Saturday, December 5, 2009

Roasted Eggplant Salad

I just spent three days hanging out with a vegetarian who showed me how to make some amazing food featuring vegetables. Which makes me happy since I am a HUGE fan of the vegetable. Haven't met too many I didn't like and the ones I have -- well, it usually wasn't the vegetable's fault but the way it had been prepared.

Anyhoo... I'm going to share one of the recipes today. It's SO simple and tastes SO good!

Roasted Eggplant Salad
(serves 6)
3 medium to large eggplants
2 tomatoes
1 small or half of a large onion
vinegar & oil (your choice; I usually reach for olive oil and balsamic vinegar)

Poke eggplants a few times with a fork, roast in hot oven for 1/2 hour or so until skin is black and wrinkled.
While eggplant is roasting, cut up tomatoes and onions in a bowl.
After removing eggplants from oven, slice down middle and carefully scoop out all the pulp (which is VERY hot so be careful!) onto a cutting board. Chop into small pieces and add to tomatoes and onions.
Toss with salt, oil and vinegar to taste.
Chill for at least 2 hours.

[Eggplant can have a bitter taste but prepared this way, it doesn't.]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweetness and Light Muffins

Baking is not my forte but I've never had a batch of these muffins fail, and the recipe comes with variations that make it very versatile. It's from the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook; and the pages are a mess with spilled ingredients from the many, many times I've used this recipe. I'm going to give you the basic recipe and then follow up with some of their variations, along with my favorite which I altered from the book (which just goes to show you can pretty much do what you want with the basic recipe).

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your muffins)
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I just use ground nutmeg)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled (I use Canola oil instead)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a smaller bowl whisk together milk, butter (or oil), egg and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry, combine with as few strokes as possible -- just until ingredients are incorporated.
If you like, fold in additional ingredients as mentioned in Variation Options.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling to 1/2 to 2/3 full.
Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes.
Cool briefly on racks until the smell and hunger pains drive you to eat at least one while piping hot.

Peach and Nut: Add a drop of almond extract to wet ingredients. Add 3 diced peaches and 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts to batter.
Ginger-Pear-Walnut: Add 2 partially mashed, diced pears, 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to batter.
Cranberry Nut: Use larger amount of sugar in basic recipe. Add 1 cup chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts to batter. You can also add 1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest.
Piña Colada: Use smaller amount of sugar in basic recipe. Replace 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup thawed frozen pineapple juice concentrate mixed with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add this to wet ingredients, then mix with dry ingredients. Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (how about macadamias?) and, if you want, 3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple to the batter.
Banana-Chocolate Chip: (my personal favorite and the one I make most often) Add 2 mashed bananas,  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 cup (at least) chocolate chips to batter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Green Chili Enchiladas

This was one of my son's all-time favorites when he was younger. It's from the Once A Month Cookbook (now expanded and revised) and back in the day I'd spend a day or two cooking up a storm and filling my freezer because life is busy when you've got two kids you homeschool and up to six others that you're houseparenting. I don't do the bulk cooking any more. It's just me and Ivan and we live in South America where there's a more relaxed pace of life (most of the time) and there's also the little issue of no longer having a freezer in which to put all the casseroles. The thing is, this is a great recipe for just any old day, especially if you're having company. You can make it a day or so ahead and stick in the fridge until time to put into the oven. Then you don't have to spend a ton of time in the kitchen when your guests are there, but can instead enjoy their visit.

Although I've never done it, it would seem this recipe could be tweaked to suit those who prefer poultry over beef. Which would make it a good way to use up some of that leftover turkey you'll soon have in your fridge. And a nice change of pace from the Turkey Tetrazzini we usually give our families after the holidays (not that there's anything wrong with Turkey Tetrazzini but year-after-year? Surprise your family with something new!).

