Thursday, May 30, 2013

Italian Meatballs

As promised, I’m going Italian today.  You can do so many things with them.  The big decision will be do you want to make a meatball sandwich, serve them with pasta or as an appetizer.  


Italian Meatball 

1 lb of 80% lean hamburger (You want the fat to keep moist and for flavor)
1 lb of Italian sausage (I use Fareway’s homemade)
½  cup of ricotta cheese
½  cup of Parmesan cheese
½  cup Panko bread crumbs (I love this Japanese product.  I can even find it here)
4 tsp. chopped shallots
4 tsp. chopped garlic
2 egg
Good pinch of Salt and pepper

Put all of the above ingredients in a bowl.  Rub your hands with olive oil and mix ingredients well.  Also oil your hands well before forming the meatballs. Form meatballs the size of a golf ball.  Put the meat balls in a pan with marinara sauce. The sauce should just about cover ½ the meatball.   Add a little water in the sauce so it does not dry out.  Cook on medium low for 15 minutes and then turn meat ball.  Add a little more water to keep from drying out.  Sauté them until done all the way through.  Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese on top.   Makes about 16 meatballs.

Want a little heat?  Crush a few pepper flakes in the palm of your hand and add it to the meat mixture.   

These are a great appetizer at a party, a grinder sandwich or serve with any pasta.  Serve it with a simple crusty garlic bread if you are serving it with pasta. 

Homemade Marinara Sauce

2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic for a minute.  Add the other ingredients.

Simmer for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally.  The longer you simmer the more the tomatoes break down and the better the sauce.  I don’t like to be in a hurry when cooking Italian.  As the sauce thickens add a little water. 

Make extra and any sauce you don’t use freeze it.  It freezes beautifully.  I put it in baggies.  In the fall, I use my tomatoes from the garden and peal them and make this sauce.  Deseed the tomatoes and crush them with your hands.  I also use me basil from my garden.  Rule of thumb is you use twice as much fresh as dried.     

You have my permission to make it easy on yourself and buy a good store bought bottle of sauce.  Always be good to yourself and do it your way.

Tomorrow my last meatball recipe.  Serving up a recipe of Swedish meatballs.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Porcupine Meatballs


This is a recipe that comes from the 50’s.  I first had it at a church dinner and have loved it ever since.  It is a good dish for when ever I have left over rice.  The rice poking out from the meatballs inspired someone to name it porcupine meatballs.  


Porcupine Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs. of lean hamburger
1 cup of cooked rice
2 eggs
1 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can 29 oz tomato sauce or original recipe called for a can of tomato soup


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first 7 ingredients together with your hands.  Roll your meatballs into golf ball sized meatballs.  Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until they are brown.   Once they are brown, cover them with tomato sauce and put back into the oven for another 10 minutes.  The original recipe I made for years called for tomato soup but since Saylor can’t have milk products I am now using tomato sauce.

It makes over 2 dozen meatballs. 

Tomorrow I think I'll share my Italian meatball recipe with you.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Meatballs

I took down 2 pounds of hamburger thinking I would use it while Saylor and Josh were here this weekend and didn’t use it, so now I have to do something with it so I’m making meatballs and freezing some for a later date and using a few for supper.  I like extending beef any way I can to cut the cost of beef.  It is also much cheaper than the store bought frozen meatballs and you know what is in them.


So today I’m sharing my super simple meatball recipe with you.  You can goose it up a little more with additional seasoning if you like.  I have doubled the recipe because I had 2 pounds of ground beef unthawed and wanted to refreeze it in a cooked form and save myself some time and mess later.  You may cut it in half if you don’t want to freeze any.


2 lb. lean ground beef
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 cup plain bread crumbs (Made my own with 4 old crusty pieces of bread)
½ cup minced onion
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes (optional - crumble in hand to break up)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the bread crumbs you may use store bought or I cut up 4 pieces of old white bread and with my hands broke it up into a finer crumbs.   I put the crumbs into the oven a bit to dry and toast the bread a bit.  Do not over toast them.  You just really want them dried out.  You can season them if you like, but I left them plain.

In a large bowl combine beef, eggs, milk, bread crumbs, onion, salt, pepper and pepper flakes and mix with your hands. Form into meatballs the size of walnuts and place on a broiler pan so they do not sit in grease. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in center. Cool, take what you want and freeze the rest.   The recipe should make almost 3 dozen meatballs depending on how big you make them.

There is a little bite to the meatballs with the pepper flakes, but you can leave it out if you don’t like the little heat.  I think it makes it a better meatball.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 dozen frozen meatballs
¼  cup soy sauce
½  cup ketchup
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
4 shakes of hot sauce (optional)
Black pepper to taste (Soy Sauce has a lot of salt so do not add salt)

Heat your sauce ingredients and add your frozen meatballs and cook until meatballs are heated through.


