Wednesday, March 7, 2018

English Cucumber

I love cucumbers.  I love them raw, in salads, or pickled. I remember dad eating them with just a little vinegar, lot of salt and an awful lot of pepper.  He’d eat a whole bowl of them in one sitting.  They are part of my Scandinavian heritage and bred into me.  I thought I’d share four of my favorite cucumber recipes since I have an English cucumber and have to decide how I want to fix it.  I did decide on the Thai Cucumbers and made some Thai Shrimp Soup to go with it.

German Cucumber Salad

A secret to a good German Cucumber Salad is to slice the cucumbers super thin.  Another secret is to refrigerate them at least 4 hours before serving or overnight better yet.
There are two ways of fixing a cucumber salad in Germany.  One is with sour cream and the other is a vinegar and oil version. To make the vinegar and oil dressing use 1/2 up vegetable oil and 1/4 cup white vinegar instead of the sour cream plus the vinegar the recipe below calls for. The other ingredients are the same.

2 English cucumbers or 4 medium cucumbers.  I like the English the best.
1/2 cup sour cream 
1 tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbs. fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
Slice your cucumber with a mandolin slicer or grater.

Whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and dill. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour dressing over cucumber slices and combined. Cover them and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Sweet Chili Thai Cucumbers

I might be a Dane, but I love Thai food and I love their cucumber salad.  There are many versions, but this is my favorite because of the sweet heat and the peanut butter.

½ cup rice wine vinegar
6 tbs. sugar
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. powdered ginger
3 tbs. peanut butter
1 tbs. soy sauce
½ water
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (add more or less to your taste)

Put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake well. Pour over thinly sliced cucumbers and refrigerate for 4 hours.

My Buttermilk Cucumber Salad

I prefer the long English cucumber in that it has very small eatable seeds.  I’ve developed a simple butter milk cucumber salad that I really like.  When I served it to a student staying with me that was from Denmark, she loved them.

I peel the cucumber and slice into slices about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Mix 1 tsp. dried dill, 1 cup buttermilk, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 3 Tbs. sugar and pinch of pepper.  Slowly add white vinegar to you taste (I use 1/2 cup).  Chill overnight so flavors can soak into the cucumber. I even eat the juice.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

If you would like something a little more American here is the sour cream cucumber dish I have made for years.  

1 large peeled seedless or English cucumber
¾ tsp. salt
½ cup sour cream
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. finely chopped onion (I grate mine very fine or use 1 tsp. onion powder)
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. white pepper
Dill, dried or fresh.  You’ll need less if it is dried.  I prefer dried and lot of it.

Toss the cucumbers with salt and refrigerate until well chilled.  Combine sour cream, lemon juice, onion, sugar and pepper and blend well.  Combine cucumbers with the sour cream mixture.  Refrigerate for 4 hours so it is well chilled.  Sprinkle with dill when serving.  Serves 4.

Have a great rest of the day and blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pistachio Fruit Salad

Today, I’m playing  with a new pudding fruit salad.  It is a Pistachio Fruit Salad.  It would be a great green salad for St. Patrick’s Day. I love pistachios and once I start eating them, it is hard to stop.

   Instant pistachio pudding
   1 cup green grapes
   1 cup cut up kiwi fruit
   1 cup of cut up green apple
   ½ cup pistachios
   1 cup mini-marshmallows
   1 sliced banana

Mix together pistachio pudding mix according to the box and set aside until thick,.

Clean and cut up your fruits.

Add the fruit, pistachios and marshmallows to the pudding mixture.  Add a few pistachios as garnish on top.

Serve right away.  This does not keep well.  It only holds up for one meal so eat it all and do not refrigerate over night.

Hope you have a perfect day and blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Chorizo and Huevos Breakfast

When I was a Vista Volunteer living in Milwaukee on the near southside I was introduced to Mexican food for the first time. I remember going to the local Mexican grocery store after church and buying some of their barbeque beef.  I still remember it as being wonderfully sweet and the smell.  I had grown up on meat and potatoes coming from rural Iowa and fell in love with Mexican foods.  I had my first Mexican eggs and sausage at a friend’s home.  She used tortillas to eat almost all her meals and seldom used eating utensils.  She picked up her food with a tortilla and did not need a spoon or fork.  Ever since, I have used tortillas to eat a chorizo and huevos breakfast.  I rip a piece of the tortilla off and pick up the eggs and sausage with the tortilla or I wrap them in a tortilla and eat them as a burrito.  It is the only way to go when enjoying chorizo and huevos.

