Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New blog!

Hello all! It's been some time...a few years time.
I got married, graduated college, and many other things.
A Pinch of This, and a Dash of That was my blog I had during college,
and my new blog, Mrs Midwest is following my after-college life.
Please head over and follow me there! Thanks! 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Disappearing Act

I didn’t intend to disappear for almost a whole month..I really didn’t. But one thing led to another and before I knew it a whole month had gone by. But I promise I have a good excuse..let me explain!!

Remember when I mentioned the position at Macy’s for a Culinary Professional that  I had been applying for? Well…


If you didn’t get the drift, yes I scored the job. But that’s not the only reason I’ve been beyond busy; this new job required me to move 4 hours away—and the catch? Within 2 weeks. Yup. A whole apartment packed up ready to go in 14 days. Not only that, but I needed time to acclimate to the “big city”, after all Minneapolis is the biggest city in Minnesota.


And now I even have the daily commute to work.

big city

My new home!


And I suppose you are wondering what else I’ve been up to? Well I finished off my junior year of college, and I am taking 18 credits online over the summer which start tomorrow.

I also went on a road trip to Florida in the beginning of May. I plan on doing a re-cap of that tomorrow, so stay tuned!!

I’m glad to be back!!

What have you been up to?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crunch Time

I wish I was talking about this kind of Crunch time…

But instead, I am referring to this kind..


Well and this crunchy casserole….


but more that in a second.

Yesterday marked the last day of spring semester classes, finals week starts tomorrow, and that means I am just one week away from becoming a senior in college! Wow, I felt like I just said I was going to be a senior in high school last year—time flies is an understatement these days.

I also have an interview next Tuesday in Minneapolis at Macy’s for the Culinary Professional position which entails:

  • Set up inviting Demo Cart displays, including recipes and food products
  • Conduct gourmet foods and candy product knowledge seminars for the Foods Team members
  • Produce and present freshly prepared products to customers, encouraging them to sample items while enthusiastically educating to guide customers in their buying decisions
  • Assist with special events, including shopping and prepping for guest chefs, cookbook authors, and celebrities

So please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Now back to more crunch time!

I’m sure you remember in the last post I talked about two more recipes I’ve made to use up leftover holiday ham. Well here’s another coming at ya! This one is a really unique—a creamy ham and potato mix topped with a crunchy Corn Flakes mix. And what’s easier than a casserole? One pan to bake, one pan to clean—count me in!


Crunch Top Ham & Potato Casserole

Serves: 4


  • 16 oz frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed (1/2 32 oz package)
  • 1c cubed cooked ham
  • 1/2 cup (8 oz) fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) fat-free condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1/4 c I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Fat Free
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/3 c chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Topping:

    • 1 c crushed Corn Flakes cereal


    • In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients.
    • Transfer to a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish.
    • Sprinkle crushed topping evenly over casserole.
    • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1 hour or until heated through.

    What’s your favorite candy bar?

    Mine has always been a tie between Crunch, Skors, and Heath!

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Hop to It

    Hope everyone had a super Easter—it was just good to be home even if it was just for a day. Oh and the good meal didn’t hurt things either :-) You know when you leave so stuffed you can barely move, it was a success!

    Mom made a glazed spiral ham that she got from Sam’s Club.


    Mom also made some mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows…a yummy classic!


    My grandpa made my mom’s Stunning Sausage Stuffing to help her out a bit…


    I also had to make my beloved Lean Green Bean Casserole…even the leftovers of this dish are to-die-for!


    And last but not least, I am always looking for new vegetable side dishes, preferably roasted because I love the rich flavor vegetables develop after a long time in the oven. I came across a recipe for Lemon-Chive Roasted Vegetables and with lemons in season now, I paid just 0.50 for one. It’s the perfect excuse to try these out any night for dinner,  no special occasion required!


    Lemon-Chive Roasted Vegetables

    Serves: 12


  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
  • 1 bag frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 425°.
    • Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on 2 jelly-roll pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.
    • Combine vegetables, chives, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.

    And saving the best for last of course is dessert! Cupcakes courtesy of Cassie’s Cupcake Creations.



    Whopper Cupcakes

    Chocolicious cake, whipped malted milk ball frosting, topped with whoppers.


