Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Meatloaf

Henry David Thoreau said “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”  Rich or poor, we all experience life through food we share and as they say the breaking of bread.  It is a wealthy family that sits down to the table together and shares a meal prepared with love.  As I grew up, that made my family a very wealthy family even though some of those meals were meager and inexpensive.   Mom fed 8 kids and was able to fill us up by extending what ever she had.  We sat down and ate it together (except mom, she always stood and waited on us and ate after everyone was taken care of).

My Traditional Meatloaf

My meatloaf is different from that of my mother.  Her's was even more modest but she put tons on ketchup on top and I love that so continue to do it.  I thought I would share the simple recipe with you today.

1 ½ pound ground beef (85% lean.  You need some fat for flavor)
½ cup instant mashed potato flakes (or you can add oatmeal or bread crumbs)
½ cup of milk (I use 2% milk) or ½ tomato juice
½  cup caramelized chopped onion (I use what ever I have including red onion today)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Olive oil                                                                                                                        
1/2 small can of sliced button or portabella mushrooms
4 slices of Swiss cheese (or your favorite cheese)
1 egg
4 pre-cooked slices of bacon (Thank you Hormel for saving me the mess and time)

Caramelize your onions in oil until they are golden brown and let them cool.

If you are not lazy like me, brown your bacon on a cookie sheet but not real crispy.  Chop bacon in small pieces.  I like to use my kitchen scissors for this. 

Mix the ground beef, bacon, instant potato flakes, Worcestershire, cooled caramelized onion, garlic powder, thyme salt, pepper and egg.  Get messy and mix thoroughly with your hands.  They are the best tool for this.  

In roaster, large bread pan, or baking dish coat the bottom with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking and easier clean up.  Take half of the meat mixture and form the bottom of the meatloaf.  Put a layer of mushrooms on top of the meat loaf and then place the slices of cheese on top of the mushrooms. 

Take the last half of the meat mixture and put on top forming it around the mushrooms and cheese to keep it from seeping out when baking.  Top the meatloaf with ketchup (I like to cover mine completely), cover, and place in an oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done.  Make sure you let it rest 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven before serving so it remains juicy. 

You can make little individual meatloaves in long ramekins or large muffin pans or make hamburger patties (like mushroom, Swiss burgers) on top of the stove to change things up a bit and shorten the cooking time.  You can also throw some small red potatoes and carrots in the roasting pan and have a complete meal in an hour. 

If you want to try a different flavor, change up on the spices and add sage instead of the thyme or if you want a little heat add Cheyenne pepper.  Change your cheese to something sharper like a sharp cheddar cheese or what ever you have (American cheese is fine too).

Want to make it Italian?  Add basil and oregano as spices and top with a spaghetti sauce.  Use fresh Mozzarella or provolone slices in the middle.

Want a Mexican flare?  Add salsa to the meat loaf with a little cumin and chili powder (replacing the thyme) and a Monterey Jack cheese.  Leave out the onion and milk and replace with 1 cup of salsa. 

It is your meatloaf so give it your signature.  To be honest, I usually don’t use a recipe and just make it out of my head by tossing in what ever I might have or what whim I have that day, but blogging is forcing me to write things down and that is good.  I can pass it onto my grandchildren this way. This recipe is my traditional recipe I usually make.

I added potatoes and carrots today so I coated them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper for extra flavor. 

Tomorrow, I thought I would share stuffed mushroom recipes with you. They are such a great appetizer if you like mushrooms and I love them.  

Have a super Monday and be happy.  May God bless you and your.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Puerto Rican Recipes

The day Ed got home from Viet Nam and day he got out of the Navy in 1970, I wanted to fix him the greatest meal he had ever had so I made Carne Mechada, a Puerto Rican Pot Roast that Ed was so pleased with because he said it was a dish that was only served on very special occasions.  I thought that I would share a few Puerto Rican recipes from my past with you. 

Carne Mechada


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white cooking wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Adobo
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 to 3-1/2 pounds eye roast


1 teaspoon olive oil
½ pound cooking ham, diced
Minced garlic
1 teaspoon Adobo
Pimento-filled olives


5 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Adobo is used in many Puerto Rican recipes.  You make up and keep it in you refrigerator for a marinade for most meats.  Put ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and store in jar in refrigerator until needed.  Makes about a cup.


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cooking wine
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced carrots
Diced potatoes

Combine the marinate ingredients and place round roast in it allowing the roast to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Use a long knife and make deep incisions in the meat all the way through the roast so you can stuff it.  I put 5 or 6 holes in the roast.  Stuff the roast with the stuffing. 

In a large Dutch oven add olive oil and heat pot until hot on medium heat.  Do not burn the olive oil. Brown the roast on all side and then add the adobo and sauté for two to three minutes.  Add wine, water, salt and pepper to roast.  Use a good red dry wine like a pinot noir or merlot. 

Cook uncovered over medium heat until the liquids begin to steam. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot.  Cook for 2 hours depending on the size of the roast.  Check often checking liquid in the pot.   Add additional water if needed.

When the meat is almost done you can add carrots and potatoes if you like and cook until they are done.  Serve with white or yellow rice. I prefer white. 

You can also bake your pot roast in the oven in a roaster or a glass baking dish covered with aluminum foil.  I did my first time because as a newly wed I did not have a Dutch oven.  After you brown the roast put it in your vehicle of choice and bake until almost tender and then add your veggies.  Cook low and slow in the oven for 2 hours or you can put in a crock pot on low.  Don't skip browning the roast though.  You can also add red peppers or onions if you like.

