Food, mustard seed sentinel

Almond Roca Bars

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Do you love toffee? Do you love chocolate? How about chocolate and toffee together? Have you ever had Almond Roca? It’s one of my husband’s favorite candies. You can experience the incredible flavor of Almond Roca with this very simple bar recipe.

I have been making Almond Roca bars for twenty-five years. Yikes, that means I’m old. Wisdom comes with age, right? So take my wise advice, and make these scrumptious bars. They are easy to make and absolutely delightful. 

A soft buttery toffee crust topped with Hershey chocolate and crunchy almonds is a winning combo. Almond Roca bars are great to give out as gifts. You can cut them small or large. You can make the almonds chunky or really fine. Both ways are very good. These bars get devoured every time I make them. 

Enjoy Almond Roca without all of the fuss of making candy. This decadent dessert tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen. The longest part of making these bars is waiting for them to set up. Give these amazing Almond Roca bars a try. You will be so glad you did.

Happy Eating!

All things are possible to him who believes. Mark 9:23 

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Almond Roca Bars

Ingredients 

1 cup softened butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder 

4 to 6 Hershey chocolate bars

1 ½ cups finely chopped almonds

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 325°
  2. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment or aluminum foil. Extend the paper or foil beyond the edges to easily remove the bars from the pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugars using a hand mixer.
  4. Add the egg yolk and mix until combined.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix until combined. The batter will be smooth and thick. 
  6. Spread onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. When the crust is out of the oven and still hot, lay the Hershey bars on top and let them sit for about 30 seconds so the chocolate can melt. Carefully spread the melted chocolate over the crust. Do not tear the crust.
  9. Sprinkle chopped almonds over the melted chocolate.
  10. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Notes

  • The batter for the crust is thick like peanut butter. It will take a few minutes to carefully spread it out onto the parchment or foil
  • Using  foil/parchment makes removing and cutting the bars much easier.
  • Place the baked bars in the fridge to cool faster.
  • They are easier to cut when they are completely cool.
  • Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Go to Mustard Seed Sentinel to get all of my monthly recipes. Meghan’s Corner.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com

Christmas, Food

Gingerbread Cookies

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You can’t help but smile when you see a gingerbread cookie smiling back at you. I have been baking all kinds of cookies for years, but I never made gingerbread cookies until now. My youngest son loves gingerbread so this was the year to make them. I’m so glad I did. 

These gingerbread cookies are chewy, slightly crisp on the outside, with a nice soft interior. I do not like super soft cookies. I like my cookies on the crisp side. This gingerbread cookie is a good combo of both. The spice is not overwhelming, and there is just enough to know you are eating gingerbread. 

Any child would have fun making these little people, and decorating them. I used a very simple royal icing, but you could just as easily use buttercream icing. Even big kids will enjoy decorating these cookies. Everyone will love this sweet spicy gingerbread cookie. They are really good. It’s a nice addition to your Christmas baking. You’ll be smiling too.

Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread Cookies 

Ingredients 

¾ cup butter softened

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

3 ¾ cup all purpose flour

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° 
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment or just leave them ungreased.
  3. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, using the paddle attachment until it’s creamy and fluffy.
  4. Add the molasses and the egg. Mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl add ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and flour. Mix with a whisk.
  6. Gradually add the four mixture to the wet dough. It will be thick and sticky. Mix until combined.
  7. Divide the dough in half, and wrap in plastic. Flatten the dough into disks. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour, up to overnight. 
  8. Roll out prepared dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thick. It can be crumbly. Press firmly with the rolling pin but not hard. Cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Be careful as you transfer to your baking sheet. The dough can crumble easily. 
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Larger cut outs will take about 10 minutes, smaller sizes will take about 8 minutes. Shorter bake time means softer cookies. Longer bake time means crispier cookies. They should be slightly brown and a little firm. 
  10. Leave the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. They will continue to bake as they sit. 
  11.  Once the gingerbread cookies are completely cool, decorate with royal icing and sprinkles. 
  12. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days. 

Notes:

  • Spray your measuring cups with cooking spray beforehand and the molasses will come out much easier.
  • It’s OK if your dough is crumbly. Just push it together when you roll it out. It will still bake nicely.
  • Adjust the spices and add more or less to your liking.
  • This recipe makes approximately 30 medium size cookies.

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Royal Icing 

Ingredients

6 tablespoons (3 oz.) pasteurized egg whites

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

4 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, or stand mixer, add egg whites and vanilla. Mix using whisk attachment for about 30 seconds until it’s frothy. Add powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Switch to high and mix until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks have formed. This will only take a few minutes. Add any food coloring and place icing in a pastry bag to decorate cookies. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tips:

  • Add water if your royal icing is too thick.
  • Add powdered sugar if royal icing is too thin.
  • Let the icing sit out at room temperature for a bit after it’s been refrigerated.
  • Royal icing should completely dry in about 2 hours.
  • You need to work pretty quick when using this icing because it starts to harden up right away. 
  • Add a different flavor like peppermint or almond.

