December 21, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 12

Pin It

Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Ball

I started this series with my go to Christmas gift from the kitchen, Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies.  I want to end the series with the gift my mother made and gave to friends, relatives and neighbors for close to 30 years.  Instead of something sweet, she gave people a small cheese ball and a sleeve of Ritz crackers.  Why Ritz crackers?  When made in a log shape, a slice of the cheese ball fits perfectly on a Ritz cracker.

Margaret's Morsels | Cheese Ball

© Margaret's Morsels

December 19, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 11

Pin It
Margaret's Morsels | Loaf Cake

My most popular recipe in 2013 -- and my fourth most popular of all time -- is my grandmother's made from scratch pound cake, or what we refer to as loaf cake.  Instead of making one cake, make multiple cakes by baking the batter in miniature loaf pans.  A nice touch is to bake and give the loaves in holiday themed pans like the ones pictured below.  The number of cakes will vary depending on the size of the pans you use.  The mini loaves will bake faster so remember to reduce the baking time.

Margaret's Morsels | Loaf Cake

© Margaret's Morsels

December 15, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 10

Pin It
Bar cookies might not come to mind at Christmastime, but for me they are the equivalent of a bow and go gift.  Bar cookies are a real time saver since they don't have to be rolled and cut out.  Frosting is easy since it's typically done in the pan -- not individually -- and can be as simple as a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  Lemon Bars are quick and easy to make, especially when they start with a tasty shortcut!

Margaret's Morsels | Lemon Bars

© Margaret's Morsels

December 11, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 9

Pin It
Coffee Cake Muffins taste just like coffee cake, but with the ease of mixing up a batch of muffins.  Give someone a dozen, or bake them as mini muffins, put them in pretty Christmas tins and give them to several people.

Margaret's Morsels | Coffee Cake Muffins

© Margaret's Morsels

December 9, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 8

Pin It
Gifts from the kitchen aren't limited to cookies and candy.  This Cranberry Delight Spread makes a tasty gift.  An easy way to present it is in a small Mason jar or a seasonal bowl.  A nice added touch is to put some vanilla wafers or gingersnaps in a Christmas cellophane bag, tie the bag closed with colored raffia and attach a Christmas spreader for an all inclusive gift.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Delight Spread

© Margaret's Morsels

December 8, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 7

Pin It
Kids love to help decorate these snowman cookies.  You don't even have to make the cookies.  They start with a package of Nutter Butters!

Margaret's Morsels | No Bake Snowman Cookies

© Margaret's Morsels

December 6, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 6

Pin It
Today's gift from the kitchen is a match made in culinary heaven!  Peanut Butter Brownies elevate brownies from ho hum to wow!

Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Brownies

© Margaret's Morsels

December 5, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 5

Pin It
I thought I'd stick with yesterday's theme and share another candy recipe. I've made this Peanut Butter Fudge for Valentine's Day, but it's also wonderful to give as Christmas gifts.  One batch yields 70 pieces making it easy to cross several names off your list at one time!  You don't even have to turn on your stove to make this fabulous fudge.  It's made in the microwave!

Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Fudge

© Margaret's Morsels

December 4, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 4

Pin It
Every year at Christmas, one of my former coworkers would give me a Mason jar filled with homemade chocolate covered cherries made by his wife.  She decorated the jar by attaching a round piece of Christmas fabric between the lid and the ring.  This added a touch of festivity to the delicious treat waiting inside.  I don't have her recipe, but I do have one that I shared four years ago.  If you want to make these, you need to plan ahead because the finished cherries need to sit five days before they're ready to eat.  

Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Cherries

© Margaret's Morsels

December 3, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 3

Pin It
If you love cinnamon, you'll love today's gift from the kitchen. These Cinnamon Cookies have cinnamon in the batter and on top of the cookie.  They're also easy to make when you're pressed for time.

Margaret's Morsels | Cinnamon Cookies

© Margaret's Morsels

December 2, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 2

Pin It
The recipe I shared yesterday is the cookie I've been gifting at Christmas for years.  However, with its blend of cloves, ginger and cinnamon, nothing smells more like Christmas to me than Molasses Sugar Cookies.

Margaret's Morsels | Molasses Sugar Cookies

© Margaret's Morsels

December 1, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen: Day 1

Pin It
This time of the year, I start getting emails with 12 days of Christmas cookie recipes.  Since I love giving gifts from the kitchen, I thought I'd share 12 recipes -- not all of them cookies -- that would make wonderful Christmas gifts.  I hope to share one or two new recipes, but I can't make any promises. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

What better way to start this series than with the recipe I shared five years ago in a post titled, "Gifts from the Kitchen."  I've been making these three (four if you use sprinkles) ingredient cookies at Christmas for years.  I prefer chocolate almond bark, but you can use vanilla if you want a white cookie.  Seasonal sprinkles add a festive touch to the cookies.

Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies

November 25, 2015

Pure Pumpkin

Pin It
Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Pie

This time last year -- the afternoon before Thanksgiving -- I realized I'd failed to buy a can of pumpkin pie mix at the grocery.  I couldn't go to the grocery because I was too busy baking biscuits and cornbread for Cornbread Dressing, making Potato Salad and Sweet Potato Souffle, cooking Aaron's Green Beans, whipping up a Chocolate Dream Pie and prepping ingredients for homemade rolls.  My then 16 year old only had his learner's permit so he couldn't go to the grocery for me.  I texted my husband and asked if he could pick up a can of pumpkin pie mix on his way home from work.  This meant it would be later in the evening before I could make the pie but, with the sugar and spices already added to the mix, it would be a quick task.

When my husband got home, he explained that the grocery was out of pumpkin pie mix and handed me a can of pumpkin puree.  He said he hoped it would be ok since he knew I kept a well stocked pantry.  I wasn't thrilled about making a pie from scratch --  after all I'd been cooking all day -- but I knew he was right.  This is how I'd always made Pumpkin Pie until a sister-in-law introduced me to timesaving pumpkin pie mix 20 something years earlier.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Pie

The pumpkin, eggs, sugar, salt, spices and evaporated milk are mixed by hand with a spatula.  If you read my blog, you know I like to substitute healthier ingredients whenever possible.  However, this is one time I use regular evaporated milk instead of the fat-free version.  The fat in the milk helps make the pie firm which means the pieces hold their shape better.

The filling goes into a pie crust, but not just any pie crust.  My mother taught me to always use a deep-dish pie crust, no matter what kind of filling goes in the crust.  Not only does a deep-dish crust hold more of the scrumptious filling, it keeps the filling from spilling over into the oven.

Unlike my mother, I don't make my own pie crust.  I always use frozen store bought pie crusts, unless the recipe specifically calls for a package of refrigerated pie crusts.  However, I have a trick for making a store bought pie crust look homemade.  I transfer the pie crust from the foil pan to a pretty glass pie plate.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Pie

To do this, let the crust soften at room temperature for a few minutes.  Turn the pan over, letting the crust fall into your hand and transfer it to your pie plate.  If the crust doesn't fall out the first time, let it sit a few more minutes. Don't force the crust out, or you'll risk breaking the crust.

If you're transferring the pie crust, make sure to use a pie plate that's close to the size of the pie crust.  A frozen 9-inch pie crust works perfectly in my 10-inch pie plate.  My experience has been that the crust expands during baking and conforms to the size of my pie plate.

Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and add the filling.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Pie

Bake the pie an hour and then let it cool on a wire rack before storing it in the refrigerator.

I'm thankful pumpkin pie mix exists, but I'm also thankful for canned pumpkin puree.  Without it, I'd have to seed, cut, roast and puree the pumpkin before making the pie!

Pumpkin Pie
8 Servings

1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie crust
2 eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk (not fat-free)

Preheat oven to 425°.  Lightly beat eggs.  Add remaining ingredients; stir until thoroughly combined.  Put pie plate on a baking sheet; pour filling into pie crust.  Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350°.  Bake 45 minutes longer, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from baking sheet and cool 2 hours on a wire rack.  Refrigerate. 

© Margaret's Morsels

November 23, 2015

A Do Ahead Side

Pin It
Margaret's Morsels | Adobo Green Beans

A couple of years ago at a church potluck, I saw a bowl filled with green beans and onions.  Normally, I would have ignored the dish -- I don't like beans with onions -- but the beans smelled delicious so I put a small serving on my plate.  After one bite, two things were apparent.  One, the beans were flavored with something besides onion.  Two, I wanted the recipe!

As the potluck wound down, I watched as people collected their bowls and pans from the food table.  When I saw Aaron, owner of the now empty bowl, pick it up off the table, I walked over and asked how he made the beans.  He graciously shared the recipe and I made the beans for the first time a few weeks later for Thanksgiving.

The recipe starts with a can of cut green beans.  The liquid is drained into a saucepan with some water, chopped onion and -- the ingredient that makes the beans so good -- adobo all purpose seasoning.

Margaret's Morsels | Adobo Green Beans

I wasn't familiar with adobo so I looked it up on the Internet.  My search yielded a lot of recipes for making the seasoning using salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder and chili powder, or some combination of these ingredients.  I didn't mess with perfection and bought a bottle of Goya adobo all-purpose seasoning with pepper which is what was called for in Aaron's recipe.