Serve it with baked beans and coleslaw. It is what is for supper tonight.

Variations - You can also put aluminum foil on the grill and pock holes in the foil and make these on the grill.   Turn them over after they have cooked on one side. 

I also like to take a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of water and pour over the frozen meatballs to reheat them.  I make some buttered noodles and put the creamed meatballs on top of the noodles.  Each variation is super simple, but a wonderful filling meal.

Want to make it gluten/dairy free?  Add water in place of milk and use gluten free bread.

Have a super day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Crepes

I love crepes whether they are savory or sweet. I’m sharing 2 of my simple crepe recipes today.  The nice thing about crepes is you can get very creative with them and use food you already have in the house filling them with fruit, puddings, veggies or cheeses.  The sky is the limit and they are quite easy to make if you have a good pan.  


Crepes

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter

In a blender, combine flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, and butter.

Puree until mixture is smooth and bubbles form on top, about 30 seconds. Let batter sit at least 15 minutes at room temperature (this is important to let the gluten do it's work).

Heat a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium. Lightly coat with butter. Using a measuring cup, add 1/3 cup batter and swirl to completely cover bottom of skillet. Cook until underside of crepe is golden brown (2 to 3 minutes).

Loosen edge of crepe with a rubber spatula and quickly flip. Cook 1 minute more. Slide crepe out of skillet and repeat with remaining batter. Coat pan with butter as needed.



After making a pile of crepes, open your crepe and fill with your filling and roll up like a cigar. Do not over fill them.

Vanilla filling 
1 vanilla instant pudding & pie filling (5 oz. box)
1 ½ cups cold milk
1 container of 8 oz. whipped topping

For your filling mix one vanilla pudding packet with half of the milk called for on the package. Whisk until it begins to thicken. Then fold in one container of thawed whipped topping.  It makes a very easy and tasty filling in crepes. 


Top your crepe with fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.  For a Memorial Day theme by topping  with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries for red, white and blue. 

Want savory.  Here is a simple savory recipe idea. 

Manicotti Crepes 


Marinara sauce
10 Crepes
1 cup Ricotta cheese
¼  cup grated cheese
¼ shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley or basil

Spoon some pasta sauce on the bottom of your 10 x 13 sprayed baking dish and set aside.

Make a filling by mixing your 3 cheese together. 

Fill each crepe with the ricotta filling. Hand roll, leaving the sides open.  Do not over fill.  Place each filled crepe, seam side down, in a baking dish and top the more sauce.  Use your favorite store bought jar of Marinara or make your own with tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  I use what canned in the fall.

Sprinkle with a little more shredded mozzarella cheese and top with a little chopped fresh parsley or basil.
 
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.

Remove cover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are bubbly and cheese is slightly golden brown.  

Variation -  stuff the crepes with asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce or seafood and Hollandaise sauce.  I shared a simple recipe for Hollandaise in a recent blog.

I hope you have a great Memorial Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rhubarb Crisp

My rhubarb is going to seed already so need to start using some of it.  I made a rhubarb crisp for Josh.  I modified my recipe a bit and used some of my gifted homemade maple syrup for the crumble.  It is sooooo good.  Would be nice for a Sunday brunch just hot out of the oven.


Rhubarb Crisp

Crumble 
1/2 cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Rhubarb 
4 to 5 cups cut up rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the melted butter and maple syrup stirring to combine. Mix together until crumbly. 

In a saucepan combine the water, granulated sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Cook and stir until the mixture becomes transparent and has thickened.

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Put your rhubarb in the bottom of the dish and pour the syrup over the rhubarb.  Sprinkle the crumble over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until it is bubbly and topping is slightly browned.

Serve warm or cold.  Serve with vanilla ice cream if you are serving it warm. 

Have a great Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

You know who you get a craving for something?  Once your mind rests on the idea, you just have to have it. Well I haven't had this sandwich for a very long time and I have a craving for it.  I thought of it because I have some Swiss cheese that I need to use it up and I always have some chicken breasts in the freezer, so thought I would make this sandwich.  I'm not crusting the chicken though so it is my take on a Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich.



Chicken breast
Slices of honey roasted ham 
Swiss cheese slices
Toasted French bread
Honey mustard dressing

Toast your bread on both sides and butter lightly.

Fry the chicken breast over medium heat until it is golden brown and a bit crispy.  I used olive oil to fry it.  Turn over and cook on both sides.  I slice the breast in half for two thin chicken slices.

Put chicken on bottom half of the toast and top with ham slices and add Swiss cheese.

Place onto a foil lined cookie sheet and place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Stand and watch. Do not walk away.  It will not take long.

