October 20, 2016


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Oktoberfest may conjure up images of free flowing beer, but there's plenty of German cuisine available at this yearly 2 1/2 week Munich folk festival. One of the dishes, spaetzle, is a specialty of the region.

I wasn't familiar with spaetzle until Simon, the wonderful young man I wrote about in January, asked me to fix it with schnitzel.  I looked in the German cookbook he'd given me and learned that spaetzle is a pasta made from flour, eggs, water and salt.  The resulting dough is too soft to roll out and cut so it's pressed through a spaetzle maker.  The recipe intimidated me for two reasons.  One, I'd never made pasta and two, I didn't have a spaetzle maker.  I was relieved when Simon told me dried spaetzle was sold at the grocery in Germany.  Since we live near several international markets, we decided to go on a spaetzle search.

The market we went to was huge and had products arranged by country. We found several brands of spaetzle and bought the one Simon recognized from Germany.  This solved the problem of making spaetzle. However, what was I supposed to do with the dried spaetzle?

Spaetzle | Margaret's Morsels

Simon's grandmother, Oma, told me to cook the spaetzle in a large pot of boiling salted water, drain it and add butter to keep the noodles from sticking together.  Spaetzle can be served with just butter, but it's tastier with a couple of easy additions.

It's common in Germany to stir Emmental cheese into the hot spaetzle until the cheese melts.  That sounded easy enough, but it ended up being the hardest part of the whole recipe!  I bought two different brands of Emmental, but neither one of them tasted anything like the cheese Simon ate in Germany.  My son suggested we try Mozzarella, but it made a sticky mess!  On my fifth attempt, I added some Swiss cheese.  When Simon said the spaetzle tasted almost as good as what he ate in Germany, I knew I'd found the right cheese.

Spaetzle | Margaret's Morsels
Spaetzle with cheese

While the butter and cheese are stirred into the spaetzle, the final addition, also common in Germany, goes on top.  Diced onions are cooked in olive oil until brown and sprinkled on the spaetzle.  I've eaten spaetzle with and without onions and I highly recommend adding them.

Spaetzle | Margaret's Morsels
Spaetzle with onions served at a Munich
biergarten I visited this summer

A few months after my first attempt at cooking spaetzle, Simon's grandmother showed me how to make homemade spaetzle and gave me a spaetzle maker.  Until I get the courage to make spaetzle from scratch, I'll continue to used dried spaetzle.  And when I do, I'll think about the young man who introduced us to this wonderful dish and look forward to the next time he's sitting around the table with us.

Simon's Spaetzle
4 to 6 Servings

1 (17.6 oz.) pkg. dried spaetzle
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 c. finely shredded Swiss cheese
1 large onion, diced
olive oil (enough to coat saute pan)

Cook spaetzle according to package directions.  While spaetzle is cooking, cook the onion in olive oil on medium to medium-low heat until brown. Drain spaetzle and put it in a bowl; add butter or margarine and stir until melted.  Add cheese; stir until melted.  Top spaetzle with onion and serve.    

© Margaret's Morsels

October 18, 2016

A Be"witching" Halloween

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Witches Broomstick Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

It's been a couple of years since I posted anything for Halloween.  I thought I'd rectify that and share two witch themed cookie recipes this year.

Store bought fudge stripes cookies turn into witches hats with the addition of two ingredients.

Turn the cookies so the chocolate side is on top.

Witches Hat Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Put a dollop of orange frosting -- I use Wilton decorating icing -- in the center 

Witches Hat Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Witches Hat Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

and add a Hershey's kiss.  

Witches Hat Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Let the cookies dry and then store them in an airtight container.

Witches Hat Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

If you don't mind doing a little additional work, a pretzel rod and peanut butter cookie are easily transformed into a witches broomstick.  I like the look and texture of these braided pretzels, but you can use a regular pretzel rod.

Witches Broomstick Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Put the pretzels on a cookie sheet.

Witches Broomstick Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Mix up a batch of peanut butter cookies and roll the dough into balls. Place one ball on each pretzel, pressing down so the cookie will adhere to the pretzel when baked.