Margaret's Morsels | Adobo Green Beans

I assumed the seasoning would be with all the other spices, but I found it in the aisle with Hispanic food.  The Goya brand is available in many different varieties!

Margaret's Morsels | Adobo Green Beans

The liquid, onion and adobo are brought to a rolling boil for 30 minutes. During this long boiling time, the liquid is reduced, thereby intensifying the flavor of the remaining liquid.  

Margaret's Morsels | Adobo Green Beans
After boiling for 30 minutes.

The beans are added to the pot and simmered over low heat for 15 minutes.  You can add water, if necessary, but don't add too much or it will dilute the wonderful flavor of the beans.

Margaret's Morsels | Adobo Green Beans

The beans can be served the same day they're cooked, but I think they're better reheated the next day after the flavors have had time to blend.  You can reheat the beans on the stove, or in a crock-pot.  Using a crock-pot is a big help at the holidays, especially if there's not a spare burner available on the stove.  You also don't have to keep a constant eye on the beans since the crock-pot does all the work for you.

Green beans have always been on our Thanksgiving table, but now I fix them ahead of time.   When I'm cooking holiday meals, any dish that can be made ahead is something I'm thankful for!

Aaron's Green Beans
6 to 8 Servings

1 (28 oz.) can cut green beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp. adobo all-purpose seasoning
1 cup water

Drain liquid from beans into a saucepan; add onion, adobo and water. Bring ingredients to a boil and let boil for 30 minutes.  If the liquid is reducing too quickly, turn the heat down.  Add the green beans and, if necessary, a little additional water.  Turn heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.  Let the beans cool and then store them in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to blend.  The next day, reheat beans in a crock-pot on low for 2 hours, or until heated through.

© Margaret's Morsels

November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Pin It
It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is only eight days away!  If you're planning your menu or looking for something new to serve, here's some Thanksgiving recipes I've shared in the past.  I'm putting the finishing touches on two recipes -- one vegetable, one dessert -- I plan to post before Thanksgiving.  

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Delight Spread

Margaret's Morsels | Sweet Potato Souffle

Margaret's Morsels | Potato Salad

Margaret's Morsels | Carrot Souffle

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

Margaret's Morsels | No Bake Turkey Cookies

© Margaret's Morsels

September 14, 2015

Just Peachy

Pin It
Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

In late June, on her way home from Georgia -- a state known for its peaches -- a friend stopped at a roadside stand and bought several baskets of peaches fresh from the orchard.  My family was the lucky recipient of one of those baskets.  The peaches were juicy and delicious and we enjoyed peeling and eating them out of hand.  A few days later at a 4th of July party, I spotted a peach cobbler on the dessert table and knew exactly what I was going to do with the remaining few peaches.

Almost every church or school cookbook has a recipe for fruit cobbler.  A lot of times, the recipe has the word easy, simple, or like the one I'm sharing today, quick in the title.  All three are appropriate adjectives for this easy to make dessert, but I think versatile would be a better description.

Although the recipe I'm sharing is for peach cobbler, you can substitute other fruit for the peaches.  In fact, you can use fresh, frozen or canned fruit in the recipe.  If you're using canned fruit, be sure to use some of the juice or the cobbler will be dry.  If you're using fresh fruit, taste the fruit to see if you need to add additional sugar.  If so, add a little at a time until the fruit reaches the desired sweetness.    

Start by melting a stick of butter or margarine.  Instead of melting this in the microwave, I put the butter in the baking dish and set it in the oven while it's preheating.

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

The butter melts without me having to do anything and it keeps me from dirtying another dish.  

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

The sugar, self-rising flour, milk and vanilla are stirred together to make the batter.  If you don't have self-rising flour, you can substitute all-purpose flour and add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder.  Once the ingredients are combined, pour the batter over the melted butter.  Do not stir the two together!

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

If you're using fresh peaches, here's an easy way to keep the cobbler from being dry.  Put the peeled and sliced peaches in a saucepan and heat them on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

When heated, the juice seeps from the peaches.  This sounds counterproductive, but it's actually the secret to a very moist cobbler, since the juice is distributed over the entire cobbler.

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler
Three peaches yielded almost 1/4 cup juice.

Spoon the peaches on top of the batter.  Pour the juice left in the pan all over the top of the cobbler.  Do not stir!!!  

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

The peaches will sink to the bottom and the batter will rise to the top and make a crust.

Margaret's Morsels | Quick Fruit Cobbler

The cobbler is delicious by itself, or served a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  Either way you serve it, it's just peachy!

Quick Peach Cobbler
6 to 8 Servings

1 stick butter or margarine, melted
3 fresh peaches, peeled and cut into slices 
1 cup sugar
1 cup self-rising flour*
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk

*One cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder may be substituted for self-rising flour.