Top the other piece of toasted bread with honey mustard dressing and put it on the sandwich. 

Honey Mustard Dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup mustard
2/3 cup honey

Mix well and store in a Mason jar.  You can refrigerate for a couple of weeks.

Serve the sandwich while it is hot.

Variation -  This would be really nice on a French croissant also.  You can substitute the honey ham with Canadian bacon.  You can grill the sandwich instead of using the broiler.  Make it your own.


You may also add lettuce or tomato if you like.  

Wishing you a great Saturday to start your Memorial Day weekend.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Black Walnut Cake


I made my mom her favorite cake yesterday since she will be 88 years old on Saturday.  Josh and I are going over today and doing some power washing for her today and taking her the cake.   Her favorite cake is black walnut.  I used to be able to get black walnuts in Maquoketa at Fareways, but they can’t even order them now.  So thanks to the internet and me thinking ahead, I order them of all places from Amazon.com.  I’m cutting the recipe in half because she can’t eat a whole cake.  This recipe is for a 3 layered cake that I used to make for her birthday party.  She doesn’t have to share this year.  Here is what you will need for this decadent cake in case you want to try it:

2 stick butter
2 cups sugar
5 egg yolks*
5 egg whites*
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped black walnuts
½ tsp. black walnut extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar together.  Add the eggs yolks and mix well.  Mix the flour, baking soda and salt.   Add the milk and flour alternately to the mixture and blend, don't over beat this, but make sure it is well incorporated.  Add the vanilla and nuts.

Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Pour the mixture into 3 greased and floured cake pans (9 inch works best).   Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let them stand and cool about 15 minutes before trying to remove from pans.

Butter Cream Frosting

I like to frost the cake with a butter cream frosting, but you could also do a cream cheese frosting if you like.  Again, since I  cut the cake recipe in half, I also cut the frosting recipe in half.

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups frozen whipped topping

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more.  Fold in the thawed whipped topping until well blended.  This lightens up the frosting.

Sprinkle the black walnut on the top and sides.

Variation – If you do not want to order black walnuts, use regular walnuts instead.

Mom also loves coconut and this could be turned into a coconut cake easy enough.  Add a cup of coconut in place of the walnuts and leave out the extract.  Add a cup of coconut milk instead of milk.  After frosting your cake, sprinkle the sides and top with coconut.  You could also combine the coconut and walnuts and make a coconut walnut cake.

If you don’t want a 3 layer cake, do what I did and cut the recipe in ½ and put in a 9 x 9 inch cake pan and bake for 30 minutes.

* If you are cutting the recipe in half, I used 3 egg whites and 3 egg yokes.  It will make it even lighter.

Happy birthday mom.  I am so blessed.  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless my mom, you and yours.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Picnic

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and thought I would share a picnic sandwich idea, potato salad and a simple dessert for a picnic with you. 


Apricot Cashew Salad Sandwiches


2 cups cooked turkey or chicken
1 Granny Smith apple (or any real crisp apple)
1 cup celery
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 tbs. apricot preserves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices bread
Lettuce leaves

Toss together turkey or chicken, apple, celery, apricots and cashews in a large bowl set aside. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, preserves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper in a separate bowl; spoon over meat mixture and fold in until well blended. Spoon evenly onto 4 slices of toasted or crusty bread. Top with lettuce leaf and remaining bread slices. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Variation – You can use apple butter or Mandarin oranges in place of the apricot preserves and yogurt in place of the sour cream.  Use what you already have in the house.  You could put whole grapes in with grape jelly and replace the cashews with walnuts.  Get creative with your combinations.

Potato Salad


6 to 8 medium unpeeled cooked red potatoes
4 to 6 eggs
1 large bunch of green onion
1 10 oz. jar olives with pimentos
6 slices of crispy fried bacon crumbled (I like to pre-cooked to save time and mess)
1 cup of your favorite real mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Microwave or boil unpeeled potatoes. Boil the eggs. Allow time for the eggs and potatoes to cool.  Chop green onions and drain the olives with pimentos and chop.  Microwave the bacon until crispy and cut with scissors into small pieces.

Peel eggs and cut up your potatoes.  I leave my skins on my potatoes, but you can peel them if you like.

Put the mayo in a large bowl and add all the ingredients and mix delicately until everything is covered well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors marry and the salad is well chilled.

I like this recipe because it is not full of raw onion.  The green onion is not so overwhelming.  You can add raw onion if you like.  If I added it, I would grate it. 

6 to 8 medium unpeeled cooked red potatoes
4 to 6 eggs
1 large bunch of green onion
1 10 oz. jar olives with pimentos
6 slices of crispy fried bacon crumbled (I like to pre-cooked to save time and mess)
1 cup of your favorite real mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Microwave or boil unpeeled potatoes. Boil the eggs. Allow time for the eggs and potatoes to cool.  Chop green onions and drain the olives with pimentos and chop.  Microwave the bacon until crispy and cut with scissors into small pieces.

