Thursday, March 30, 2017

Oklahoma Theta Burger Soup

You know I'm an Oklahoma Girl through and through.  In the past I've shared several recipes that have their roots here in Oklahoma, including Cattlemen's Salad Dressing and the Famous Oklahoma Club Special.  Another recipe with its history tied to my state is the Theta Burger.  It's a hamburger topped with mayonnaise, pickles, hickory sauce and shredded cheese.  It's definitely on the menu just about every place in Norman and Oklahoma City and I've heard it's even available at a place or two in Austin, Texas.  I'm unsure of when the burger was actually invented, but the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority at the University of Oklahoma lays claim to having their name on it and the version I'd like to believe is that the burger was invented right here in Norman, OK by Ralph Geist who owned the historic Town Tavern that stood on campus corner for many years.  Legend says during the 1930s and 1940s the sorority had a curfew of 10 pm and would call the Town Tavern for a late night burger delivery.  Ralph always obliged, but as you can imagine a house full of hungry sorority girls would have quite a complicated order.  Legend says Ralph compromised and invented a burger they could all agree upon.  He named it after them and added it to his menu.  The true story may be lost to history, but thankfully the burger survives to this day.  It's my husband's favorite burger and we got the wild idea to create it in soup version, inspired by my friend Brandi at Aunt Bee's Recipes and her Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Soup.  We garnished the hearty bowl of soup with plenty of shredded cheese, chopped pickles and a generous drizzle of mayo and hickory sauce.  It tastes EXACTLY like a Theta Burger in a Bowl.  It's incredible.  Trust me.  You may think the combination is unusual, especially if you're not from around here and aren't used to seeing the Theta on your local burger menu.  But there's a reason this flavor combination has survived for nearly 100 years.  If you can't make it down to Norman for a true Theta Burger, then definitely try my version in a bowl!
It's just like a Theta in a Bowl!
The ingredient line up...
Garnish with mayo, Hickory sauce, chopped pickled
and plenty of shredded cheese for the Authentic Theta Flavor!

Oklahoma Theta Burger Soup

8 slices uncooked bacon, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound sliced white mushrooms
1/2 chopped onion
4 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning (I didn't have Montreal Seasoning so I used "Panhandle Chicken Fried Steak Seasoning" because you know: OKLAHOMA)
1 quart beef broth
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Hickory Sauce
chopped pickles
additional shredded cheese for garnish

Sauté chopped bacon in a large stock pot until crispy. Remove the bacon from pan & drain on a paper towel, leaving drippings in the pot.  Increase the heat to medium add the ground beef, sliced mushrooms and chopped onions. Brown and then remove most of the leftover fat.  Add the minced garlic & sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the heat to high and add the potatoes, beef broth, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and steak seasoning. Boil for 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  Add the reserved bacon pieces back into the pot.  Reduce the heat to low & add the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted.
Garnish with mayonnaise, hickory sauce, chopped pickles and additional shredded cheese.

Prep Time:  Approximately 20 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 25 minutes 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

{Frozen} Banana Split on a Stick

Who knew that March 28th was National Something on a Stick Day?  I didn't, but it's nice when things work out.  Everything is better on a stick.  The State Fair has that figured out.  Corn Dogs, Candy Apples.  We even tried a Steak Dinner on a Stick at the Texas State Fair once.  Not kidding.  Steak, potatoes and even rolls.  ON A STICK.  It's just more fun that way.  I decided to take the flavors of a banana split and put them on a stick, sans ice cream.  Frozen Fruit.  Healthy.  And then I served them with marshmallow sauce and whipped cream.  So maybe not as healthy, but still so much fun.  These little gems are super easy to prepare and can be made ahead.  Ideal for your next get together.  A great little after school snack too.  And since National Something on a Stick Day exists, it's a perfect way to celebrate that too!

A fun twist on an old favorite.
And the perfect way to celebrate
National Something on a Stick Day!
Kind of healthy too...

Serve with a "schmear" of marshmallow ice cream topping
and a dollop of whipped cream for the authentic
banana split flavor.
Who doesn't love their food on a stick?
It's just more fun that way.

Make ahead and enjoy!

