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Asparagus is a great spring vegetable that I like to incorporate in as many dishes as possible. If you need a dish to take to a Lenten dinner or are already planning Easter dinner, Asparagus Rice Casserole will be a hit. 

Asparagus Rice Casserole 

1 1/2 cup rice (uncooked)

3 cups vegetable broth (chicken is good too)

2 cups asparagus, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup onion, chopped small

2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rice, vegetable broth, asparagus, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish and slightly stir to mix ingredients. Place cubed butter throughout the top, cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven. If using cheese, sprinkle on top and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I thought I’d share a recipe this week for an Irish Apple Cake. This is a lighter, moister version of the original. Hope you enjoy!

Irish Apple Cake

2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 to 1 gluten free flour)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. butter, room temperature

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

 2 cups diced apples

cinnamon/sugar mix to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs, vanilla and milk. In another bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and salt, stir a few times with a fork. Pour dry ingredients into wet and stir just until mixture is combined. Fold in diced apples and pour into a greased 8×11 or 9×9 pan. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Cake is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I recently discovered that my granddaughter loves apple scones. I had never baked them before, so I decided to five them a try. I was surprised at how easy and GOOD they are! Hope you enjoy them.

Apple Scones

2 cups flour (gluten free 1 to 1 flour works great too)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 cup sugar (I use raw sugar)

1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 egg

1/3 cip plain yogurt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced 

cinnamon/sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, sugar and baking soda. Add the butter and mix together with clean hands until dough is crumbly. In a separate bowl mix egg, yogurt and vanilla together. Fold wet ingredients into butter/dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Gently fold in diced apples just until dough is holds together. Turn dough onto parchment covered cookie sheet. Use floured hands to form dough into a circle about 9 inches round and 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 triangle pieces (like a pizza). Separate pieces slightly. Sprinkle scones with cinnamon/sugar. Bake 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Completely cool before serving.

*Serve with butter, jam or lemon curd.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I’d share a jazzed up version of chocolate chip cookies. By adding maraschino cherries the cookies are more festive looking and they add a little extra flavor. These cookies are buttery soft and melt in your mouth good!

Maraschino Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice

2 1/4 cup flour (1 to 1 gluten free flour works great too)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing well in between then mix in cherry juice. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients then fold in mini chocolate chips and chopped cherries. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon or by using a small scoop, onto the cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Allow to sit on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to cool. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Optional:

10 oz. jar halved maraschino cherries – Place half on top of each cookie before baking and press down a little. Gives the cookie an even nicer presentation.

Add a couple of drops of red food coloring to make a pinkish color cookie. 

Once cookies are cooled make a chocolate drizzle by melting 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1-2 tbsp. of Crisco. When melted and smooth drizzle chocolate over cookies with a spoon and cool before storing them in an airtight container.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

While my team may not be in this year’s Super Bowl it doesn’t mean I won’t be watching.  In order to watch though I need to have snacks and lots of them for my family.  This week I thought I’d share a couple of easy recipes to enjoy while you’re watching the game too.
Mini Taco Bites
1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1 package taco seasoning
3/4 c. water
2 packages frozen phyllo tart shells (mini size)
Toppings:
1 c. salsa
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (colby jack, taco blend, cheddar)
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet cook ground meat and onion until browned.  Stir in taco seasoning and water, simmer for 5 minutes.
Place phyllo shells in mini cupcake pan and spoon in taco mixture into each shell.  Bake 6 minutes.  Sprinkle with a little cheese on each and bake for about 2 minutes longer.
Place on a platter to serve.  Everyone can add their own toppings.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

If you’ve seen a recipe for Flourless Banana Pancakes before and haven’t tried them, be sure to try this recipe. Trust me you won’t be sorry. These pancakes are a big hit with the kiddos; my grandson proved that to be true! 

Flourless Banana Pancakes

1 cup quick oats (gluten free if needed)

3 bananas, cut in chunks

1 large egg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. honey

1-2 tbsp. milk or almond milk (if needed to make batter thin enough to pour)

chopped walnuts (optional)

mini chocolate chips (optional)

Put all ingredients (except nuts and chocolate chips) in a blender and blend until smooth. Melt butter in a hot skillet and pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and cook on each side until done.