 Puerto Rican White Rice

I’m repeating myself here giving you information I already shared, but you won’t have to look it up back in my favorite recipes. I'll just cut and paste the recipe.

The secret is to have a good rice pan.  I was taught how to make P.R. rice by Ed's Aunt Epi.  She was a sweet heart.  Puerto Rican rice is so different than what I grew up on, I needed an expert to teach me.  I prefer basmati rice because of it's aroma and taste, but many use the yellow rice.  Cover the bottom of your heated pan with olive oil (Should be on high heat).  Put in 2 cups of rice.  Add a tsp. of garlic powder, pepper and salt.  Stir until the rice begins to turn whiter.  Add 3 cups of water and wait until it boils.  Turn down the heat to low and put on the lid. Do not lift the lid for 30 minutes.  Rice should be done.  

Married to a Puerto Rican, I was taught that you always had rice and beans on the stove so should company drop in, you always had plenty of food to share.  We had rice and beans at every meal even breakfast.  Ed would mix eggs with them.  I always had beans soaking for the next day.  They were also cheap and nutritious.  

The old school teaching by Aunt Epi taught me to rinse my rice well before cooking, but I stopped that practice some time ago knowing that I was washing away nutrients.

Red rice is nothing more than adding a little tomato sauce and maybe onion to the recipe. Ed loved red rice also, but he always wanted shrimp added to it and it became a whole meal with a side salad of pimentos and lettuce.  

Puerto Rican Beans  

Soak your bag of pinto beans over night in lots of water. Drain well, rinse and put in a stock pan and cover with water.  Add salt, pepper, a pinch of oregano, a tsp. of garlic powder and a small piece of salt pork for flavor.  Add a large tablespoon of tomato paste; bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Watch to make sure it does not need more water.  You can also use red beans, but Ed always preferred pinto beans.  There should be a wonderful bean broth that you put with the beans over the rice.  Add water as needed. This is Ed’s Aunt Epi recipe. 

I have seen many recipes out there but this is the simple one I made every day.  You can buy pinto beans in a can and my friend Carmen made her beans using canned.  Make sure you rinse them well and follow the other steps if you do use the canned beans.  Of course, it cuts down the cooking time because they are already cooked. 

Arroz con Pollo (Rice and Chicken)

Chicken is a big part of the Puerto Rican diet.  We had it more than any other meat.

2 cups of raw rice of your choice.  I prefer a long grain.
2 lb. chicken parts (I use chicken thighs with bone in for flavor or you can use chicken wings or breasts)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. chopped green olives with pimentos 
1 tsp. chopped capers
1/2 c. sofrito (see below)
1 tsp. garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 envelope of onion soup or ½ finely chopped onion or 2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 c. vegetable canola oil
1 envelope of sazon (a Puerto Rican Seasoning, I’ll try to replicate below)
Adobo to taste
4 cups of boiling water

For best results, prepare the chicken the day before.

Sprinkle the chicken with adobo and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the rice.

In a large pot, brown the chicken parts in the canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side. Take the chicken out of the pot and set aside on a plate.

In the same pot that you fried the chicken, (drippings and all), add the sofrito, tomato sauce, olives, capers, and garlic.  Mix well and cook the sofrito for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the onion, sazon, chicken and rice to the pot and stir.

Add the boiling water until the water is about 1 inch above the rice, but stir once only. No more or you will have sticky rice.

Boil uncovered, on medium high heat, until all the water is absorbed.

When the water is all absorbed, gently stir from bottom to top a little.  Cover the pot with aluminum foil to seal well, and then put on the lid to continue to cook over low heat for another 30 - 35 minutes or until the rice is tender. Using aluminum foil helps to cook the rice faster and evenly.  Do not remove lid or foil for 30 or 35 minutes.

You can also cook the chicken with the adobo in a crockpot all day while you go to work and when you get home, you can debone it but save the broth to make the rice instead of adding the water. 


Sofrito (similar to a salsa or relish) is another condiment used a great deal in Puerto Rican cooking.  You make it in advance and keep in your refrigerator.  It is used in soup and meat dishes.

2 medium green peppers, seeds removed
1 red sweet pepper, seeds removed
2 large tomatoes
2 medium onions, peeled
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1/2 bunch parsley leaves

Blend in your food processor or blender until consistency of a relish. 


Sazon means seasoning in Spanish; salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried ground coriander seed, cumin, oregano and ground annatto seeds. The achiote (annatto) is what makes the sazon reddish. You could sub paprika for the achiote, if need be. A good ratio is one Tbsp of each spice. Mix well and use 1 1/2 tsp for each packet of the most used  sazon called for.  Goya Sazon is a common brand name.  Your larger grocery stores are starting to stock sazon.  Look for it in the ethnic isles. 

If you want it very fresh, toast the cumin, coriander and peppercorns; grind and add the rest of the ingredients.  I have a mortar and pestle that I grind my spices in, but if you have a coffee grinder that you use for grinding spices that is great. 

In making any Puerto Rican Recipe you will see many recipes asking for the same condiments over and over again.  If you are only making a dish on rare occasions, you won’t want to make up any quantities, but if you want to goose up a meat recipe, try these condiments.  They add that somethin’, somethin’ to your dish.  

Esté feliz y puede Dios te bendiga y suyo (Be happy and may God bless you and yours).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Make Mozzarella and Yogurt Yourself

I thought that I would give you some make-it-yourself ideas on making cheese and yogurt at home.  In little Maquoketa, I can’t get fresh Mozzarella and have to drive 40 miles to pick it up.  It really isn’t that difficult and the ingredients are as simple as the recipe.

Homemade Mozzarella 

Makes about 1 pound.