Eddie and Staci have 11 chickens that produce the most beautiful light green and brown eggs and there is always eggs in the refrigerator.  I bought some chorizo because the boys love eating it the way I learned to eat them.  It is Sunday morning and I’m making a pan of traditional chorizo and huevos for breakfast.  Thought I’d share the experience. 

Chorizo Sausage
Mexican blend cheeses
Flour tortillas
Salt and pepper

Cut the sausage out of it's casing.  Fry up your chorizo until it is fully cooked.  Pour off the fat.  You do not need to use any grease in the pan when frying because the sausage renders plenty.  Whisk you eggs until well beaten and add salt and pepper.  You do not need much because the sausage is well seasoned.  Add the beaten eggs to the sausage.  Add a handful of shredded cheese .

When your eggs are done take off the heat and serve immediately with warmed tortillas.  

To warm your tortillas put them in the microwave for a minute and cover them up in a towel to keep them warm. You family can decide if they wish to turn it into a burrito and tear up the tortilla to pick up the eggs.  Put the hot sauce on the table for the ones that need it.  Slice an avocado and/or a fresh tomato to add to the plate for color and garnish. 

If there is any left over eggs make up burritos and put in a baggie for tomorrows breakfast.  You can just nuke them for a minute in the microwave.  That is if they make it until tomorrow morning.

The kitchen will smell great.  Have a great Sunday. Blessing to you and yours.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Enchilada Soup

I figured I'd make enchilada soup for our Valentine Day dinner.  It is basically a deconstructed enchilada in a soup base.  I just tried it and I'm very happy with it.  I'm making it with heart shaped tortillas to top it off in celebration of Valentine's Day and with a little dollop of sour cream.  Lots of ways to top this off.   Any other time I would just cut strips of tortilla shells to top it.

   1 tsp. onion powder
   1 tsp. garlic powder
   3 cup chicken stock (32 oz)
   2 cup shredded chicken (2 each 12.5 oz. cans  
   of chunk chicken breast)
   1 can of 28 oz. mild red enchilada sauce
   2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
   2 cups or 16 oz. tomato juice
   1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies
   1 tsp. ground cumin
   ½ tsp. Kosher salt
   2 cups of shredded Mexican blend cheese

Optional Toppings: tortilla strips, sliced avocado or guacamole, grated cheese, fresh diced tomatoes, chopped fresh onions and/or sour cream.  You pick your favorites but you need the tortillas to make it taste like an enchilada.

My recipe is a one pot recipe.  You do not need to saute onions and garlic or bake your chicken.  You just toss it all in the pot and let it simmer.  The family said that they really liked it and loved the flavor.          
Add all of the ingredient to a large pot and stir with each additional ingredient you add to combine. Continue stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Serve warm soup with desired toppings.
You can add frozen corn to the soup if you like.  
I'm making homemade tortilla chips in the shape of hearts by frying them in veg. oil.  I'll serve some with a jalapeno cheese dip as an appetizer and some dipped in sugar and cinnamon for a dessert. I've posted this in the past on another blog.  You can search for how I do it in the top left hand corner. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pretty in Pink Salad

Pretty in Pink Fruit Salad

It is Valentine’s Day today so I’m making my family a Love Salad with just red fruit, bananas, marshmallows and instant pudding

2 sliced bananas
Sliced strawberries (Make them resemble hearts)
1 cup raspberries
1 cup red grapes
1 jar of maraschino cherries, drained
1 3 oz. box of instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups whipped topping
1 cup of marshmallows

Drain your cherries reserving the syrup and set aside.
Put your cherry juice (should be about ½ cup) in a 2 cup measuring cup and fill the rest of the cup with milk (about 1 ½ cup) making 2 cups of liquid to complete the pudding. Your cherry juice will turn your pudding pink and replaces the milk required in the directions on the box. Let sit until the pudding becomes thick.

Fold whipped cream into the pudding.

Clean your fruit and dry.  Slice your cherries and grapes in half.  Slice your strawberries in slices and cut a small dent in the top to make it look like a heart. Set a few of the banana slices, heart shaped strawberries and cherries aside for presentation. Fold the rest of the fruits into the pudding mixture.

Add miniature marshmallows.

Keep chilled in the refrigerator until you serve. 

It makes a beautiful Valentines idea for your sweetie(s) dinner.


Add walnuts or pecans for crunch.  You could also add coconut to the salad for another flavor and texture.

Freeze it in a lined loaf pan and have as a frozen dessert. Slice it and serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the top.  Sprinkle with nuts and put a cherry on top.