    Cookies n’ Cream Cupcakes

    Cookies n cream cake, whipped vanilla frosting, Oreo cookie garnish.

    I wish holidays came around more often—we all had a really great time!



    Even if your feast is outstanding, leftovers are usually inevitable, and in this case, we have tons of leftover ham. I’ve been brainstorming new ways to use it up and I came up with three. Today’s recipe is also going towards this-->Barilla is challenging Foodbuzz Featured Publishers to imagine an Italian-inspired recipe or meal created with Barilla Tortellini.

    For my recipe, I am using Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini.

    Italian Chicken Cordon Bleu Tortellini

    Serves: 4


    • 1 bag Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini
    • 1/4 c flour
    • 2 c milk, preferably 2%
    • 1 Tbsp pesto
    • 1 1/2 c shredded Italian blend cheese
    • 2 c chopped roasted/skinless chicken breast
    • 1 c cubed ham
    • 1 c sliced jarred roasted red peppers, drained well
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
    • dash of red pepper flakes, if desired


    • Cook noodles according to Barilla’s package directions.
    • While noodles cook, combine flour and 1/4 cup milk in a heavy saucepan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Place the pan over medium heat; whisk in 1 3/4 cups milk and pesto. Cook 6 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low.
    • Add the cheese, stirring until melted. Stir in the chicken, red pepper slices, ham, and seasonings.
    • Serve over Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini

    Keep an eye out for two more recipes on how to use up your leftover holiday ham!

    Have you tried a new pasta dish you loved lately?—share!

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Happy Easter!


    Just wanted to “hop” by and say Happy Easter to all my wonderful blog readers!


    I am headed north to be with the family today & we have a great  menu planned.

    -Spiral Ham

    -Mashed Potatoes

    -Chive and Lemon Roasted Veggies

    -Cheesy Cornbread Muffins

    -Dinner Rolls

    -Lean Green Bean Casserole

    -Wild Rice Stuffing

    -Tossed Salad

    -Assorted Cupcakes

    Stay tuned for the recap tomorrow!

    Here’s to hoping the Easter bunny brings you something sweet!

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Spring Fling

    Although springtime is supposedly here, it’s still in the low-mid 30’s and occasionally snowing in Minnesota—no surprises being that our winter usually extends into May and our summer only lasts about 2 months..3 if we’re lucky!!!

    But who says even if the weather isn’t balmy and spring-like outside that you can’t bring spring to the table inside in the form of food? That was my goal for my last cooking class of the spring season. The class was titled “Spring Fling” and featured a five course spring meal highlighting all the produce and fresh foods that are abundant this time of year.

    But first, check out my other past cooking classes here if you missed them before:

    First off, I  started the class with a springtime quiz. I had students put their name in a bowl and the name drawn won these, courtesy of Cassie’s Cupcake Creations.

    Then it was time to explain the game plan for the five-course menu. It started with the first course appetizer; Red Pepper Pimento Cheese Dip which I chose to serve in a red pepper!


    Showing how to serve it & explaining options for garnishes, in this case I used a basil leaf.



    Red Pepper Pimento Cheese Dip


    • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
    • 1/2 (12-oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
    • 2 teaspoons finely grated onion
    • 2 teaspoons coarse-ground mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
    • 2 (10-oz.) blocks sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • Assorted crackers
    • Bell pepper for serving, hollowed out, if desired


    • Stir together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients until well blended; stir in cheese and black pepper to taste. Serve with assorted crackers, in red bell pepper if desired. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 4 days.

    Next up was the second course; spinach salad with a homemade buttermilk chive dressing.


     Spinach Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing


    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 3 tablespoons sliced fresh chives
    • 6 cups lightly packed baby spinach
    • 1 cup radishes, cut into matchstick-size strips or thinly sliced*
    • 1 cup  mixed greens
    • 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped**


    • Whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper in small bowl. Gradually whisk in buttermilk. Stir in chives; pour into serving bowl.
    • Toss spinach, radishes and pea shoots in large bowl; sprinkle with egg. Serve with dressing on the side.

    Third course was  the appetizer; roasted asparagus with parmesan garlic crumbs.


    Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Garlic Crumbs


    • 1/4 cup panko*
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons plus l tablespoon olive oil, divided
    • 1 small garlic clove, minced
    • Dash cayenne pepper
    • 1 1/2 lb. asparagus, peeled if desired
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


    • Heat oven to 400°F. Combine panko, cheese, 2 teaspoons of the oil, garlic and cayenne pepper in shallow baking dish or pie pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, stirring several times and watching closely; place in small bowl. Increase oven temperature to 450°F.
    • Place asparagus on large rimmed baking sheet in single layer; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Roll asparagus to coat. Bake at 450°F. for 7 to 12 minutes or until tender, turning once or twice. Sprinkle with panko mixture.

    The fourth course, or main dish, was the Artichoke Cheese Tortellini.


    Artichoke Cheese Tortellini


    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
    • 1 (12-oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
    • 1 (2 1/4-oz.) cans sliced ripe olives, drained
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • 2 (9-oz.) pkg. refrigerated cheese tortellini
    • 1 (10-oz.) container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


    1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Cook onion 5 to 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds.
    2. Stir in tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and crushed red pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.
    3. Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package directions; drain. Stir tortellini into tomato mixture.
    4. Heat Alfredo sauce in small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Drizzle tortellini with Alfredo sauce; sprinkle with cheese.

    And saving the best for last the final and fifth course, dessert, which was Banana-Almond-Topped Pastry Puffs.


    Banana-Almond-Topped Pastry Puffs


    • 1/2 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
    • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
    • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
    • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
    • 1 large banana, cut into 9 slices
    • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
    • 3 tablespoons chopped almonds


    1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut pastry sheet into 9 squares; place on a baking sheet. Lightly score the top of each pastry square. Bake for 12 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Cool.
    2. In a small bowl, combine cheeses and sugar. Cut each banana slice lengthwise into thin slices. Gently spread about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture over each pastry puff. Divide banana slices over cheese mixture. Top each with 1 teaspoon marmalade and 1 teaspoon almonds. Garnish with mint, if desired. Serve immediately.

    My classes this spring were all a really good time, I am already looking forward to teaching a new line-up of classes next fall. And of course, just like the rest of my classes, the Spring Fling class would not have been successful without my wonderful students/helpers.

    Check em’ out in action!!

    CIMG4931CIMG4932  CIMG4935 CIMG4938

    What is your favorite springtime meal?

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Road Runner

    Is it just me, or does everyone become somewhat of a creature of habit?


    Lately it seems like my week is spend pounding the books, running errands, and doing things around the house. But lately, come the weekend, I am always hitting the road to go somewhere. Case in point; 3 weekends ago, I went down to Minneapolis for spring break, 2 weekends ago I was down in Minneapolis again for the Kenny Chesney concert (recap here), and this past weekend I spent in Fargo, North Dakota for some girl time and shopping. I actually think this weekend will be spent here being that I am swamped with homework.

    The highlight of  last weekend?


    Spotting this self-serve frozen yogurt place in Fargo. They just opened and it’s the closest one to me—only 2 hours away!




    I got the Red Velvet Cake and the other half Vanilla topped with some strawberries. It was as close to heaven as  you can get!


    I also went and saw the Lincoln Lawyer that recently came out in theatres. I am really fussy when it comes to movies, especially when it comes to this genre, but I would no doubt give this five stars! It kept me guessing and the acting was great. I am buying this when it comes out on DVD!

    Another trend I’ve been acclimating to lately is cooking/eating in on the weekdays and eating out on the weekends. Does anyone else do this? I find it kind of nice not to have to worry about cleaning up the kitchen and having someone else do the work for a few days. This past weekend I got to hit up one of my favorite buffets, the Golden Corral.

    I got a little of everything…

    Grilled steak, onions and peppers, broccoli, carrots, baked potato..followed by 2 more plates :-)


    I also ate at the Green Mill. Usually I get the chicken parm, but I decided to switch it up this time and get the blackened walleye with a baked potato. It was really good—the red pepper rub definitely made the filet unique and spicy!


    In other news, I taught my last cooking class of the spring season last night. It was called “Spring Fling” and featured how to prepare a five course meal highlighting spring produce.

    Stay tuned for the recap and recipes from my class Monday!


    Do you have a weekend routine lately?