Sunday, May 26, 2024

Sweet and Creamy Macaroni Salad










I like my macaroni salad a little on the sweet side.  I’m not a fan of those grocery store pre-packaged macaroni salads with loads of chopped veggies and that tangy vinegar taste.  Mine has to be sweet and creamy and just a few ingredients.  How do I get that taste, I use sweetened condensed milk!  Don’t worry, it’s not too sweet.  The other ingredients balance it all out.  I make it for cookouts or potlucks and it’s always a big hit!

Sweet and Creamy Macaroni Salad

1 (16-oz) box elbow macaroni

4 medium carrots, grated

1 red onion, chopped

2 cups mayonnaise

1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup cider vinegar (or use pickle juice)

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Cherry tomatoes for garnish

½ teaspoon dill or chopped chives

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

Combine cooked macaroni, carrots, and onion in a large bowl.













Whisk together mayonnaise, sweetened condensed milk, cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over macaroni mixture and stir well.

Add cherry tomatoes and some dill or chives for color

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

What else can you add?













Peas: You can just toss in frozen peas, they’ll thaw out overnight.

Ham. Diced ham is also really popular especially in a Hawaiian version which also has pineapple in it.

Red Onions: They’re slightly sweeter than yellow onions and add a fun color.

Bell Peppers: Don’t worry, they will have a slight crunch but also somewhat soften overnight.

Tuna: Tuna Macaroni Salad is hugely popular and a perfect easy picnic main dish option since you’re adding a protein.

Eggs: Chopped eggs are also an easy and very popular mix-in. Use 3-4 large eggs that have been hard boiled.

Pickle Juice: If vinegar is too harsh a flavor for you, try substituting pickle juice!

Cheese: Cubed bits of cheddar cheese added to your salad is an easy protein addition.






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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Smash Burgers

 Smash Burgers!













I love burgers… usually any kind of burger…but when it comes to my favorite burger I will take this one, hands down.  Smash Burgers are a thin beef patties cooked over high heat that creates a caramelized, crispy crust. OMG.  Sounds simple, right?  It is simple but you have to learn the technique.  I love the textures and all the intense flavors. Do they things come from seasonings?  No.  Do they come from condiments?  No.   They come from the cooking technique and nothing else matches this delicious burger! 

 Smash Burgers

1 lb. ground chuck hamburger  80% fat and 20% lean

salt and pepper

4 slices cheddar cheese from the deli 

4 soft buns buttered and grilled

1 tablespoon butter


Make four loosely shaped balls out of your hamburger. One pound will make four burgers.  Do not use frozen meat… make sure your chuck is fresh.













Heat your skillet or griddle. You want your griddle hot, about 375 degrees.  Melt your butter until it is sizzling. Place the balls of meat onto a hot skillet or griddle over medium- high heat. Do not use non-stick skillets. You won’t get a crust on the burger. 








Add the meat balls to the skillet and immediately add pressure to them to flatten them out. The best way to do this is to lay a piece of parchment paper on top of the patty and use a spatula to press down hard  for about 10 seconds each until they are very flat and sizzling. Let the burgers cook for another 60-90 seconds until the juices start to bubble through the burgers. Flip the burger over and do the same on the other side. Season again with a pinch of salt and pepper and be sure and scrape under the burger to ensure you get all the crispy bits. 












Add cheese and cook for another few seconds.   Remove from skillet and lay on your grilled bun in the middle for a few seconds to toast.  Then lay a burger on each grilled bun.  Stack one burger on top of the other with cheese in the middle.  Top with bun.














Stack one burger on top of the other with cheese in the middle.  Top with bun.













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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Patriotic Fudge Brownies

 Patriotic Fudge Brownies

Perfect for that Memorial Day or Fourth of July party, cookout or summer picnic, or whenever you want to show your American pride!  A great fudge brownie recipe, a little free hand and some tinted frosting can bring out the best holiday treat!  

Patriotic Fudge Brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter and then stir in sugar until combined.  In a large bowl beat the eggs lightly and then add cocoa, salt, baking power and vanilla.  Add hot butter mixture and stir until smooth.
Next add the flour and chocolate chips and mix well.  Pour batter into a baking pan and bake  brownies for about 30 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before frosting, cutting and serving.

Once cooled, run a knife around the inside edge of the brownie pan. Cut into individual rectangular flag shapes. Mine are approximately 2-1/2'' wide by 1-1/2'' tall.