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (3 3/4 cups browned meat)
  • 1 1/4 cups onions, finely chopped (3/4 cup sauteed)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
  1. Cook the ground beef, and saute onions until the meat is brown. Drain off fat. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Reserve 1 cup cheese. Spoon enough meat mixture and remaining cheese on each tortilla to cover a third of it. Roll tortilla beginning at the filled edge. Place seam side down in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish treated with nonstick spray. Combine soup, sour cream, and green chilies to make a sauce; pour over tortillas.
  2. Bake uncovered in a preheated 375ºF oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolate Cinnamon Biscotti

When it starts getting cold (which is what most of you will experience once Indian summer is over) is there anything better than a hot cup of coffee or tea and some biscotti to dunk into it? No, I didn't think so either so this week I'm sharing a super easy biscotti recipe gleaned from the Chocolate Cake Doctor. This woman has taken a simple box cake mix and -- like Emeril -- KICKED IT UP A NOTCH! I haven't made it all the way through either the Cake Doctor or the Chocolate Cake Doctor cookbooks yet but I'm working on it :-) Simple ingredients and method, fantastic results. [Could also be made and given as gifts.]

makes 16-18
1 pkg plain German chocolate cake mix*
8 T butter (one stick)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fiinely chopped hazelnuts*
1/4 cup flaked or grated semisweet chocolate
1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In large bowl mix together all the ingredients on low speed until well blended, 3-4 minutes. The dough will be thick and come together in a ball.
Turn out onto prepared baking sheet. With floured hands shape dough into a rectangle about 14" long by 4" wide and 1/2 inch thick. Mound dough so it is slightly higher in the center (slightly, people, slightly!).
Bake until it feels firm when lightly pressed with finger and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 30-35 minutes.
Remove from oven and leave biscotti to cool for 10 minutes. (Leave the oven on; we're not done yet.)
Use a sharp, serrated knife cut one inch thick slices. You should end up with 16-18 biscotti. As you slice, carefully set biscotti on its side on the same baking sheet.
Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes. Turn oven off BUT LEAVE BISCOTTI IN THE OVEN for 30-40 minutes until they are crisp.
Remove from oven, transfer biscotti to a rack and cool completely (about 2 hours).
Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to several weeks.
* I substitute with regular chocolate cake mix since I cannot find the German chocolate here. 
Nor can I get hazelnuts, so I use walnuts instead.

Now how simple was that? And the taste? Riquisimo!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Maple Glazed Pork Loin with Creamy Polenta

Maple Glazed Pork Loin
1/2 c. syrup
1/8 t. cinnamon
pinch cloves
pinch cayenne
2-1/2 lb. pork loin
salt and pepper
2 t. oil
Sear roast in oil, remove from heat. Mix syrup and spices and roll loin in mixture. Roast at 325 degrees until thermometer reads 135 degrees (about 35-45 minutes), turning twice. Transfer to carving board. Allow syrup to sit 5 minutes to thicken up and pour over roast. Let sit 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Creamy Polenta
5-1/2 c. water
1 c. milk
1-1/2 c. polenta
4 T butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 oz. parmesan grated
Boil water and milk, add 1/2 t. salt and slowly pour in polenta, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often until liquid is absorbed (20-25 minutes). Remove from heat, add butter and garlic. Top with parmesan and broil briefly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

German Onion Cake

3 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 - 1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
14/ teaspoon paprika (optional)

In medium skillet sauté the onions in butter over low heat until they just begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Season with dried marjoram, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 450°.
In a bowl mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder and remaining salt. Add shortening and cut in until mixture resembles soft crumbs. Add milk and mix quickly to form a soft dough.
Oil 10" round cake pan and lightly use fingers to spread dough out evenly. Spread cooked onion over top.
Beat egg and sour cream together and spread over the onion, right to the edge of the pan. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and paprika.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then cut into wedges.

Not a difficult recipe at all, and full of flavor. A good side to any hearty soup or stew. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cornbread is what we'll eat in heaven

I'm sure of it.

Cornbread made from scratch (no Jiffy mixes please!) and baked in a cast iron skillet for that perfect golden crust and tender crumb, lightly kissed with butter and served piping hot. Or at room temperature. Or even cold (have you ever enjoyed a dish of crumbled cornbread with buttermilk?).

What I'd call cornmeal is sold here as polenta. Which is also a tasty dish but not the object of our focus today.

Recently while making cornbread I was inspired to take photos, thinking it would be fun to post a pictorial along with the recipe. Only problem is, my kitchen is like a cave. There is a window but since it looks out onto the covered patio, little sunlight actually penetrates the room so every photo I've taken in there looks sickly. No problemo! I moved my production out to the patio where I set up shop on one of Ivan's little wooden work tables (an unfinished wooden work table that I covered with a blue towel because I'm fancy like that). But at least the cornbread isn't a sickly shade of gray, which is how it photographed in the kitchen.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know all the trouble I went to just to bring you this if-you-squint-you-might-think-this-was-a-professional-tutorial.