{Frozen} Banana Split on a Stick

short skewers or picks
Fresh Strawberries, tops cut off
Bananas, sliced into thick slices
Fresh Pineapple Chunks, patted dry with a paper towel
3 squares chocolate almond bark
Chopped Nuts (I used Pecans, because in Oklahoma we use Pecans in everything)
marshmallow topping for serving
whipped cream for serving

Melt the chocolate squares in a shallow bowl in the microwave in 30-second intervals until smooth.  Place the chopped nuts in a shallow dish.  Place one strawberry, one banana slice and one pineapple chunk on a skewer.  Dip the flat side into the melted chocolate and then into the chopped nuts.  Place in a freezer safe container that has been lined with waxed paper.  When you are ready to serve, place the skewers on a platter and serve with marshmallow ice cream topping and whipped cream. 

Prep Time:  Approximately 10 minutes     Needs to Freeze

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Giraffe Cookies {Giraffe Watch 2017}

I'm sure by now you've seen April the Giraffe on the news.  She is a beautiful creature at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York.  April is an expecting mother and the whole world is glued to a live You Tube Camera, waiting for the baby giraffe to enter the world.  Her "Baby Daddy" is Oliver and he is in the stall next door.  He paces around like a nervous father in a waiting room.  You know I never have much to do around here and since we lost our sweet pup Baby Ruth last year, I've totally adopted April as my virtual pet.  I'm obsessed with watching the camera.  I've stayed up way to late.  If I wake up during the night, I check the cam.  I'm like an expectant Grandma waiting for her grandchild to be born.  If Oklahoma was anywhere near April, I'd be waiting outside the giraffe barn every morning to feed her carrots.  I guess giraffes have a special place in my heart because my mother has always loved them.  She has quite a collection of giraffe memorabilia from dishes to figurines to paintings.  Whenever she knocks my home decor (which is eclectic to say the least) I always remind her, "Mom, you have giraffes on your porch."  I love that the whole world is focused on April and her future calf.  It's a great distraction from politics and other negativity.  But poor April, can you imagine the whole world gazing into your birthing room?  No thanks! They can wait in the waiting room and hand out cigars.  To honor the impending birth, I made some Giraffe Cookies to celebrate.  Nutter Butter Cookies make the ideal giraffe head shape.  Add just a few other sweet treats to create an adorable April face.  I hope you're all enjoying the adventures of April and enjoy making these fun cookies too!
In honor of April the Giraffe and Giraffe Watch 2017
Just a few sweet treats to create a
cute giraffe face!
Cut the top edge of the sugar wafer cookie
at an angle as shown.
Now you have the perfect giraffe neck.
(And a scrap of cookie to eat.)
Use the melted chocolate bark as "glue" to adhere
the parts together.  Then use the remaining
melted chocolate to create the giraffe spots.
The Nutter Butter Cookie shape makes the
perfect giraffe face!

Giraffe Cookies

1 package Nutter Butter Cookies
1 package Reese's Mini Cups
1 package pretzel sticks
1 package dried banana chips
1 package vanilla sugar wafer cookies
3 squares chocolate almond bark
1 package Wilton candy eyes

Cut the top edge of the sugar wafers as show in the picture to make a slant.  Set aside.  In a microwave safe container melt the almond bark squares in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until melted.  Dip the edge of two banana chips in the melted chocolate and attach at the top of the Nutter Butter cookie to create the ears.  Break each pretzel stick in half.  Dip the two broken edges of the pretzel into the melted chocolate and stick at the top of the cookie to create the horns.  Once those are in place, carefully dip just the tips of the pretzel stick horns into the chocolate.  (FUN FACT: The horns on giraffes are actually called ossicones.  Both males and females have them.  When calves are born, the ossicones lie flat on the head, and after birth, the cartilage becomes erect and begins to fasten to the skull.  SOURCE: Animal Adventure Park Facebook Page) Once the ears and "ossicones" are attached, use a skewer or toothpick to dip in the chocolate "glue" and place two eyes and a mini Reese's cup on to the cookie.  The Reese's candy creates the nose of the giraffe.  Dip the cut/slanted edge of the wafer cookie generously into the melted chocolate and adhere to the side of the cookie to create the long neck of the giraffe.  Let them dry completely on waxed paper before moving.  I put the remaining melted chocolate bark into a plastic bag and cut off the tip.  Decorate the wafer cookie with chocolate swirls and spots so it looks like a giraffe print.  Allow the chocolate to cool and dry completely before serving.  (They are kind of delicate.  Use more melted chocolate glue if necessary)