Peel eggs and cut up your potatoes.  I leave my skins on my potatoes, but you can peel them if you like.

Put the mayo in a large bowl and add all the ingredients and mix delicately until everything is covered well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors marry and the salad is well chilled.

I like this recipe because it is not full of raw onion.  I’ve read that for picnicking an onion collect bacteria and is more likely to make you ill than mayo and the green onion is not so overwhelming. 

Over-the-top Rice Crispy Bars

I love the fact that you can now buy bite sized Snickers unwrapped.  What took them so long?  I hate having to unwrap them when you are using them for a dessert. 


7 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
5 tbs. butter
7 1/2 cups Rice Crispy cereal
24 Mini Snicker candy bars or your favorite candy bar

In a large sauce pan melt the butter and marshmallows over medium heat (You can also melt in the microwave). Continue to stir until it is creamy. Add the cereal and stir until completely coated. Divide the mixture in half. Press half the cereal into a buttered 9 × 13 pan. I wet my hands and press down on the mixture gently to spread it out.  Lay your favorite candy bars down on the mixture and cover the cereal. Drop the rest of the cereal on top of the candy bars and press down again with your wet hands. Let cool completely before cutting.

Variation - Want to take it even more over the top?  Drizzle it with melted chocolate chips, caramels and/or sprinkle it with peanuts. You can also add a couple tablespoon fulls of peanut butter to the melted marshmallows and butter for a more peanuty taste.

Hope you have a great day and week end.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zucchini Hoecakes

I’m cleaning out the freezer again. I have one bag of grated zucchini from last years garden that I need to use up.  I’ve done the zucchini bread and zucchini carrot cake so thought I’d make zucchini hoecakes.  You can serve them as an appetizer or as a side dish for dinner.  


1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup self rising cornmeal
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoon bacon drippings

Put your zucchini in a sieve to drain out the excess water then measure a cup.

Blend zucchini, buttermilk, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Heat oil and bacon drippings in skillet until hot.  This is one of those times you are glad you saved those wonderful bacon drippings.  Drop spoonful of mixture into hot oil.  Cook on one side until brown and crispy, turn, flatten with spatula and cook on the other side.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Makes about 10 to 12 hoecakes.

Variation – Try adding some grated Parmesan cheese to the batter.  You’ll get a whole other taste.  You can serve them with a simple marinara dipping sauce.  If you would like a little heat, add a pinch of  cayenne, a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce.

Hope you have a wonderful day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Morels




Searching for the Elusive Morel

The morel is probably the most mysterious species of fungi in the woods. Even though there are proven studies as to where morels may fruit, there is always the area where you may find morels growing that goes against all facts and is explainable. Generally morels grow where they want and when they want.  Usually in May after rain and warm weather.  Usually when you find one morel there is usually more than one in that area. Morels tend to have a root system which causes them to fruit in bunches. This is not true in all cases. Sometimes there may be only one or two but most of the time they will come in flushes or as little as two's and threes. A lot of this depends on the weather also.

The most common place to find morels is in the woods. Morels like to come up around dead and decaying trees such as the Elm. Morels will grow in heavy leaf cover, dried creek bottoms and heavy foliage. Try hunting near edges of river banks and mossy areas. Look for areas that have a rich black and sandy soil. Morels seem to prefer sandy soils. Morels hate clay. They should be well drained and no standing water. Shady areas are ideal for late season hunting and more open areas in the early season.

Keep in mind these hints where they might be:

Near dead trees
Under and near Cottonwood trees
Under and near Ash trees
Under and near Apple trees
Under and near dead Elm Trees
In old apple orchards
On south-facing slopes
On north-facing slopes
In sandy soil
Near wood piles
In dried river bottoms and creek beds
Along river beds
At burn sites
Near railroad tracks
In May Apple patches
Cemeteries
Near Stumps

I will share my very simple recipe with you today. 

Morels
Butter
Cast iron skillet
Flour
Salt/Pepper to taste.

Clean and cut your morels in half.   Fill a bowl with water and add several pinches of salt to the water.  Soak your mushrooms overnight.  Put in a colander to drain all of the excess water off.


Melt butter in frying pan on medium heat.  Do not let it brown.

Coat your morels lightly in flour.  I use a plate because they are delicate and I don’t want to break up any of the mushroom.  Some people do it in a ziplock bag.  Coat the cleaned morels with flour.

Sauté mushrooms gently in butter.  Salt and pepper to your taste.  Sauté until they are golden brown and turn over carefully and brown on other side.  When they have crisped up they are done.