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, melted (I've been known to use more of this particular ingredient)
more butter to brush on cornbread after it's done

(in whatever amounts you care to add)
chopped onion
chopped bell pepper (any color)
chopped jalapeño pepper
grated sharp cheese
fresh chopped herbs of your choice
cooked, crumbled bacon (and use the bacon grease in place of the butter!)

Set oven to 400°, put butter in cast iron skillet and set skillet in oven to preheat.

In one bowl whisk together the egg and milk.

In a second bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add any of the optional ingredients you've chosen to use (I've been throwing in some red bell pepper, onion and cheese lately).

Mix wet and dry ingredients together lightly with a fork just until combined.

Add melted butter (or bacon grease) and incorporate into batter. Pour batter into hot cast iron skillet. Enjoy the sizzle it makes!

Spread batter evenly. Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes until golden. When you take it out of the oven, spread another tablespoon or so of butter over the top. Cool slightly and cut into wedges.

Cornbread is great with so many things! White Chicken Chili and cornbread make a wonderful supper in the fall or winter. Last night we had creamed chicken over cornbread -- muy delicioso! [Note: I prefer this recipe for cornbread over the one I posted last April but both are tasty.] And of course what southern girl doesn't love soup beans and cornbread? But it's equally great with baked beans or green beans or...

Really, there's not much that cornbread doesn't go with. It's just a nice side to just about anything. So go ahead, make yourself some pan de maiz.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SCORE! -- Success with No Bakes At Last!

Yes, it's true. On the SIXTH try I finally succeeded with the No Bake Cookies. Woot!

I'd just like to thank all those who stood by me in these previous difficult weeks. My success is due to you, faithful friends. Without your support I wouldn't be standing here today.
[holds up large silver award and waves it at the audience]
I want to thank the public library system for all the cookbooks that taught me to feed my family edible food, sometimes even really good food.
I also want to thank my family for eating the many a few less than spectacular meals.
But most of all, I want to thank the internet. It was you that provided the final recipe that spelled success in the form of AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS No Bake Cookies.
It is you that I can always count on, to come through with just the recipe I'm looking for.
Internet, you ROCK!
[pumps award high in the air]

[snaps back to reality]
I think ultimately success was due to using really good quality ingredients. Ivan made a trip into Cordoba Friday morning and was kind enough to do a Walmart run for me and he brought home Quaker oats. (Thanks honey!) That, plus replacing the cocoa with a dark chocolate bar cut into chunks, did the trick.

So for all those other No Bake Challenged Interwebbies out there, I bring to you a recipe that is almost sure to succeed. (Hey, if it worked for me after FIVE FAILS, it just may work for you too!) I've altered the name a little to reflect the product more accurately.

No Bake Chocolatey Goodness Cookies
4 oz. butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
(I used a large dark chocolate bar cut into chunks instead)
3 cups oats

Mix the butter, milk and sugar in a medium size pan over low-to-medium heat and stir frequently until it comes to a boil and boil exactly 1-1/2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate chips and stir until melted, then add oatmeal. Mix until all the oatmeal is well incorporated. Use a large spoon to scoop cookie mixture onto wax paper or tin foil. Allow to cool and store in airtight container. Resist the temptation to hide the airtight container in your lingerie drawer so nobody else can have any. That's not kind and God will smite you for it. Of course you'd die happy and in a state of chocolate bliss.

Note: Sugar is in the container with the blue lid, in case you haven't surmised that. And you don't see any milk with the other ingredients because we drank it all while eating cookies last night. I didn't have the bright idea to include photos until this morning :-)

Note #2: I did not use either vanilla nor peanut butter which seems to appear in 99.2% of the recipes for No Bakes. While I do believe chocolate and peanut butter are an excellent flavor combination, I didn't want any peanut butter fighting with the chocolate in this instance. I just wanted that pure, rich deep dark chocolate. *sigh* These are, in my humble opinion, the best No Bakes I've ever had. Seriously.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oatmeal Pancakes

Here's a hearty autumn recipe for those of you in the northern hemisphere. Although those here in the south would enjoy them too.

