Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Best part of Autumn is really the Food

Just a few cool nights and I'm ready for Fall!

When you think about it, besides the cool-weather clothes and glorious multi-hued foliage, the best part of autumn is really the food.

Let Harter House and
Harter House World Flavors inspire you!

Herein, I present the Top 10 food-related reasons to love fall:

10. Fresh nuts from the shell using a nutcracker.

9. Oktoberfest!!

8. Roasted vegetables: I always feel like I get an extra boost of beta-carotene in the fall. Serve this hearty and colorful side dish with any winter-time main course meal.
4 servings
1 lb. red or new potatoes, halved
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 medium rutabaga, cubed
1 large onion, cut into 1" pieces
2 leeks, cut into 1" rounds
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400°F.
Step 2: In a large baking dish, toss vegetables and herbs with olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and toss again to combine. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

7. Mother Nature’s broad-strokes of gold, crimson and orange, along with the harvest moon, are all vibrant reminders of the earth’s bounty.

6. The aroma of chimney smoke makes city streets smell like the country.

5. Halloween candy! And caramel apples!

4. Summer’s over and winter’s not yet here. Now is the time to ride the wave of nature’s most soulful season. Sure, there’s pumpkin. But I think about roasts and stews and chili, and seasonal cakes and pies (pecan, apple and the like).

3. I find the color-burst of trees so breathtaking that I’m almost afraid to drive (I’m easily distracted). So I walk a lot, in the cool temps with a warm fleece under a blue sky. And then I reward myself with a coffee and fresh-baked treat from our Harter House Bakery.
2. Roasted chestnuts.

1. For some people it’s time to make the switch from Gin &Tonics back to red wine! However, I drink red wine year round.

And finally, to get you in the mood for all of it, here’s a simple recipe for Kraft Caramel Apples. After all, who needs hot weather and cool lakes when you’ve got caramel apples?

5 servings
5 apples (any variety will do)
1 package (340 g) Kraft Caramels
2 tbsp water
Chopped peanuts, crushed Oreos, M&Ms or chocolate for decorating (optional)
Step 1: Wash and dry apples thoroughly. Insert stick into stem of each.
Step 2: Unwrap caramels and microwave with water in a large glass measure or mixing bowl on high for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes or until sauce is smooth when stirred.
Step 3: Dip apples into hot caramel sauce and turn until coated. Scrape off excess sauce from bottom of apples and decorate.
Step 4: Place on tray lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate until serving time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

21 Velveeta Recipes - Fast and Affordable

What's for dinner?
Here are 21 quick and easy, budget-friendly Velveeta Cheese recipes.

Mac and Cheesy Cheese

Some ideas are ways to quickly “jazz” up a pre-packaged product for a homemade taste that’s great.
Velveeta Cheese is a staple in most homes and has been since the early 1900’s when it was first made. Its velvety smooth texture and ability to melt well make it a great addition to many recipes and its long shelf like means no waste due to spoilage.

Try some of these delicious Velveeta Cheese recipes and quickly see how adding in some Velveeta Cheese can create rich and creamy yumminess! Ah … the comforts of comfort food.

Velveeta Cheese Recipes – Appetizers:

1. Beefy Queso Dip (of course) – Brown and drain 1 lb of lean ground beef. Add 1 can of well drained Rotel Tomatoes, 1 can of cream soup (cream of mushroom, cheddar or chicken). Stir well on medium heat until blended. Finally add 1 box of Velveeta Cheese cubed. Stir until melted and creamy. Turn to the lowest heat and keep on stove and serve in small dip bowls. Or, after browning ground beef everything can be placed in a crock pot. Heat on high until melted and then lower heat to low or warm setting. Serve with your favorite Tortilla Chips or Frito Scoops.

2. Sausage Dip – Brown a pack of Italian sausage, drain. Add 1 can well drained Rotel tomatoes and 1/2 package Velveeta Cheese. A great twist with a different flavor. This is thicker and great served with Scoops or Fritos.

3. Chili Cheese Dip – Add cubed Velveeta Cheese to a can of Chili and microwave until melted and hot. Stirring occasionally. Serve with Tortilla Chips or Frito Scoops.

4. Fruit & Cheese Poppers – Simply cube it up and incorporate it on a cheese tray with other cheese selections and fruit. Or a fun idea is to cube the cheese and place a grape on top and stick it with a toothpick to hold in place. Guests can grab and pop in their mouth. No need for serving utensils.

