Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Friday. I Should Put Up a Recipe

I just realized that I forgot to put up a recipe last week. I apologize, but life has decided to take us up in its twisted path, and throw us a curve ball.

So, since we are gonna have to tighten up the pocketbook, here's a recipe for going at it on the cheap.

I'm On a Budget Pasta Salad

1 16 oz box past of your choice
1 can tuna, drained*
1 package frozen vegetables, thawed
2 ounces of grated cheese
3 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled up
1/4 to 1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1. Cook the pasta and drain.
2. Add the tuna, vegetables and mayonnaise. Stir to mix well.
3. Top with cheese and bacon and serve.

*Oil or water? If you use oil, save some to use when you mix the salad together.

If you want to serve this warm, then put the veggies in the colander as you drain the pasta. This will warm up the vegetables. I like to use carrots, green beans and/or corn. But any vegetable will do.

You can use chicken, pepperoni, pork, fish, fake krab, whatever you have. It's a great way to use up leftovers.

We enjoy this, it is quick, fast and as nutrient packed as you choose. We use pasta in our house as "filler." That is, to make sure our meals fill us up, and we aren't left feeling hungry. When money is tight, the kids don't understand "we couldn't afford it" when it comes to dinner. They do understand that their bellies are full, and that Mom fixed them something with the best ingredient never mentioned, Love.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Apple Pie

Apple pie...the ubiquitous two crust pie. It is certainly seen all over the place on dessert tables everywhere. But each and every one of these pies, and the ones you can buy in the grocery store all have a problem. I am deathly allergic to cinnamon, and Americans seem to think that if a dish has apples in it, it MUST have cinnamon. I prefer my food not to kill me. But I LOVE apple pie. So, thanks to some lovely cooks in south Oklahoma, I came up with a version that works with my allergy, AND makes all the apple pie lovers in my house happy (including me).

Apple Pie
3 Granny Smith apples
1 cup of vanilla sugar**
pie crust for 2 crust pie
1 egg + 2 TBSP water, beaten together (optional)
heavy whipping cream

1. Wash, core, quarter and slice the apples into approximately 1/4" slices. (We leave the peels on, you don't have to.)
2. In a bowl, put the apple slices, and mix with the vanilla sugar. Cover and let sit for at least 2 hours.
3. Put the 1st crust in the bottom of a deep dish pie plate. Gently put the apples in the crust, spreading them around for the best fit.
4. Lay the 2nd crust over the top, crimp the edges of the crusts together.
5. Cut 3 slits in the middle of the pie top, as steam vents. The design is up to you...but these slits are VERY important.
6. Wash the crust with egg wash, if desired.
7. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
8. Pour whipping cream through the steam vents. As much or as little as you want. Allow to sit for another 5 minutes. Cut and serve. You don't even need ice cream, unless you want it as a cool counterpoint to the hot pie.
9. Refrigerate, and its still good the next day. Better, sometimes.

**put sugar and 1 - 2 tsp of vanilla in a container with lid. Mix thoroughly, put the lid on, and shake it some. Let it sit for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

It Was a Rough Week

Well, my youngest hit double digits this week. I baked a cake, made homemade pizza, and pulled pork sandwiches on homemade rolls. Instead of giving you recipes, I'll give you the links to the dough and the cake/icing.

I use the basic Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day recipe at Mother Earth News. I make everything from small rolls to 15" pizza crusts with it

The chocolate cake recipe came from Hershey's. Where else would the recipe for Perfect Chocolate Cake come from? FYI, it's also on the back of most Hershey's Cocoa Powder cans, along with the icing recipe.

Live well, enjoy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bonus Recipe, Fried Chicken

So, recently, there was a terrific buy on some local chickens. $5 each. Can't beat that with a 10 foot pole. We bought 10. We have roasted two, and number three was destined to be fried chicken. These chickens are ALL over 6 pounds, with some being over 8, like the one I decided was destined to become fried chicken.

Ok, I didn't know WHAT I was going to do with it. But we had electrical issues last week, and while my refrigerator wasn't affected, my cooking plans were. Friday, I just kinda decided that this weekends foods were going to be more "fussy." Hence yesterday's acorn squash, and today's fried chicken.

Now, while I'd love to tell you all that "my grandma made the bestest fried chicken in the whole world," I can't. Love my Nana, but cooking is NOT what she does well.

So, as it's been years (yes, years) since I made a batch of fried chicken, I figured I'd better hit the usual suspects for recipes. Food Network, All Recipes and for good measure RecipeSource are the three main places I search for recipes. Recipe Zaar is another fairly decent place to look. I love Recipe Source for ethnic dishes. A lot of inspiration comes from that site. As usual, I came up with several different possibilites, from go-to guys Alton Brown, Emeril Legasse, and Tyler Florence. Poor Paula, didn't have anything I was looking for today. I came up flat at All Recipes and Recipe Source; at least for the kind of recipe I was looking for. We like buttermilk fried chicken. The acid in the buttermilk really helps tenderize the chicken and flavor it. This is especially important since these birds have not been pre-brined at the packing plant.

You know I can't leave well enough alone, so I adapted the recipes to what I have on hand and came up with my version. Each recipe had a different marinading time, so I went half in two and decided four hours sounded good.

Insert Cool Name Here Fried Chicken

1 chicken, cut up into serving sized pieces*
1 quart buttermilk (if you can find full fat buttermilk, I'm all for it)
1 - 2 TBSP Old Bay seasoning
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
salt, to taste

If you have a whole chicken, cut it up. Serving pieces are usually: 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 breasts and 2 wings. In a large bowl, put the remaining ingredients and whisk them together. Put the chicken in the marinade, and make sure it's all evenly coated. Place in fridge for 4 hours. FYI, I've been known to cut wings of chickens, pre-cook stage, and toss them all in a bag in my freezer....when I have a goodly amount, we get the ultimate treat: Momma's Chicken Wings. Yep, I make four mean styles of those, and we gotta have 'em all at the same time. Takes a LOT of wings.

*The chicken I ended up using was 8 pounds. Yes, EIGHT. Guess what, I cut each breast into two pieces, and the thighs were as big as a "normal" chicken breast. And I ended up having to use my full 1/2 gallon container of buttermilk because believe me, the quart wasn't gonna do it. I did add more of the seasonings when I added more buttermilk.