1 gallon whole milk, not “ultra pasteurized”
1 1/2 tsp. non-gmo citric acid*
1/4 tablet rennet*
1 tsp. salt
Water (chlorine-free is preferred; I used water directly from the tap)

* You can obtain rennet and citric acid from health food stores, or you can order them online.

You will need a heavy bottomed, stainless steel or enameled pot which will hold at least 6 quarts; a thermometer; a large slotted spoon; a knife which will reach the bottom of the pot; a colander. Also, a microwave oven or a large pot of water, heated to 185F.

Preliminaries – dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in a 1/4 cup cool water; mix 1 1/2 tsp. citric acid in 1 cup cool water

Pour milk into pot; stir while adding the citric acid mixture.  Heat the milk to 90F, stirring all the while.

Remove pot from heat; slowly stir in the rennet solution, using an up-and-down motion with your slotted spoon. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Then inspect the curd; it should resemble a custard if pressed gently with your finger.

Using your knife, slice the curd criss-cross into one-inch squares as if you were slicing brownies.  Return the pot to the flame and heat to 105 degrees F as you slowly stir the curds with your spoon.

Remove from heat and continue to stir for 2-5 minutes. The more you stir, the firmer the cheese will be.

Pour into a colander in order to drain off the liquid, or whey, from the curd. Save the whey, if you wish, and use it in place of water for making bread. At this point, if you are not going to use a microwave oven to heat the curds, scroll down for Hot Water Bath directions.

Pour curds into a microwaveable bowl. Holding the curds with one hand, tilt the bowl to drain off as much of the whey as you can.

Microwave on “High” for exactly one minute. Drain off the whey, and fold, with your gloved hands, the curds into one piece. Then add the optional salt.

Microwave again for 30 seconds, drain again, and then place the solid mass on your work surface. Knead just as you would bread, folding the cheese over on itself. Keep kneading until the cheese turns glossy, and looks like mozzarella. If the cheese doesn’t hold together well, give it another 30-second spin in the microwave, or until the cheese reaches 135F. You’ll know the cheese is ready when you can stretch it into a long strand.

Form the cheese into a loaf, a ball, or a bunch of little bite-size balls. If you like braided cheese, by all means have at it.  You have just made string cheese for lunches or fresh Mozzarella for appetizers or pasta and pizza.  

To finish, submerge the cheese in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. This will insure the cheese holds its shape, and maintains its smooth, silky texture.

You can eat the cheese immediately, or refrigerate it in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. For longer storage, wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze it.

Hot Water Bath Directions

Heat a pot of water to 185F. Ladle the curds into a colander, folding the curds gently as you drain off the whey. Dip the colander of curds into the hot water. After several times take a spoon and fold the curds until they start to become elastic and stretchable. This happens when the curd temperature reaches 135F. Remove the curd from the liquid and pull like taffy. This stretching elongates the proteins. If it does not stretch easily, return to the hot water bath for more heating. Then proceed with kneading, as described in Step 10.

Homemade Yogurt

 5 cups low-fat, whole, or skim milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt with active cultures

In a heavy bottomed 4 quart saucepan, heat milk, stirring frequently, over medium heat to 185°. Remove from heat and let cool to 110°.

Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Using a whisk, gradually stir in cooled milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until smooth between additions. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, poking two or three holes for ventilation. Transfer to a warm place (about 90°) until milk begins to thicken around edges and yogurt is set, about 5 hours.

Place bowl in refrigerator until completely chilled. Reserve at least 1/4 cup of this yogurt to begin next batch. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.  Makes 4 cups.

Now get on your creative cap and start adding the fruit of your choice, jam or jelly swirls, and/or granola.          

Tomorrow I'm sharing Puerto Rican recipes I've made.

Be happy and God bless you and yours.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is basically the same recipes but you add different flavors to it to make it your own.  You can make it sweet or you can make it savory.  You can use any type of bread including Italian or French breads, croissants, brioche, raisin bread, doughnuts what ever you have left over.  I’ll give you the basic recipe and then some ideas of what to do with your bread pudding. 

Basic Bread Pudding

3 eggs
4 cups milk or cream
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 loaf of day old bread, cubed

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add the milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Gently stir in bread cubes.  Let the mixture sit to absorb all of the custard mixture.  Pour into a 13 x 9 baking dish.   

Cover with foil & bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees.  Remove foil & bake 15 minutes longer, or until top is golden.  Test by inserting a knife near the center and it should come out clean. Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

My mother always added raisins but you can add cranberries, blueberries, peaches, canned apples, pecans, figs, dates or the fruit of your choice.  Try adding a little canned pumpkin pie to the recipe for pumpkin pudding.   You can also put a simple powdered sugar glaze on top or a warm sauce.

Vanilla Bread Pudding Sauce

½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ¼ cups whole milk or heavy cream
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whisk ½ cup of light brown sugar, the flour, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 ¼ cups of whole milk, and salt together in a heavy saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes (it only took us 5-6 minutes before it was thick enough, probably because we used heavy cream).  Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour sauce over warm bread pudding, and/or serve on the side in a bowl.

Butterscotch Bread Pudding 
1 day-old loaf of bread, torn into small pieces
4 cups milk
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine bread, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and butterscotch chips; mixture should be the consistency of oatmeal. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, until nearly set. (It should have a "thigh wiggle" or wiggle as much as a well endowed thigh.) Serve warm or cold.

Variation:  Turn it into chocolate by adding chocolate chips. 
Different vehicles -  muffin tins or tiny muffin tins for appetizers, small ramekins 

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

I love white chocolate and this is a great dessert recipe.

