February 5, 2018

More than a Spread

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Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

According to Foodimentary -- a website that keeps track of food holidays -- today is World Nutella Day.  Nutella, a creamy combination of cocoa and hazelnuts, is best known as a dip or spread, but it actually has many other uses.   You can add Nutella to cakes, cookies, pies, candies, ice creams and frostings too!  It's also an ingredient in beverages, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.

This time last year, a friend gave me the recipe for Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake.  When I read the recipe, I immediately thought of tiramisu. Instead of ladyfingers and coffee, though, this recipe uses Nutter Butters -- the peanut shaped cookies I transform into ghosts at Halloween -- and milk.

The Nutter Butters are softened by briefly dipping them in milk before placing them in the pan.

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

I use a spring-form pan, but you can use a 9-inch square pan or layer the ingredients in a pretty glass bowl.  Depending on the size and shape of the pan you use, you may need more or less cookies.

Half the filling -- cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, Nutella and heavy cream -- is spread over the first layer of cookies.  If the dessert is scooped out of the pan, you can get away with using low-fat cream cheese.  If the cake is cut into slices, the pieces will be firmer and retain their shape better if you use regular cream cheese.

Repeat the process with a second layer of cookies and the remaining filling.

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

You don't have to measure the filling, but make sure you leave enough to completely cover the top of the cake.  The cake needs to be refrigerated overnight to firm up.  

The cake is plain so I drizzle some chocolate syrup on the serving plate to add a little color before adding the piece of cake.

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

If you want to dress it up even more, add a dollop of whipped cream, 

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

a sprinkling of chopped leftover Nutter Butters 

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

and top with additional chocolate syrup.

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

The next time you see Nutella in the grocery and wonder what you can do with it, remember it's more than a spread!

Margaret's Morsels | Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake

Nutter Butter Nutella Icebox Cake
6 to 8 servings

2 (8 oz.)  pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (13 oz.) jar Nutella
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
30 Nutter Butters (plus more for garnish, if desired)
1/2 cup milk
whipped cream (optional)
chocolate syrup (optional)

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in Nutella until combined.  Add heavy cream; beat 2 minutes, or until very thick.  Dip Nutter Butters one at a time in milk.  Line the bottom of a spring-form pan with the cookies.  Top with half the cream cheese mixture. Make a second layer with remaining cookies and cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Cut into slices and serve.  Top with whipped cream, chopped Nutter Butters and chocolate syrup, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

© Margaret's Morsels

January 30, 2018

What a Crock

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Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Slow cookers have been in the news lately, but not because January is National Slow Cooking Month.  In last week's episode of the popular NBC drama, "This is Us," a faulty slow cooker started a house fire which is presumably how a beloved character dies.  Reaction was swift with some fans posting on social media they threw out their slow cookers.  Crock-Pot -- the brand name -- reacted by setting up their first Twitter account (@CrockPotCares) to address the issue and assure consumers about the safety of crock-pots.

Although I've never watched this particular TV show, I am a fan of crock-pot cooking and have been since the late 1980s.  Like any appliance I use, I follow certain safety precautions.  I don't use a crock-pot with a damaged cord, cracked insert or if the unit is malfunctioning in any way.  When I use my crock-pot, I place it on the counter away from any flammable items.

If you like cooking with a crock-pot, here's a tasty recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken you might want to add to your collection.  

Carrots, green pepper and onion are placed on the bottom of the crock-pot.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Minute tapioca -- also known as quick cooking and typically found in the grocery near boxes of gelatin -- acts as a thickening agent and is sprinkled over the vegetables.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Cubed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts go on top of the tapioca.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Pineapple chunks go over the chicken.  You can add two cans of pineapple, but make sure to discard the juice from the second can.  If you don't, you'll end up with a thin sauce.  To keep the pineapple from getting mushy, don't stir the mixture until it's done cooking.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Combine the remaining ingredients and pour them over the pineapple and chicken.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

If you don't have instant chicken bouillon, you can crush a chicken bouillon cube and measure out 1/2 teaspoon of the granules.  One cube makes approximately 1 teaspoon of granules.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

In eight to 10 hours, you'll have a ready to eat entree.  I serve the chicken over white rice with some Broccoli with Lemon on the side to round out the meal.

Whether you use your crock-pot for soups, entrees, vegetables, desserts, or something else, remember two final safety precautions.  When the food's done cooking, turn off the crock-pot and unplug the cord from the wall.