Fry time

2 - 3 cups flour
salt to taste
1 - 2 TBSP paprika (it does help bring out a pretty color)
1 - 2 TBSP Italian seasoning
Enough of your choice of frying medium to make about a one to two inch depth of fat in the bottom of a large skillet like object*

Put flour and seasonings in a gallon sized ziploc baggie. Shake vigorously, until mixed. Pull out one or two pieces of chicken from the buttermilk marinade(depends on the size of the pieces, really. On Godzilla-Chicken, one is all I can do) and let excess liquid drain off. Put the chicken in the ziploc baggie, shake it all about till chicken is coated. Pull out of bag, shake off excess flour, and put on a rack over a cookie sheet (mess cleaning made easy). Once all chicken is floured, warm your oil. Note, I said AFTER it's all floured up. The flour will have time to kinda soak up the buttermilk and help keep your coating ON the chicken if you give it this time to rest. Plus, it's coming to room temperature, a good thing when working with hot oil. Get the temperature of your cooking medium to 325F. Some say 300, some say 350. For me, 350 is too hot, 300 not quite warm enough. When you add food to the oil, it will cool down the oil, and oil temperatures below 300 (as will happen if that's the temperature you start at) can leave the food excessively greasy. When the temperature is right, add the chicken to the pan. Put the dark meats (legs and thighs) in the middle, where it will be a bit hotter, and the light meats (breasts and wings) around the edges. Cook for 10 - 12 minutes until golden, flip and cook for another 10 - 12 minutes.

You can put a lid on the whole thing. This does 2 things. It keeps oil from gracing your oven top and kitchen walls and it keeps the heat in the pan, cooking the chicken instead of heating up your house. If you use a lid, be aware that the chicken MAY cook faster than the times listed above.

*I don't care if you use Crisco, peanut oil, veggie oil, canola oil or motor oil. Really. Use what you feel is right for the health of your family. I think olive oil's smoke point is too low as well as adding a flavor I'm not sure is complimentary, and I am pretty sure they'll look at you funny if you use motor oil.

Serve this with fries, smashed taters, salad, whatever you like.

We like it hot, can ya tell? Add some Franks Hot Sauce (or your preferred brand) to the buttermilk.

Use the Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix in your flour mixture (this will make your fried chicken taste pretty close to that national brand).

I never make anything the exact same way twice. (Well, except.....wait, I change that around too, nevermind.) But we enjoy the variations, and I always have the recipe skeleton to use as guide, so I don't get too far off base.

Oh, and the reason this is Insert Cool Name Here Fried Chicken is because I couldn't come up with a cool name. So, call it what you want!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bonus Recipe, Stuffed Acorn Squash

so, last week I was doing the grocery shopping and came across a terrific deal on Acorn Squash. I bought two, knowing that we'd eat 1/2 each, stuffed with.......something.

Well, today was the day to figure out what the heck to do with that squash. As it happens, I had about 1 1/2 pounds of ground pork in the fridge, for this very reason. So, I was faced with 4 halves of Acorn Squash, 1 1/2 pounds of ground pork, 2 hungry kids and 1 hungry husband. Nothing like a little pressure right?

Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 Acorn Squash, halved stem to point
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
Kosher Salt
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
Garlic Powder
Apple Cider Vinegar
Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Scrape the seeds out of each half. If you are feeling adventurous, dry the seeds, and use them in the garden next year. You may get some nice acorn squah, then again, you may not. I'm not sure if Acorn Squash seeds can be toasted like Pumpkin seeds. If anyone knows, please let me know.

2. Line a small cookie sheet with foil, and spray with Pam (or your choice of anti-stick stuff). Lay the squash cut side down on the sheet, and put it in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until a knife slides easily through the flesh.

3. When squash is done, turn off oven, but leave the squash in there. It will keep it all nice and warm till we are ready for it.

4. In a handy pan of whatever dimension you have that will hold 1 1/2 pounds of ground pork, put the pork over medium heat to begin cooking it. Season with salt, garlic powder, and any other seasonings you'd like.

5. In a separate pan, place 1/2 cup water, about 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Gently boil this until it is the desired consistency.

6. When meat and sauce are done, get the squash out of the oven. Serve one half per person, put meat in the cavity from the seeds, drizzle the sauce over it, and put in front of the lucky person!

Jim really loved this one, although he did say it might be a *touch* too sweet. I'd like to use apple juice and/or apple sauce instead of vinegar, but I didn't have any. The vinegar was in the sauce to cut the sweetness with a bit of a bite, but not too much.

I like tangy sauces, and therefore, my experiments tend to start that way, and even my creamy sauces have some zing somewhere.


Friday, November 6, 2009

What a Week!

Well, it is Friday again. Happens every week, right? It's been a heck of a week. Last weekend, we put two pigs into sub-primals for cooling. Yesterday, my mother and my kids and I put our pig into usable cuts. I'm no master butcher, but I cut that pig into 170# of pork cuts for our freezer in a manner that allows us to get the best use out of it.

If you want to know how much room that takes up, I'll tell you. It takes up 2 large coolers and 1/2 of a Wal-Mart cooler bag. Then we unloaded it all into the deep freezer. I struggled finding places to put all those packages that didn't stack the meat too much on itself. Packing it tight is a very bad idea because it won't allow the meat in the middle to freeze.

But I managed, and now it's in the freezer, and all is well. Now I have to find a way to cook it all! I didn't make sausage yesterday, but I did grind up almost 26 pounds of pork for ground pork. Guess what we are eating tonight, lol!

In light of the magnitude of pork in my freezer, I'm tossing a pork recipe at you all today!

Italian Sausage
2 pounds ground pork
2 - 3 tsp salt
3 - 5 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP fennel sead
pepper, to taste.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight. You can then make patties, meatballs, mini-meatballs for pizza topping or just fry it up loose.

I use this to make little 1/2-inch meatballs for my homemade pizzas. I make meat sauce for spaghetti with it. I use it in any recipe that calls for Italian sausage.

If you don't have the means to make sausage links (and I don't), you can hand-form links fry them up in a saute pan or frying pan.

It's a very versatile recipe, and just like everything else I put up, please take them and make them yours. Adjust the seasonings, add what you want, take out what you don't.

In order to make this Hot Italian Sausage, add some cayenne or hot pepper of choice to the meat mix before you put it in the fridge.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of the ultimate comfort foods. We can switch it up to accommodate what happens to be available at the time. So, here's a good starting place for you guys.

This does my family one dinner and one lunch easily. If we are careful (read, Jim doesn't decide that it's WAAAY too good), it can do 2 dinners.