3 cups whipping cream
10 ounces white chocolate
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
8 egg yolks
1 loaf French bread or 1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1/4 ” slices and dried in oven
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 275.  Spray a casserole dish large enough to hold the bread and egg mixture with non-stick vegetable spray.

Add cream and chocolate in a double boiler. Stir until melted and remove from the heat.

Also in a double boiler, whisk together the milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla and heat until till just warm.

Pour this into white chocolate mixture and blend.

Place the bread in the baking dish & pour half the cream mixture over the bread.

Let it absorb for a few minutes & pour remaining cream mixture over the pudding.

Cover with foil & bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil & bake 15 minutes longer, or until top is golden.


8 ounces white chocolate, melted
3 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons chocolate shavings (to garnish)

In a double boiler, melt 8 oz white chocolate with the cream.

Remove from the heat & stir until blended.  To serve you can serve warm or chilled.

Savory Tomato Bread Pudding

You can make in small muffin cups and serve as an appetizer or serve as a side dish.

1/4 cup chicken broth or juice from the canned tomatoes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 large cans of diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 (1 pound) loaf day-old bread, cubed
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, or one of similar size.  In a small saucepan, combine the wine, brown sugar, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, basil and cayenne pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.  In a large skillet, melt butter. Toss the bread cubes in the butter to coat, then toss with Monterey Jack cheese, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Pour the tomato mixture over the bread.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is nicely toasted.

You can add a little hot sauce if you want heat or you can a browned sausage to goose it up. 

Puerto Rican Bread Pudding - Buden

Just for a hoot, I thought I’d share this PR bread pudding I found. 

1 cup water
2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
15 whole cloves
1 teaspoon anise seed

2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (1 pound) loaf day-old bread
4 cups evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and anise seeds. Cover, and set aside to steep for 15 minutes.  You can substitute 1 tsp. ground cinnamon if you don’t have the sticks (it’s cheaper also).

Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons water with 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar completely, but stop stirring once the mixture comes to a boil. Stay near the stove to monitor the color, swirling the pan gently to redistribute the caramel as the sugar begins to darken. Cook to about 310 degrees F, or until the sugar turns light golden brown, then pour into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Set aside to allow the caramel to harden.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the crusts from the day-old bread, tear the bread into cubes, and place into a large mixing bowl. Strain the spice tea through a fine mesh sieve to remove the spices. Add to the bread along with the evaporated milk. Stir to evenly moisten, and set aside for 10 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl along with 1 1/2 cups of sugar, the vanilla extract, salt, and melted butter. Stir in the moistened bread mixture until evenly mixed. Pour into the loaf pan over the caramel.

Place your loaf pan inside a roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in the pan for about an hour, then refrigerate until cold, 2 hours more. When ready, invert the Budin onto a serving plate. The caramel will have turned to a syrup and will cover the Budin like a sauce.

Well I have given you some daily bread ideas.  Think it is time to move on to a new subject tomorrow. Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Filling a Bread Bowl

I thought I would share a good recipe for making bread bowls and then some ideas of what to put in them.  I’m going to share a couple of my favorite dips and soups I have put in them.  They make a great soup bowl when you have made a thick soup like lobster bisque, chili or beef stew.  I just recently blogged my beef stew recipe.

If you don't want to make the bread watch for day old breads on sale.  I have picked them up on sale marked down to $1.00 at Walmart.  You can also buy frozen unbaked bread in your grocers freeze department.  Let thaw and cut into bowl size and reshape.  

Italian Bread Bowls

The recipe makes 3 bowls or loaves.  These work great for both soups or dip bowls.

¾  Tbs. of active dry yeast
1  ¼ cup warm water
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
3 to  3 ½ cup bread flour
1/2 Tbs. cornmeal

In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add salt, oil and 2 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well.  Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer).

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.  Punch dough down, and divide into 3-4 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a round ball.  Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use Silpat liners or parchment paper).  If desired, slash the top surface of the bread bowl several times with a sharp knife or razor. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and baked through.


Lobster Bisque

2 each 1 lb. lobsters
2 quarts water
2 Tablespoons salt
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
1 recipe lobster stock
1 pint half and half
1 cup dry sherry (Optional – replace with more lobster stock if you leave out)
1 each lemon, juice only

Bring salted water to rapid boil. Add live lobsters and cover, steaming 5 minutes over very high heat. Remove lobsters from salted water and set aside while separately reserving steaming broth for lobster stock. Remove lobster meat and
reserve shells for lobster stock. Dice par-cooked meat into small pieces, cover and refrigerate.

Melt butter in 4 quart sauce pan and stir in flour to make a roux. Cook this for 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat. Slowly add the hot lobster stock constantly whisking to avoid lumps. Add the half and half and simmer gently over medium heat stirring often for about 15 minutes. Add the diced lobster, dry sherry and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper as desired. Will make 2 quarts.  

Lobster Stock:

2 each lobster shells from above
1 Tablespoon butter
1 diced onion
1 each carrot, large dice
1 stalk celery, large dice
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry sherry
10 each black peppercorns
6 each parsley stems
1 each bay leaf

Add the shells to large sauté pan with butter, onions, carrot, celery and tomato paste stirring gently over high heat until mixture becomes slightly golden brown.

Add dry sherry and pour this mixture into the reserved steaming broth, adding the peppercorns, parsley stems and bay leaf. Boil uncovered for 30 minutes to make a stock. Strain and reserve hot stock.