Witches Broomstick Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Use a fork to make vertical lines on the cookie to resemble the bristles of the broomstick.  

Witches Broomstick Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

Bake the cookies as directed and let them cool on a wire rack.  Store the cookies in an airtight container.

Witches Broomstick Cookies | Margaret's Morsels

The cookies don't have to look perfect because, at Halloween, the uglier, grosser and more disgusting, the better!

© Margaret's Morsels

October 14, 2016

A Recipe Revival

Pin It Not too long ago, I read an online article about seven forgotten dishes that should be brought back to life.  Over the years, I've written about three of these dishes.

Meat Loaf:  The Sweet and Sour Meat Loaf recipe I shared in 2014 is a twist on the classic.  It's not your grandmother's meat loaf!

Sweet and Sour Meat Loaf | Margaret's Morsels

Salisbury Steak:  A fancy name for a humble hamburger patty.  The version I wrote about three years ago calls for the sauce to be baked with the meat.  Mix, shape, bake and serve.

Salisbury Steak | Margaret's Morsels

Tuna Noodle Casserole:  I shared this classic six years ago.  Unlike the recipe from years gone by, this one is cooked in the microwave, except for the pasta.

Microwave Tuna and Noodle Parmesan | Margaret's Morsels

Click here to see the rest of the list and rediscover a dish or two you might have forgotten about.

© Margaret's Morsels

May 6, 2016

A Tribute to Mom

Pin It With Mother's Day right around the corner, I've been thinking about my mom and all the wonderful meals she cooked for her family.  I've shared many of her recipes over the years from entrees and side dishes to breakfast, desserts and foods she made only for holidays.

After she died, as I boxed up the contents of her kitchen -- the electric skillet she received as a wedding present; the same measuring cups and spoons she taught me to use as a child; the white plastic mixing bowl she bought at a Tupperware party -- it hit me that I would never eat her cooking again.

It's been almost two decades and I still miss my mom and her cooking. Although there have been birthday cakes, there's never been another one of her made from scratch, three layer coconut cakes with a cooked white icing sprinkled with coconut.  While I'd love to have one more piece of her butterscotch pie, the food I miss the most, though, is her homemade rolls.

Growing up, I can't remember an Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas that there wasn't a basket of icebox rolls on the table.  These rolls also showed up on birthdays, when we had company, or when there were leftover mashed potatoes that needed to be used.  Family and friends weren't the only recipients of these rolls.

A few months after we moved, a repairman was working in the house while a batch of these rolls were baking.  He raved so much about how wonderful they smelled, my mother buttered a couple of rolls while they were hot and gave them to him when he left.  He started eating one as he walked out of the house and said he would be glad to come back any time she was making rolls.

Mom always told me the secret to good rolls was not using too much flour when kneading and cutting out the rolls.  For years, she made the rolls with homemade mashed potatoes, but later on substituted instant mashed potatoes without any discernible difference.  I don't have any pictures to share because I've never made these rolls.  It's also why I didn't elaborate on the directions.  The recipe is exactly as it appears on my mom's recipe card.  

Thanks, mom, for all the wonderful memories, delicious dinners and the strawberry covered recipe box filled with the recipes of my childhood that I can cook for and with your grandchildren who never had the opportunity to know you.

Happy Mother's Day from my mother's kitchen to yours!

Icebox Rolls

2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup scalded milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup cold mashed potatoes 
1 (1/4 oz.) pkg. yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
4 cups or more all-purpose flour

Melt butter; add to scalded milk.  Add the sugar and salt; let cool to lukewarm.  Add beaten eggs, potatoes, yeast and flour.  You've added almost enough flour when the dough is hard to stir and you have to turn it out on a board and knead it with your hands.  Add flour until the dough will not stick to the board; knead until smooth and elastic.  Put dough into a bowl and let rise until double in bulk.  Roll out and shape rolls.  Place on a greased baking sheet; let rise about 1 hour.  Bake at 400° until nicely brown.