Chicken Pot Pie
1 chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup (or mushroom, or chicken and mushroom)
8 oz frozen carrots
8 oz frozen green beans
8 oz frozen corn kernels
Salt, lemon pepper, Italian seasoning, pepper, (ok whatever you want...helpful, aren't I?)
1 pie crust

Optional: 1 large onion, diced and saute'ed, 1 or 2 potatoes, diced small (1/4")

1. In a large pot, cover the chicken with water, and boil for several hours. If it falls apart when you try to pull it out of the water, that's about right. When it's fall off the bone tender, pull the chicken out, and let it cool. Pick the carcass clean. You want the meat for the pie, not the skin and bones.

2. In a LARGE bowl, mix the chicken, soup, seasonings, and the veggies. Tasty tasty to make sure it's all nummy.

3. Put the filling into a lasagna sized pan. I use the foil pans, myself.

4. Roll out the pie crust to fit the pan. I have a great cutting board that is JUST the right size. Put pie crust over the filling, and cut steam vents in the top.

5. Bake for about 1 hour at 300, or about 30 minutes at 350. (Temp check = 180ish)

6. Eat and enjoy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

My grandmother's recipe was the foundation for this one. She showed me the basics, I made it taste. If anyone has heard about my grandmother's cooking, you know that she is not real big on taste in her cooking.

2 pounds of ground meat
2 pounds potatoes
1 large onion
2 TBSP tomato paste
garlic powder
Italian seasoning
whatever veggies you want to toss in.

1. Take your potatoes, and cut them into large chunks. Boil them until fork tender in salted water. Make mashed potatoes according to your family's preferences. (Mine like cheesy-garlic smashed taters.)
2. Brown your meat. The type of meat isn't too important. I use what's on sale, or what I have on hand. Beef, pork, turkey, venison, lamb, it all works. I'd mix turkey 1/2 and 1/2 with something though.
3. Chop up your onion. 1/4" to 1/2" dice is fine. Saute in whatever you want to, I use butter, until translucent. Add to meat.
4. Mix in seasonings to taste into your meat and onion mixture. Mix in the tomato paste. You can substitute some tomato sauce if that's what you have.
5. Mix in whatever frozen (thawed is ok, and fresh works too) veggies you have on hand that work for you. Corn, green beans, peas all work pretty good.
6. Spread meat in the bottom of an oven safe 9 x 13 baking/roasting pan. Top with the mashed potatoes.
7. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until heated through and veggies are cooked.

Shepherd's Pie is the ultimate in "use up what you got" around my house. It's a great and filling supper, that warms you up when the temperatures outside start dipping. As always, make this your own. There are lots of variations out there.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What to Cook Friday

Fridays are not the best days for me to cook. First of all, it's payday, which means it's the day to shop. Which means not getting home until 9pm. Who wants to cook then? Not I. However the kids and the husband insist they must be fed dinner. What's a girl to do? I hit my basic ready-in-minutes meals. Here's one.

This recipe will cost a bit more than usual, as I generally pick up things that are already sliced, and ready to cook.

Friday Night Rush

16 oz package sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds sliced beef or chicken
4 large baking potatoes
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
3 cloves garlic
1/2 to 1 soup can milk

1. Scrub potatoes, and cook them in the microwave (8 minutes, check them, and see where you are at.)
2. Saute the mushrooms in about 2 TBSP of butter. As they release their water, add some salt to season, not much more than a pinch.
3. Season the meat. I use lemon pepper, salt & pepper, sometimes garlic powder. Whatever you have.
4. Melt another 2 TBSP butter in another pan. Press the garlic into the melted butter and saute for a few minutes. Add meat, and saute until fully cooked.
5. In a sauce pan, put the can of soup, and milk. Warm it up, stirring it until the milk is fully incorporated. Add the cooked mushrooms.
6. To serve, put meat on plate, and put some of the mushroom sauce over it. Add baked potato, and whatever toppings you like. Add another side (sauteed bell peppers, steamed green beans, broccoli or whatever you like). Viola! Done. Usually takes me about 20 minutes to get it to the table.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh, Look! I'm Early

Ok, tomorrow the family and I are going to be at and in (in hubby's case) a wedding, so I'm posting early.

Earlier this week, someone on one of my lists asked what to do with meatballs. The wheels in my head started turning so fast that smoke came out of my ears. (At least, that's what the kids said!) I was facing the day with 2 kids and me down with "flu-like" symptoms, and as the H1N1 was barreling through the gym where my daughter goes to gymnastics, it seemed prudent to keep everyone home, and safe(r). I was mentally running down what we had in the cabinets to put together for a dinner that was substantial and delicious. Apparently, I succeeded. So, here you are. As per usual, measurements are approximate, seasonings are "to taste", and variations are offered.

Brat's Meatballs Made 1 dinner meal and 1 lunch meal for 4 people

2 pounds of 1-2oz meatballs (recipe follows)
3 cups cooked rice (Jasmine, YUM)
1 can cream of chicken soup (hey, it's what I had!)
2/3 can milk (yeah, approximate this one)
1/3 cup sour cream
4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated (it's what we had, that needed used up)
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

1. Line a 9x13 roasting pan with foil, and spray it with cooking spray (or brush w/ whatever you like to avoid sticking). The foil helps immensely with clean up.
2. Preheat oven to 325.
3. In a small pan, put the soup, milk and sour cream over a low heat to begin warming it up. Mix very well, ensuring an even mix. As it gets warm you can add your cheese, stirring it in. If you made the meatballs today, add the meatball juice, yes it's fat, but it tastes good! Mine wasn't too warm, and I had everything waiting for me. (Steps 3 and 4 can be interchanged.)
4. Put the cooked rice on the bottom of the roasting pan and spread the meatballs evenly across the rice.*
5. Carefully ladle the sauce over the meatballs and rice. You should be able to get some over just about the entire area. If you miss a spot or two, don't worry too much.
6. Put in oven for about 10 - 15 minutes until heated through.
7. Serve! Enjoy!

*You can also break up your meatballs in to smaller bits, I wouldn't want to break them into smaller than 1/4 meatballs, but we like the chunky aspect.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb (or use whatever meat you want)
garlic powder, lemon pepper, italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste (I can't tell you how much, we never measure, and we make this mix 10lbs at a time.)