Tomato Chili Soup

10 cups chopped fresh tomato
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
¼  cup fresh chili chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbs. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic crushed

This soup is very easy and has a great flavor.  You can add hamburger or it stands very well on it’s own as a vegetarian soup.  Chop up all the ingredients and cook them in a large sauce pan for 20 minutes. Add garlic, olive oil, and fresh chili and tomato paste; throw in some ground coriander and cumin; adjust the seasoning with salt, back pepper, and Tabasco sauce. You may blend this smooth or serve as chunky. You may also add chili powder to your taste if you want a little more flavor. 


Dried Beef Dip

1 pkg. chopped dried beef
1/2 cup sour cream
Minced garlic
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. salad dressing
Minced onions
1 tsp. chives
1 tsp. parsley

Mix ingredients and serve in bread bowl with broken bread.

Spinach Dip

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped
1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
3/4 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
3/4 cup Light Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Spoon into 9 inch pie plate or quiche dish.

Bake 20 min. or until heated through. Serve in bread bowl and use bread that you tore out of the bowl for dipping.  Crackers and assorted cut-up fresh vegetables also work well.  Makes 22 servings.

Variation - Spinach and Mushroom Dip  -  substitute 1 cup chopped mushrooms for the artichoke hearts.

Reuben Dip in a Bread Bowl

1 round rye bread loaf
1 cup mayonnaise
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. sour cream
2 pkgs. Buddig corn beef, sliced thin
6 oz. grated Swiss cheese

Cut out top of bread and hollow out to create a bowl. Reserve removed bread for serving.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to bread bowl and wrap bread in foil, leaving dip exposed.

Bake for 1 hour; serve with bread pieces.

You can also try this with rye rolls and make small individual servings. 

Chili Con Queso Dip

A super simple and quick recipe my grandsons love is to take a can of no bean store bought chili and a can of jalapeno cheese dip and combine.  Heat and serve in a nice crusty bread with tortilla chips around. 

Or make your own thick chili and add cheese to melt and heat up with jalapeno and/or hot sauce.  

Easter Bread Bowl

Want to really get fancy?  Try making your bread in the shape of a bunny.  At Easter time I have even purchased bunny shaped bread from bakeries.  Fill it with egg salad or a dill veggie dip with veggies around it (don’t forget the carrots).  This is really beautiful on a Easter Brunch buffet. 

Get creative and make into what ever shape you want.  Don’t want to fuss making bread then get the frozen loaves in the freezer department and reshape before you bake them.  

Lobster Dip

2  8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoon grated onion
Season with salt to taste
2 boiled lobster tail

Boil lobster tail for 8 minutes until red.   Remove the cartilage and flake the lobster.

Melt cream cheese slowly over direct heat, stirring constantly.  Blend in mayonnaise or salad dressing, garlic, sugar, mustard, onion, and salt.  Stir in lobster; heat through.

Keep warm over hot water bath until serving in bread bowl.  I served this at a bridal shower and it went over really big.  Use the bread that you took to make the bowl to dip with.  Serve with a knife so you can start cutting up the bowl to get every bit of the dip.  

These make a great addition to your table when you are entertaining.  If I'm taking it to a party or get together I get to leave it, although there is seldom any left overs.  

Since I'm on a bread making subject, I think tomorrow I'll talk about bread pudding.  A great way to use up that day old bread.  I'll give you sweet and savory.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's All About Cookies

I have 3 recipe boxes, several 3 ring binders and a row of cookbooks that I love to go through when the need strikes me.  I can go through them for hours.  It helps me to come up with new meal ideas.  I still have some of my old favorites that I continue to use over and over again though.  In fact if you open them, they will fall open to the pages I use most often.  They are stained and some sticky with use but I’ll never give them up. 

My two favorites were wedding gifts.  The first is Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook and the second is Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cookbook.

I also have a lot of the community and church cookbooks that are full of great country recipes.  They are full of neighbors sharing recipes they love that are traditional local recipes.

I love auctions and if I see cookbooks going up, I will usually bid on them.  I love the old cookbooks the best and it is an easy and sometimes cheap way of picking up some good cookbooks.  More and more people are collecting them now though so I usually have people bidding against me but that is the fun of an auction. 

So for this blog, I thought that I would share some of the recipes I continue to pull out of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook and Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cookbook.  Apparently I like the cookie recipes the best because if I let either of these books fall open they always go to the cookie recipes.  I’ve written in the margins and made notes about doubling or how many the recipe really makes.  You can tell they are well used and loved.

So today it is all about cookies. 

May very favorite cookie is the Nestles Toll House cookie and their recipe is on every bag of their semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I have never found a better one and do not substitute the chocolate chips.  They must be Nestles or it does not taste the same. Just hot out of the oven and chewy, ewy good is the way I like them.  I'm very careful not to over brown them because I like them chewy (9 minutes not 11).  I then put them in a baggie to keep them that way.  My 2nd favorite is only available once a year when the Girl Scouts sell their thin mint cookies.  I do have a gluten free recipe for them, but they are not the same. What is your favorite?

Here are my other favorites out of these two books.  

Country Crisp Sugar Cookies 

This is the recipe I use for my Christmas sugar cookies.

½ cup butter or margarine (I use butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs. heavy cream (No cream in the house use another table of butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
Extra sugar for tops of cookies

Cream the butter with sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add egg, cream and vanilla.  Beat well.  Sift flour with salt and baking powder.  Add to creamed mixture, beating until well combined.  Chill dough overnight.

When ready to bake, start oven at 350 degrees.  Grease two or more cookie sheets lightly and dust with flour.  I now use a Silpat since this book is well over 43 years old. 

Roll out small amount of dough at one time.  Very thin, on lightly floured board.  Cut with scalloped cutter*.  Sprinkle cookies lightly with sugar or sprinkles.  Place on prepared sheets.

Bake 5 minutes or until done.  Makes about 36 cookies. 