Crock-Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken
4 to 6 Servings

1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. Minute tapioca
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 (8 oz.) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained (reserve juice)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. instant chicken bouillon granules
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. salt

Place vegetables in bottom of crock-pot; sprinkle with tapioca.  Add chicken; add pineapple.  Combine reserved pineapple juice and remaining ingredients; pour over chicken and pineapple.  Do not stir. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours.

© Margaret's Morsels

January 22, 2018

New Year, New You

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Margaret's Morsels | Broccoli with Lemon

Every year, eating healthier appears somewhere -- if not first -- on lists of New Year's resolutions.  If this is one of your goals for 2018, here's a tasty and healthy broccoli recipe to whet your appetite.

In 2011, I posted a Broccoli with Lemon recipe made with butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper and, of course, broccoli.  The recipe I'm sharing today, courtesy of one of my sisters-in-law, has the same name, but not the same ingredients.  The new recipe includes the addition of chicken broth and, instead of butter, olive oil.  These two ingredients give the broccoli a robust -- rather than citrusy -- flavor.

One thing to remember is not all olive oils are the same.  Although olive oils are graded according to their level of acidity, the flavor, color and fragrance depends on where the olives were grown.

Extra virgin olive oil -- the most expensive -- comes from the first pressing of the olives and contains no more than 1% acid.  The next grade, virgin olive oil, also comes from the first pressing, but contains up to 3% acid.  A good rule of thumb is the darker the olive oil, the more flavor it contains.

The last few times I've prepared this dish, I've taken some shortcuts. Rather than buy a head of broccoli and cut it into pieces, I use a bag of precut broccoli.  It may cost a little more, but I find the time saved is worth the splurge.

Margaret's Morsels | Broccoli with Lemon

Instead of cooking the broccoli in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, I rinse the broccoli and cook it 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave in a covered micro-cooker I bought from Pampered Chef many years ago. 

Margaret's Morsels | Broccoli with Lemon

If you need to watch your salt intake, you can substitute low sodium chicken broth and omit the 1/4 teaspoon salt called for in the recipe.

If you prefer broccoli like the version pictured below, check back soon for a truly cheesy recipe.  

In the meantime, here's a broccoli recipe that's better for you.

Broccoli with Lemon Version 2
4 Servings

1 lb. fresh broccoli, washed and cut into florets
3 Tbsp. canned chicken broth
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Arrange broccoli in a steamer basket over 1-inch of boiling water.  Cover and steam 6 to 8 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Drain; set aside.  Combine remaining ingredients; pour over broccoli and toss to coat.

© Margaret's Morsels

January 2, 2018

Out with the Old

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Not too long ago, a friend sent me a link with the most searched foods in every state.  As I read the list, I realized I'd shared recipes for 10 of these foods.  While I ring in 2018 by preparing new blog posts, I thought I'd share these oldies but goodies from previous years.  Did your state make my list?

Alabama:  My grandmother's made from scratch pound cake has been one of my top 10 posts since I shared the recipe in 2013.

Margaret's Morsels | Loaf Cake

Arizona:  You don't need a lot of chilies to add heat to this crock-pot chili.

Margaret's Morsels | Crock-Pot Chili

Illinois:  This chicken and wild rice soup is similar to one served at a popular restaurant chain.

Margaret's Morsels | Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Indiana:  Hoosiers hankering for noodle casseroles might want to try this oodles of noodles lasagna recipe.

Margaret's Morsels | Oodles of Noodles Lasagna

Kentucky:  This peanut butter fudge requires no cooking, unless you consider softening ingredients in the microwave as cooking!

Margaret's Morsels | Peanut Butter Fudge

Maine:  You don't have to roll, cut out or fry these doughnuts.

Margaret's Morsels | Baked Mini Doughnuts

Michigan:  I don't make dessert very often, but when I do chances are I'm making these no bake cookies.

Margaret's Morsels | Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ohio:  The Buckeye State loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, especially in the form of peanut butter brownies.

Margaret's Morsels | Blue Ribbon Peanut Butter Brownies

Vermont:  One of the few states whose most searched food is a vegetable. These pickled beets taste just like what my mom used to make.

Margaret's Morsels | Pickled Beets

West Virginia:  West Virginians love pumpkin desserts.  I hope they would agree pumpkin pie goes from ho hum to wow with this tasty pecan streusel topping.