1. Mix meat with seasonings. If you feel the need to use bread crumbs or eggs as a binder feel free (I think 1 egg for 2 pounds is good), but these cooked up super moist and held together just fine. IF you are working with a small amount of meat (like this), you could press a clove or 2 (or 10) of garlic into the meat as you mix.
2. Make meatballs, approximately 1 - 2 inches across. We like them at about 1 1/2 inches.
3. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet, and put in 300 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until temperature reaches 140 degrees on a meat thermometer placed into the middle of a meatball.
4. You can now put these away in fridge or freezer (after cooling)or just use them in the above Brat Recipe. I just used them and the juice in the recipe.

You knew there would be variations, right?
1. Use any Cream of **** soup. You can change up the whole flavor base right there.
2. Use pork, veal, seafood, whatever you want for the meatballs. Try to pair your soup with the meat.
3. Use tomato soup, italian seasonings w/ milk, broth or red wine and just sprinkle your cheese on top. (For those who have family members who don't like cream sauces....)
4. Change your cheese...using a different cheese will change the character as well.

Just remember, I highly encourage you to change up anything in any recipe I put up that doesn't work for you. Working with the base recipes, and utilizing variations gives you a bigger number and differentiation of recipes to serve your family. It might be *like* what you served last week, or 2 weeks ago, but it isn't the same.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Feeding the Soul - Chicken Noodle Soup

So, it's been a strange couple of weeks, and yesterday I think I walked my feet off at the Tulsa State Fair. But the cooler weather is dropping in, and that means soup weather. There are thin soups, thick soups, weird soups, and old comfort food soups. Chicken Noodle Soup always makes us feel better, whether you believe it helps your body or just your mind. (Science tells that it actually helps us reduce mucus generation so we aren't as stuffed up, Gramma says it's just good for you. And frankly, anything that reminds us of the love Gramma has--can't be bad.)

Also, I make this by the truckload, and freeze it. So, here are my quantities. Also, the first list of ingredients is more geared toward the fact that I just need to look out the door to fine next Sunday's chicken dinner! (Ok, last weekend, all the chickens got processed, but you get the idea). Also, it takes a while, but it is so worth it.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Stage 1
1 Chicken, rinsed (especially if you buy this at the grocery store)
Water to cover
3 Carrots, scrubbed
3 Ribs Celery, including tops, scrubbed
1 Onion

Stage 2
2 - 3 Carrots, scrubbed, and sliced in about 1/4" slices
2 - 3 ribs of Celery, scrubbed, sliced in about 1/4" slices
however many cloves of garlic your family can stand, minced
1 16oz package of egg noodles (I use thin, OR make my own pasta)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place chicken in a large pot. Cover with water. Rough chop the carrots and celery into about 3 pieces each. Quarter onion. (NO peeling necessary). Toss vegetables in with chicken.
2. Bring to a boil, put lit on pot. Allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. This is where your stock comes from, don't skimp on it. I usually like to leave it about 3 hours. By this time the chicken should just about be falling off the bones. Carefully remove chicken from the stock, and put on a plate; allow to cool.
3. Strain stock. That is sometimes harder than it sounds. Place a colander over another large pot, and carefully pour the stock and veggies thru the colander, so you save your stock, but remove the veggies. Pick out any chicken that actually DID fall of the bones. The veggies are compost heap fodder at this point, but that's ok.
4. It can take between 30 minutes to an hour for the chicken to cool enough to handle. When it is, strip the chicken clean, discarding skin, connective tissue and bones. You should be left with a mound of chicken. Rough chop it if you wish.
5. Slice carrots, celery, mince onion. Put chicken and veggies into the freshly made chicken stock. Check seasoning, add a little salt and pepper to taste.
6. Bring to a boil and add noodles. Simmer until noodles are cooked, and serve. I like to put a little dollup of sour cream or shave a little cheese over each bowl.
7. Watch the smiles light up everyone's faces.

Short Cut Chicken Soup
But, but, I don't have TIME to cook all day............ok, yeah I hear ya. You know you can make a huge amount any day you are home, right? Complete everything up to and including step 4, then add chicken to broth, and freeze. Remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator. Then finish as above.

But the real shortcut:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
3 carrots, sliced 1/4"
3 celery ribs, sliced 1/4"
1 16oz package egg noodles
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart chicken broth, or water

1. Cut up chicken breast.
2. Put everything EXCEPT noodles in pan. Adjust salt and pepper. Keep in mind, if you are using store-bought broth then you will probably have enough salt in there already.
3. Bring to a boil, add noodles, cook 10 minutes or until noodles are done. Serve.

Change up the veggies in Stage 2. Add potatoes instead of noodles.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Easy Breezy Cover Girl....

So, in the last two nights I have made my EBCC Smashed 'Taters, and fresh pasta. I haven't worked out the pasta thing real well yet, so you get EBCC Smashed 'Taters this week. Again, this is not gonna be one of your cookbook recipes. I can't tell you how many potatoes to use, or even the weight, as everyone's family has different needs. I use 8 oz of cheese for approximately 2 to 2.5 pounds of potatoes. Use the garlic to your families preference, I'm telling you we love garlic, so can use up to double of what I call for here. But we are garlic lovers.

The pasta was Mario Batali's recipe from the Foodnetwork website, if you want to go experiment on your own. I don't have a great rolling pin, so my noodles were pretty thick. It goes without saying that I don't have a pasta rolling machine. However, they were eaten completely gone to rave reviews from my family.

Easy Breezy Cover Girl
enough potatoes for your crew
8 oz grated cheese of your choice (I've used sharp cheddar, Monteray Jack, and Colby Jack all with good revies)
1/2 to full stick butter
2 - 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

Scrub your potatoes, peel if you wish. We don't, but what ever your family will eat. Cube your potatoes into about 1/2" chunks, toss into salted water, and boil until fork tender. Drain, and put the pan back on the stove. Roughly chop the butter, so that you don't have to deal w/ huge block of butter, put in pan. Toss the now drained potatoes back in. If you feel you need to, you can turn the fire on under the potatoes to dry them off, but ours are usually just fine. Toss the cheese, and garlic in. Using a very stout spoon (utensil type, not eating type), stir the cheese, garlic and butter into the potatoes, smooshing the potatoes as you do. When you have things worked thru, add enough milk to get the potatoes the consistency you like, always smooshing the potatoes against the pan wall.

These EBCC Smashed 'Taters are not smooth as a baby's butt, unless you wanna grab the electric beater and make 'em that way. But they are yummy, and there are never any left overs. Makes my lunch plate VERY sad, let me tell you.