I encourage you to visit April's Website as well as the Animal Adventure Park Website.  Lots of educational facts and well as donation and sponsor info.  And get the adorable Giraffe Emojis for your phone at The proceeds benefit the park and the giraffe care, plus you'll be the coolest one of your friends because you have an emoji of a giraffe wearing sunglasses on your phone!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lucky Charms Bars with FREE Printable

I posted these delights a few years ago.  They are my favorite St. Patrick's Day treat, and bonus: Lucky Charms are GLUTEN FREE.  (I was terrified the gluten allergy diagnosis would mean I would have to give up my kid's cereal and while I said a sad good-bye to Apple Jacks and Super Sugar Crisp, thank goodness I still have hearts, stars, clovers and moon shaped marshmallows in my life.)  Let's just say that Lucky the Leprechaun is right.  These things are magically delicious.  They are basically just a rice krispie treat made with Lucky Charms cereal.  Which happens to be the best cereal of all time.  I mean breakfast where you get to eat marshmallows?  Um yes, GENIUS!  Why not take the cereal that already has marshmallows in it and add more marshmallows?  Because you can never have too many marshmallows.  Talk about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Show your family how "LUCKY" they are to have you, and whip up a quick batch of these.  I've added a printable gift tag, so you can share some with the lucky charms in your life!
Leprechaun Approved!

Who doesn't love extra marshmallows?
I was "LUCKY" enough to find these limited edition Lucky Charms with all green clovers.  So cute!
Festive and super easy!  Only 3 ingredients.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Right click and save to your computer.
Open with the software of your choice
and print onto cardstock.
These images are my exclusive artwork.
Please be courteous when using these printables
and remember they are for personal use only.

Lucky Charm Treats

3 tablespoons butter
1 package regular sized marshmallows
6 cups Lucky Charms cereal
Grease a 9x13-inch pan and set aside.  In a saucepan on the the stove over medium heat, melt butter and marshmallows together until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cereal.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Cool.  Cut into squares.  Hunt leprechauns.  Drink green beer.  Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Prep Time:  Approximately 20 minutes     Cook Time:  needs to cool

Friday, March 3, 2017

Reese's Pretzel Basketball Cookies for Game Day

I'm super excited about this post.  March is finally here and Freaky Friday is finally here!  It's been months in the planning and kept top secret of course, but today is the big day I get to share with you.  It's time for our quarterly recipe swap I enjoy with some of my blogger pals.  Each of us is assigned a blog to choose a recipe from, and no one knows who has their blog or what recipe has been chosen until today.  Here's my creation and inspiration:

I was tasked with choosing a recipe from Take Two Tapas.  Jennifer features "delicious food with big flavors, but with smaller portions" and these Reese's Pretzel Basketball Cookies are the perfect example.  A sweet, salty bite-sized morsel to enjoy on game day.  As Jennifer says, "We don’t believe that you need to go into a food coma when you eat," but you probably will because you cannot eat just one of these little gems.  When I first began browsing through the recipes on Take Two Tapas, I was completely confused what to choose because there were too many fun options, and everything sounded amazing.  I had narrowed my choices down to the insanely decadent sounding Banana Fritters with Peanut Butter Drizzle, or her Mexican Cheese Ball with Spicy Tortilla Chips, since our family can never resist the words Mexican, Cheese, Spicy or Chips when it comes to eating.  Mind you we start working on Freaky Friday several months in advance.  I told my husband to take a look at Jennifer's blog and see if anything stood out to him.  Since the time I had perused and narrowed down my favorites, Jennifer added these adorable Reese's Pretzel Football Cookies for Game Day for the ideal Super Bowl Treat.  I don't have to remind you that we are huge sports fans here in Sooner Country, and of course my husband said, "Make those footballs!"