This is a near religious experience.  Because it is all about the mushroom, I do not mess with perfection.  I have never wavered from this simple recipe.  I know people who coat them in egg and cracker crumbs, but I've never gone there.



If you are lucky enough to have any excess morels, you can freeze them for winter. After washing and soaking your mushrooms in salt water, dust them with a little flour, put them on cookie sheet and freeze solid. The flour keeps them from sticking together in freezer bag.   Once they are frozen, put them in a freezer bag.

Whether you are a hunter or gatherer, I hope you have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  



Monday, May 20, 2013

Bacon and Honey Glazed Chicken Fingers

This is super simple and has bacon!  How can you go wrong?  Making it easy and tasty on a Monday night is  the way to go.




1 pound boneless chicken breasts
Thin bacon slices
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. mustard
3 tbs. honey
Lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper

Cut the chicken breasts in thin strips. Preheat oven to 425.

Combine brown sugar and honey with 2 tsp. of your favorite mustard. Squeeze in some lemon juice. Wrap the bacon around the chicken strips.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place them in a roasting tray or on a cookie sheet.  You can line the tray or sheet with some foil for easy clean up. 

Roll the chicken bites in the brown sugar mixture. Bake them in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F. for 10 to 13 minutes until the bacon is crispy.

As soon as one side is done, flip them over and sprinkle with any remaining brown sugar mixture. Put them back in the oven for another 10 to 13 minutes, until the other side is crispy as well.  Keep an eye on them.

Variation – You can use as an appetizer or as your meat dish for dinner.  You may also cut them up when they are fully baked and put them on top of a fresh green salad.  Try it with a simple lettuce and grape salad.  Serve with a simple honey mustard dressing on the side.
  
Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing/Dipping Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup prepared mustard
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper

Put ingredients into a mason jar and shake.  You can store it in the refrigerator for several weeks.   This also can be used as a nice dipping sauce for the fingers.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Brunch Ideas


Well it is Sunday already.  I have a couple of ideas for a Sunday brunch for you and yours.

Sausage-Stuffed Corn Muffins


1 pounds pork breakfast or sage sausage
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup milk

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 425°F.  Roll your sausage into 12 evenly sized balls (You could also use link sausage and just cut into 1 inch pieces). Preheat a skillet over medium heat and cook sausage balls until no longer pink in the center, about 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Grease a 12 muffin tin with butter. In a large bowl combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and whisk until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk together vegetable oil, egg and milk then pour over dry ingredients and mix until there are no longer any lumps, adding optional parsley if desired.  You can simplify by using a corn muffin mix if you like.  Just follow the directions on the package.

Divide half the batter between muffins tins, place a piece of sausage on top then cover with remaining batter. Place in the oven and bake until muffins are puffed and beginning to brown (about 18 minutes). Serve warm.


Watermelon Salad


¼  cup sugar
¼ cup water
Mint leaves and chopped mint
Zest and Juice of lemon
Pinch of Kosher salt
2 cups blueberries
3 cups cubed watermelon

Make a simple syrup by bringing water and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat, add mint sprigs and steep for 10 minutes for a mint syrup.  Let the syrup cool.

Place watermelon and blueberries in a bowl. Discard the mint from the simple syrup.  Add the lemon zest, juice and salt.  Stir to combine.

Pour over fruit, toss gently.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Top with chopped mint.

Variation – you can switch out the blueberries for blackberries or what ever fruit you would like. I like the contrast in color with the blackberries or blueberries or you can add more than two fresh fruits.  I have tiny cookie cutters that I like to use to shape the melon to make an even more beautiful presentation.  I just slice the watermelon about 1/2 thick and then cut flower shapes with the cookie cutter.  I like to do this for Christmas brunch with 3 kinds of melon and 3 Christmas cookie cutters.   

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Banana Cake with Maple Syrup



Mom gave me 6 rotten bananas yesterday.  We freeze them when they get over ripe to use when the need strikes us.  The riper the better is the rule when you are making banana bread or cake.  I’m making a very rich and moist banana cake to share with mom.  I’m also going to use some of that great homemade maple syrup that mom loves that I was gifted.


Banana Cake with Maple Syrup

1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 3/4 cups flour
6 mashed bananas

Frosting
1 eight ounce package of whipped cream cheese
1 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pecans or walnuts (you can put ½ cup in batter and ½ cup for topping or just sprinkle on top)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 13 × 9 inch baking dish.

Using a mixer, cream the butter until soft and light. Gradually add the maple syrup and beat on medium speed until very light. The butter and maple syrup may separate slightly.  Add you sugars and mix well.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla.

Whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture along with the  mashed bananas. Beat on low speed just until combined.  Add nuts here if you like nuts. 