One option is to melt the butter in another (small) pan, and saute the garlic in it for a sweeter garlic-y taste. Then once you've dumped your potatoes back in the pan, just pour the garlic butter over the cubes.

Change up cheeses, add green onions, add sour cream, cream cheese...really, make this your own specialty. If you don't get rave reviews, send me the offending family members for re-education. I think I know where my cast-iron skillets are.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Feasting on Friday

Yes, I know. It's only noon, yet here I am, writing in the recipe blog. Last weekend, we put up about 60 pounds of ground lamb, and 3 chickens. It would have been more chicken, but we were tired and still had the lamb to grind up. This week, there's an awesome sale on ground beef, so I will be taking advantage of that, and doing some work this weekend putting away some semi-prepped meals in the freezer. This makes my life MUCH easier (as long as I remember to grab a meal out of the freezer to defrost.)

This weeks recipe is lamb again. But we enjoyed the heck out of it.

Lamb Chili-like Object
2 lbs ground lamb
1 can Ranch-style beans
1 can Baked beans
2 - 3 TBSP Chili powder
1 - 3 tsp cumin
1 - 3 tsp salt
*some* red pepper flakes

Brown the lamb. Add the salt as you are browning, as this will flavor the meat best. Add both cans of beans, chili powder, cumin and red pepper. Heat to simmer. Simmer for as long as you desire, but a minimum of 30 minutes.

You can serve this over oven-baked fries and put shredded cheese on it for chili-cheese fries. We go heavy on the chili, for a great meal.

Be aware that the canned baked beans are sweet. If you don't want that in your chili, use a second can of Ranch-style beans instead.

Use however you would use *regular* chili--on burgers, fries, over tortilla chips or fritos.

Using lamb instead of beef just gives the chili some more depth, but you can use whatever meat/meat combination you choose. I have to say, that the lamb burgers, and the chili have changed my husband's opinion of lamb! For that I'm truly grateful, as I LOVE it, and we have two pregnant ewe's in the field!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Comes Around Once A Week

And yet again, Friday has reared it's head. Friday is payday. Friday is mortgage day. Money comes in, money goes out. *Sigh* isn't that always the way. So, what should we make this week?

Brat's Burgers

2 pounds ground meat (use beef, pork, veal, lamb or a combination)
1/2 small onion, minced very finely
approximately 4 ounces of cheese (grated block cheese, or crumbled up blue or feta cheese, whatever your family likes)
seasoning salt to taste (I use Lowry's)
1 egg
bacon, according to your family's taste
4 burger buns

1. Mix the meat, minced onion, egg, and seasoning salt. Form into eight patties.

2. Divide cheese evenly between four of the patties. Top with the remaining patties, and squeeze the patties together, sealing the cheese inside.

3. Fry up your bacon, to the desired point of doneness, drain on paper towel.

4. Cook your burgers however you prefer them. The cheese will be all melty inside of the burger and tasty to boot!

5. Put them on the buns with your family's preferred toppings, and serve with what you all like.

By changing the cheeses, spices and meats in these burgers, you can infinitely change the taste. You can grill them, pan fry them, or broil them. I've been known to add liquid smoke, garlic or onion powder, or just about anything in my spice drawer.

I serve burgers with oven baked fries.

*Edit 09/09/09*
I made these again last night with ground lamb, and blue cheese. I just layed the onion in with the cheese. My husband couldn't say enough good about them. I just sprinkled the outside w/ Lawry's Seasoning Salt as they were hitting the pan. I forgot about egg/breadcrumbs...and think that would have helped a bit.

Couple of things to realize: 1. This make for thick burgers. No wimpy, skimpy burgers HERE. 2. Homemade buns (a la Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) are the bomb. 3. You have to make the patties THIN and WIDE. That helps with the thick thing. Make them about 1/2 inch wider than your bun to account for shrinkage. That could be more or less, depending on what meat you are using and the fat content.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Darn it all.......

Friday passed me by, again. Sorry, I picked up chicks for the homestead yesterday, and then dealt with a migraine last night. But here's your recipe for this week.

It's quick, it's easy, and it's very adaptable to your own likes.

1 1/2 pounds imitation seafood
8 ounces cheese
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup mayonaise
salt to taste
1 loaf french bread

1. In a mixing bowl, put the mayo, curry powder and salt. Mix well.
2. Break up the seafood, or chop it into smallish bits.
3. Mix the seafood into the mayo mix. Set aside.
4. Slice the french bread down the middle longways, so you have a top and bottom half. Butter the bread.
5. Put the bread in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
6. Grate the cheese.
7. Pull the bread out of the oven, top with seafood mix and then cheese. Put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes or so, until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.

I told you this is adaptable. Switch out meats, change your cheeses around. Vary the spice flavor you use in the mayo. Here's what WE had last night: imitation seafood, curry mayo, Monteray Jack cheese on Wal-Mart's everything wheat sub rolls. Those things are the BOMB!

I made this up one day standing in WM, trying to figure out something quick and easy for dinner. It was late, and I wasn't feeling very enthused about getting dinner on the table. 1 French bread loaf feeds our family of four dinner. No, it's not all the food groups. And no, we don't eat this very often. You can add a salad, if it makes you feel better! We do sometimes. But this is my go-to if we aren't getting home until 9:30 pm on a Friday and I don't have anything premade in the house.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where Does The Time Go? It's Friday Already!

Well, hello again, and welcome back for another weekly installment of my recipe blog. I wish I could say that I thought long and hard about what I was going to put out here for you guys, but.....yeah, right. My life is crazy busy with the farm, and 2 kids that are homeschooled. My grading folder is WAY fatter than it should be. So, before I set myself to grading papers, here's a recipe for today.

Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder roast (I get about 6 or 7 pounds)(bone in is fine, boneless is easier. Butt roast is good too)
1 package of McCormick BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning
about 1 cup ketchup
about 1 cup brown sugar
about 1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 package of your favorite mexican seasoning mix OR 1 TBSP Chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1. Place the pork in a slow cooker that is large enough to hold it. Mine is a 6 quart Rival. Note: if your pork roast is netted, remove the netting before you put it in the cooker.

2. Mix the seasonings, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar until blended and pour over the pork. Put the lid on.

3. Cook for 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. This will make your roast nice and tender. I recommend the low setting rather than the high setting. Take the meat out of the crockpot, and put it on a large plate or platter.