*Note: Must start these the night before!!!*
2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (i.e. NOT INSTANT)
2 c. buttermilk, plus a bit more
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. sugar
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1-1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1/4 stick butter, melted and cooled
vegetable oil for frying
Partially prepare batter the night before: in a small bowl, combine oatmeal and 2 c. buttermilk. Cover and refridgerate overnight.
The next morning, sift together dry ingredients and set aside. In a larger mixer bowl beat the eggs until frothy. Add butter and blend, then add oatmeal mixture. Quickly blend in flour mixture. Batter will be very thick so you may need to add buttermilk -- CAUTION: one tablespoon at a time until it's the right consistency.
Fry pancakes, using heaping tablespoon of batter for each cake, and flatten to about 3/4" thickness. Pancakes will puff when turned over.
Serve however you like: with syrup, sauteed apples, powdered sugar...or WHATEVER. They're your pancakes; eat 'em how you want!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cuban Pork Roast and Sandwiches

I'm all for cooking something that will provide more than one meal. I love to fix a big chunk of meat and then use it forty eleven different ways. (Or maybe just a few less.)

We lived in south Florida for almost five years and developed a taste for Cuban food. Especially their roast pork. Delectable. Mouth-watering. Full of garlicky goodness. Cuban pork roast is all that and more. We like to have it the first night with the full complement of rice, black beans, and fried plantains. Then the second day we slice leftover pork real thin and make succulent Cuban sandwiches.

Am I making you hungry yet?

The trick with a really good Cuban pork roast is to marinate it overnight, letting all those spices and seasonings soak deep into the meat so that every single bite is absolutely bursting with flavor.

4-5 lbs pork roast
3 cloves garlic peeled and slivered
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon oregano, ground
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt, to taste
1 large onion, sliced

Trim excess fat from roast (but not all!) and then make tiny slits all over the roast with a sharp knife and insert the slivers of peeled garlic.
Mix remaining ingredients in a zip lock bag, add roast and marinate in fridge overnight.
The next day you have two options: in the morning you can dump it into a crockpot, on low, and forget about it until evening. (Well, forgetting about it isn't technically possible with all the wonderful smells wafting around your kitchen!)
OR early afternoon preheat your oven to 275° and slow roast, covered, for several hours (figure one hour per pound of meat, so a 4 pound roast would take four hours).


If your family doesn't devour the entire roast in one sitting (which has happened to us a time or two) you can thinly slice the leftover meat and make...

~ 1 loaf Italian or French bread
(or Cuban bread if you're lucky enough to have a source!)
~ mustard (the original recipe calls for plain yellow but I've used stone ground when it's all I had and it worked fine -- obviously I'm not a purist)
~ thinly sliced leftover pork roast
~ thinly sliced ham (any kind you want; it's YOUR sandwich)
~ thinly sliced dill pickles
[are you getting the idea that things HAVE TO BE THINLY SLICED?!]
~ thinly sliced swiss cheese (okay, so that's not so easy to find where I live now; I've used Fontina, Holland and Havarti -- I don't think it really matters; whatever floats your boat)

Slice the bread horizontally so you create one looooooong sandwich. Smear mustard liberally on both slices. Along the bottom half layer ingredients any old way you want. I like to put cheese on the bottom and top, right next to the bread to sort of prevent it from getting soggy from the juicy pickles which I slap right smack in the middle. I'm sure there's probably some kind of law in Cuba about the order in which to correctly place these ingredients, but I'm a rule breaker from way back. Then put the top piece of bread on and start mashing the whole thing as flat as you can. I am not a small person and I put all my weight into the effort, palms down flat against the top of the sandwich and mash, MASH, MASH.

In my U.S. oven I could take the whole sandwich, put it on a cookie sheet, cover it with a little piece of tin foil and then slam my heavy old cast iron skillet on top. We want this sucker FLAT! Here I have a much smaller oven so I have to cut the sandwich in half and lay the two pieces side by side on the smaller cookie sheet I'm able to fit into the itty bitty oven. Then I pop it in the oven at 325° for about 20-30 minutes until the sandwich is hot and the cheese all bubbly. Remove from oven, take the skillet off the top, slice and enjoy! Preferably with chips of your choice.
Wasn't that easy?