Normally when re-creating recipes for Freaky Friday we try to replicate the recipe as close to the original as possible.  My husband of all people should know that March means basketball, and it seemed silly to make footballs in March (even though we live and die by the Oklahoma Sooners Football Schedule around here!) so I decided to tweak Jennifer's idea just a bit and make basketballs instead.  March Madness is just around the corner, making these little bites the perfect court-side snack.  If you check out Jennifer's original recipe post, she tells the hilarious story of her son Connor sneaking the pretzels she purchased for this recipe into his room, licking the salt off of said pretzels and returning said pretzels to the bag.  Fortunately Jennifer realized exactly why the pretzels were bland and soggy before she dipped them in the chocolate.  My whole family was cracking up at this little story.  (I should let you know that we recently picked up two puppies that were dumped and we chose to foster them.  They were here while I was working on this recipe.  My daughter jokingly asked, "You didn't lick the salt off the pretzels inside these basketballs did you? My reply was, "No, I let the puppies do it.")  All joking aside, no puppies or pretzels were harmed in the making of this recipe!

Now when Jennifer made her Reese's Pretzel Football Cookies, she used those cool grid-like square pretzels to capture the football shape.  I know they make little pretzel circles, because I've seen them on cute little Pinterest Projects, but of course they do not exist at any of my local grocery stores. I wasn't sure how well a traditional pretzel shape would translate to a round basketball form but I was determined to make it work.  I followed Jennifer's instructions by slicing the Reese's cups in half and placing them on top of 20 pretzels which I laid out on a parchment lined pan.  After melting in the oven, I topped each of them with another pretzel to create a little "sandwich."  It was incredibly tempting, and hard to refrain from eating them at this point. Since the whole gluten allergy thing I have to be careful, but thankfully gluten-free pretzels exist so I made a few of those for myself.  The irony is the gluten-free pretzels had slightly more rounded shape, making for better basketballs, but not so much better snacking for the rest of my gluten tolerant household.  (While I'm grateful to have a gluten-free pretzel option, compared to regular pretzels they taste a little like the ones after the salt was licked off lol.)

Jennifer dipped her pretzels in a combination of semi-sweet chocolate and coconut oil to get the perfect football brown color.  I opted for the orange candy melts, knowing they melt flawlessly and would be the ideal basketball orange.  I just used a fork to dip the pretzels in the orange coating.  I let them dry slightly and dipped a second time.  That really helped disguise the pretzel shape, and help them appear more rounded.  Once they were completely dry, I melted a bit of chocolate and used a piping bag with a very narrow tip to pipe on the lines for the finished basketball look.

There's the finished product, nothing but net!  I'm delighted with how these turned out.  And even though I varied Jennifer's design slightly I think they represent her small bites philosophy splendidly.  You don't need a bundle of brownies or a pile of popcorn to enjoy a game.  These adorable little bites are sweet, salty and satisfying: "Bigger Flavors, Smaller Plates" as Jennifer would say.

Thanks again to Jennifer at Take Two Tapas for the charming inspiration and the healthful reminder that we don't need a hoard of food to eat well.  Please visit her page for some tasty inspiration.  She's got everything from dainty snacks to delectable drinks.  All perfectly suited for entertaining as well.

Reese's Pretzel Basketball Cookies

Inspired By: Take Two Tapas

40 pretzels
10 mini Reese's peanut butter cups
2 packages Wilton orange candy coating
2 ounces chocolate

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  On a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, place 20 pretzels.  Cut the Reese's cups in half horizontally.  Place each half on a pretzel.  Place in the oven for 5 minutes.  When the are done, remove from oven and top with the remaining 20 pretzels.  Press down slightly to flatten and get the pretzels to stick.  Cool completely.  Melt the candy coating in the microwave.  Carefully dip each pretzel sandwich into the coating.  Allow to dry and dip a second time for a more rounded shape.  Allow orange coating to dry.  Melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave and use a zip-style bag with a very small hole cut in the corner or a piping bag and tip to create the basketball "lines."  Cool completely and enjoy.

Prep Time:  Approximately 30 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 5 minutes

Makes 20 cookies

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