* I use shaped cutters for what ever holiday or special occasion the cookies are for.  I have quite a collection of those too such as a birthday cake, Christmas ones, fall ones, Easter, flowers, Halloween, big ones and little one, the alphabet letters and just fun shapes.  

Chocolate Drop Cookies

½ cup soft shortening (part butter) - I use butter.  
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 sq. unsweetened chocolate (2 oz.) melted and cooled
¾ cup buttermilk or soured milk  (See my blog on substitutes)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
½ tsp soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts if desired

Mix shortening, sugar, egg, and melted chocolate thoroughly.  Stir in butter milk and vanilla.  Measure flour by drip-level-pour method.  Stir dry ingredients together and blend  into chocolate mixture.  Mix in nuts and chill dough at least 1 hour.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.   Drop rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet (again I use a Silpat).  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or just until no imprint remains when lightly touched.  If desired, frost with Chocolate Butter Icing. 

Cocoa Drop Cookies:  Make Chocolate Drop Cookies (above) – except omit chocolate and add ½ cup of cocoa to dry ingredients.  I often do this when I don’t have the unsweetened chocolate squares.

I double the recipe because it did not make the 3 ½ doz. cookies.  I also note to frost the cookies with a chocolate frosting. 

The books frosting recipe is:

1 pkg. (6 oz.) semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. milk
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

Combine chocolate, butter and milk in a saucepan.  Stir over low heat until chocolate is just melted.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sugar.  Beat until smooth, glossy and easy to spread.  If not glossy, stir in a few drops of hot water.  (I add a tsp. of vanilla for extra flavor)

Chocolate Crinkles

I already shared the Chocolate Crinkles in my gluten free blog but I will copy it again for you.  It came from this book.

1 cup soy or rice flour (this made it gluten free, but your can use white wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup oil
4 Tbs. of cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix chocolate,  sugar, oil, eggs  and vanilla.  Add the dried
ingredients.   Set the confectioners' sugar to the side for later.  Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or over night. Roll into balls and then roll in powdered sugar.  Bake for 9 to 12 minutes.  After they cool, store in a large baggie to keep moist.

Peanut Butter Cookies

½ cup soft shortening (half butter)
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. soda
¼ tsp. salt

Mix shortening, peanut butter, sugars, and egg thoroughly.  Measure flour by dip-level-pour method.  Mix rest of ingredients and stir in.  Chill dough.  Heat oven to 375 degrees. 
Roll dough into balls in size of large walnuts.  Place 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet.  Flatten, crisscross fashion, with a fork dipped in flour.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until set but not hard.  Makes 3 doz.  2 ½ cookies.

Chocolate Oatmeal Bonbons

½ cup soft shortening (half butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 sq. unsweetened chocolate (2 oz.), melted
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¾ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups rolled oats

Mix shortening, sugar, and egg thoroughly.  Stir in chocolate and vanilla.  Measure flour by dip-level-pour method.  Mix dry ingredients and stir in.  Add oats.  Chill dough.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll dough into walnut sized balls.  Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.  Makes 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes 4 ½ doz. bonbons.

Again, I could share all of the cookies in the books, but I’m stopping at just my favorites.  I did post a Rosemary cookie on my blog when I blogged about herbs, if you wish to refer back to it. 

Make you family some cookies.   Let them walk into a house that smells of warm cookies.  Better yet, let them help you make them.  They say if you are trying to sell your home, you should make cookies before a potential buyer comes.  It will make the house more appealing.  Smells from the kitchen, make it a home. 

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homemade Bread

I don’t pretend to be an expert bread maker.  The fact that I can make it though, tells you it is not that difficult.  I’ll give you just a couple recipes for simple bread today to get you started if you have never tried to make it.  If you are an expert, then share your knowledge and pass it forward.  I’ll also give you a sweet roll recipe I found and use when the mood hits me.  It is a nice treat to take to a get together.

I already gave you this biscuit recipe but I’ll save you looking it up.  I won’t share the banana bread, zucchini or sweet bread recipes that I have already posted.  You can look them up in my old blog postings.


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in a food processor.

Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.

If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.

Add the buttermilk and mix just until combined.  If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board.

Gently, gently pat (do not roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times; gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick.  Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.

You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet and do not let them touching each other.

If you like "crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart.   These will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.

Bake for about 10 to12 minutes. The biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.  Do not over bake.

The key to real biscuits is not in the ingredients, but in the handling of the dough.  Do not over mix.  The dough must be handled as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits.  I have found that a food processor produces superior biscuits, because the ingredients stay colder and there's less chance of over mixing.  You also must pat the dough out lightly with your hands.  Rolling with a rolling pin is a guaranteed way to over stimulate the gluten, resulting in a tougher biscuit.

When you want fresh biscuits, simply place them frozen on the cookie sheet and bake at 450°F for about 20 minutes.  You may freeze these and bake as you need them.

Irish Soda Bread

I make this for St. Patrick’s Day.  You do not use yeast and it is super simple.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. 

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened.  Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.

Bread for Beginners

This is the easiest one-loaf yeast bread you will ever bake. The Super Easy Bread for Beginners recipe produces a soft crust and a moist center using the most basic ingredients that can be found in most kitchens.

3/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1/2 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour, approximately

In large bowl, add the warm water (Not too hot or it will kill the yeast). Slowly stir in dry yeast. Continue to stir until yeast is dissolved.

Add salt, sugar, shortening, and milk to bowl and stir.  Mix in the first 2 cups of flour.

If needed, begin adding more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough chases the spoon around the bowl.