You can thank me later, after you've tried them and see how FABULOUS they are :-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 cup flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1-1/2 cups very hot water
Whipped cream garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter an 8-inch round or square baking dish or casserole.
Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Combine the milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Whisk together and stir into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Spread the thick batter in the prepared pan.
To make the topping, in the same bowl combine the sugars, cocoa, and coffee powder. Sprinkle over cake batter.
Pour hot water over the topping and place pan on middle rack of oven. Bake until cake is firm, about 40 minutes. The pudding-like sauce will have sunk to the bottom and will be soft. Cool 15 minutes.
Whip the cream, adding sugar and vanilla, until soft peaks form. Serve the warm cake with chocolate sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with sweetened whipped cream*.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

All American Potato Salad

1-1/2 lbs. potatoes
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped oniion
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard

Put unpeeled, scrubbed potatoes in a pot. Bring to boil and cook just until tender, 15-20 minutes depending on size of potatoes. Cut them in chunks, place in bowl and sprinkle with vinegar, salt, pepper and a few pinches of sugar. Toss gently and allow to cool.
Add onions, eggs and celery.
Combine mayo, sour cream (or yogurt) and mustard and add to potatoes. Toss gently and refridgerate until chilled and ready to serve.

NOTE: I almost always double, and sometimes quadruple, this recipe based on the size of the crowd we're feeding.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


3-4 large eggplants
2-3 large potatoes (enough for one layer in 9x13 pan)
1-1/2 lb. ground meat (lamb, hamburger, your choice)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tomatoes chopped
[or I suppose you could use 1 can diced tomatoes to replace sauce and chopped tomatoes]
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk, warmed slightly
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
1-1/2 cups parmesan, shredded

Peel and slice eggplants 1/3" thick, lay on paper towels (10 minutes each side) to eliminate bitterness. [This is an important step, don't skip it!]
Peel and slice potatoes 1/4" thick, place in one layer on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in 350° oven for 20 minutes, turning slices halfway through. For those who are mathematically challenged, that is 10 minutes each side. The potatoes provide a firm foundation for the dish so that when you're serving it, it doesn't fall apart -- a good thing with any casserole.
Then bake eggplant slices in the same manner (10 minutes each side on greased cookie sheet at 350°).
Meanwhile fry ground meat and onion until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic and stir for a minute, then add sauce, tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Cook on medium heat until liquid has evaporated.
To make the bechamel sauce, melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir to form a roux. Stir over low heat for 3-5 minutes (you don't want this to start turning brown). Add warmed milk, increase heat to medium and stir until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool 15 minutes or so (this cooling time is necessary because you don't want the eggs to start cooking when you add them). Add beaten eggs to cream sauce along with salt...voila! you have bechemal sauce.

To assemble moussaka in 9"x13" pan:
spray with oil
one layer of potatoes on bottom
one layer of eggplant, lightly salt and pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan sprinkled over all
meat mixture, spread evenly
final layer of eggplant, lightly salt and pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan sprinkled over all
bechemal sauce spread evenly so it completely covers everything
sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup parmesan on top

Bake at 350° for one hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Slice and serve to a grateful group of diners, be it family or friends.

Yes it is a lot of work. Yes it is worth it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seriously Yummy Sausage and Saurkraut

I shouldn't be surprised at all the northerners who can't appreciate a good fried bologna sandwich (snicker, snicker). Y'all probably don't like red eye gravy or grits either, do you? Well I love you anyway, bless your heart! ☺ Just means there's more for me.

Because I think it's just too sad if y'all go through life without having a good dish of sausage and sauerkraut at least once, I'm sharing what I do to the sauerkraut to make even fussy kids (or adults!) like it.

1-2 sausages per family member, depending on how much each person typically eats
[USE ANY KIND OF SAUSAGE YOU WANT! I've made this with a variety over the years. It's all good.]
1 large can sauerkraut
1 individual serving (bottle or sippy carton) of apple juice (apple cider is even better to use when you can get it)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon beef bouillon granules (if using cube, dissolve in apple juice)

You can brown the sausage or not; that's one of those personal choice things.
Rinse sauerkraut well. Really well! Don't mess around with this step. It's VERY important.
Place rinsed sauerkraut in a casserole dish, pour apple juice (or cider) over, sprinkle with brown sugar and beef bouillon granules. Top with sausages (browned or not). Put tin foil over casserole. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, removing tin foil for last 10 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes, applesauce or fried apples and brown bread (we prefer pumpernickel).