4.Shred the pork, using 2 forks. It is very tender, and should pull apart fairly easily. You can control the size of your shreds, too. Put the pork back in the slow cooker and mix with all the nice juice. Make sure it's all nice and hot and serve. Makes great sandwiches! Take your leftovers, freeze them in dinner sized portions (making sure there is juice in your package), and you have dinner all ready for another night.

Variations: Change up your seasonings. The vinegar and the sugar to make the pork all tender, but you can reduce the amount of sugar used. The McCormick website has several seasoning packages that would be wonderful. I've used 2 packages of Wal-Mart's house brand Fajita seasoning instead of the all the rest of the seasonings, and it comes out just fine. My family loves this recipe.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 14, 2009

OOOOPS......Is It Friday Already?

Oh, geez, Friday snuck up on me. I've given you some pretty hearty options over the last two weeks, so let's get a bit naughty! Ok, dessert time!

Ice Cream Cake

3 cups Vanilla Ice Cream, soft enough to spread
3 cups Chocolate Ice Cream, soft enough to spread
1 box 'Nilla Wafers (or graham crackers)
Hershey's Chocolate syrup
6 Skor or Heath Bars

1. Crush wafers so you have about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs total.
2. In a 8 or 9 inch spring form pan, put 1/2 of the crumbs in the bottom to cover.
3. Put chocolate ice cream in the pan. Spread evenly to cover crumbs. Should be about 1 inch thick.
4. Drizzle with 1 TBSP Kahlua, 2 - 4 TBSP chocolate syrup, and 3 crushed candy bars.
5. Top this with remaining wafer crumbs.
6. Spread the vanilla ice cream over this crumb layer. Repeat the Kahlua, syrup and candy bar treatment.
7. Place in freezer for a couple of hours to harden up.
8. To serve, remove the springform ring, cut and serve!

Kahlua is optional, but it adds a great layer to this wonderful dessert! The type of crumbs you use is up to you as well. For a change up, crush chocolate wafers, or whatever floats your boat.

Play with it, change the ice creams and the extra nummys you put in there. I really love it like this, but I'm gonna use mint-chocolate chip one day. Really!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cooking Ahead

Our schedule during the "school year" is crazy. We leave home at 6:30am and arrive home between 8:30pm and 9pm. Then the kids have to eat, shower and get ready for bed...and do their chores. Not much time, huh? I could come home and spend an hour or more cooking something from scratch, which puts them in bed at about midnight, or I could do the bulk of my cooking on the weekend, still eat well during the week, and let the kids hit the sack at a more reasonable time. Guess whick I pick?

This week's menu consists of Shepherd's Pie, Chili Baked Potatoes, and Meat filling over rice or pasta.

Here's what I did. And by the way, this took about 2 hours start to finish, and I have five meals in my fridge and freezer.

Ingredients, in no particular order

5 pounds ground meat
3 Vidalia onions
2 cans kernel corn
10 pounds potatoes
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 packet fajita seasoning
1 15 ounce can Ranch-style beans
8 ounces cheddar cheese
2 sticks butter
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup milk

1. Chop the onions finely, grate cheese. Peel 5 pounds of potatoes, cut in cubes and start cooking them in salted water.

2. While potatoes are cooking, brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Season it up with some salt. Be careful, as too much salt now can make things problematical later.

3. In another skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter, toss in your onions, and press the garlic thru a garlic press into the pan. Saute until translucent. This just brings out the sweetness in the onions and garlic. Set aside, it will cool on it's own.

4. When beef is free of pink, pull about a pound and put it in a small bowl or pan. To this add fajita seasoning and can of ranch beans. Mix completely. Put in quart sized freezer bag. Label and freeze. One down.

5. When potatoes are fork tender, drain them. Put them back in the pan and dry cook them to make sure all the water cooked off. About 30 seconds or so. Add 1 1/2 sticks of butter. Stir to melt butter into potatoes. What I did was stir it a little, then put the lid back on, and walked away for 7 minutes (set the oven timer). By the time I had recovered a bit, and the timer went off, the butter was all melted. Stir in the butter. Add milk, and grated cheese. Stir until a nice consistency is reached. No mashing required! Cool, huh? I had nice creamy, cheesy potatoes and all I did was stir in all my goodies.

6. To the rest of the ground beef, add the corn, tomato sauce, some salt and stir it all up. I used a slotted spoon out the beef into another deep pan (5 qt or more) and then poured about half the ground beef juices into the now fairly dry beef. Test your seasonings now, as we are putting 3 of these together.

7. In 3 8x8x2 square pans (or whatever you have) put a layer (1/2 way up) of ground beef mixture. Then top with mashed potatoes. Done. 3 more dinners out of the way. Make sure every thing is cool before you put it in the freezer. Cover the casseroles with plastic wrap, label and freeze. (Ok, I put 2 in the fridge. One for tonight, and 1 for tomorrow). WOWEE, now we have 4 dinners done.

8. Put the remaining ground beef in a gallon sized freezer bag, squeeze out the air, label and freeze. Mine was cool enough at this point to freeze.

Eating Day

1. Shepherd's Pie. Thaw in fridge overnight. Put in a 350 degree oven (I never preheat) until potatoes are golden brown on top, and meat part is bubbly. It's a complete meal in one pot.

2. Chili Baked Taters. Thaw in fridge overnight. Scrub and bake enough potatoes for your crew. Warm up beef mixture in a small pan and check your seasonings. Grate a bit of cheese (only you know how much you guys want, for us, about 6 ounces is about right. We love cheese.) When potatoes are done (I use the microwave, it's quick), split them in 1/2 lengthwise and put on serving plates. Split the beef evenly between the potatoes, top with cheese, sour cream if you want and serve.

3. Leftover meat filling and rice or pasta. Thaw in fridge overnight. Kinda depends on what we have available. I actually have both this week, but we'll figure it out later. Make enough rice for your crew, while that's cooling warm up the beef mixture. Serve beef over rice.


Ok, just because I'm eating 3 Shepherd's Pies this week doesn't mean you have to. Properly covered, it will keep in the freezer for a couple of months. You can freeze the meat and potatoes separately, thaw and assemble the day of cooking. You can cook one right away if you want.

I used beef today, because guess what, that's what I have. You can use beef, buffalo (VERY low fat), lamb, pork, venison or any combination of the above. You can't beat a mix of pork, venison and beef....that is just pure yum on a plate.

