Mary's Busy Kitchen

Mary's Busy Kitchen

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Granny's Baked Caramel Corn

This recipe is from a friend I went to high school with. It was her grandma's special recipe. I have never found another baked caramel corn recipe I liked better. This is the real deal right here!!

This caramel corn can be made with or without nuts and with either light or dark corn syrup. The caramel corn will be light, crunchy, and sooo delicious you will not be able to stop at one or two handfuls!!

Granny's  Baked Caramel Corn
1 cup butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
6 qts. popped popcorn. Remove any kernels that didn't pop.
1 1/2 cups mixed nuts, cashews or peanuts. (optional)

Preheat oven to 250.  
Melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and gently boil for 5 minutes, stirring entire time. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and vanilla.
Pour mixture over popcorn and add in nuts if you choose. Mix well.  
Divide coated popcorn onto two large baking sheets with edges.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour turning over or gently stirring every 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven and let cool completely. Break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just The Vegetables - Broccoli Soup

I know…this all looks way too familiar, right?
Except this time I left out the milk, extra flour and extra butter.

 You might be wondering what the point is…

I started sampling the soup before I added the thickening ingredients…it was delicious! So why not just stop here in the middle of the recipe, and offer a super low-fat version of this soup that still tastes fantastic!

Weight watcher points are 1.3 per serving.

Just The Vegetables - Broccoli Soup               6 servings 
1 Tbsp butter or non-dairy butter substitute.
1 lg onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 lg celery stalk, chopped
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 chicken or vegetable flavored bouillon cube - optional for extra flavor.
3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth for plant based diets.
5 cups of broccoli, chopped

Melt the butter or non-dairy substitute in a medium sized sauce pan. Add onion, celery and minced garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add thyme, salt, and pepper. Saute another minute or so.  Add chopped broccoli and broth.  Bring to a boil then let  simmer for 10-12 minutes.  Puree with a hand held blender.


I love this soup, it's healthy and really satisfying.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cheezy-Chili Dip

I want to share a recipe for chips or crackers that is simple and slightly addicting. My family has been snacking on this dip for years.

It's a warm dip, that we especially like with just plain corn chips or scoops. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and about 5 more to disappear...

It's perfect for holidays, parties, or just snacking.

If you are like me and need gluten free products, the canned "bean-less" chili is difficult to find. So I suggest using your own chili recipe and leave out the beans. Of course... it would be okay to have beans in this dip too. I freeze small containers of my homemade gluten free chili, then I don't have to make a big batch for a quick dip like this.

Cheezy-Chili Dip
2  8-oz packages cream cheese
2  15oz cans chili with out beans (or a gluten free substitute)
2/3 cup grated sharp cheese
6 drops  Tobasco
corn chips or scoops or crackers

In a medium size sauce pan stir cream cheese and chili over medium low heat, add tabasco and cheese. Continue to heat until mixture begins to simmer. When mixture is fully heated and a nice creamy consistency remove from heat and pour into a small bowl.

I use a microwave safe bowl so I can warm dip up if needed.

Serve with chips or crackers.  Store leftovers in refrigerator.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Easy Broccoli Soup

Not only is this broccoli soup easy, it's really really good! I made it for the first time on Christmas Eve. I decided I needed to try something different, and it was a huge hit!  I've already made it twice since then.

Everyone seemed to have a different idea when eating this soup…some added shredded parmesan cheese, some added seasoned croutons, and some even dipped their sandwiches in their soup!

I topped mine with gluten free croutons.         Mmmm…delicious!

If you count weight watcher points, sauté onions and celery in 1 Tbsp butter instead of 2. Divide soup into 6 servings. Each serving is 4.2 points each.

Easy Broccoli Soup
1-2 Tbsp non dairy butter substitute, like Earth Balance.
1 lg onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 lg celery stock, chopped
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups chicken  broth, or vegetable for plant-based diets.
5 cups of broccoli, chopped
3 Tbsp flour, gluten free if needed
3 Tbsp butter or non-dairy substitute
2 cups 2% milk or non-dairy substitute

Melt 1-2 Tbsp butter or non-dairy substitute in a medium sized sauce pan. Add onion, celery and minced garlic.
Sauté for about 3 minutes.  Add thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté another minute or so.
Add chopped broccoli and broth. Mix well and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Puree mixture with a hand blender or any other device you have.

In a smaller pan, melt 3 Tbsp butter or non-dairy substitute. Stir in flour, let bubble lightly. Stir in milk or non-dairy substitute. Whisk well. Continue to whisk or stir until mixture thickens. Add to pureed soup. Mix well and simmer a few minutes before serving.

If you prefer a thinner soup just add more broth to desired consistency.

Top with some fresh grated parmesan cheese and seasoned croutons. Gluten free croutons and non-dairy parmesan cheese are both available in many stores as well.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Quick & Easy Cheesecake


It doesn't get any easier than this!

Just a few simple ingredients whipped up together.

Pour into a purchased crumb crust or make your own.  You can purchase pre- made gluten free crumb crust now too…HOORAY!