Take it over the top by drizzling chocolate syrup on the top.

For the 4th of July, make it a red, white and blue salad by just blueberries. Use milk for your pudding so the pudding stays white.

I love tapioca pudding.  It would add another texture if you like it.  My sister hates it because she says it looks like eyes looking at you.  You can buy premade tapioca pudding to save the cooking time.

Hope you and yours have a Valentine's Day full of love and blessing. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Going Crackers

I love old movies.  In the movie Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina is a trained French chef who says she can make a souffl√© out of crackers.   My inquiring mind has always wondered how one could do that.  Here is what I have figured out by playing with saltines.  You can also make crepes, pancakes and candy with saltines. I’ll share my recipes with you.

To see the movie Sabrina on You Tube you can go to:  

Audrey making a cracker souffle 
Saltine Souffl√© 

Salted saltine crackers
Grated or sliced cheese of your choice
2 eggs
About 1 cup milk or half and half if you want richer

Since you can’t put a square peg in a round hole, you can break up your cracker a bit to layer your    ramekin.  I put one cracker in and the broke up another one and used about half of it to put around the cracker.  I had 3 layers of crackers.

Spray Pam into your ramekins and line with one layer of broken crackers.

Put cheese slices of your choice on top of each layer of crushed cracker.  I used a white sliced cheddar.  You can use grated cheese if you have it. 

Continue layering cheese and crackers ending with cheese.

Crack 2 eggs and beat well.  Add to a cup of milk. Beat eggs and milk until very well blended.
If you are using unsalted saltines add a pinch of salt to the recipe. I added a bit of pepper to the egg mixture.  You could also add hot sauce or onion powder.  What ever seasoning you wish.
Carefully pour over cheese and crackers.

Let sit for at least a 1/2 hour before putting into the oven.

Put into a 350 degrees F oven for about 30 minutes.  Make sure you put it on a sheet pan because mine overflowed.  Be careful taking it out of the oven or it will fall.  Mine fell too.  Serve warm out of the oven.

Saltine Crepe

1 cup of finely crushed saltines
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp melted butter
¼ tsp Kosher (only if you are using unsalted saltines)
1 tbsp sugar (for sweet crepes only)
1 tsp vanilla extract (for sweet crepes only)

Combine about two sleeves of saltine crackers in the blender.  Blend until well crushed into a powder.  Measure out 1 cup of crushed crumbs.  Add your milk and let sit until the milk is well absorbed.  Add the other ingredients and blend. The batter should be fairly thin and pourable, but still creamy.

Now let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This is an important step. If after resting it is still too runny add a tablespoon of flour and let it rest again.  It run across the pan when you swirl it.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat, and add some butter, or spray it with cooking spray.
Let the pan get hot for about 30 seconds, then pour a small amount of crepe batter onto the center of the pan. About ¼ cup to ⅓ cup should be the right amount for most pans. Swirl the pan around to coat the whole pan

Let the crepe cook for about 30 seconds.

Flip the crepe, let it cook for about 10 more seconds, and then remove to a plate.
Stack your crepes until you have cooked all the batter.  Fill your crepes with what ever you wish. Roll them up or fold them in half or quarter them. 

You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar or top with fruit.  I like sweet crepes and use pudding or fruit. I filled mine with blueberry pie filling today.  Savory ones can be filled with spinach, ham, asparagus or what ever your imagination comes up with.

Saltine Cracker Pancakes

I like pancakes but can not eat a stack.  I usually eat just one.  You can make up a stack and freeze them if you can’t eat them all.

1 cup of crushed crackers (you could use graham crackers also). About 2 sleeves.
1 Egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Again, using your blender or food processor crush the crackers into fine crumbs.
Soak the crumbs in the milk for about 5 minutes to soften them. Add the egg and vanilla and mix in blender or processor until well blended.   If it is too runny, add a tablespoon of flour until it is the consistency of a pancake batter.

You can add Cinnamon, fruit, nuts or anything else you might like.

Butter the pan between each cake and cook them up like pancakes.  You don't need to use as much butter as I did, but I love butter.  Look for the bubbles before flipping.  Grill up all of the batter.  Drizzle them with some syrup. I did not know I was eating crackers.

  Saltine Toffee 

40 salted saltine crackers or enough to line your pan
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small pot combine sugar and butter and bring to a boil. Once mixture is at a boil, continue boiling for 3 minutes. Mixture should be a deep caramel color. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely.
Bake at 400°F 5 to 6 minutes. The crackers will look all bubbly.
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and let sit a couple of minutes to melt. 
Use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate and cover the crackers. You may add chopped nuts, sprinkles or chopped candy bars or M & M’s to the top.

