Monday, November 29, 2010

Miss Emily's Potato Leek Soup

This is one of the things that someone I know mentioned making for dinner and I asked begged for the recipe.  I've loved this soup whenever I have had it, and now I can make it at home whenever I want to.  Yum. 

I think it's funny that she sent me this recipe when I know that this isn't the one she uses.  You see, she has somehow managed to walk away from bacon, and there is bacon in the recipe.  (She sauteed the leeks in vegetable oil)  She's a vegetarian.  I could be a vegetarian too, but only if there was a bacon opt-out clause. 

Miss Emily's Potato Leek Soup
- 8 potatoes peeled and cubed
- 3-4 leeks, cut lengthwise then chopped
- 8 cups of broth (I used chicken, she used vegetable)
- bacon (she skipped this part, though I'm not sure how)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp flour (she didn't include this, I added it because I live with people who like their soup to be thicker)

Boil potatoes in broth in large stockpot and cook until tender.  At the same time, cook bacon in skillet and drain saving 3 tbsp grease and set aside.  Saute leeks in bacon grease.

Whisk flour into cream.  When potatoes are tender add bacon, leeks and cream. Blend until smooth.

Miss Donna's Secret Family Zucchini Casserole Recipe

One of my friends asked for help finding a recipe.  Seems her grandmother made this amazing casserole and no one could find the recipe.  I came up with something close, but then a family member found this!  Yay for recipes that get passed down from generation to generation!

Miss Donna's Secret Family Zucchini Casserole

- enough summer squash to fill a produce bag, same amount of zucchini
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- salt
- 4 eggs
- one piece of bread
- 3/4 lb shredded cheddar cheese

Boil all the squash and onions together with salt until soft, then drain and cool.  Squeeze all of the water out of squash with the bottom of a glass.

In a separate bowl beat 4 eggs, then add one pulled apart piece of bread to the eggs.  Fold together squash mixture with the egg mixture and 3/4 lb of shredded cheddar.

Place in a lasagna/casserole dish and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approx. 45 mins.

Check with knife, when the knife pulls out dry it's done.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Enchiladas

Sorry.....I totally forgot to post some recipes of what to do with all that leftover turkey.  It would work great in this tortilla soup recipe.  Or you can make enchiladas.

To cut down time spent in the kitchen, use canned enchilada sauce.  I know by this point in the Thanksgiving weekend, I am happy to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. 

Turkey Enchiladas
- 1 pound cooked turkey, shredded
- 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1-2 cups shredded monterey jack
- 1 large can enchilada sauce
- corn tortillas
- black olives for top, if desired
- sour cream, if desired

Heat turkey in about half the sauce on stove until warm.  Put the rest of the sauce in a shallow bowl.  In a small skillet, warm the tortillas.   Dip tortillas in bowl of sauce, spoon turkey into middle and top with cheese.  Roll up and place fold-side down in 13x9 baking dish.  Repeat until all turkey is used.  Top rolled tortillas with remaining enchilada sauce, cheese and a handful of olives.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.   Serve with a scoop of sour cream on top. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Miss Elisa's World Famous Cake Pops

I have this friend who may be one of the only people I know crazier than I am.  That's saying a lot. 

Elisa.  The woman seriously needs a cape.

She makes cake pops.  And yes, they are exactly what they sound like.  Cake in the form of a lollipop.  Or, in other words, heaven on a stick.  Her first ones were in the shape of tiny Hello Kitty heads and they were perfect.  I totally don't believe that they were her first ones, by the way. 

I just knew she'd be making some this week for Thanksgiving, and I was right.  These ones are shaped like turkeys.  TURKEYS!  Love them. 

If I can find the motivation and a huge block of time, I am so attempting to make these....



Turkey Cake Pops
- 1 box cake mix (I used chocolate flavor and cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
- 1 can frosting (16 oz.)
- Wax paper
- Light cocoa colored chocolate candy melts(1 lb. pkg.)
- Lollipop sticks
- Candy corn
- Caramel candy
- Mini rainbow candy coated chips
- Pretzel sticks
- Edible ink pens

Bake cake according to box.  After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. I use a food processor as I like that consistency best plus it's less messy on your hands.

Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (I use the back of a large spoon. But, be warned, it will get messy. Also, you may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to.)

Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)

Place the cake balls in the refrigerator to firm up a bit.

Melt chocolate in the microwave per directions on package.

Take the cake balls out of the refrigerator.

Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert about halfway.)

Place them in the refrigerator to firm up some more (or if you're pressed for time, place in freezer for a little while to firm up.) I use the refrigerator as it is less likely to crack the candy melt.

Start working on the turkey heads by cutting the caramel candy in halves.

Mold the caramel halves into round-oval shapes or whatever shape you desire for the turkey head.

Press an orange color candy coated chip for the turkey's beak and set the heads aside.

For the turkey legs, break the pretzel sticks in thirds and set aside the ends only.

Start placing 4 candy corns for each turkey cake pops on the wax paper to form the turkey feathers.

Once cake balls are firm, carefully insert them into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered.

Once covered remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too.

Place the candy coated cake ball on the "feathers" and fix the "feathers" as necessary (but don't take too long or the candy melt will firm up).

Take one of the caramel heads and place on the cake pop and then insert the pretzel turkey legs on.

Leave the turkey cake pops on the wax paper to dry.

Once dry, draw eyes and wattle with an edible ink pen and allow ink to dry!

Note: You may also use mini heart sprinkles as the wattle if you desire.

I *think* and could be wrong, that she uses a piece of styrofoam covered with wax paper to stand them in when done. 

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Elisa.  I know how much these are a labor of love!  Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

You wouldn't think that making mashed potatoes is hard, right?  I mean, you cook them and mash them, right?  Not so simple.  If you under cook them, they won't mash.  If you overcook them, they will get too starchy and sticky.  If you add too much liquid, they will be runny.  Too little and they will be dry. 

Then there is the matter of taste.  I have nothing against mashed potatoes tasting like mashed potatoes, but I just prefer a little more flavor.   

I'm even picky about what kind of potatoes I use.  Don't ask....I'm just that way.

Here's my recipe, it's one that never ever gets pushed around on a plate.  They eat it up.  This will make enough for about 12-15 people.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

- 5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform chunks
- 3 tbsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup cream
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- fresh parsley

Add potatoes and salt to large pot of water and boil until potatoes are tender enough to fall apart when poked with a fork.  How long that takes depends on a lot of things like how much water is in pot, and what altitude you are at..  Drain and return to pot.  In small saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil for a few minutes, then add cream, milk and butter.  Heat, but do not boil. 

Mash potatoes thoroughly.  Add garlic mixture and cheese, combining fully.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Pecan Pie

This is a super easy recipe to make, and it's delicious.  Make sure you plan ahead for this, even making it the day before so it has ample time to cool and set fully before serving.



Pecan Pie
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups pecans
- 1 deep dish pie crust, prepared

Preheat oven to 325.  Mix all ingredients except pecans together well, then fold in nuts.  Pour carefully into prepared pie crust, arranging pecans if you have that kind of crazy.  Bake for one hour then check pie using thermometer.  Center should be 200 degrees.  If less, bake another 10 minutes.  It should spring back when touched lightly.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cheesy Squash Casserole

This is a great side dish for any meal, and could definitely work for Thanksgiving as well.  You can use any type of squash with it, if you choose to include butternut, make sure you peel and seed it first, then cut into 1 inch cubes.  For zucchini or crookneck squash, no need to peel.  Halve and slice into thin slices.

Cheesy Squash Casserole
- 4 cups squash, prepared as above depending on which you plan to use
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- dash of pepper
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup condensed milk
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup soft bread crumbs, divided

Preheat oven to 350.  Saute onion, garlic and squash in butter until crisp tender.   Remove from heat, then mix in salt, pepper, sour cream, condensed milk, 1/2 bread crumbs and 1/2 cheddar cheese.  Transfer to a greased casserole dish.  Top with remaining bread crumbs and cheese.  Bake about 30 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly. 

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

If you are anything like me, you can drink coffee all day.  It's not merely a morning beverage.  If only my favorite coffee place would start a dollar menu, I could go there all the time and satisfy my cravings for delicious warm happiness. 

