What’s Cooking

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

After picking a lot of blackberries recently I froze most of them to use later but left some out for some recipes. This week I’d like to share a recipe for Blackberry Lemonade. Hope you enjoy some in this heat! It’s definitely worth the effort.


Blackberry Lemonade

1 1/2 cups. blackberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

4 cups water


Simple Syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water


In a small saucepan boil one cup sugar and one cup water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Put blackberries in a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain blackberries to remove seeds. In a pitcher mix together 4 cups water, lemon juice, strained blackberries and simple syrup. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to serve.


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Watermelon limeade is a great refreshing drink in this hot summer heat. This recipe is great for a mocktail, cocktail or even popsicles. Believe me that the popsicles are grandson approved. It may take a little bit of time to make but it is so worth it!


Watermelon Limeade

2/3 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

6 cups watermelon, cut up

1 1/2 cups lime juice

3 cups water


In a saucepan boil water and sugar to make a simple syrup. Boil for a few minutes, just until the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and cool. Place watermelon in a blender and blend until it is all juice. Pour into colander with very small holes or use my method of lining the colander with coffee filters and strain watermelon juice. This step makes a big difference in the juice. Pour watermelon juice in a pitcher with simple syrup, lime juice and water. Stir and enjoy over ice!

*If you want it sweeter just make the simple syrup with 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water.


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Since July 4th is coming up, it made me think of cookouts and what I might want to make. Since I have dietary issues I always like to make a dish that can be a meal just in case there isn’t anything else I can have. This week’s recipe for Taco Pasta Salad fits that description perfectly. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Taco Pasta Salad
1 12 oz. box rotini pasta (cooked per box instructions)
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/4 cup onions, diced
1 package taco seasoning
1 15 oz. can fire roasted corn, drained (sweet corn is good too)
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or even quartered
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or taco blend shredded cheese)
2 cups Frito’s chips, roughly crushed (tortilla chips or Dorito’s work too)
2 cups chopped or shredded lettuce
1 cup French, Catalina or Ranch dressing (this I find is personal preference)

Cook pasta according to box instructions, rinse with cold with cold water, put into a large bowl and set aside. In a skillet, cook onions and brown ground meat until no longer pink, drain if needed. Stir in taco seasoning and water (amount according to seasoning package) and simmer about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Stir into pasta the meat mixture, corn, black beans, tomatoes and 1 cup shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate. Right before serving top with lettuce, remaining shredded cheese and crushed Frito’s chips.
*Dressing can be mixed in right before lettuce, cheese and chips are put on top or I like for each person to use their dressing of choice.

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Blueberry Upside Down Cake
For topping:
2 1/2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 pint blueberries, washed
For Cake:
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (gluten free cup for cup works perfectly)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 2-1/2 tbsp butter in 9 inch round cake pan and melt in preheating oven. When butter is melted, remove from oven and swirl pan around so sides get coated or use a paper towel to carefully grease the sides of the pan. Next sprinkle brown sugar over butter in pan and gently stir. Put blueberries in pan.

Beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, set aside. In a large bowl cream together softened butter and sugar, then add egg yolks and vanilla; beat well. In another bowl stir together, flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter alternately with the milk. Fold egg whites into batter. Pour into pan and spread over top of blueberries. Batter will be very thick. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for about 15 minutes, then flip cake onto large serving plate.
Enjoy and Happy Father’s Day! 

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Lately some days have been so hot that it’s hard to think about cooking a large dinner. Even if I cook the main dish I like to make cold salads for side dishes. This week I’d like to share a recipe that is one of my favorites, Cabbage Salad. Hope you enjoy it!


Cabbage Salad

1 10 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1 14 oz. bag coleslaw

1/3 cup red onion, chopped small

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2-2 tbsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt


Put mandarin oranges, coleslaw mix, red onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl mix together balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, black pepper and salt. Pour dressing over top salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Stir before serving. (I like to stir a couple of times while it’s in the refrigerator “marinating.”)


What’s Cooking with Melissa?

On weeknights I’m usually trying to prepare a meal that doesn’t involve hours of preparation, and/or I’m trying to avoid the heat of the oven. Salads may not always be filling UNLESS you add pasta! Try this week’s recipe for Chicken Caesar Salad with Pasta and see how often your family wants you to prepare it for them.