Other uses of crackers:

  • Mom always used crackers as a filler for her meatloaf and salmon loaf.
  • I use crushed crackers when I make a tuna casserole 
  • When I worked at Hayes, his tenderloin recipe was to use crushed crackers as the breading.  You can search this site to find the recipe by typing in tenderloin up in the top left hand corner.
  • I use crushed crackers when I make scalloped corn.
  • I like to make the Hidden Valley Oyster Cracker recipe using oyster crackers.  See the web for the recipe
There are so many uses for crackers it is easy to go crackers.

I made a variation of this by using gluten free graham crackers for my grandson.  You can do it with regular graham crackers.  Because it was graham crackers I decided to top them with marshmallows and add one final step of putting them under the broiler.  Staci said they were addicting and Saylor liked them.  

Smores Bark 
Saylor and I made Smores Bark today using his gluten free graham crackers.  You can make this with regular graham crackers or even saltines if you like.

½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 box of gluten free graham crackers
2 cups milk chocolate chips
2 cups of miniature marshmallows 

Over low heat, melt your butter and add the brown sugar.  Let it simmer just for 3 minutes.  When it is well combines take it off the heat and let it cool a bit. 

Spread your crackers on a silt pat or parchment paper.  They should be touching each other.  Spread your hot caramel over the crackers and put it in an over at 350° for 5 minutes.  The caramel with bubble up.  While the crackers are still hot, put your chocolate chips on top and using a spatula after they have melted a bit, spread the chocolate over the crackers and frost completely.  Cover the chocolate with the marshmallows and put under the broiler.  Stand there and watch them.  It only takes a minute.  You decided how dark you want the marshmallows to be.  Take out and cool.  Break the crackers up and store in a baggie to keep them fresh. 

Hope you have a terrific day.  We're in for more snow through the weekend.  Blessing to you and yours.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Crock Pot Spare Ribs

Crock Pot Spare Ribs

I watched an IPTV show last week that made me hungry for barbeque ribs.  They stood the ribs up in a slow cooker and I had never done that before.  Mine have always been floating in a pool of fat that wasn't very applying. It made me want to try it their way, so I went out and bought ribs at the little local grocery store here in DeWitt.  They only had one rack of ribs, so I had to cut down my recipe but I’m giving you the full rub recipe for two racks they shared except with my own spin as always.  They made their own sauce and I’m making it easy on me by using my favorite store-bought sauce.    Who does not love ribs? Low and slow is the secret in making tender ribs and what better way than using a slow cooker or crock pot.

2 Tbs. paprika
1 Tbs. garlic powder
1 Tbs. onion powder
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
½ Tbs. pepper
¼ Cup brown sugar

2 Racks of St. Louis style spare ribs.  They are the belly ribs with the belly cut off just leaving the ribs.  You can substitute baby back ribs but there is less meat on them.  The baby back ribs come from the back.


I’m using my favorite store-bought sauce which is Sweet Baby Ray’s.  You can use as much as you like.  I do.

Bess is waiting for the bones

Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel on both sides.  Mix your rub and rub the spice mixture to the meaty side of the ribs.  You do not need to put it on the side with the membrane.  The ribs will be so tender you dol not need to remove the membrane.  Again, make it simple on yourself.

Cut your two racks of ribs in half.  With the fattest end of the ribs down, place the 4 racks of ribs in the cock pot circling the sides with the bones sticking up vertically and leaving the center of the crock pot empty.  You are going to cook them with no liquid.  They will produce their own from rendering of  the fat and the ribs will surprisingly keep their moisture. Put your crock pot on low and cook for 7 hours.  They should be almost falling off the bone tender.  You can put it on high and cook for 5 hours if you wish to speed things up but remember low and slow is the best.

When they are done, place on a cutting board and let them rest for 10 minutes.  After they have rested add your barbeque sauce with a brush.  Pre-heat your broiler in the oven.  Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy lean up and place your ribs on the sheet.  When the broiler is heated put them under the broiler for 5 minutes.  Do not walk away or they will burn.  Stand there and watch them until they have chared to your liking. Take them out and they should have a nice char on them just like they were grilled.  Add additional barbeque sauce, slice your ribs and serve.  What is your favorite sauce.  Share your sauce recipe if you like. 

Have a great day and blessings to your and yours.