also true if you substitute sugar-free pudding because it doesn't have the same consistency and won't set up like regular pudding.  

The recipe starts with a crust made from graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar.  To keep from dirtying another bowl, I mix this up in the spring-form pan and then press it in the bottom of the pan.

Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

The rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward.  Whisk sour cream and milk until blended.  


Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

Add instant vanilla pudding mix and whisk until the pudding is dissolved.


Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

Gently fold in Cool Whip.  


Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

Spread half the mixture over the graham cracker crust.


Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

Slice bananas and dip the pieces in lemon juice.  This keeps the bananas from turning brown.  Arrange the bananas on top of the mixture in the spring-form pan.

Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

Add the remaining mixture covering the bananas completely.


Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight or until firm.


When you're ready to serve dessert, remove the collar from the spring-form pan and slice the dessert into wedges.


Margaret's Morsels | Banana Cream Supreme

For a fancier presentation, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top of each serving.

Whether you call it pudding or pie, this is a refreshing summertime dessert. It's also good served in the winter, spring and fall!


Banana Cream Supreme
8 Servings

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
1/2 cup cold milk
1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
1 (8 oz.) carton Cool Whip, thawed
3 medium bananas, sliced
lemon juice
additional graham cracker crumbs (optional)

Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in a spring-form pan; press mixture in the bottom of the pan.  In a large bowl, whisk sour cream and milk until blended.  Add pudding mix; whisk until pudding is dissolved. Gently fold Cool Whip into the mixture.  Spread half of mixture over the crust.  Dip banana slices in lemon juice.  Arrange bananas over mixture in the spring-form pan.  Spread remaining mixture over bananas.  Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight or until firm.  To serve, remove collar from spring-form pan; cut into wedges.  For a fancier presentation, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top of each serving, if desired.  Refrigerate leftovers.

© Margaret's Morsels


August 27, 2012

Obviously Orange

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Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin

According to a recent news report, July, 2012, was the hottest month in the lower 48 states since the government started keeping temperature records 117 years ago.  A good way to beat the heat is to serve something cold for supper.  One of my favorite warm weather pairings is homemade chicken salad and a refreshingly cold congealed salad.  Most of the time, I make my husband's favorite, cherry gelatin fruit salad, but sometimes I switch things up and serve an orange salad instead.


Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin

The recipe I'm sharing, Fruity Orange Gelatin, offers a triple burst of orange flavor.  Not only does the recipe call for orange gelatin, but also mandarin oranges and, what makes the recipe so refreshing, orange sherbet.  If you can find it, you can use sugar-free sherbet instead of the regular kind.

Remove the sherbet from the freezer and let it stand at room temperature a few minutes to soften.  When it's soft, measure two cups and put the rest back in the freezer.  To get an accurate measurement, use measuring cups designed for dry ingredients.


Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin


Bring the water to a boil and remove from the heat.  Add the gelatin and stir until it's dissolved.


Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin


Add the sherbet.


Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin


Stir until melted.


Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin


Add mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple.  Although fresh pineapple is delicious, don't use it in a congealed salad.  It contains an enzyme that prevents the gelatin from congealing.  Stir to combine the ingredients.


Margaret's Morsels | Fruity Orange Gelatin



Pour the mixture into a 2-quart serving bowl or decorative mold.  Make sure to thoroughly spray the mold -- including crevices -- with nonstick cooking spray before adding the mixture.  If you spray a square or rectangular dish with cooking spray, the salad can be cut into squares and served on lettuce leaves for a pretty presentation.


The cherry gelatin fruit salad can be confused with strawberry, cranberry and raspberry.  You won't have that problem with this salad, though, because people will know it's obviously orange!


Fruity Orange Gelatin
10 to 12 Servings

1 (6 oz.) pkg. sugar-free orange gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 cups orange sherbet
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple (undrained)

Bring water to a boil; remove from heat.  Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.  Stir in sherbet until melted.  Stir in oranges and pineapple. Pour into a 2-quart serving bowl or decorative mold.  Chill until firm.

© Margaret's Morsels


August 16, 2012

Say Cheese!

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Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Toast

When I make cheese toast, I cover a slice of unbuttered wheat bread with cheese -- either American or Cheddar -- and toast it in the oven until the cheese melts.  Sometimes, though, I want to serve cheese toast that's not so plain.  When I do, I use a recipe I found in the newspaper almost 20 years ago.  The recipe only uses four ingredients, but it elevates cheese toast from ordinary to extraordinary.

To keep from making a mess on the cookie sheet when the toast bakes, I assemble the pieces on a cutting board or piece of wax paper.  It's much easier to transfer the pieces than it is to scrub melted cheese off the cookie sheet!

Rather than wheat bread, this cheese toast uses hoagie rolls.  When I can't find these in the store, I substitute white deli rolls which are softer than hoagie rolls.  Whichever you use, start by slicing the rolls in half lengthwise.


Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Toast


The recipe calls for the rolls to be buttered.  If you want to save calories or make it a little healthier, do what I do and substitute margarine.  Once the butter or margarine has been added, slice the rolls in half -- diagonally or horizontally -- or leave them whole.


Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Toast


Next comes the secret ingredient:  Parmesan cheese.  It gives the toast a pleasantly sharp taste.  I don't have many recipes that call for Parmesan cheese so, rather than buy it fresh and not use it, I use canned Parmesan. However, freshly grated Parmesan cheese would make the toast even better!  Cover each roll with a layer of Parmesan.


Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Toast


Generously sprinkle finely shredded Colby Monterey Jack cheese over each roll.  CoJack, as it's sometimes known, has a smooth mellow flavor that doesn't overpower the Parmesan.  It melts easily and the combination of yellow and white cheese gives the toast a marbled effect. 


Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Toast


Transfer the rolls to a cookie sheet and bake or broil until the cheese is melted.

This cheese toast is delicious with entrees such as Chicken Tender Saladvegetable soup and pasta, but it's also good for breakfast.


Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Toast
Notice the marbled effect

The next time someone asks what kind of toast you want, say cheese!


Cheese Toast

hoagie rolls, sliced lengthwise
butter or margarine, softened
grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
finely shredded Colby Monterey Jack cheese (to taste)

Lightly spread butter on the cut sides of the rolls.  Cut the rolls diagonally or horizontally, if desired.  Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the butter.  Top with Colby Monterey Jack cheese.  Bake or broil until the cheese is melted.

© Margaret's Morsels


August 10, 2012

Better than Store Bought

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Margaret's Morsels | Honey Mustard Dressing

Earlier this week, I shared my version of the restaurant entree, Chicken Tender Salad.  When I serve this to a group, I put a variety of salad dressings on the table.  When I serve it to my family, I only put one dressing on the table.  Not just any dressing, but a made from scratch honey mustard dressing.

Honey mustard dressing, as the name implies, is made from honey and mustard plus additional ingredients.  Some recipes use Dijon mustard which contains white wine while others use prepared mustard.  Some recipes use sour cream to make the dressing creamy while others use mayonnaise.

In addition to honey and mustard, the recipe I'm sharing also uses vegetable oil, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, onion salt and cayenne pepper.


Margaret's Morsels | Honey Mustard Dressing


The last two ingredients -- onion salt and cayenne pepper -- call for a dash and pinch respectively.  When a recipe calls for a dash and the spice jar has a lid with holes, I gently tap the jar two times for a dash.  I only tap the jar one time for a pinch.  If you're afraid too much will come out, tap the jar over a bowl or a piece of wax paper and add the desired amount to the mixture.


Margaret's Morsels | Honey Mustard Dressing
A pinch of cayenne pepper

If your jar doesn't have holes in the lid, a good rule of thumb is a pinch is approximately 1/16 teaspoon; a dash, 1/8 teaspoon.

Thoroughly combine the ingredients and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  The dressing is best made one day ahead so the flavors have time to blend.


Margaret's Morsels | Honey Mustard Dressing


The dressing is delicious on salads, but it's also good with chicken nuggets, fries and club sandwiches.  My son likes to spread it on a turkey sandwich and my husband uses it as a dip for carrots.  No matter how you choose to use it, it's better than store bought.


Honey Mustard Dressing
2 1/2 Cups

6 Tbsp. honey
6 Tbsp. prepared mustard
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
1 tsp. cider vinegar
dash of onion salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix ingredients thoroughly.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.

© Margaret's Morsels

August 6, 2012

Ladies Luncheon

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Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad
Chicken Tender Salad with homemade

Several years ago, I invited some friends to eat lunch at my house before we went to a bridal shower.  Because time was limited, I wanted to prepare something that would be ready when everyone arrived.  I decided to make one of my favorite restaurant entrees, Chicken Tender Salad.  I modeled my version after the restaurant salad, but you can pick and choose the ingredients to suit your taste.

Start by choosing the salad greens.  Using more than one variety allows for a contrast of taste and color.  I like to use a combination of romaine and radicchio.


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad

The romaine has a sweet taste and adds crunch to the salad.  The red radicchio makes a pretty contrast with the green romaine while adding a slightly bitter taste.

I use:

chopped hard-boiled eggs


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad


cooked crumbled bacon 


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad


diced tomatoes 


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad


cooked cubed chicken tenders


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad


and finely shredded cheese.


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad


Normally, I'm a fan of Cheddar cheese, but I prefer Colby Monterey Jack in this salad for two reasons.  One, it has a milder flavor.  Two, the yellow and white combination creates a nice marbled effect.

Since most of the ingredients are soft, it's nice to include something crunchy for the top.  Two good choices are croutons or shoestring potato sticks.


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad


To save time,  I put all the salad ingredients in separate bowls and let everyone fix their own plate.  That way, each person could select as much or as little of each topping as they wanted.


Margaret's Morsels | Chicken Tender Salad

Add some bread and a variety of salad dressings and you've got a luncheon that ladies -- and men -- would enjoy.


© Margaret's Morsels