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Food, mustard seed sentinel

Turkey Pot Pie

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You may have some leftover turkey in the near future, and you may want something new to do with all that meat. Turkey pot pie is a great way to use up leftovers from your Thanksgiving meal. It comes together easily and is so satisfying. A flaky, buttery crust wraps the savory turkey filling like a delicious present. 

Meat pie is a very old food with roots as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. I think they were on to something pretty fantastic all those years ago. Many cultures around the globe have their own version of meat pie. We love meat in a pastry shell in America too. Pot pies have stood the test of time. Turkey pie is a classic.

This turkey pot pie recipe is absolutely scrumptious. There’s plenty of meat, and the sauce in the filing is creamy and flavorful. The delectable crust brings all the flavors and textures together beautifully. My family gave this recipe their stamp of approval. I think your family will love this savory pie too. Turkey pot pie is good old fashioned comfort food.

Happy Eating!

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

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Turkey Pot Pie 

Ingredients

1 double pie crust – homemade or store bought

1 medium onion – diced

2 carrots – diced

2 ribs of celery – diced 

4 cloves crushed garlic

6 tablespoons butter

⅓ cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

½ cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 ½ teaspoons poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon fresh thyme 

3 cups cooked shredded turkey 

1 cup frozen peas

1 egg – beaten for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook the veggies until they are soft, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the flour, and stir continually for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until it’s thickened. Stir constantly. Add salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and thyme. Taste, and adjust spices as needed.
  5. Stir in cooked turkey and frozen peas. Remove from the heat. Let that sit while you prepare the pastry.
  6. Roll out one pie crust disk into a 12 inch circle. Roll up the pie dough onto your rolling pin and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Carefully let the dough fall into place. Gently press the dough into the pie pan. 
  7. Add the turkey pie filling to the prepared pastry filled pie pan.
  8. Roll out your second pastry disk into a 10 inch circle. Use the rolling pin to transfer the dough on to the top of the filled pie. 
  9. Cut the top and bottom dough ½ an inch beyond the pie plate. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together to seal the pie. Crimp the crust. Place a finger against the inside edge of the pie dough, then use the thumb and index finger of the other hand to press the pastry into flutes.
  10. Cut 4 to 6 two-inch slits in the top of the pie to vent. Brush the prepared pie with egg wash.
  11. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust on top is golden brown.
  12. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • You can use both white and dark turkey meat. You can also use chicken.
  • Use green beans or other vegetables if you prefer.
  • If the crust is getting too dark while cooking, cut a 4 inch circle in the center of a square piece of aluminum foil. Loosely place on the pie while it finishes cooking. 
  • You don’t have to crimp the edge of the pie. It just looks prettier crimped.

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Homemade Pie Crust 

Ingredients

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup cold butter, diced

1 cup cold water

1 egg

 

Instructions 

  1. In a large mixing bowl add flour and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the cold butter. Using your hands mix the butter and flour. Grab the mixture and rub it to break it into smaller pieces until it’s a coarse crumb.
  3. Combine the egg and water in a measuring cup. 
  4. Pour about half the egg mixture into the flour and butter. Using your hands combine until a soft dough forms. Add more of the egg and water as needed. It will come together quickly. Do not over mix. Do not knead the dough. Just bring all of the ingredients together. It should not be crumbly, and it should not be wet. 
  5. Once it’s combined divide the dough into two portions. Flatten each portion into a disk shape and cover in plastic wrap. 
  6. Refrigerate for an hour. Leave the dough on the counter for 20 minutes to soften up a bit before rolling it out.

 

Notes

  • Pie dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 48 hours and freezer for up to 6 weeks.
  • Do not stretch pie dough when placing it in a pie pan. Stretching the dough causes shrinkage while baking. 
  • I always use salted butter. Use unsalted if you prefer. 
  • Keep butter and water cold.     

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For this recipe and all of my recipes go to Mustard Seed Sentinel, Meghan’s Corner.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com

Food

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s right, it’s pumpkin time. If you are a pumpkin fan then you will enjoy these mini pumpkin cheesecakes. They are scrumptious. Not too much pumpkin for the non-pumpkin fans, yet just enough for the pumpkin lovers. 

This pumpkin cheesecake is light and perfectly sweet with just the right amount of spice. Toasted pecans add fantastic flavor and texture to the graham cracker crust. Each bite of these tiny goodies has the perfect mix of creamy and crunchy. 

The portions are the ideal size for a sweet treat. No fork required. These would look so beautiful on a cake stand for Thanksgiving. But you don’t need a special occasion to make these mini cheesecakes. Every day is a reason to be thankful so why not celebrate with pumpkin cheesecake. 