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 tablespoon milk

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy.  With mixer still running add in vanilla.  Slowly mix in powdered sugar and melted white chocolate. Add enough milk to reach the consistency you like for your frosting. Reserve a little frosting into three separate small bowls and add a drop of red and blue food coloring to two of them. 

Once brownies have completely cooled, decorate by piping on stars and stripes.


Fit a pastry bag with a flat  tip with the red frosting. Pipe a small blue square at the top of each brownie and fill it in.  Next pipe on alternating straight lines of red and white frosting across brownies. Pipe one on top and the other on the bottom, onto the brownie, as shown in the pictures. Repeat until all brownies have red and white stripes. 

Finally, change to a small star tip and pipe on your stars in the blue square.

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Bacon Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 Bacon Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Tell me…..what is it about this sandwich that makes you want to stop what you’re doing and make one?  Is it the savory crispy bacon?  Maybe the fluffy scrambled eggs?  Maybe it’s the buttery grilled bread or the creamiest cheese.   I think it's all of the above….and I am on my way to the kitchen now.

Bacon Egg Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon room temperature butter
4 slices whole wheat or white bread
2 slices slices Muenster or Colby-Jack cheese
4 slices fully-cooked bacon

     In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until blended. 
     In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat some butter 
     until hot. 


Pour in egg mixture. As eggs begin to set, gently pull the eggs across the pan, forming large, soft curds. Continue cooking... pulling, lifting, and folding eggs -- until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Remove from skillet and set aside.



Spread a layer of butter evenly on 1 side of each bread slice. Place 2 slices on griddle, buttered side down. Top evenly with cheese and bacon. 


Add scrambled eggs and cover with remaining bread, buttered side up. 

 Grill sandwiches over medium heat, turning once, until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.




Serve hot.   YUM! 

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Lemon Pepper Chicken Pasta

 Lemon Pepper Pasta Chicken












Did you know that all Italian food is not all about pizza and red sauce?  Italian food is actually broken up into two regions…Southern and Northern. The Mediterranean Sea plays an important part in Southern Italian cooking – from fresh seafood to the warm climate that is great for growing fresh herbs and vegetables, including peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. You’ll find a lot of mozzarella and fresh sweet basil and plenty of sausage. The abundance of tomatoes in Southern Italy brings us Pizza and other popular dishes that include lots of marinara and an abundance of olive oils.  

Personally, I love Northern Italian food and you’ll find many of my rich and creamy Northern Italian dishes here at Welcome Home.  The tomato sauces are replaced with creamy Alfredo’s and butter takes the place of olive oil.  While Southern Italy may hold the claim on pizza and spaghetti, Northern Italy has contributed cheeses….lots of cheeses. Especially the most important cooking, Parmesan cheese. The mountain terrain at the foot of the alps is perfect grazing land for sheep, goats, and cows that produce Parmigiano-Reggiano, asiago, gorgonzola, and pecorino cheeses.

Here is one of my favorite Northern Italian Meals.  Rich creamy pasta with a hint of lemon to give it a light airy touch and crispy tender chicken seasoned in lemon pepper.  OMG this is so good! 












Lemon Pepper Chicken Pasta


4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

4 teaspoons lemon pepper, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces spaghetti noodles

3 cloves garlic minced

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

     ¼-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

 cup frozen peas

1 lemon zested and juiced

2 tablespoons butter cut in small cubes

2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Pat the chicken breast with a paper towel. In a small shallow bowl or pie tin, combine the flour, 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, and the lemon pepper. 













Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture pressing down to make sure the Parmesan cheese sticks. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 













Fry the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides and cooked through; at least 3-4 minutes each side and until temp is 165 degrees. Move chicken to a plate and cover it loosely with foil.













Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Do not overcook and drain well. 












Wipe the skillet fairly clean and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly. 

















Add the heavy cream and bring it to a simmer. Add the chicken broth a little at a time while the cream reduces and thickens. Add the 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper and stir well.













Add the peas, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, and lemon juice and continue simmering until the mixture is getting thick and reduced by about one third. Reduce the heat as low as it will go and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese in small increments stirring until it is melted. Do not add all at once or you will get a clumpy mess.







Add the cooked pasta to the sauce; tossing to coat. Add the butter stirring until melted and incorporated.  Stir in the fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. 













Slice the chicken and add it to the pasta. Serve immediately.  Enjoy!







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