Scrape the batter into the prepare pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frosting

Add the whipped cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Spread on the banana cake when it is still a little warm so it spreads easily.  Sprinkle nuts on top.  Store the cake in the refrigerator.

Make sure you save and freeze those over ripe bananas in the future.  

Have a great Saturday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  


Friday, May 17, 2013

Indian Fry Bread


The first time I ever tried fry bread was at a Pow Wow in South Dakota.  I have attended several Pow Wows over the years and love the experience of learning more about the Native American culture and of course their food. 


This picture was taken at a Tama Pow Wow last year.  Eddie and his family went with me making the experience even more special.   Small children learn how to dance at a very early age.  Their dance is a prayer.

Being Native American is part of my heritage that was hidden from family members because of a sad history of hatred and ignorance.  My great grandfather’s mother was Cherokee.  I have fallen in love with their culture and take great pride in being part Cherokee.

So in honor of my proud heritage, I’m sharing a simple fry bread recipe today.  Like your Mexican tortilla, you can turn them into a dessert, use just as bread or fill it with meat and veggies like a taco. 


3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups milk
Water
Lard (you may use a healthier substitute like vegetable oil  if you like)

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a fork as you pour in the milk; keep stirring for a bit to get it to come together as much as possible. Add very slowly just enough water (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) to get it to come together. This varies with the weather.  Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it sit for 35 to 45 minutes to rest.

When you're ready to make the fry bread, heat about 1 to 2 inches of lard in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Make sure your shortening is hot. Grab a gulf ball size piece of dough and press it into a circle with your fingers; place it on a clean surface and begin pressing in the center and work your way out, stretching it as you go.  It is all done with your fingers.  You get better as you go. 

When the circle is about 4 to 7 inches (however big you want it) carefully lay it into the hot skillet. Allow it to fry on one side until golden brown, about 1 minute, and then carefully flip it to the other side using tongs. Fry it for another 30 to 45 seconds.

Remove the fry bread to a paper towel lined plate and allow it to drain while you fry the other pieces. 

You can serve with honey; dust them with powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar.  I do this also with cut up tortillas. 


You can also fill it with taco fillings.


This flat bread probably goes back many hundreds of years.  It not only is and was a food staple, but was used as an eating utensil.  Something so simple filled with so much history.  

Hope you have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beef and Brown Rice


Beef, it’s what for dinner.  Eddie gave me a couple packages of beef stew meat and I’m going to make a beef and rice dish with one of the packages today.  This is an easy crock pot recipe except for the rice.  I love brown rice and it is so good for you, so I’m using brown rice today.  Just follow the directions on the rice package.  I’m keeping the beef simple, but you may goose it up a bit if you like.  


2 pounds boneless beef stew pieces
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 garlic cloves
Sesame seeds 
1/4 cup cornstarch and a couple of tablespoons water for a slurry
Cooked brown rice

Place beef cubes in a crock pot.

In a small bowl, combine the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Turn crock pot up to high.

To make your corn starch slurry, stir cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to crock pot. Stir well to combine.

Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high (the sauce has to boil for it to thicken).

Serve over hot cooked brown rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Variation – Add broccoli or mushrooms to the crock pot.  When serving, you can also chop green onions and sprinkle on top of the beef..

I also love heat with the sweet.  Add 2 pinches of red pepper flakes (crush in your hand to break up) or hot sauce to the broth.  Add slowly and taste until you are happy with the heat. I just used 2  pinches of flakes.  I also have added onion powder for additional flavor.

I didn't have sesame oil once so made my own by taking 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of oil and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  I added the mixture to crock pot with the broth to slow cook.

Have an amazing day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cucumber Sandwiches and Salad-on-a-Stick


We set records yesterday with heat.  Although it is not suppose to be as hot today, I’m in no mood to cook.  I’m sharing some great no cook ideas I found for your lunch today.  

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches 


I love cucumber sandwiches.  These are a little fancier than the cream cheese and slice of cucumber with dill.  Save the recipe for a picnic and pot luck.  

1 package (8 ounces) whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 seedless cucumbers
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 cup chopped pimientos (Optional, but add colore)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
12 slices whole wheat bread

In a small bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients; beat until blended. Stir in the cucumbers, onion, pimientos and parsley. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours to chill.

Remove crusts from bread; cut each slice into four triangles. Spread with cream cheese mixture. Garnish with cucumber slices and dill sprigs if desired. Yield: 4 dozen.

Salad-on-a-Stick

I love anything you can make on a stick.  It makes it fun and easy.  I love this idea. 


Sliced ham
Sliced cheese
Lettuce
Hard boiled eggs
Cucumbers
Grape tomatoes
Black olives
Bread
Garlic glove

What do you have in your refrigerator?  You can use turkey or chicken if that is what you have.  Use what ever cheese you have.  If you have an avocado it would be wonderful.  Just have fun with it. 

