Thursday, April 02, 2015

Cheesy Potatoes with Bacon

You can't get much easier than this. Tender cheesy potatoes with smokey bacon....Oh Yum.

Cheesy Potatoes with Bacon

8-10 medium potatoes (cut into ½” cubes)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (undiluted).
1 ½ cups half and half or cream
1 envelope Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
salt and pepper
6 bacon slices (cooked until crispy and crumbled)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and set aside.

Add potatoes to a large pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender. Then drain well and pour into the casserole dish.

In a bowl mix together cream of mushroom soup, half and half (half milk and half cream), ranch dressing, 1 cup of the cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes in the casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cup of shredded cheddar cheese and the crumbled bacon over the top.

Place into the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle with extra bacon and additional salt and pepper to taste.

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Artichoke Flans

When we think of flans we always think of a wonderful pudding-like dessert that is rich and decadent.  But there are savory flans too and they are a perfect and elegant side dish for any meal. I make a wonderful corn and leek savory vegetable flan and one of my favorites is a spinach flan that is to die for.  There's just something about that creamy custard whether sweet or savory. Today I bring you my artichoke flans that would be perfect for your Easter dinner this year! 

Artichoke Flans

1 cup Cara Mia Artichoke Hearts in water, marinated or grilled
1 tablespoon Olive Oil 
2 cups heavy Cream 
5  large eggs 
1 tsp  salt
black pepper to taste 
2 tsp chopped Italian Parsley 
non stick cooking spray
8 ramekins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop artichokes to bite sized pieces.

In a medium skillet, heat oil until sizzling over medium high heat.  Add chopped artichokes and saute for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together heavy cream and eggs and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the chopped parsley.  Spray ramekins with cooking spray, making sure to coat them well. Spoon artichokes into the bottom of each ramekin, portioning evenly.  Next, pour your custard mixture over the artichokes. Do not overfill ramekins. 

Transfer ramekins onto a 9 x 13 rimmed baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper and bake for 35-40 minutes or until tops are lightly brown and egg custard is set.   Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes before unmolding.

Once cooled, insert the tip of a pairing knife around the inside edges of the ramekin to loosen.  Then cover the ramekin with a small plate and flip.  Then lay your serving plate over small plate and flip again to see the nicely browned tops. Garnish with extra parsley and serve.

Photography is  the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home. 

Cara Mia Marinated Artichoke Hearts can be found at select grocery stores nationwide either in the produce section or the canned vegetable aisle and online at

Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout!

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing

There's only one thing that can be said about this pound cake.  A hot steaming cup of coffee on a warm spring morning.  Ah lemon in the spring time!

Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 cup fresh lemon juice (5 to 6 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 6 cup loaf pans (4 1/2-by-8 inch) by brushing with butter and then dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In a small bowl, combine buttermilk with vanilla extract and lemon extract. Add the lemon zest and juice. Set aside. Next, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and beat until just smooth (do not over mix).

Divide your batter evenly between pans; shake and top on counter to smooth tops and get rid of air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Start checking them a little earlier to make sure they are not getting too brown. If they are, lay a piece of aluminum foil on top. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Lemon Icing:

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Stir together powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Drizzle over cooled cake.

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Cream Cheese Brownies with Toffee Topping

Sometimes you want something rich and chewy and creamy and nutty all at the same time.  This one pretty much does the trick my friends! 

Cream Cheese Brownies with Toffee Topping 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon whole milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

5 oz cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar


1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup chopped Heath Bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with parchment paper and then spray with non stick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together granulated sugar, light-brown sugar and melted butter until combine. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until blended. Add in half of the flour mixture and mix just until combine, add in milk and mix just until combine, then add remaining flour mixture and mix just until combine (batter will be very thick).

Pour batter into prepared 8 x 8 baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until center is nearly set. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 
In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar and continue to beat until smooth, about 1 minute.


Once brownies are frosted, drizzle melted chocolate on top and then sprinkle on chopped Heath Bar. Makes 12 brownies.