You do not need to use up all the flour called for in this recipe, or you may need more flour than called for. The amounts vary depending on many factors, including weather, which is why most bread recipes only give an approximate amount of flour needed.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead, adding small spoonfuls of flour as needed, until the dough is soft and smooth, not sticky to the touch.

Put dough in buttered bowl, turn dough over so that the top of dough is greased. Cover with a cloth dish towel and let rise in warm spot for a minimum of 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Turn out onto floured board and knead.

Preheat oven at 375 degrees F.

Form dough into loaf and set in buttered bread pan. Score dough by cutting slashes across the top with a sharp knife. Put in oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. 

Beer Bread

This one loaf beer bread recipe is also a beginner’s bread. It uses only one cup of the beer of your choice and has a lovely beer flavor after it’s baked. It’s great for snacking, football game munchies, and for dipping into a bowl of chili.

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup beer at room temperature
1 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp sugar
1 ½  tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
In small bowl, mix warm water and yeast.  If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast.  Stir until yeast is dissolved.  Salt will also kill yeast so it should never be added before other ingredients.
In large bowl, add beer, cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Pour in yeast and stir.
Mix in 2 ½ cups flour. Turn out onto floured board and knead in the remaining half cup of flour or until the dough is soft and smooth.  The kneading is important to get the glutens working. 
Put dough in greased bowl and turn dough so that the top is greased. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes, or until double in size.
Punch down dough with your fist. Turn dough out onto floured board and knead again.
Punching down deflates the dough, getting the air out of the dough so that you can knead it and form it into loaves
Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Form dough into 1 loaf. Put into buttered bread pan. Cover and let rise until double in size.
Score dough by cutting  slashes across the top with a sharp knife. Put in oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Sweet Rolls

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup water - warm
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 3/4 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water and let it rest.

Scald milk - 1 minute in Microwave.

Add butter to milk to melt.  Stir salt, sugar and eggs together, beat with a fork.  Add yeast to mixture.  Add flour all at once, mixing well.  I use my Kitchen Aide mixer to mix but you can do by hand also.  Put in a clean greased bowl and cover with a towel.  Let the dough rise until double.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness in a rectangle shape. Soften 1 stick of butter and spread evenly over your dough rectangle.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture (1 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon), then roll gently away from you until at the edge and pinch firmly together to seal roll.

Cut into 1 inch slices. a place on a prepared cookie sheet which has been sprayed with a non stick spray.   Space the rolls 2 inches apart so they can rise.  Cover with towel again and let sit in a warm place.  Let them rise until they have doubled in size. (Approximately 1 to 2 hours).

Bake at 375° F. for 10-15 min, until golden.  It should make approximately 18 rolls.
When cooled you can frost with a simple powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and milk glaze.  

Variations:  Some people like to add pecan or raisins to their rolls.  After you have spread the cinnamon and sugar and before rolling the dough, add your extras.  You can also use dried cranberries.  Or do not make it into rolls by cutting it, put it in loaf pans and make cinnamon bread.

Make some homemade bread for people you love this week.  Make the house smell like baked bread and then break bread with your family. 

Be happy and may God Bless you and yours. 

Monday, April 23, 2012


Sandwiches are all about the bread.  A sandwich is a good as the bread you put it on.  You can pick up beautiful artisan breads now in almost any grocery store, even in little Maquoketa.   After you have picked your bread, you need to decide if you are going to grill it, toast it, or even to make the bread yourself.  How you serve it will determine texture and extra flavor. 

There are so many wonderful breads out there it is hard to pick.  Just a few choices in breads might be:

Multi grain
Soft rolls
Hard rolls
French bread or a baguette
Country biscuit
Sour dough
Soda bread
Beer bread
Different seasoned breads like onion, cheese or herbs
Foot long subs 

Bread machines are wonderful things.  You can start it in the morning and come home to warm bread hours later.  The smell of warm just baked bread is heavenly. 

Don’t be afraid to make your own.  It might be time consuming, but it is sure worth everything you put into it.  That will be another chapter.  I’ll give you the few recipes I use for bread in another blog. 

The best sandwiches I ever had… I remember two.  One was years ago at a place called the Unicorn in Clinton.  It was an open faced sandwich on Brownsberry Oatmeal bread.  That started me on buying Brownsberry bread.  It had lots of sliced roast beef piled high and sliced cucumbers on it with a dill mayo.  I make it once in awhile, but it is not the same.  Guess that first time is always special and it is hard to duplicate. 

The second one was a lobster sandwich in San Diego.  It was served on a long hard roll and was not over dressed so you could taste the lobster.  I believe that delicate meats should not have over powering flavors like peppers or onions on them.  I want to taste the lobster and I did.  The mayo was fresh homemade and out of this world.

My favorite sandwich shows what a plain Jane I am.  I used to work at a Maid Rite years ago and would watch it get made up each morning but Duane Hayes would never share the secret.  After all these years I find out it is simply a ½ side of beef ground so you are getting a types of cuts of meat for flavor and the little something that he added was Worcestershire sauce.   There is no longer a Maid Rite in Maquoketa so if I see one in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids or Davenport, I’ll often stop.  I have to have mustard, ketchup and pickle on mine.  My mom loves them too so we often go together which adds to the pleasure.

Chicken Sandwich

When making a chicken sandwich, there are a few key elements that are always necessary. 

Roasted chicken with lots of flavor (I like to buy a rotisserie chicken from the deli to save time, work and mess.  They are usually well seasoned)
White crusty bread
Arugula, bib, or lettuce of your choice
Heirloom tomato from the garden if possible (It is not thick skinned, was ripened on the vine and has more flavor)

Additional flavor can be added in the form of bacon and or golden brown, caramelized onions.  You can also add a mild cheese like mild cheddar, Queso Fresco, brie or Colby.