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

If your state isn't listed, you can view the complete list here.

© Margaret's Morsels

November 17, 2016

Roll Dough Creation

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Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

I recently sorted through months -- if not years -- worth of recipes, discarding the ones that didn't sound as good as they originally did and filing the ones I wanted to cook for my family.  One, however, was kept out because I knew it would be perfect for Thanksgiving.

The recipe was from a flyer I'd received from Bridgford, a company that makes frozen bread dough.  I was familiar with Bridgford because I use their Parkerhouse rolls to make better than garlic bread pull apart rolls. This time, though, with just a few easy additions, the rolls are transformed into pumpkins.

The visual design of the rolls was inspired by Holly, food blogger behind Beyond Kimchee, using a homemade roll recipe.  I substituted the roll recipe my family has come to expect for the holidays, but you can use your favorite roll recipe, or save time and start with a package of frozen rolls from the grocery.

Shape the homemade bread dough or thawed rolls into balls.  I normally get 18 cloverleaf rolls from one batch of dough.  I made the balls a little bigger so I only ended up with 15.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Try to keep the balls close to the same size to ensure they bake evenly. Don't fret, though, if the balls aren't the same exact size because pumpkins aren't all the same size either! 

Put the dough balls on a greased cookie sheet, spacing them about 2-inches apart.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Flatten each ball slightly using the palm of your hand.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Using a pair of kitchen shears or a knife, make six cuts around the edge of the dough.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Make a hole in the center of the dough using your pinkie.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Cover the dough and let rise until double in size.  Insert a pecan piece in the hole in the center for the stem.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Margaret's Morsels | Pumpkin Shaped Rolls

Whether you make the rolls from scratch or use a package of frozen rolls, these pumpkin shaped rolls are a whimsical and delicious addition to a Thanksgiving meal.

© Margaret's Morsels

November 8, 2016

Fall Fruit

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Margaret's Morsels | Apple Salad

The leaves may not have changed color and the temperature doesn't feel very fall like, but I know fall is here and it's not because of all the pumpkin flavored beverages and baked goods showing up on menus and in the grocery.  I know it's fall because freshly picked, straight from the orchard apples are appearing in the produce department.  These apples are so much prettier and flavorful than the ones I've bought all year that have been in cold storage since they were harvested.

Apples are a staple at our house.  They make a quick and healthy snack and are easy to pack in a lunch box or take on the go.  They're delicious baked, poached  and in a pie.  Apples are wonderful combined with other fruit in a fruit salad and they're the star of the recipe I'm sharing today.

A few years ago on a trip out of town, we ate at a restaurant that had apple salad on the menu.  I'd never eaten it before and was hesitant to order it.  I couldn't fathom how apples could taste good covered with mayonnaise and sour cream.  I ended up ordering the dish and was hooked after one bite. When our very friendly server found out how much I liked the salad, she was more than happy to share the recipe with me.

The dressing -- which I didn't think I would like -- was actually quite tasty. The sour cream contributes to the creaminess, but also adds a subtle tanginess that keeps the salad from being bland.  I use light sour cream, but regular sour cream will add a richer flavor to the dressing.  Depending on the sweetness of the apples you use, you may need to add some sugar, but don't add too much.  You don't want the salad to be too sweet.

Margaret's Morsels | Apple Salad

I make the salad the way the restaurant did using only apples, craisins -- dried cranberries -- and celery.

Margaret's Morsels | Apple Salad

Additions can include nuts, raisins  coconut, grapes, mandarin oranges and even pineapple chunks.  Depending on the size of the addition, you may need to cut the ingredients into smaller pieces.  You're pretty much limited by your imagination, the ingredients you have on hand and what your family likes to eat.

For a fancy presentation, serve the salad on a bed of lettuce leaves.  A nice touch for a party is to combine the dressing and apples and put all the additional ingredients in bowls.  That way, people can create and fall for their own one of a kind salad creation.
Apple Salad
4 to 6 Servings

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
sugar to taste
2 apples, diced (unpeeled)
1/2 cup craisins
1 stalk celery, sliced diagonally

Combine the first three ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend.

© Margaret's Morsels

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?

Margaret's Morsels | Spaetzle

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.

Margaret's Morsels | Spaetzle
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.

Margaret's Morsels | Spaetzle
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 cups 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