Velveeta Cheese Recipes – Main Meals:

5. Velveeta Rotel Chicken Spaghetti – 
Here is the recipe: 

Rotisserie Chicken (de-boned & chopped) or you can you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chilies (do not completely drain). Or, if you do NOT like things with a little “kick” you can substitute regular diced tomatoes.
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Lb Box of Velveeta Cheese Cubed
⅓ cup of Milk
¾  Box of Spaghetti or Penne Pasta
¾ ~ Stick of Real Butter
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper Finely Chopped
1 Chopped Jalapeno (you can leave this out if you want a more mild dish, or substitute with red or green bell pepper).
1 Medium onion chopped

Cook spaghetti or penne pasta according to directions on box.
Melt butter, sauté bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and onion
Add Velveeta Cheese and Rotel Tomatoes, soup and milk, to sautéed bell pepper, japaleno (optional) and onion mixture. Mix thoroughly over medium heat.
Add pasta and mix together.
Last, add the chopped chicken and give it one last mix. The cheese does not need to completely melt as it will do so in the oven.
Pour Rotel chicken spaghetti into casserole dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

To add extra kick to your Velveeta Rotel Chicken Spaghetti, you can also a small dash of Zatarain’s Liquid Crab Boil. Be careful as it does add kick. I hope you enjoy this Velveeta Rotel Chicken Spaghetti recipe. It’s great served with some cornbread and a green salad. This is one of those absolutely yummy comfort food dishes. Bon Appetit.

6. Mac and Cheesy Cheese – Jazz up a boxed mac and cheese by adding a bit of Velveeta Cheese for an instant taste of home made. Through in some Parmesan cheese or other cheese you have on hand for an even more “gourmet” taste. Place it in a casserole dish, top with a little more Velveeta is you like and then bake at 350 degrees for a few minutes until the cheese is melted, a bit browned and bubbly.

7. Beefy Salsa Mac – Make a boxed mac and cheese as directed. Add some ground beef and add a cup or so of salsa or a drained can of Rotel Tomatoes.

8. Fiesta Scrambled Eggs – Mix 8 – 10 eggs with a large tablespoon of sour cream (instead of milk). Add 1 can well drained Rotel Tomatoes and approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cups Velveeta Cheese cubes. Vary amount based on number of eggs. I use 2 eggs per person. Cook scrambled eggs as usual and stir occasionally until cheese is melted. A delicious twist on scrambled eggs.

9. Cheesy Broccoli Potato – Add Velveeta Cheese and some steamed broccoli to a baked potato for a quick meal.

10. Cheesy Potato – Same as above but without the broccoli.

11. Grilled Cheese – Just butter up some bread and place a slice of Velveeta Cheese (from the boxed variety not the sliced singles) in between and grill it up.

12. Hot Dogs & Crescent Rolls – Take a pack of Crescent Rolls and roll them out and carefully break apart as indicated. Place 1 hotdog and a narrow slice of Velveeta Cheese in each and roll shut, pinching slightly to seal. Bake as directed on package.

13. Velveeta Cheese Fondue – Melt Velveeta Cheese in fondue pot. Can also added some fresh grated Parmesan cheese or other cheeses you may have on hand. Stir until melted. Season as desired. Serve with cubed up French Bread and slices of Granny Smith apples (tart goes great with the cheese).

14. Stuffed Peppers – Add Velveeta Cheese to your favorite stuffed pepper recipe. You can add a slice to the top or add a few cubes to the stuffing in each pepper.

15. Nachos – Top a plate of nacho chips with browned ground beef, salsa and top with Velveeta
Cheese. You can place in the oven for a quick melt or even microwave for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese.

16. Stuffed Cheese Burger – Top a grilled burger with a bit or stuff the burger with a cube or two. If stuffing, be sure to seal the edges really well so it stays inside the burger and doesn’t ooze out. You can also add a slice to any sandwich for some cheesy goodness.

17. Broccoli Cheese Soup – Cook 2 packages broccoli florets with 2 15 oz. cans of chicken broth until tender. Puree with a hand blender and then add 8-12 oz. Cubed Velveeta Cheese. Stir until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. OR, you can simply use a broccoli soup starter mix and cook as directed and added the cubed Velveeta at the end and stir on low until melted. Super easy.

18. Potato Cheese Soup – Can prepare like Broccoli Cheese Soup (above), replacing the broccoli with the potato.

Velveeta Cheese Recipes – Sides:

19. Cheesy Cornbread Muffins – Add some cubed Velveeta Cheese and a finely diced Jalapeno
Pepper to a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and you will forever change the way you eat corn bread. These are great and can be served with any one of these meal ideas.

20. Broccoli Rice Casserole – Make a package of Uncle Ben’s or Lipton’s Broccoli Cheddar Rice as Directed. Add 2 cups steamed and chopped broccoli and 1 to 1-1/2 cups cubed Velveeta Cheese. Stir all together and place in a baking dish and heat at 350 degrees just till hot and bubbly approximately 20 minutes or so.  You can also add a sautéed onion if you’d like.