Make this simple yet impressive dessert for the holiday season or any time of the year. Experience the delight of cheesecake without all of the fuss. Enjoy this delectable small dessert. 

Happy Eating!

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Psalm 105:4

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Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake

Yield: 24 cheesecakes

Crust

1 and a half sleeves of graham crackers (approximately 12 graham crackers)

½ cup butter – melted

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon  cinnamon 

¼ cup toasted pecans

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

16 oz. cream cheese – room temp

15 oz. can pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 eggs – room temp 

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Instructions

Make the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line muffin pan with paper cups. This recipe makes 24.
  3. Toast pecans in the oven on a baking sheet for 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. Place toasted pecans and graham crackers in a food processor and make fine crumbs. (If you don’t have a food processor you can place the graham crackers and pecans in a large plastic bag. Pound them with a rolling pin until crumbs form.)
  5. Place the graham cracker crumbs and pecans in a mixing bowl. Add melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix with a spoon or fork until combined.
  6. Put two tablespoons of the crust into each paper baking cup.
  7. Take a small glass or measuring cup and firmly press the crust in place.


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Make the cheesecake

  1. Blend the cream cheese in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, or hand mixer, until smooth.
  2. Add the pumpkin and sour cream. Mix until well blended.
  3. Add the eggs. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add sugar, vanilla, flour, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Mix well.
  5. Using a large baking scoop or ice cream scoop, fill the crust lined cups with one full scoop each of cheesecake batter. About ¾ full. 
  6. Bake cheesecakes for 18 to 20 minutes. Turn the oven off, then leave the cheesecakes in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cheesecakes cool completely. Store in the refrigerator. Top with fresh whipped cream and cinnamon or nutmeg. 


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Notes

  • The mini cheesecakes will last for 3 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.
  • If you don’t want pecans in the crust, just use 2 full sleeves of graham crackers.
  • You will have a little extra batter and crust to make an additional 4 to 6 cheesecakes.
  • The cheesecakes will puff up in the oven and get some cracks. These will go away once they cool completely.


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Go to Mustard Seed Sentinel for this recipe and more. Check out my monthly column, Meghan’s Corner. 

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com/post/meghan-s-corner-mini-pumpkin-cheesecake

 

Food, mustard seed sentinel

The Best Pasta Salad

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Have you ever been to a potluck where you took a scoop of some random person’s pasta salad, and it was mushy and flavorless? I have, and it was not a good experience. You take a bite, and then move on to whatever else is on your plate. The days of boring pasta salad are over. Today is an exciting day for pasta salad fans everywhere.

Even if you are not a fan of pasta salad, you will be after having this incredible one. This salad has no official name, so I have named it The Best Pasta Salad. It has wonderful flavors and texture. Cashews and celery add some delightful crunch. Red grapes, pineapple, and mandarin oranges create bursts of sweetness. The tangy dressing is subtle. 

There are ten ingredients, not including the dressing, for The Best Pasta Salad. It is a lot, but they all work together beautifully to create a flavorful salad. The chicken makes this recipe hearty. It really should be called a main dish because it’s so filling. 

This pasta salad has been used for baby showers, bridal showers, potlucks, barbeques, parties, and family meals. The original recipe I was given makes enough for at least twenty people. Cut the recipe in half if you do not want to eat pasta salad for a month. If you need a large dish for an event make the full recipe. It can feed an army, and there will still be leftovers. 

I am so pleased to share one of my all time favorite recipes with you. When I bring The Best Pasta Salad to any party I always get asked for the recipe. Now you can do the same, and pass it on to your friends and family. We are changing lives here, one delicious recipe at a time. 

Happy Eating!

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 

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The Best Pasta Salad

1 (16 oz.) farfelle pasta 

1 (16 oz.) rotini pasta 

Cook and drain well

20 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained

2 cups finely chopped celery

4 green onions chopped

1(5 oz.) package dried cranberries

2 cups red grapes cut in half

1 (10 oz.) package whole cashews

1 large can mandarin oranges, drained

6 cooked chicken breasts shredded or chopped

Dressing:

1 (16 oz.) Kraft Coleslaw Dressing and 1 cup mayonnaise mixed together.

There’s no exact order when making the pasta salad. The simplest thing to do is add the pasta and dressing first. Then add all the other ingredients and mix well.

Notes:

  • This recipe makes about 7 quarts.
  • Use a large bowl when making the full recipe.
  • Add the oranges last since they are the most fragile.
  • Cut this recipe in half for a smaller group. 

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Go to the link below to get this article and all my recipes at Mustard Seed Sentinel, “Meghan’s Corner”.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com/post/meghan-s-corner-the-best-pasta-salad