© Margaret's Morsels

April 7, 2016

Soup Sunday

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Easy Crock-Pot Potato Soup | Margaret's Morsels

A few Sundays ago, the youth at our church held a soup luncheon to raise funds for a mission trip.  Each youth family was asked to contribute a pot of soup for the event.  Before I even asked my son what he wanted to take, I knew he would say potato soup.

Given his answer, you might think my son had always liked potato soup. However, he never cared for my tried and true crock-pot potato soup recipe, or my mother's stove top version.  What he did like, though, was the potato soup served at one of his favorite restaurants.  I found a copycat recipe online and, although my son thought the soup tasted good, I didn't think it tasted anything like the restaurant version.  I had to plan ahead of time to make the soup since it required a lot of prep work.  Once the prep work was done, I had to keep a close eye on the soup to ensure it didn't stick while cooking.  In my opinion, the finished dish wasn't worth the amount of effort involved.

Last year, while skimming through my box of untried recipes looking for inspiration, I spotted a potato soup recipe a friend had given me.  Although my friend's recipe used several of the same ingredients as the copycat recipe, it also used some time saving shortcuts.  I decided to make a batch hoping my son would like the soup.  Not only did he think it was good, he thought this soup was better than the copycat recipe!

The soup starts with cans of sliced potatoes, a huge time saver since there's no need to peel and dice a bag of potatoes.  If the potato slices are too large, I take a few minutes and cut them into four or six pieces, depending on the size of the potato.

Easy Crock-Pot Potato Soup | Margaret's Morsels

Easy Crock-Pot Potato Soup | Margaret's Morsels

The potatoes and remaining ingredients -- canned potato soup, water and heavy whipping cream -- are mixed in the pot the soup is cooked in which, for this recipe, is a crock-pot.  Using a crock-pot eliminates the need to keep an eye on the soup and stir it periodically.  While my tried and true crock-pot potato soup recipe made with raw potatoes takes eight hours to cook, this version is ready in two hours.  The short cooking time stems from the fact the canned potatoes are already cooked.  The ingredients just need to be cooked long enough to be heated thoroughly.  When the soup's ready, ladle it into bowls and add your favorite toppings. Around here, that would be cheese and bacon.

You may have noticed there's no seasoning added to the soup.  I don't add salt because both canned items -- potatoes and potato soup -- have salt as do the cheese and bacon.  I put salt and pepper shakers on the table and let everyone season their soup to taste.

The luncheon was held on a beautiful, unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon.  All the soups were a hit and I came home with an empty crock-pot.  I made the soup for supper recently on a rainy Friday night.  While just as delicious, this time there were leftovers for Sunday.

Easy Crock-Pot Potato Soup
6 Servings

2 (15 oz.) cans sliced potatoes
2 (10 1/2 oz.) cans cream of potato soup (undiluted)
1 soup can water
2 cups heavy whipping cream
bacon, cheese, chives (optional; for topping)

Cut sliced potatoes into smaller pieces, if necessary.  Combine potatoes, soup, water and whipping cream in a crock-pot.  Cover and cook on low 2 hours.  Ladle into bowls and add desired toppings.

© Margaret's Morsels

March 21, 2016

Hop Into Easter

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A few years ago, a cousin emailed me pictures of a cake she'd made for Easter.  The cake was so cute, I knew I wanted to make it for Easter, but I didn't know when.  My family was disappointed the year before when I replaced our traditional bunny cake with a carrot cake.  I knew I couldn't replace the bunny cake two years in a row, so I filed the idea away until one Easter when we were having enough company I needed two desserts.

The cake isn't a recipe, but a method.  Start by making a two layer cake, either from scratch or a mix.  Fill and frost the layers with white icing such as buttercream or cream cheese.

I think the cake would also look pretty with pastel pink or yellow icing. Although chocolate icing would be tasty, I don't think the decorations would stand out as well as they do on a lighter color icing.

When the cake is frosted, decorate the sides with marshmallow peep bunnies.  The year I made the cake, the hardest part was finding all the different colored bunnies!  I found pink and blue at Kroger, purple at CVS and green at Rite Aid.  The bunnies aren't quite tall enough to cover both layers.