21. Broccoli with Cheese Sauce – Simply melt the Velveeta in the microwave and pour over or toss the prepared steamed broccoli.

Provided by;
Living (Frugal) Tips

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mascarpone Brownies

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."

 I can't resist these very decadent brownies.
What makes it SO special is adding Mascarpone cheese and European Plugra Butter.  Find both at Harter House Republic Road and Eastgate locations in Springfield.

Mascarpone is a soft, white, fresh, vegetarian,
cream cheese from the Lombardy region
of southern Italy. In fact, it is not cheese at all,
but rather the result of a culture
being added to the cream skimmed off the milk.

The secret to Plugrá European-Style Butter is a slow-churned process that creates less moisture content and a creamier texture when compared to average table butters.This secret becomes yours for higher, fluffier cakes, flakier pastries, unbelievably creamy sauces, rich enviable risottos, sizzling sautés, and extraordinary flavored butters.

When Should I Use Unsalted Plugrá® European-Style Butter?Unsalted butter is ideally used in recipes because it allows you to control the salt content like a professional baker or chef.

When Should I Use Salted Plugrá Butter?Salted butter is best served at the table. Try serving slices on individual plates for guests or whipped in a small ramekin. For decorative effect, stamp slices with a special design, pipe softened butter through a pastry bag, or curl it with a spoon.

Why is Plugrá Butter Better for Baking?
Plugrá butter contains less water than average table butter. Lower moisture helps you create cakes that rise higher, cookies that crisp more evenly, and flakier pastries.


1 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup mascarpone cheese, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp Salt


6 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 Tbs whipping cream
3 Tbs unsalted butter


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch square pyrex pan.

2. Place chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl; set aside. In a small glass bowl, melt butter in microwave (take it out before it starts bubbling.) Pour butter over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Sift in sugar and cocoa powder.

3. With a wooden spoon, beat in mascarpone, eggs and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Gently fold in flour and salt.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Place into preheated oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

5. Place pan on cooling rack and let brownies cool 10 to 15 minutes while you make the ganache.

6. Place chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to just below boiling point, over medium heat. Pour this hot mixture over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth. Pour ganache over brownies while still warm, and spread to cover evenly.

7. Let ganache firm up before cutting. It's best to refrigerate them until quite firm. Once the ganache is firm and the brownies have been cut, they do not need to be kept in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 16 brownies

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Back by special request. 
No matter what time of year, this Spanakopita recipe is always a huge hit. 
I Love taking it to a family gathering or "bring a dish" party.  I can even make it ahead and freeze it.

I start by opening a bottle of my favorite wine and consume while cooking.

This Recipe made 16 triangles

1 lb. Spinach (baby – Bagged fine)
Leek – chopped Large Onion – chopped
1 bunch Green onion – Chopped
2-3 cloves of Garlic – Chopped
2 Eggs
2 Cups Crumbled Feta
1 tsp. Salt½ tsp. black pepper
1 lb. Fillo Dough
1 cup salted butter, melted
1)      Remove fillo from Freezer and put it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.  As you prepare the filling, remove fillo from the fridge and leave on the counter

2)      Sauté onion, leek, green onion and garlic over medium high heat until softened.  Add Spinach, wilting the leaves.  Remove pan from heat.  Add Salt, pepper, dill, and feta mixing well.  Then add slightly beaten eggs, stirring well – to blend the ingredients.  Set mixture aside.

3)      Unroll fillo dough from package.  Lay it out flat on the countertop, with wax paper under and above the filo sheets.  Wet a dishtowel to cover the fillo you are not using, to keep it from drying out.  Use a sharp knife to cut fillo in half lengthwise to create two columns of equal size.   Cover one column with a damp towel.  Use other column to begin assembling.

4)      Take one sheet and brush with melted butter, and then place another sheet on top of the buttered side and brush with butter again.  Repeat until you have four layers of fillo.

5)      Place butter fillo in front of you lengthwise.  (The widest side towards you)  Take a heaping Tbl. of spinach mixture and place it on the bottom inside corner of the fillo.  Take the corner of the dough, underneath the spinach mixture so that the corner meets flush with the other side. Continue folding until there is no more fillo and you have a triangle.

6)      Repeat until filo or mixture is gone.  Place on a baking sheet and brush each triangle with more butter

7)      Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the fillo dough is golden.