Muy delicioso! Really!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bologna, Pickles and Saurkraut -- Foods That Make Me Swoon

Estoy muy satisfecha! Why, you ask? Because this southern girl just finished the most delectable fried bologna sandwich with a side of pickles and Cheetos. Oh my, it was good!

I've been craving this southern delicacy for quite a while and yesterday the hubby came home with the bologna. Hallelujah! But we didn't have any bread so I had to wait until today when we went shopping again. The bread (a nice round loaf) was fresh out of the oven and still warm when we got it home and sliced it.

To top it off, we also found a jar of pickles on the aisle of international foods. Thought it was kosher dill but since we don't know German, we weren't sure. It's not but we aren't sad 'cause these are the best pickles we've had since we arrived!

The bologna had a little something added to it. Can you guess what? No, seriously! Guess! Come on, what have I said they put on EVERYTHING? Eggs of course. Yep, hard boiled eggs had been added. But it wasn't in obnoxious amounts and didn't detract from the bologna at all.

Or maybe I'm just getting used to the eggs.

Also on the international food aisle we found what we think is sauerkraut. Again, can't be sure, and it's purple but we think that's 'cause they used red cabbage. We'll find out ☺ The last time we went to Santa Rosa we stopped at a little meat market in Belgrano (a German enclave) and picked up bacon and knackwurst. Didn't think about getting any sauerkraut though, and that's not something typically sold in stores here. But we're hoping we truly did score some so that tomorrow we can have sausage and sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Yum!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Meat and Potato Quiche

It's been fun sifting through old recipes stored in a large tin. I've saved not only recipes but interesting and helpful information like the 1951 publication "Colonic Irrigations: Painless, Pleasant, Healthful". I'm sure you'll be horrified to learn that Constipation is a Curse to Civilized Peoples or that Slow Elimination Means Slow Decay of Mind and Body. Yes indeedy, if you're suffering from a variety of ailments, including but not limited to biliousness, colds, asthma, nervousness, rheumatism, appendicitis, insomnia or high blood pressure, perhaps the only solution lies in an effective colonic irrigation! And remember, you heard it here first.

So how about we follow up that appetizing bit of information with a recipe? What, you're no longer hungry? How can that be? Maybe I can tempt you with this, though.

3 Tablespoons oil
3 cups shredded potatoes
1 cup swiss cheese
3/4 cup cooked, chopped meat - your choice
1/4 cup onion
1 cup light cream
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Mix oil and shredded potatoes and press into pie pan to form shell. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.
Layer swiss cheese, meat and onion in shell.
Mix cream, eggs, salt & pepper and pour over other ingredients in shell.
Bake at 425 for 30 minutes until set.

And it's not true that real men don't eat quiche no matter what you've heard. So this recipe is perfectly acceptable to serve to husbands and sons.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup natural style, reduced fat cream peanut butter
8 oz. low fat cream cheese (1/3 less fat)
14 oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. fat free whipped topping
2 graham cracker crusts (I like to use the chocolate ones)
fat free chocolate syrup

Beat powdered sugar, peanut butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add milk and beat until combined. Fold in whipped topping. Divide evenly between crusts and chill overnight (or 8 hours). Cut into wedges, drizzle with chocolate syrup.

*You can also freeze the pies and serve them only slightly thawed. Delicioso!*

White Chicken Chili

A great Super Bowl party food. If you're a fan of the chili but don't relish the thought of red splashed all over your living room, here's a very yummy AND very easy alternative.

2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced celery
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 lb. chicken, cooked and diced
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chilies
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/3 of a 7 oz can chipotle in adobo, chopped (optional for those that like more heat in their chili)
4 tablespoons chicken base
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 large jar (or 2 cans) of white beans
1/2 cup heavy cream
16 oz. sour cream

In a large stockpot, sauté onion, celery and garlic in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add water, bay leaf, chilies, herbs, chipotle, chicken base and jalapeño and simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Add drained beans and simmer for additional 1/2 hour. During last 10 minutes add chicken and cream. Garnish with sour cream.