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♥ Lemon Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

I love this cake...probably one of the prettiest and most delicious cakes my Mom every taught me how to make. And it is my most requested cake for birthdays and other celebrations. Just a simple lemon cream cake with a lemon vanilla glaze but it makes such a beautiful presentation. It is just as moist as it looks in this picture!

Lemon Cake with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 lemons, zested
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temp (2 1/4 sticks)
2 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray or brush the pan with butter and sprinkle with flour. Zest lemons until you have 2 tablespoons. Squeeze lemons to get 3 tablespoons. Combine lemon juice and zest in a small bowl and set aside.

Next, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, mix together your lemon/zest mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Then at medium speed add the eggs, mixing until incorporated. Reduce to mixer to low speed and alternate adding flour and then buttermilk, mixing until just incorporated. Then mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, . Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

Bake on center rack until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack.

Vanilla Glaze                                                                              

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups confectioners' sugar (8 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, melted butter, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable. Once cake has cooled, pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour. Come back after an hour and pour the remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature. Cut cake into slices and enjoy!

NOTE: This recipe calls for a 12 cup bundt or tube pan. For the cake in the photo I used two 7 inch mini tube pans which was a perfect size to share one and keep one. Here is the link for the Daddio 7 inch tube pan I used. It's only $9.99 at Amazon. Keep in mind whatever you purchase from Amazon through Welcome Home, you donate to the NO KILL Advocacy group to save the lives of dogs and cats who are killed unnecessarily while waiting for their forever home.

Photography is the  property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Mushroom Swiss Sliders

Don't you just love sliders?  There's just something that makes them so much better than eating those bigger burgers. These little juicy morsels are a huge favorite among my friends. There's a secret to them....they have a little kick from the Cara Mia marinated mushrooms I add to the mix.  Tender juicy little burgers filled with cheese and just the right amount of zest that give them even more flavor. These have been a huge success!

Mushroom Swiss Sliders

1 pound ground Chuck 
1/2 cup Cara Mia Marinated Mushrooms, drained and chopped
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons of heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
8 small dinner rolls or potato rolls

Add chopped mushrooms in a small bowl and add shredded Swiss cheese and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix ground chuck with Worcestershire sauce, cream, salt and pepper. Lightly mix in the chopped mushrooms and the cheese and form mixture into sliders. Make a depression in each burger with your thumb so they continue to lay flat while cooking.  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.

Pan frying in cast iron or heavy skillet: Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to 12 inch cast iron skillet. Sear burgers over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.

NOTE: Top each burger with a little more shredded cheese and cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to help melt the cheese before putting the burgers on buns. Then top with your favorite toppings.  Don't forget to
serve a few mushrooms on the side!  They are so good!

The Cara Mia mushrooms are available in the produce section or canned vegetable aisle at these retailers: Savemart, Smart & Final, select Walmart stores, King Soopers, select Kroger stores, Schnucks, select Supervalu/Albertsons stores and Ingles markets. They can also can be purchased online at ...

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

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My Mom's Famous Lemon Bars

My Mom made the best lemon bars. They just had the perfect blend of sweet and tart and everyone loved them...especially my Dad. So this past weekend, I wanted to make him something special for a summer treat. I made these and he was so thrilled that I had remembered they were his favorite. I know you will love these lemon bars. Friends have said they are the best they've ever had.

My Mom's Famous Lemon Bars


 6 whole eggs
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
zest from 2-3 lemons (2 tablespoons)


 3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups of butter (3 sticks) melted

Filling: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light in color. Add in the sugar, baking powder and flour and stir until combined. Add the lemon zest and the lemon fresh lemon juice and stir well. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Crust: Mix flour and powdered sugar together. Add the melted butter and mix until just crumbly. Press the crumbs firmly into the pan making an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove crust from oven and pour your lemon filling over the crust making sure you get an even layer. Bake for an additional 45 minutes until lemon filling is set and no longer jiggles in the middle.