            I also like Athenos Feta Cheese.  Plain or mix  it up with flavored varieties.
            I like to chop all my vegetables before I start.  They tend to cook faster than I can
     cut.  I also cut the stems from the baby spinach.
      Once, when I got started, my fillo dough was not separating properly.  I purchased it frozen and believe that I did not allow it enough time to thaw.  So be sure to allow it time to thaw completely.  I decided then to make it as a pie.  Layering the equivalent of 4 sheets, but if I had two or even three, it was ok, and buttering the top as I went.  I then spread half the feta mixture on top, covered with four more sheets of fillo and butter, spread the second half of the fillo mixture, and topped with four more sheets of fillo and butter.
Spanakopita Pie
Find everything you need at Harter House and Harter House World Flavors

Monday, October 3, 2016

New York Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prepare yourself, for what you are about to see is, hand's down, is the greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe of all time. I give you the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie:

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
*Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. For regular sized cookies, use a heaping tablespoon and bake for approximately 12 minutes

Monday, September 26, 2016

Creamy and Spicy Corn Soup

I have always been a huge fan of corn soup.
I love the sweetness of fresh corn, and truthfully, all of the cream and butter in the recipe.

Whenever we have a choice between a cream-based soup and a broth-based soup, we usually choose the cream-based soup.

So I decided that I was going to makeover Creamy Corn Soup, healthier, without using any actual cream in the recipe.  Instead I added vegetable broth and potato for that “creamy” feeling, warm spices like cumin and chili powder, and fun toppings like tomatoes and cilantro for some texture and flavor.

It was a huge success.
This soup is great for summer – when you can get wonderful fresh corn and tomatoes. But fresh frozen corn is still delicious.  And with the warming spices, I’d say this soup transitions really nicely all year round.

You can add just about any toppings to this soup and it will still taste great. For a twist on this recipe, try adding avocado, guacamole, or crushed tortilla chips.

We ate so much of this soup we didn’t have any leftovers!
And the best part is, it took less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish.

The Ingredients
Serves 3
  • 5 ears fresh sweet corn
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 a medium yukon gold potato, chopped
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock (the more stock you add, the thinner your soup will be)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
The Directions
Step 1: Cut the onion, potato, and trim the corn kernels off the 5 ears of corn.

Step 2: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, saute for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the potato and broth, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are very soft – about 10 minutes. Then add the fresh corn and cook through for a couple minutes more.

Step 3: Add a bit more vegetable broth if your soup mixture looks too thick. Add all of your spices (cumin, chili powder, cayenne, black pepper). Then puree with an immersion/hand blender, or with a regular blender/food processor. Your soup will go from this…

To this:

Step 4: Top with a variety of toppings: cilantro, tomatoes, fresh corn, crushed corn chips, avocado, or anything else you can think of!

This soup is so rich and flavorful, it tastes like it was made with a ton of butter and cream, but you can enjoy it totally guilt free!

To Recap;
Thanks to The Picky Eater for this recipe!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chocolate Pumpkin Magic Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Magic Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Magic CakeJUST last night, my very good friend, Theresa, served this cake to us for dessert.  I was hooked.  I knew I would share it in my weekly newsletter.  It is amazing.  ~Shelly

She told me this triple layer dessert is extremely easy to make, and comes out in perfect layers each time!

The bottom layer is a delightful pumpkin pie, the middle is a rich chocolate cake and then it’s topped off with a vanilla pudding frosting that is to die for.

The secret to this magical cake is how you bake it.
First you pour in the chocolate cake batter and then the pumpkin pie batter over the top.

Since the pumpkin pie filling is heavier, it will sink to the bottom and the cake will rise to the top.

Now… I get asked a lot, “Why don’t you just put the pumpkin on the bottom to begin with?” 
The pumpkin needs to bake longer in order to set, this little trick makes it so both the cake and pie come out perfect!

On the original pumpkin magic cake, the frosting had a hint of pumpkin pie spice, but you can opt to sprinkle some crushed gingersnap cookies on top.

Chocolate Pumpkin Magic CakeOnce your family tastes this cake… they’ll be hooked and asking for it all the time!

Grab a fork and dig in to this chocolate delight!

For the Cake:
1 box of devil's food cake mix PLUS ingredients needed to make (eggs, water, oil)
For the Pumpkin Pie:
1 (15oz) can Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
For the Frosting
1 (4 serving size) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
8 oz Cool Whip, thawed
4 to 5 gingersnap cookies, crushed into crumbs
    Chocolate Pumpkin Magic Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare box of cake mix according to package instructions, then pour into a lightly greased 9"x13" cake pan. DO NOT BAKE. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the ingredients for the Pumpkin Pie (pumpkin, evaporated milk, cream, eggs, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice), until smooth. Slowly pour the pumpkin pie mixture all over the cake mix.
  4. Carefully place cake into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly, and a toothpick inserted into cake mix comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. For the Frosting:
  6. Place the vanilla pudding mix into a large bowl and pour in the cold milk. Whisk until combined and starting to thicken. Gently fold in the Cool Whip until it's completely combined. Spread on top of the cooled cake then sprinkle with the crushed gingersnap cookies.
  7. You can serve now, or chill the cake, and serve when chilled. Either way tastes great. Enjoy!