*If using nuts or chocolate chips sprinkle them on each pancake after pouring batter on hot skillet.

**These are great served with maple syrup or my favorite, peanut butter.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

As so many dreary, rainy days go by I find myself looking for soup recipes.  This week I’d like to share a recipe for roasted vegetable soup.  It does take some time to prep this soup but the flavor is well worth it.  

Roasted Vegetable Soup

2 1/2 c. butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2 1/2 c. carrots, peeled and cut bite size

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed bite size

1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed bite size

1 onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, quartered

2 bay leaves

3 tsp. garlic, minced

2 c. kale, chopped (optional)

1 15 oz. can northern beans, drained (optional) 

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

6 c. vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and toss squash, carrots, celery, potatoes, onion and tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cook for 45 minutes to an hour.  Remove from oven and cool enough to blend.

Put half of the roasted vegetables in a large pot, 2 cups of vegetable broth and blend vegetables using a submersion blender. (If you don’t have one put vegetables in a blender with the broth.  Do it in 2 batches if needed then add it to a large pot.)  After blending for a minute or 2, add the remaining broth, vegetables, bay leaves, garlic, kale and beans, if using.

Bring to a quick boil, then simmer on low heat about 15 minutes.

*Remove bay leaves before serving.

**If blending is not an option a potato masher can be used to just roughly mash  half of the roasted vegetables with 2 cups of broth.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

This week’s recipe for Lasagna Roll Ups is a great dish for parties or even weeknight suppers.  It’s an easy recipe to throw together to go with many other dishes or can be served easily as a main dish with a nice salad.

Lasagna Roll Ups

12 uncooked lasagna noodles (gluten free work well too)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed out

2 1/2 c. ricotta cheese

2 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 24 oz. jar marinara sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce)

Topping:

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain.  While the noodles are cooking, mix together eggs, spinach, cheeses and seasonings.

Pour 1 c. marinara sauce into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 casserole dish.  Spread 1/3 c. cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and roll up.  Place over the sauce seam side down and repeat process until all noodles are rolled.

Spoon remaining sauce overtop of lasagna roll ups.  Sprinkle remaining cheeses and parsley flakes on top and bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

I have a new favorite cookie, Almond Cranberry. Even if you don’t have to eat gluten free like I do, you will love these cookies; that is as long as you can have nuts. This recipe uses blanched almond flour, not almond meal. These cookies are not overly sweet and very easy to make.  

Almond Cranberry Cookies (makes 2 1/2 dozen)

2 cups blanched almond flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

6 tbsp. butter, melted

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

3/4 cups dried cranberries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips), optional

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped, optional (my favorite is black walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. (I use parchment paper for all cookie baking.) In a medium bowl mix together dry ingredients, set aside. In a larger bowl mix together the wet ingredients. Next add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix well. Stir in dried cranberries, mini chocolate chips and nuts. Scoop dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are a light golden brown. Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before removing cookies from sheet. Allow to completely cool before storing in an airtight container.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

As I’m making my lists of gifts for Christmas, I start thinking about what kind of homemade gifts I’ll be making. This year one semi-homemade gift will be Layered Cookie Bars. By using a cookie mix as the base, this recipe is super easy and quick to make. Best thing about these cookie bars is how great they taste! Don’t forget to make enough for yourself because you won’t want to give them all away!

Layered Cookie Bars

1 1-lb. bag of chocolate chip cookie mix or 1 box of gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix (both work perfectly)

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup butterscotch chips (if gluten free be sure to check package)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, set aside. Stir together the chocolate chip cookie mix, softened butter and egg. Using your hands, press the crumbly dough into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Pour sweetened condensed milk over top of the cookie crust. Next sprinkle the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut, then the chopped nuts. Bake 25-30 minutes. Coconut will be slightly browned when done. Completely cool then cut into bars.

*White chocolate chips can be used in place of butterscotch or simply add them to the layers!