I adjust my seasonings as I go. I know how my family likes things. You don't have to use salt and pepper, you can use any of the green dried herbs you want in the Shepherd's pie mixture (tarragon, basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, sage, you get the idea). This dish NEVER tastes the same way twice, especially since I tend to make it with what I have in the house. The ingredients I gave are what I had on hand, except the beef, cheese and potatoes. I had my husband buy that yesterday. I try to maximise the different uses out of the minimum of ingredients. You can make 3 different kinds of shepherd's pies, just by seasoning up enough filing for one at a time. I didn't, but I have in the past. Frozen or fresh veggies (thaw the frozen ones first) work just as well as canned, I just had the canned available.

1. Serve the chili mix over tortillas instead.
2. Use cornbread batter to top one of the shepherd's pies.
3. Use your imagination!

So, enjoy. Sorry I'm a couple of days late, but I hope you think it's worth it! One of these days, I'll actually remember to take pictures.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spring Rolls, Better Late Than Never

So, I did promise to put my spring roll recipe here for you guys. But I was playing in the kitchen, and gave you Tex-Mex instead.

We love Asian food in general, Thai food in particular. I was having a craving for Thai, but the places we have gone in the past were either sliding down on the quality scale, or we couldn't afford the trip to the restaurant. So, armed with a Thai/Vietnamese cookbook, I took another foray into yet another unknown frontier.

Spring Rolls w/ Dipping Sauce

6-inch rice wrappers
shredded carrots and jicama
rice vermicelli
assorted meats for filling

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 - 6 cloves garlic
1/2" to 1" ginger, peeled
2 - 4 T sugar

1. Making dipping sauce early. You can make it the night before if you like. It does get better. Place fish sauce and vinegar in a small bowl. Mince garlic and ginger into sauce. (Or do what I did, put them thru your garlic press!) Add enough sugar to counter the saltiness of the fish sauce. Let the flavors mingle for at least 2 hours before serving

2. Prepare meat. Let me tell you, we had quite the adventure here. We had a week of spring rolls, and they weren't the same any night, just by changing up the meat. Cook and slice 1 chicken breast (yes, for 4 people) or 1 country style beef rib (yes, 4 people again!). Steam or boil shrimp. (I used about 3/4 lb of shrimp boiled in salt water for about 5 minutes. Then I chopped it up finely.) Your imagination is the limit here.

3. Boil about 2 cups of water, and add about 3 ounces of rice vermicelli. No need to be very exact here. Turn off heat. Let the noodles sit for about 10 minutes until soft. Drain. I put them back into the pan tossed with a little sesame oil to keep them from sticking to each other.

4. You need a pan with about 1/2 inch of HOT (110 degree) water. This is to soften those wrappers. Slide the wrapper in, making sure it dunks under the water. It will take 5 to 10 seconds to soften. Remove from water, and place on your working surface. I used a clean cutting board. Put a small amount of your meat, shredded veggies and rice noodle about 1 1/2 inches above the bottom curve of the wrapper. Fold the bottom over the filling, and hold tight. Fold the sides in, and then roll toward the top. Put seam side down on a plate and serve with dipping sauce.

The package of wrappers I got had about 50 rice wrappers in it. That's a LOT of spring rolls, hoss! We made 1 each for the kids, and 2 each for the adults. Served with jasmine rice (THIS is the absolute bomb-diggity, btw), even to Mr. Unstoppable Metabalism, this was plenty of food. These spring rolls aren't HUGE, either. Honestly, we probably ate less in calories, WAY less in fat, and were totally full.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Tortillas, How I Love Thee

I know, I know, I promised Spring Rolls. And I promised Friday...but life got in the way, and these tie in so nicely to last weeks bonus recipes, that I don't feel bad. Much.

We love Tex-Mex. I have my own quesadilla recipe, the base of which serves as the base for much of my cooking. Chili, fajitas, quesadillas, you name it. Anything Tex-Mex-y is fair game. But you know, tortillas form the base for much of what we use that recipe on, in and around. We love flour tortillas, but frankly, buying by the 8 pack is cost prohibitive. Honestly, these things are just flour and a bit of other stuff, so why do I have to pay so much for them? I decided to stop making the tortilla company rich, and make my own.

So, I did what I always do. Scoured the net for recipes to adapt to my way of thinking. Unfortunately, there are 2 camps for tortilla making. One camp uses a decent amount of lard or Crisco, the other uses almost no fat what-so-ever. Ever being the scientist, I decided to perform the experiment. I hypothesized that the low-fat tortillas would be blah, and not what we wanted, and the ones made with Crisco would be yummy.

Next step, design the experiment. Simple enough, make two sets of tortillas. Eat them. Decide which are better. This is subjective, and perhaps not quite scientific, but hey, it's about food, right? Pure science this is not.

Here are the two recipes, adapted for our use, with their notes. Don't let the "F" word scare you. Fat, in moderation, is no more a problem in one's diet than anything else.

Low-fat or Texas-style Tortillas

2 cups all-purpose flour (I routinely use unbleached, personal principle)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher, again personal principle)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (cheap stuff here)
3/4 cup warm milk (whole milk, I'd use raw if I had it)

1. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add vegetable oil. Slowly add milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball forms.
2. Knead for 2 minutes on a floured surface. The resulting ball will be firm and soft.
3. Place dough in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or damp cloth. Let rest for 20 minutes.
4. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Cover once more with plastic wrap or damp cloth, rest for 10 minutes.
5. Heat griddle. You want this thing hot, but don't burn down your house.
6. While griddle is heating, roll out first ball of dough. In my experiments (I made this recipe twice), six to seven inches is about as big as I can get it and keep it round. I have a lousy rolling pin. Flour the pin and rolling surface lightly to prevent sticking.
7. Place tortilla on hot griddle.
8. Roll out next tortilla. Flip the tortilla on the griddle as it browns on the underside and starts bubbling as the air inside expands. Cook on second side for about 30 or so seconds until desired brownness is achieved. Remove from griddle and set aside to cool on a rack.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you are finished.
10. Serve as desired.

Oh, my goodness, these were so good. Chewy, delicious. Filled with refried beans and the aforementioned Tex-Mex base, grated cheese and sour cream....Yummy!

Fat Version

2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Crisco or lard (I used Crisco. The local grocery doesn't carry lard.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup warm water.

1. Mix flour, salt and baking powder.
2. Cut in Crisco
3. Follow the directions as above. Really, it's simple.

These roll out to 8 inches fairly easily, and 10 inches is do-able. They were not as nice a texture as the Texas version was, and needed some more salt. Adjust to your taste. I will have home-rendered lard this fall, so that may make a bit of a difference.