I wait impatiently for this drink to come out every Fall, it's one of my favorites.  It's probably a good thing they don't have it year round, then it wouldn't be as awesome.

I decided to try to make it at home.  I don't have an espresso machine, I don't have a milk steamer, I don't have lots of the fun stuff they have there.  But, you know what?  It came out pretty damn good.  Give it a whirl, the recipe makes enough to share (but only if you are feeling nice).

Pumpkin Spice Latte
- 1 cup double brewed strong coffee (use half the amount of water)
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- whipped cream plus spice for topping

Brew coffee.  In saucepan, combine milk, pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and spice.  Whisk together and heat through.  Do not bring to boiling as milk will scald, heat it until it is steaming.

Use a ratio of about 1 part coffee to 2 parts milk/pumpkin mixture.  Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with spice.  You may want to add more sugar, I don't like mine too sweet. 

Happy Morning to You!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Creamed Corn

Next to my stuffing, this is by far the most requested of the holiday recipes.  I can't take the credit for this one entirely though....it's evolved a bit over the years.  The creamed corn craze was initially started by Carri and Paul, and I am all about giving credit where credit is due.  It must have been, what, like 18 years ago that you guys brought this recipe to Thanksgiving???  Someone correct me if I am wrong. 

Ever since then, there has been no going back.  It's this corn or nothing. 

When you see the ingredient list, you will quickly realize why it is so good.  I mean, there is a stick of butter in it!!!!  How could something not be good with that much butter, honestly?  Another thing you will notice about the ingredients in this recipe is that this is clearly not the kind of thing that people (ones that enjoy their health, anyhow) should eat more often than a few times a year.  Your arteries may cringe, but your stomach will thank you.

Again, I am typing this from memory.  I've refined the recipe a lot over the years and it mostly boils down to taste testing.  That, and giving it time to thicken. 

Creamed Corn
- 6 cups frozen white corn, thawed completely
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup whole cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp white ground pepper
- 2 tsp sea salt

Combine corn, butter, cream, sugar, pepper and salt in large saucepan.  In separate bowl, whisk flour into milk, then add to pot.  Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.  It will thicken, you just have to be patient.  Stir frequently.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

Only because I love you all so much, I will share this super easy recipe. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I do love the canned jellied cranberry sauce.  I prefer it in it's natural can shaped form, not sliced or defaced in any other attempt to make it appear fancy.  In fact, it took me a while to perfect the removal so that I could keep it in unblemished can form. 

I am quirky.  What other possible explanation is there?

But seriously, I love cranberries.  As much as I do adore them in gelatinous form, I like them other ways too.  For years I bought the canned whole cranberry sauce and no one ate it but me.  Then last year, for whatever reason, I decided to make it from scratch.  And you know what?  People ate it.  Like, actual other human beings, ate it.

I made too much and ended up keeping a huge bowl of it as leftovers.  Poor Aidan was bringing it up from the basement fridge and tripped, spilling cranberry sauce all over the carpet.  Nothing says day after Thanksgiving like steam cleaning your carpets, right?

Anyhow, here is the recipe.  This amount is probably sufficient for 8-10 people unless they really love cranberries.  Just be careful with the leftovers.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Cranberry Sauce
- 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook until berries pop.  Takes about 10-12 minutes or so.  Remove from heat.  It will thicken as it cools.  Be sure to make this fairly early on in the day so it is cool enough to set and eat.  Put it in the fridge before the meal if you prefer it chilled.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prosciutto & Onion Wraps

This is an appetizer that looks really fancy, but it is simple and easy.

Prosciutto & Onion Wraps
- 12 slices prosciutto 
- 6 green onions
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

Lay meat flat and spread with cream cheese.  Slice the green onions in half vertically (leaving them full length, just halved), then trim white from base and snip ends.  Place one green onion on the prosciutto and roll up.  Leave a bit of the onion showing on each end. 

Arrange on a tray, fold down.  Alternatively, you can slice them into rounds and serve with crackers.

Pomegranate Martinis

I am attempting to elevate multitasking to an art form today.  I have too many things to do, and yet found myself promising not one but two recipes.  Oh well.