Preheat oven to 400°.  Put butter in a 10-inch baking dish and set in the oven to melt while the oven preheats.  Peel peaches and cut into slices. Put the peaches in a saucepan and heat on low heat about 10 minutes. While the peaches are heating, combine remaining ingredients; mix well. Remove baking dish from oven.  Tilt pan to distribute butter, if necessary. Pour the batter over the butter.  Do not stir!  Spoon peaches over the batter.  Pour the peach juice over the top of the cobbler.  Do not stir.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the crust is brown.

© Margaret's Morsels

August 25, 2015

Back in the Kitchen!

Pin It Last November, I posted a blog explaining my seven month absence.  At the time, I truly thought I would resume blogging before the end of the year.  I even shared a recipe for Hoppin' John just in time for New Year's Day.  Unfortunately, after the first of the year, things got really complicated.  Each day felt as though I was taking one step forward and two steps back.  For the first time in over a year, I finally feel as though there's light at the end of the tunnel.

I've missed blogging.  In addition to being a creative outlet for me, I thoroughly enjoy sharing recipes and corresponding with readers.  Since things are brighter than they were this time last year, I'm ready to resume blogging.  To be on the safe side, though, I've already written my first four posts.  The hardest part was deciding which recipe to share first!

Since the beginning of my blog, I've tried to keep my personal life private. As I've written more than once, I'd like to think what I write is more important than the one doing the writing.  I still feel that way, but I've had a change of heart.  So many of you have been with me from the very beginning, I'd like you to know more about who I am without going into too much personal detail.  It would be strange to interview myself, so a friend came up with the questions.  So, without further ado, here goes.

Who is Margaret?  I'm a wife.  I met my husband in college 29 years ago in a world politics class.  We've been married 21 years.

I'm a mother.  My oldest son died 19 years ago.  My middle son is a senior in high school.  My youngest son isn't related to us biologically or legally, but it's the feelings, concern and admiration between two people that creates ties that bind, not flesh and blood.  He considers me a mother figure in his life and I am proud to call him my son.  He's a sophomore in high school.

I'm an employee.  I've worked part time for a cookbook publisher since 2007.

I'm a volunteer.  I serve on a church committee that provides opportunities for fellowship meals and events throughout the year.  I work in the church kitchen during our week long Vacation Bible School helping prepare snacks for the children.  Several times a year, my whole family helps other volunteers feed the homeless at a midtown church.  I donate my time and work experience to organizations I believe in that want to create a cookbook to sell to raise funds for a good cause.  I've been a volunteer field editor for Taste of Home magazine since 2002.

I'm a Southerner.  I say please, thank you and y'all.  My Southern roots run deep.  My ancestors settled in the South when they immigrated to America from Ireland six generations ago.  I've often wondered if they already knew someone who had immigrated to the South, or if they had plans to settle elsewhere, but fell in love with the South.  I'll probably never know, but I'm proud to call the South home, y'all.

Have you always liked to cook?  No!  Growing up, I would rather have washed dishes than cooked!  All that changed in my early 20's when I moved into my first apartment.  Tired of microwaving frozen entrees, I decided to utilize my minuscule kitchen.  I started by cooking the foods my mom cooked when I was growing up.  Once I'd mastered those recipes, I started trying new recipes and -- as my confidence in the kitchen grew -- experimenting with recipes and cooking methods.  As my passion for cooking grew, so did my cookbook collection! 

What do you love most about cooking?  I love using food to create family traditions and memories.  My favorite food tradition is a bunny cake I started making at Easter when my son was a toddler.  My family still expects to see that cake on the table every year at Easter.  When my sons are grown, they may not remember which family members were at the house each holiday, but they'll remember what foods we ate!

Why do you blog?  Most people know I love to cook, buy many don't know that I was a journalism major in college.  My dream job was to have a newspaper food column like the one I used to read in the city where I spent my formative years.  Unfortunately, cooking is a dying art and newspaper food sections are shrinking, or evenly disappearing entirely.  I decided if I wanted to write about food, a blog was the best way to go about it in the 21st century.  However, in an homage to the newspaper, I designed my blog -- from the title of each post to the content -- to resemble a newspaper food column.

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading the entire post.  Now you know more about me, maybe more than you wanted to know!  I'm truly grateful to those of you who have followed "Margaret's Morsels" from day one and I welcome those of you who are new.  I may not post as frequently as other bloggers, but when I do you can be assured I've made the recipe numerous times and my family thinks it's a keeper.  I'm glad to be back and will be sharing one of my mom's recipes later this week.  It will be peachy!

© Margaret's Morsels