 You can just use powdered sugar for your topping but I usually reserve 1/4 cup crust mixture and mix it with an additional 2 teaspoons of flour and 2 teaspoons of sugar and crumble it up with my fingers until fine. Then I sprinkle the mixture over the top of lemon filling before baking. After baking, I then sprinkle with more powdered sugar before cutting into squares.

Important note: Let this cool completely before you cut it. Then dust and cut into squares. Keep refrigerated until gone....which isn't long around here! 

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Lettuce Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing and Bacon

I love lettuce wedges instead of your traditional salad. Okay, I know they all taste the same....but there is something about a wedge of cold crisp iceberg lettuce with homemade creamy blue cheese dressing and sweet little ripe cherry tomatoes with warm crunchy fried bacon on top. Did that just make you hungry? 

Lettuce Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing and Bacon

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Wedge Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into quartered wedges
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes or 1 medium tomato, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste

Blue Cheese Dressing

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, garlic powder and onion powder. Whisk the mixture together until smooth. Add the cheese and mix just until blended. Chill in an airtight container in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

Serve a generous amount of dressing over each lettuce wedge and top with the bacon and tomato. Season with salt and pepper.

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Mom's Coconut Custard Meringue Pie

The combination of a smooth and creamy custard and sweet coconut is what I call incredible!  Then top it with a light fluffy meringue....oh my! I loved this pie when I was little and my Mom could make meringue that stood up so tall! She taught me all the tricks to making "mile-high" meringue. I will share them with you at the end of the recipe.

My Mom's Coconut Custard 
Meringue Pie

Pie Shell:

1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled, cut in small cubes or slices
1/4 cup Shortening (I use Crisco)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons ice water


1 1/4 cup of sweetened flaked coconut, divided
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of whole milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
1 teaspoons of vanilla extract


1/2 cup water
1 cup super fine sugar
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, lard and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the ice water and toss with a fork to blend. Gather the dough into a ball. If excess flour remains, add a few drops more ice water. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie pan and fold edge under. Then line the pastry shell with a sheet of foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Set pie pan on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake another 5 minutes until bottom firm and light golden, Cool on a rack. I usually brush my crust with an egg white and a little water before baking to keep it from getting soggy.

Filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then spread 3/4 cup of the coconut on a baking sheet and then place your baking sheet in the oven and bake your coconut for 5 minutes or until its golden brown. You will need to stir your coconut around occasionally. When done, transfer your toasted coconut to a plate and let it cool a bit.

To make the custard, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk until smooth in a heavy large saucepan. Cook and stir the mixture over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. You will then want to reduce the heat and cook while stirring for 2 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and then stir in a small amount of hot mixture into a bowl that you have beaten your eggs in. This is called tempering the eggs and you do it so that you don’t create scrambled eggs in your mixture. Once the eggs are tempered add in your egg mixture to the saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Your next step is to remove the saucepan from the heat and then gently stir in your toasted coconut, butter and vanilla extract. After your custard has cooled slightly you will want to pour your custard into the pie shell that you have already baked. Set your pie aside to cool while you make your meringue topping.

Meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside.

With electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl at medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 5 to 9 minutes.

Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. That's an important step so that meringue does not begin to shrink and pull away from crust, leaving a gap.

Use spatula to create peaks all over meringue and sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Place the pie into your preheated oven and bake at 325 degrees or until the meringue is golden brown. This should take 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure that the coconut you sprinkled on top doesn't burn. Then cool on a wire rack to room temperature. YUM!

Tips for making the perfect tall meringue.....

Always make sure your bowl and beaters are free of any grease or oil. The tiniest speck of oil causes great volume loss.

Always use eggs that are a few days old and make sure they are at room temperature before you use them. If you have to start with cold eggs, put them in a bowl of warm water to bring their temperature.