Boil your eggs (sorry you do have to heat up the stove for that).  Toast some bread (Texas toast works great) and brush it with a garlic glove.  Hard store bought croutons don't go on a stick well, so recommend you go the making your own toast route. Slice your ham, eggs, cheese, lettuce and toast into bite size pieces and using a skew start assembling your salad.  

Red Wine Salad Dressing

I’ll share a simple dressing, but you can use your favorite or what ever you have in a bottle. 

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 clove crushed garlic

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a screw-on lid. Tighten lid and shake vigorously for 1 minute before serving.  This makes 2 cups of salad dressing, so you may wish to cut it in half.  You can disassemble the salad on their plate after pouring a  little dressing on it first. 

Have a cool day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Homemade Barbecue Sauce



It is suppose to get up to 90 today.  The weather is like a roller coaster for May.  Since it is going to be like summer, thought I would share homemade barbecue sauce with you to use for your grilling tonight.  Get out the chicken, pork chops or ribs.  It goes great on all of it. 

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups ketchup
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Red pepper flakes or cayenne for heat (Start small and continue to taste and add until you have the heat you desire.)

In a large saucepan heat canola oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ketchup and 2/3 cup water, bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients simmer for 10 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Add the heat last and keep adding until you have the desired heat you are looking for.  I like a little heat, but everyone is different.  I usually use about 1/2 tsp. of pepper flakes and that is plenty hot for me.

Let cool and transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Pour into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator.  It keeps for weeks.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Copy Cat White Castle Sliders



Posting the breakfast sliders Saturday got me to thinking of White Castle sliders.  I was introduced to them back in the 60's in Milwaukee.  They invented the sliders as far as I'm concerned.  Back then as a VISTA volunteer, I had very little money and this was our idea of going out to dinner.  Wonderful memories of sitting with friends in the little castle like buildings after clubbing.


Don't have any around here so have to make them.  This isn't how they make them, but it will taste like them.

1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup milk
1 finely chopped onion
Dinner rolls 
American cheese slices

In a large bowl mix the hamburger, Lipton onion soup mix, peanut butter, and milk. Spread the meat mixture on a cookie sheet. Use a rolling pin to roll over the meat to smooth it out.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. The meat will shrink. Take it out of the oven and put the diced onions all around the edges, this will give the meat a great flavor.  This takes the place of grilling on the grill with all those onions frying on the grill at the same time as the meat.

Bake for 15 more minute more, remove from oven, then spoon the onions from the edges all over the top of the meat and layer with cheese slices.

Bake until cheese is melted. Then add the tops of your rolls (the bottom part of the rolls will just sit on the counter) and place back in the oven for about 5 more minutes.

Take it out of the oven. Slice the meat with a pizza cutter and pick up the slider/top bun with a spatula and set it on the bottom bun.

Can you smell them now?  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Blueberry French Toast Bread Pudding



Want to make something really special for Mother’s Day?  Here it is.  I gave my Mother home made maple syrup for Mother’s Day that a special friend and her family make and gave to me.  I also got a jar for me and  this will be a great treat to go with it. 

Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.  Cut old dried bread in bite size cubes. Layer half of the bread in the bottom of the dish.  Cube the block of cream cheese and layer over the bread.  Sprinkle 1 cup of blueberries over the cream cheese.  Layer the rest of the bread over the blueberries.  Dot with butter. Whisk together eggs, half and half, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon.  Pour over the bread mixture making sure each piece gets covered.  Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator and let set as long as you can (for the future overnight is best).

Take out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you bake it.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  Keep covered for the first 30 minutes with the foil and uncover for the last 30 minutes. It should be browned nicely on top at the end of the hour.

Serve with blueberry syrup or some maple syrup. 

8 slices bread
1 8 oz. block cream cheese
8 eggs
1 ½ cups half and half 
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbs. butter

Blueberry Syrup

1 cup blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbs. cornstarch
1 tbs. butter

In a medium saucepan combine water, sugar, and cornstarch and bring to a boil.  Add blueberries and simmer for 10 minutes or until they burst.  Add the butter and whisk until melted.  Serve alongside the French toast bake.  This should serve 4 people.


Variation – Substitute your favorite fruit.  You can use raspberries, strawberries, peaches, what ever you like.  The same with the syrup, just substitute the fruit of your choice.

Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Breakfast Sliders



Here is a great and simple idea for Mother’s Day brunch.