Veggie Sandwich

Grilled Portabella Mushroom
Onion powder and garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Swiss Cheese
Kaiser Roll

Grill your portabella mushroom in butter with a little garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper sprinkled on it.  Grill on both sides and put a slice of Swiss cheese on top to melt.  Serve on a grilled hard crusty Kaiser roll with mayo, an avocado and a tomato. 

Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Strawberry Jam

Here is an over the top grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  You can grill cheese with many meats and have an over the top sandwich. 

¼ inch thick slices of brioche bread (French sweet bread)
Strawberry jam or my tomato preserves (see tomato blog)
Slices of baked ham
Slices of Gruyère cheese
Softened unsalted butter

Heat a large griddle. Spread the brioche slices with the jam. Top with the ham and Gruyère and close the sandwich. Lightly butter the outside of the sandwiches and cook over moderate heat until toasted and the cheese is melted, 2 minutes per side. Cut in half and serve right away.  Want to have a sweet, sour and spicy taste?  Add a tad bit of red wine vinegar and mustard to the strawberry jam for that sweet and sour taste. 

Breakfast Sandwiches

You can put your entire breakfast into a sandwich.  The question is do you put it on a bagel, a croissant, a biscuit or grilled artisan bread.  Always grill it if you can no matter what bread you are picking.  I love croissants and like to put a sausage patty, scrabbled egg and cheese on it.  You can use Canadian bacon or bacon to substitute the sausage.  Great way to start a morning.

Meatball Sub

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 beaten egg
1 French baguette
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt to taste
Your favor canned spaghetti sauce
Provolone cheese or fresh mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, mix by hand the ground beef, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and egg. Shape into 12 meatballs, and place in a baking dish.

Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cooked through.  Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, and remove some of the bread from the inside to make a well for the meatballs. Brush with olive oil, and season with garlic powder, a little Parmesan cheese and salt. Slip the baguette into the oven during the last 5 minutes of the meatball's time, or until lightly toasted.

While the bread toasts, warm the spaghetti sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. When the meatballs are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the sauce. Spoon the meatballs and sauce onto the baguette and top with slices of provolone cheese or my preference mozzarella. Return to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

Barbeque Sandwich

1 small red onion
2 cups each of shredded green and red cabbage
¼ cup Mayo
1 bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce  (I like Open Pit Hickory and add a little honey or maple sugar to it to sweeten it.)
1 Tbsp. oil
Sliced beef brisket
1 can of beef broth
2 minced cloves garlic
Kaiser rolls split in half

Heat the oven to 350ºF.   Mix cabbages lightly.  Mix dressing and 2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce.  Add to cabbage mixture; toss to coat.  Salt lightly to bleed the juice out of the cabbage.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  It is good to this in advance so it can sit and marinate to get a juicier slaw. 
Heat your oil in large skillet. Add meat; cook 5 min. or until browned on both sides, turning after 3 min. Transfer to 13 x 9 inch baking dish or crock pot. Chop onion; sprinkle over meat. Mix broth, 1/2 cup of the remaining barbecue sauce and garlic; pour over meat. Cover.
Bake for 2 ½  to 3 hours or until meat is done (meat thermometer at 160 degrees). Let stand, covered, 10 min. Shred meat with forks; place in large bowl. Add remaining barbecue sauce; toss to coat.
Pile meat on each Kaiser roll and top with coleslaw just before serving.


Rye bread
Thousand Island dressing
Can of drained sauerkraut
Swiss cheese
Pastrami from the deli

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. 

Spread each slice of bread with Thousand Island dressing. Top the bread slices with sauerkraut, cheese and pastrami. Place the remaining bread slice on sandwich. Spread butter on the outsides of each sandwich.

Grill until browned and flip.  Grill other side until heated through, the bread is well toasted and cheese is melted.  You must serve this with a dill pickle.  It is a rule not to be broken….ever.

Pizza Burger

1 pound ground beef
1/4 pound pepperoni – chopped or ¼ Italian sausage (or both and cut back on beef)
1/4 cup pizza sauce - extra to use as a condiment
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
Salt and pepper to taste
Mozzarella cheese or provolone cheese
Crusty rolls

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, pepperoni (and or sausage), pizza sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic and onions.  Mix well to combine all of the ingredients.  Divide into four equal parts and pat into burgers.  Salt and pepper each burger to taste.
Fry the burgers in a large skillet or they can easily be grilled. Cook approximately 6 minutes on each side or until they reach the desired doneness.

Place a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese on each right before they are finished cooking. Allow the cheese to completely melt over the burger.

Variation:  I have also taken fresh mozzarella and put it inside the patty.  I really like it this way, but is takes more work.  I do not put the cheese on top then, but you could do mozzarella inside and a provolone on top to really goose it up.

Grill buns.  Spread a tablespoon of pizza sauce on each grilled bun. Place a burger on top.

No matter what sandwich I pick, I want a big dill pickle on the side to go with it.  I will ask you for yours if you don’t eat it.  It is simply a must to serve with most sandwiches in my mind.  You can skip it on the breakfast sandwich. 

I can go on and on with recipes on sandwiches I love like brats, poboys, sliders, egg salad, tuna salad, pork chop, or the Elvis grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich, but I need to stop somewhere.  You can add to this list and share under comments if you have something you love.  I’m always into sharing.  I did not post any of the sandwiches that I have already blogged like the BLT, my real hamburger, the tomato or cucumber sandwich.  You can look them up in my blog under ham loaf, lettuce, or tomato.  Soup and sandwich…it’s what’s for lunch.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.