 It takes less than an hour in the oven.

Chill and serve!


My husband who has very little interest in cooking has made this one solo at the fire station several times.

Quick & Easy Cheesecake                    Serves 6-8 depending on how it's sliced.

Crumb crust -  purchased or homemade.

Homemade Crumb Crust            Makes one 8 or 9" crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, gluten free if needed.
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter or non-dairy substitute, melted.

In a small mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar.
Pour in melted butter or non-dairy substitute and mix well. I like to use a fork.
Press mixture firmly on the bottom and sides of pie plate.
Set aside.

Cheesecake Filling
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, regular or light, softened. I used regular in this recipe.  A non-dairy cream cheese works as well for dairy free diets.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese to a creamy consistency. Add sugar and mix well.
Add vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
Pour into prepared graham cracker crust.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes, center will spring back when gently touched. It will be almost set.  Cool on a wire rack. Chill about 3 hours before serving.

Make it gorgeous and top each slice with some fresh fruit.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chewy Chocolate-Cranberry/Cherry Cookies... a gluten free treat

I'm really excited to share this recipe! It's another one of my favorite gluten free cookies.

Call me crazy…but the dough is fabulous too.

 I say call me crazy because if you have read about my food allergies you know I can't have gluten, dairy or eggs...which means my cookie dough doesn't always taste like that wonderful chocolate chip dough we know and love!!   But indulge a little...this dough is good!!

I used a small size scoop to make my cookies.

Look at all the yummy treats in this cookie dough!

If you count weight watcher points, each small cookie has 3 points. Each larger cookie has about 5.5 points.

Chewy Chocolate-Cranberry/Cherry Cookies               Makes 48-50 small cookies or 25-27            
                                                                                             or larger cookies. 
1 cup butter, softened - or dairy free substitute.
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar.
1/2 cup granulated sugar, I used beet sugar.
2 eggs, or egg replacer. I used an egg replacer.
2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
1 Tbsp milk or non-dairy substitute. I used rice milk.
1 1/4 cups flour, I used a gluten free blend. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour.
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats, I used gluten free.
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries.   Cut cherries in half if pieces are too large.
1 cup semi-sweet regular or mini chocolate chips. I used an allergy friendly brand.
3-4 Tbsp cacao nibs, optional. (I toss these in just about all my cookies with chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325
I like to line my baking sheets with parchment paper, but it is optional.

In a large mixing bowl add butter or dairy free substitute, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix together until creamy and smooth. Add eggs or egg substitute, vanilla and milk or dairy free substitute.  Mix well.

In a smaller mixing bowl, combine next 6 ingredients. Stir to blend.
Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Mix well.

Add dried fruit and chocolate chips…cacao nibs too if you decide to give them a try. Stir well.
Drop large or small scoops of dough onto baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes for smaller cookies, add a few more minutes for larger cookies.

Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before removing from pan. (I actually eat one right away)
Then cool completely on wire racks.

I like to make a big batch of these cookies and freeze them.

 I hope you enjoy these cookies…and the dough!

Friday, January 2, 2015

How To Choose Button Mushrooms & Great Reasons To Eat Them!

 Mushrooms have certainly gotten popular in the last few years, and the varieties are endless it seems.

The white or button mushroom and the portabella are my two favorite varieties. The button mushroom shown here have a mild, earthy flavor. The color ranges from white to pale tan. These mushrooms are available year-round and are delicious and versatile  both fresh or cooked.

Mushrooms are considered an incredibly nutritious food.  In fact, some health experts believe that mushrooms should be included in the super-food catagory and that they are nature's nutritional supplement. They help with cell repair, digestion, provide B vitamins, and do wonders for inflammation.

They are said to boost energy, balance the effects of stress, promote healthy skin and hair, cleanse the liver, and even promote memory and concentration!

Wow…who knew!

When purchasing button mushrooms looks for a smooth, firm skin without blemishes. Underneath, the mushroom should not be pulling away from the stem, it should be closed or sealed around the stem. They should be somewhat firm to the touch and not have soft brownish spots.

I have found storing mushrooms in the refrigerator works best with a paper towel placed underneath the mushrooms or over them in an airtight container.  Mushrooms aren't going to last as long as other vegetables in the refrigerator. In less than a weeks time the quality will begin to decline.

Give mushrooms a try if you haven't lately.  Toss some in a casserole or pasta sauce. Try slicing some over a fresh green salad, or add them to a soup or stir-fry.  Top your favorite pizza or burger with some sliced mushrooms. Take it a step further and make stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer.  Add some to a skewer with fresh pineapple chunks and peppers, brush olive oil and soy sauce and broil in the oven or grill them on the BBQ this summer.

Next time you are at the market, don't forget to grab some mushrooms!

Enjoy all the benefits mushrooms provide...both in the kitchen and in your health.

Here are a few recipes you might like to try that include mushrooms:
Homestyle Chili with Mushrooms
Perfect Salads
Not My Mother's Beef Stew
Popular Pizza
No need to stop here though…there are many more!