24 dinner rolls
24 pieces honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
12 scrambled eggs

Sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Scramble your eggs with just a bit of milk or water and fry in a little butter until they are just a little wet.  Do not over cook them until they are dry.  They will cook more when you finish the slider.  Take off heat and let cool. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread mayo onto both sides of your rolls. Then place a slice of ham, cheese and a spoon full of egg inside of each roll.  Place your rolls into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish close together.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the rolls. Let sit about 5 to 10 minutes or until the butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for 2 to 3 additional minutes to brown the top of the buns. Serve warm.

Variation – Use any cheese you have.  You may replace the ham with Canadian bacon. 

Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Squares


I'm making a chocolate snack for my grandson this weekend.  He is like me and loves chocolate and peanut butter.  It is a no bake recipe which makes it even nicer.


1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
2 cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the peanut butter, honey and oil in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently as the mixture melts. When it has melted, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the ingredients are well combined.

Pour into an 8 x 8 inch pan (9 x 13 is fine as well). Refrigerate until the chocolate hardens, at least 3 to 4 hours. Slice into 2" square pieces. They are quite rich. Store in the refrigerator.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Black Walnut Rhubarb Muffins



My rhubarb is almost ready to pick.  I have one last frozen bag of it in my freezer so have the big decision of what to do with it.  I bought some black walnuts for my mother's birthday cake and thought I'd use some of them also in these muffins.  Mom loves black walnuts.  You can substitute with regular walnuts or skip them entirely if you wish, but some of these are headed to mom's.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped black walnuts 
1/4 tsp. black walnut flavoring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Topping:

2 tsp. melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, oil, egg, milk and vanilla. Add rhubarb, nuts, and flavoring. Stir in dry ingredients, just until mixed. Spoon into prepared muffin tins, either greased or with paper liners. Combine topping and press gently onto muffin batter. Bake in 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes until wooden pick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Makes 18 muffins.

Variation -  If you love strawberries and rhubarb add a little of the powder from  strawberry Jello to the mix or some strawberry jam.  Taste until you reach the flavor you want.  

Have a great day.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pasta Salad with Shrimp, Avocado and Asparagus



Spring is finally here and this salad screams spring with it’s colors.  I’m taking some of my very favorite foods and making a salad.
 
1/2 pound small dried pasta of your choice
1 bunch asparagus
1 pound cooked shrimp
1 avocado
1 tomato

Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt* and pepper
1 garlic clove  (I like to use the pre-chopped in a jar.  Use about a tsp.)

Cook your pasta of choice until it is al dente following the instructions on the package.  Drain and let cool.
Bend your asparagus and see where it breaks when you bend it. Cut the asparagus ends off at that point on all of the asparagus and do not use in cooking.  Cook the asparagus in simmering water covered for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool under cold running water and drain. Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces on an angle and add to a bowl.

Cook your shrimp 3 minutes, drain and let cool.

Chop your tomato and avocado.

Add the cooked pasta, shrimp, avocado, and tomato to a bowl. Mix to combine.
Dressing - Place all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Add the dressing to the salad and mix to combine. Season salad with salt and pepper, to your taste and toss again.  You can add additional herbs to the mayo if you like to green it up.  I have fresh chives right now and they would go nice.  You decide.

*  I always use Kosher salt.  Table salt has chemicals in it to make it free flowing and we don’t need the chemicals.  Kosher salt tastes better anyway. 

Variation – You know what I'm going to say don't you, add chopped bacon?  It has to make it better.  You could also add a little frozen corn for sweetness and little more color.  Pimentos would be nice also.  There are no rules when making a salad. 

Going to be another nice day here.  I hope yours is a great one.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce



This is the simplest hollandaise sauce there is.  It is perfect over asparagus, eggs Benedict,  or seafood.  The old hard method of whisking yolks over simmering water is no more.  I love it when things are made easier.

2 sticks melted butter
3 or 4 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
½ of a squeezed lemon
Pinch of white pepper

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium.  In a blender, blend your egg yokes, salt and pepper. With the blender running, remove the cover and pour the hot melted butter in a thin stream. By the time two-thirds of the butter has been added, the sauce will be thick and creamy. Continue pouring, but don’t pour in the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Squeeze in the juice from ½ of a lemon and blend again. The hot butter will cook the egg yokes and you have perfect simple hollandaise sauce.  Serve while warm over steamed asparagus, shrimp or a poached egg for eggs Benedict.  


Asparagus tips – Bend the asparagus until it breaks.  Only use the tip of the asparagus to the break.  The rest you can save and use in broths if you like, but it is stringy and should not be served to eat.  You can use the first peace you break as a way to measure where to cut the rest of your asparagus.  Place asparagus in a plate with several spoons of water.

Cover the plate with plastic food wrapper but leave some opening at the side so extra hot steam has a way to escape.  Microwave for 5 minutes.  You should have perfect steamed asparagus.  

It is suppose to be another beautiful day here.  Hope you day is beautiful, be happy and may God bless you and yours.