Shrimp Spread

If you like shrimp, you'll LOVE this spread. It's muy rico! I typically serve it with water crackers so the flavor of the spread really shines through and isn't overpowered.

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup seafood sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (4-1/4 oz each) shrimp, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup finely chopped tomato
bag of frozen shrimp (large), thawed (optional)

In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth. Spread on 12" round platter. Cover with seafood sauce. Sprinkle with shrimp, then cheese, followed by onion and tomato. If using the large shrimp, place all along edge in a decorative fashion -- by that I simply mean all the shrimp are going the same direction around the plate.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cooking, Eating, and Other Culinary Delights

I started thinking about cooking, eating, and other culinary delights after reading Linda's post this morning about teaching her son to cook.

I don't remember which of my kids made this observation about a year ago, "Is our family kinda weird or what? We are either eating, talking about what we ate, or discussing what we shall eat at the next meal. Are we a bit obsessed with food?"

I feel I should point out, my kids are better cooks than me. This is not to say I'm a terrible cook, I do okay. But they are EXCELLENT cooks. They are inventive, adventurous...and they have the knack.

I have always believed that people are born with various gifts. Things they find easy to do without a lot of effort and training. For some it's cooking. Or sewing. Or gardening, decorating, keeping accounts, fixing things... You get the idea.

The rest of us can LEARN these things, but they do not come naturally.

Cooking is one of those things I learned. There were meals early in my marriage that were literally un-edible. The first time I used wine in a sauce and it curdled but I didn't know that's what had happened so I served it anyway. Yuck! Or when I put a whole bag of rice into a medium size pan with only a fraction of the water needed. Stinky mess!

But over time I have learned enough to follow a recipe and even on occasion, change it a little.

My kids learned from my mistakes. After all they were right there when I made some doozies. Both the son and daughter enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen. The son was always interested in the science of cooking. The daughter would sit on the counter and demand to stir something, or pat it into a pan, or whatever needed done. From the time she was two-years-old she was my #1 kitchen helper.

We have been reaping the benefits the last few years whenever the kids would cook for us. It's not unusual now for the son to call up and tell me what he and the wife making for dinner and how they're going about it.

And it's not unusual to spend a good amount of time talking about food with my daughter as well. So when she tells me about a date? 90% of the conversation isn't about the guy but about the food they ate. LOL She's working her way through college by serving at a really nice, upscale restaurant where she can't afford to eat very often. She gets 50% off at the end of her shift, but 50% off a $40 entree is still $20. Sometimes she gets an appetizer, soup or sushi roll. But she LOVES working there, and frequently tells me about the special of the week or something new they've added to the menu.

Um...yeah. I know for a lot of people, food is merely something that must be ingested to sustain life. I find that very sad. We derive great enjoyment from our food! We read books about food. Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise was very good! So was Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The hubby and I listened to Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living which we'd downloaded from (and now I have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life on my iPod). I also like to listen to podcasts of The Splendid Table, and watch videos on The Food Network website. I subscribe to the weekly e-Newsletter from America's Test Kitchen and was quite happy this morning to see they have a slimmed down version of fettucine alfredo, one of my favorite comfort foods. [Go to their website, scroll down a little bit and the sign-up for the free e-Newsletter is on the left of the screen. You're welcome.]

So yeah, I guess you could say we're a bit obsessed with food.

Anyway, is it any wonder I participate in every recipe exchange I find in B'ville? ☺ With the holidays behind us, Carol is once again hosting Saturday Stirrings. So when you're done here, be sure to go there and see what else is being shared. Yum!

Today I give you my Peach Cobbler recipe. Seeing as how we are drowning in peaches at the moment. Not a bad way to drown, eh?


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled and cut into chunks or slices
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or 2 tablespoons flour)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

For the crust:
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter 9 inch pie plate or baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
In a bowl, combine prepared fruit, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt, stirring to mix well.
Turn fruit into prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.
To make the crust, beat shortening and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with milk, mixing until dough forms.
Drop spoonfuls of dough over the fruit filling, covering as much surface as you can.
Bake on middle rack of oven until crust is browned and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.