Rest assured, I will be conducting more experiments to determine the best ratios for our tastes. Use the base, adjust according to your tastes, really. It's not rocket science. And 99.99% of the time you can eat your mistakes! They may not be perfect, and honestly, I very, very rarely have anything come out so bad as to not be repeated. Ever. Twice in 10 years of marriage. Not a bad thing, really. There have been many things I've told my husband he is not to make again. Ever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Experiments, and Why They Should Be Performed in the Kitchen

If you are anything like me, you can pull together a meal using about a handful of recipes in your head. There's a slight amount of variation depending on what happens to be in the kitchen at the time, but mostly, dinner consists of the same old same old. Gets old quick, doesn't it. Then, you lose your desire to cook, and when the helpful souls in the household won't give you any ideas of what they want, your motivation just goes right out the window.

So, the kids are gone for 10 days. I could just make tuna pasta salad. Again. Or roast chicken quarters. Again. Or, I could start playing around in the kitchen. Again! I like to play, just don't have the time for it, usually.

We like Tex-Mex. But honestly, tortillas and refried beans and all the fixin's are expensive. So, I reasoned out to myself that there had to be a cheaper alternative. I have a crockpot. I can make beans, right? So, with a goal in mind, I set out on a research trip in front of my trusty search engine and came up with several recipes that looked tasty enough, and easy. I thought this was hard stuff! Boy, was I wrong. Now, it does take some time, but very little of it is hands on.

Here's what I ended up doing for refried beans, sans the refried part.

1 pound pinto beans
1 vidalia onion
1 red onion
6 cloves of garlic
some cumin
some salt

1. Pick through the beans, toss the bad ones and any rocks you may find.
2. Put beans in crockpot and cover with about 3 inches if water, let soak overnight.
3. Drain beans.
4. Cover them once more with about 3 inches of water. Peel onions, chop in quarters, toss in pot. Peel garlic, toss in pot. Add cumin. Set crock pot on low for 10 hours, walk away.
5. When beans are done, pick out the onion. Send onion to compost pile. (You do have one, right?)
6. Drain beans, reserving at least some of the bean juice.
7. Mash the beans up to desired consistency, adding salt to taste. Add bean juice as needed.
8. Place in airtight container covered w/ some juice if you aren't gonna use it up right away.

NOTES: I'd guess I added about 2 tsp of cumin. I never measure these things. It required a fair amount of salt to get the taste right, but that's a personal thing.

NOW, you can fry these up in bacon grease, olive oil, or whatever, but frankly, I don't wanna. They taste far better already than any refried beans I ever tried, and they have very little fat. I left the garlic in for taste. You can leave it in or take it out, as you wish.

What am I gonna do with this stuff? Well, today I'm making tortillas, I'll let you know how that turns out. The plan is to make burritos for my crew's lunches.

This turned out really good. I had about 2/3 cup with a wedge of the cornbread...YUMMY!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bonus Recipe, Cornbread

So, there's an unwritten rule that states never try a recipe for the very first time with company. It probably has a corollary that states if you've never prepared anything like this recipe don't even think about it. I admit it, some rules are just meant to be broken.

We had some friends come over last night, and a southern kielbasa, green bean and potato soup was made for dinner. What's a more southern accompaniment than cornbread? I've never made cornbread, not even from a box. Why you may ask? Because all the cornbread I've ever tried has been dry and left me feeling like I had a whole mouth of cardboard.

So, knowing the dinner plan I went hunting for cornbread recipes. I'm an intuitive cook. Some say I am gifted in the kitchen. Last night, two country boys said "I dun good" and one of them (bless his pointed little head) said that I will be making it again and again.

I won't take the credit for this one, but it is an amalgamation of several recipes that I found, with this one,Homesteader Cornbread, being the base recipe.

2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. In a bowl, mix the cornmeal and milk, let stand for ten minutes.
2. Meanwhile, grease a 9x13 pan and preheat the oven to 350.
3. In a larger mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
4. Add the cornmeal-milk mix, eggs and oil. Mix for about 5 minutes.
5. Pour into your waiting greased pan and bake for 30 - 35 minutes at 350.

NOTES: I used unbleached all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and plain veggie oil. You can get away with regular all-purpose flour, regular salt, and canola oil if you like. Peanut oil would probably impart a taste that I, personally don't prefer in my foods. I used a large deep dish pie plate and a 8x8 square pan, as I don't own a 9x13 pan. Both were glass. When I checked at 30 minutes, the cornbread was cooked thru, but hadn't begun to brown on top. I added 5 minutes to the timer. PERFECT. The result was a moist, sweet cornbread that the boys ate 3/4 of. Guess they missed cornbread. You can use less sugar, but the request was specifically for "sweet cornbread" when I mentioned that cornbread sounded like a great accompaniment to the planned soup.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mom's Chicken Nuggets

My kids like chicken nuggets. However, the ones from fast food are either expensive or just not very good. The ones you buy in store are usually somewhat dry. So, I experimented with various spice combinations and came up with something that everyone loves.

My recipes are fairly free flowing and don't always have precise measurements, and are often "to taste." That's because everyone has different ideas of what's good or not. So take what I give as guidelines, and adjust to fit your families' needs and likes.

Mom's Chicken Nuggets
1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp paprika
oil for frying

1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1/2" cubes.
2. Start heating the oil. It should be hot enough to fry stuff. I'm told is that is around 350 or 375. I try the first piece of whatever it is I'm frying. If it sizzles, it's hot enough.
3. Beat eggs, with a splash of milk if desired.
4. Mix the flour, salt and seasonings together, and put in a plate.
5. Dip the chicken in the egg mix, then roll them in the flour.
6. Fry up the chicken in batches, draining on paper towels or your favorite method.
7. Serve with oven baked fries and whatever dipping sauces your family likes.

My notes: I generally salt my nuggets as each batch comes out of the fryer. Yes, this meal isn't exactly low fat, but we don't have it very often.

Variations: I vary the seasonings according to what I have. Packages of Mexican seasoning (taco, fajita, etc), Ranch dressing mix, sauce mixes (like hollandaise) all make great nuggets.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What, Another Recipe Blog?

Yes, another one. I don't claim to have a bunch of people who will follow it. I will post several recipes per week. Things I like to cook, and things that are fairly easy to prepare.

I do get experimental in my kitchen, so be prepared to see some of those recipes here too.