Chicken Caesar Salad with Pasta

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tsp. minced garlic

3 tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 – 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2-3 anchovies, chopped small and Optional (I don’t use these)

1 lb. pasta (penne, elbow, rotini), cooked and rinsed with cold water

1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

6 large romaine leaves, sliced in thin strips

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 1/2 cups croutons

2 cups chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size pieces


In a bowl mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and anchovies (if using them). Pour half the dressing over the pasta, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Also refrigerate remaining dressing. When ready to serve, pour and coat the pasta with the rest of the dressing. Gently stir in the grape tomato halves, romaine lettuce, green onions, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and chicken. Put croutons on top of entire salad or individual salads.

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

With Memorial Day coming up, I thought I’d share some quick recipes with you. Most of us have our traditional recipes, but by doing a different marinade or sauce the recipe can be a great change.  

Shrimp or Chicken Marinade 

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. lime juice

2 tbsp. orange juice

2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

Mix marinade in a container or large plastic bag.  Add shrimp or chicken, toss to coat and refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.

Strawberry/Banana Compote 

1 quart strawberries, washed and halved

3 large bananas, cut into bite size pieces

1 small box strawberry jello

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup water

Cut up fruit into a bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan whisk together the remaining ingredients. Turn heat on high and boil for 5 minutes or until desired thickness is reached. Stir while boiling then remove from heat. Pour sauce over fruit, stir well to coat.  Refrigerate 1 hour or longer before serving.

Happy Memorial Day!  Enjoy and Be safe!

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Sometimes after I’ve thawed out meat like chicken or pork, I don’t feel like having the same old, same old. I’m sure many of you understand. On those nights I like to prepare sauces to spruce up the meat. Today’s recipe is for one of those sauces.

Polynesian Sauce

1 cup barbecue sauce (I use our favorite original recipe bbq sauce)

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

1/4 cup onion, chopped fine

1/4 cup red/green bell peppers, chopped

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)

In a medium size saucepan on low heat, mix together barbecue sauce, crushed pineapple with juice, onion, peppers, soy sauce, minced garlic and salt. In a small bowl whisk together cold water and cornstarch until completely dissolved, then stir into barbecue mixture. Increase heat to medium and cook until thickened, stir occasionally.

*I like to serve this over chicken or pork and with rice. Add some veggies and it makes a great, tasty, quick supper! 

**I listed coconut as optional because our family prefers this sauce without it, and I wanted people to know it’s great with or without!

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I thought I’d search for a recipe that would be easy for children to help with. The recipe I’d like to share is great for breakfast or dessert. I revised a recipe that I found online at twopeasandtheirpod.com for Nutella Drop Biscuits and they turned out great!

Nutella Drop Biscuits by Two Peas & Their Pod

2 1/4 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. sugar

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix with fingers or pastry cutter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until combined. Spoon Nutella over biscuit dough and cut through with a knife to swirl Nutella throughout the dough. Drop mixture onto parchment paper to make biscuits. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Serve with breakfast or as a dessert with berries and whipped cream. Makes about 12 biscuits.

*My changes to make a delicious gluten free version:

– 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1 to 1 flour.

– Buttermilk substitute-1 tbsp. lemon juice plus regular milk to make 1 cup.

– Nutella substitute-Reese’s spreads peanut butter chocolate.

– Salt substitute-1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan Salt.

Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

What’s Cooking with Melissa?

Little ones always seem to love snacking, and I know mine love to help prepare their snacks. My children have always liked to help me in the kitchen and now I’m blessed to have grandbabies that love to be in the kitchen with me. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find things for them to help with, so I’ve found some recipes that are great for little helpers.

Banana Chocolate Quesadillas

6-8 small corn or flour tortillas (I use gluten free corn tortillas)

1/3 cup chocolate nut spread (my favorite is Reese’s)

2 bananas, sliced

Spread chocolate nut spread on tortillas. Place banana slices on each. Top each with another tortilla, with chocolate nut spread side down. One at a time, place in a preheated skillet. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes and carefully flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and let cool. Slice in half or quarters.

*Kids can help spread the chocolate nut spread, slice the bananas with a plastic knife and assemble before putting them in the skillet.

**If the skillet is not nonstick use a little butter when preheating.

 Breakfast “Pizzas”

2 English muffins (plain, cinnamon raisin or blueberry)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

Pizza toppings: sliced strawberries or kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries

halved grapes, mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, sliced almonds

Toast English muffins and set aside to cool. In a small bowl mix together yogurt, honey and vanilla extract. Spoon yogurt onto each muffin half and spread. Top with favorite fruit toppings. Slice in half or in quarters and serve.

*This is a great recipe for children to mix, spread and top their own pizzas for breakfast.