You can decorate the sides with just the bunnies, or add some pastel color M&M's above or below the bunnies.  I found it easier and faster to put the candy above the bunnies.

The top is decorated with more pastel M&M's.  My cousin piled the candy all over the top, but I used it sparingly.  I also like to turn the candies over so the "m" doesn't show.

This cake is easy to make, quick to assemble and a festive ending to an Easter meal.  Easter is less than a week away, but there's still time to find the bunnies before they hop out of the store.

© Margaret's Morsels

March 7, 2016

Pasta Pleaser

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Margaret's Morsels | Baked Spaghetti

The transition from winter to spring is never easy for me.  Although days are getting warmer, nights are still chilly.  This makes it challenging for me to know -- not only what to wear each day -- what to cook each night.  The weather's not cold enough for soup, chili or stew, but not warm enough for chicken salad, congealed salad or a chilled soup.  Baked Spaghetti is the perfect compromise for those nights when Mother Nature can't decide if it's winter or spring.  Baked Spaghetti isn't as hearty as my traditional spaghetti, yet it offers warmth on a chilly night via a delectable blend of spices.  Most of my recipes have a story behind them and this one is no exception.

Years ago, we belonged to a church that held a luncheon on the first Sunday of each month.  Members would bring a dish or two to share and the congregation would eat together in the fellowship hall after the church service ended.  The selection varied from month to month, but there were some dishes you could always except to see on the table:  a two layer mandarin orange cake piled high with frosting; a big bowl of banana pudding topped with meringue; a pan of piping hot, perfectly seasoned, baked spaghetti.

After enjoying baked spaghetti on more than one occasion, I found out who made the dish and asked if she would share the recipe.  She graciously did but, like many good cooks, she didn't measure the ingredients.  She gave me a list of what she put in the dish with approximate measurements and the method she used to put it together.  I eagerly bought the ingredients and made the dish a few days later.

Margaret's Morsels | Baked Spaghetti

My first attempt was good, but not as good as what she made.  Over the next few months, I tried unsuccessfully to duplicate the recipe.  My version was either too runny, too dry, too spicy or not spicy enough!  The recipe was too good to throw away, so I filed it complete with notes and revisions in a recipe box with plans to cook it again at a later date.

A couple of years later, a coworker gave me a recipe for a spaghetti casserole.  As I read the recipe, I noticed how similar it was to the recipe for baked spaghetti, except it used additional ingredients and was only seasoned with salt and pepper.  I was able to combine the two recipes, using the measurements from the spaghetti casserole with the assembly instructions from the baked spaghetti.  Figuring out the right proportion of spices was trial and error, but I finally came up with a combination that pleased everyone in my family.  If my version is too mild for your taste, you can add more chili powder and cayenne pepper; too spicy, decrease those two ingredients.

Although the spaghetti is baked, the prep work takes more time than the dish is actually in the oven.  To save time, I chop the vegetables and measure the spices ahead of time.  When I'm ready to cook, I put a pot of water on to boil for the spaghetti while I brown and drain the meat and vegetables.  Once the spaghetti is cooked and drained, I combine the ingredients in the same pot used to cook the spaghetti and let it simmer 10 minutes.  If you want, you can add a drained 8 ounce can of mushrooms to the mixture.

Margaret's Morsels | Baked Spaghetti

The mixture goes in a greased 3-quart pan and into the oven for 20 minutes. To make a cheesy version, add a cup of grated cheese on top before you put the pan in the oven.

Whether you like a little bit or a lot of heat, add the cheese or leave it plain, baked spaghetti is a quick and easy pasta dish sure to please on a cold night.

Baked Spaghetti
6 Servings

1 (7 oz.) pkg. thin spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (8 oz.) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained (optional)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder or to taste
1 tsp. rosemary, crushed
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
3 tsp. sugar
1 c. shredded cheese (optional)

Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package; drain.  While spaghetti is cooking, saute ground beef, onion and bell pepper in a skillet until meat is no longer pink and onion and green pepper are tender; drain. Combine all ingredients, except cheese, in a large pot and simmer 10 minutes.  Pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish; sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. 

© Margaret's Morsels