Don’t use your hands to separate the egg yolk from the whites. I know its the most convenient way for most of us, but oil can wreck a good meringue too! Just use the shells, transferring the yolk back and forth between the two and letting the whites fall into one bowl and the yolks into another.

Use glass or metal bowls and keep your hands out of the bowls and away from any surface that would touch the egg whites. You want no oil whatsoever. Plastic bowls often retain oils from foods and the slightest oil from your hands will not help your meringue.

Add the sugar after the whites have reached the soft peak stage when they're fluffy and when you lift the beater the peaks fold over the beater edge). Superfine sugar works the best when making meringues. (Don’t worry if you don't have this in the pantry because you can make your own using your food processor or blender by pulsing your sugar a few times to break the crystals up into smaller ones).

Your meringue is done when you lift the beater out and the whites stand at attention! Don't stop and take a break during the beating process, start it and work it through and you'll have the perfect mile high meringue for your pies!

By the way, don't put a meringue pie in the refrigerator. Store at room temp under a glass or metal bowl. If you store in the fridge, you'll have leaky, weepy meringue. Enjoy!

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Mini Apple Pies

I make a lot of cakes and pies in individual or mini sizes. I find it much better for someone who doesn't have a big family or not a lot of guests to bake for. Apple Pie is always best when served just out of the oven and still warm. Making smaller sizes assures that you always have a fresh slice! I freeze these and then take them out and bake them frozen for about an hour.

Mini Apple Pies

1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 small Fuji or Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 beaten egg plus 2 teaspoons water for egg wash

Unroll the pie crusts onto parchment paper on counter or work space when they've reached room temperature. Cut circles a little larger than your pie pans leaving an overhang that you can crimp later. Place the pie dough in your pie pans and gently mold to fit on bottom and sides. Trim off the excess dough so it creates a little edge along the rim of the dish. Set aside.

Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together and then toss in apples and make sure they are well coated. Scoop out apple filling to fill the pie shell. As you can see I like to fill mine high but you can fill them with less if you prefer. 

Next, brush the egg wash all along the outside rim of your shell so the two pie circles will stick together. Place another dough circle on top and press down around the edges. Using the prongs of the fork, press along the edges of the pie to seal the edges. Next brush more egg wash on top of the pies and sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon if desired. Cut 4 slits on top to allow steam to escape while baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden.

If you want to drizzle some icing on top, mix 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar with a little milk until you get the consistency you like and then drizzle over top of warm pie. Serve warm or at room temperature...add some vanilla ice cream for a real treat! 

Here is a link to buy a set of non stick mini pie pans that work perfectly with this recipe. A great offer for the fans of Welcome Home at under $10 for a set of 4.

Remember everything you purchase here at Welcome Home helps support NO KILL and Animal Rights groups in their efforts to save the lives of dogs and cats in this country who are killed unnecessarily while waiting for a new home.

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Chicken and Rice Soup

It's time to bring out the soup from the freezer that I made earlier this year. I make big batches of it and freeze it for those days when I'm snowed in. This is one of my favorites...and if you have the sniffles....this is the cure!

Chicken and Rice Soup

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 whole chicken (4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch lengths
2 celery stalks, chopped into 2-inch lengths
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns or 2 teaspoons pepper

Place chicken parts in a stockpot just large enough to hold them with about 3 inches of room above and add enough water to cover by 1 inch (about 3 quarts). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, using a ladle to skim fat that rose to the top.

Add vegetables, bay leaf, and peppercorns and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours. Remove chicken and set aside until cool enough to shred or dice for soup. Strain stock through a cheese cloth lined colander into a large heatproof bowl or pot; do not press on solids. Discard solids. Skim off fat.


Chicken stock from above recipe
Chicken, diced into bite sized pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup green beans, frozen or canned
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Return the strained chicken stock to the pot, stir in the rice, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the bones, discarding the bones and skin. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and add to the stock along with the celery, carrots, onion, green beans garlic, and tarragon. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat on low and simmer for a hour. Season to taste and stir in some parsley if desired.

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