Here goes.  Lucky for you, these are both super easy and will take you about as much time to make as it will take me to type it out. 

Up first, the drink.  Because, well, I'm recovered from last weekend and if ever there was a day that makes me want a martini just after noon, it is today.

These are festive and yummy.  I have a special affection for martinis.  If you don't have a shaker, please go get one, for the love of all things alcoholic.   This recipe is designed for a shaker and makes anywhere between 2-3 drinks, depending on the generosity of your pour.  Enjoy!

Pomegranate Martinis
- 3 ounces pomegranate juice
- 4 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 2 ounces club soda
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- lime wedges
- sugar for rim, in a shallow dish

Fill martini glass with ice to chill.  Pour juices, vodka, soda and syrup into shaker filled with ice and shake until combined.  Dump ice from glasses.  Run lime wedge around rim and place glass upside down in sugar to coat.  Pour drink into glasses.  Garnish with lime.

Simple syrup: one part water, one part sugar, brought to a boil and cooled.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turkey Gravy

If you've never attempted making gravy before, go get yourself some cans or packets of it just in case you end up with a gravy disaster on your hands.  Chances are you will use it all up in the days after the holidays eating the leftovers anyway.   (BTW, the McCormick packets make the best quick gravy)

Bad gravy with a fabulous dinner = EPIC FAIL.  Don't let it happen to you.

This is one of those recipes that was constructed over years taking a little from here, a little from there. 

Turkey Gravy
- 4 cups chicken stock (or turkey if you can find it)
- 1 cup pan drippings from turkey, strained of fat  (If you have a fancy schmancy fat separator, this is what it was invented for....it's on my list of things to get.  If you don't, put about 2 cups of drippings in a bowl and spoon off fat as it rises to the top....ick.)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup flour
- garlic salt
- pepper

Combine stock, drippings and soup, bringing just to a boil. Reduce heat.  In a small bowl, whisk flour into milk.  Add to gravy, stirring constantly.  Let cook for a few minutes.  Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste.   Once milk is added, do not let it boil.   It will thicken as it cools, give it a chance to before you try to add more flour to it.  Trust me, it will.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stuffing

I make this for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Every time I make it, we wonder aloud why I don't make it more often. But I don't. No idea why, honestly.



I really don't mean to boast, but I happen to make the best stuffing in the known world. It's really nothing fancy. There isn't anything even remotely gourmet about it. It's not a recipe that has ever been featured in a cookbook or magazine. It's one that has been passed down for generations and still uses all the same ingredients today as it probably did a century ago.

I don't particularly like stuffing. Well, I should rephrase that. I don't much like other stuffing. I adore mine though. Have never found anything else that anyone else has ever made that is anywhere near as good. It's that good.

If you are stressed about having a house full of people for the holidays and need another dish, try this one. The best part about it is that you make it ahead. I make mine the night before I serve it, and reheat it before dinner. It's even better after it sits for a couple days.

I apologize if the recipe isn't perfect. Trouble is that I've made it for so many years that I don't use a recipe at all. Quite frankly, I could make it in my sleep. And it took a bit for me to think about what goes into it. I have a team of designated taste testers, and we rely on our senses to tell us when it's done. It's not a science. There is room to fudge it. And really, if you feel compelled to modify it, go right ahead. I won't be offended.

The Best Stuffing in the Universe
  • 2 loaves of cheap store brand white bread, a few days old
  • 6-8 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 containers of fresh button mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
  • 2-3 onions, diced
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • sea salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • sage
  • poultry seasoning
Place bread on large cookie sheets and dry out in oven until edges are crisp. It takes about an hour with the oven between 225-250 to do this. Rotate and flip to get all the edges crisp. Combine mushrooms, celery and onions in butter in a large saucepan, uncovered. Simmer on low for about an hour, until all vegetables are quite soft.

Tear dried bread into pieces, about 1-2 inches. You want some bigger and some smaller. Put into a very large bowl. I only start out using about a loaf and a half, saving the rest for later if I need more bread. Add butter and vegetables, mixing thoroughly. Add 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp sage and 1 tsp poultry seasoning. Combine, and taste.

Chances are that you will want to add more salt than anything else. If it is too wet, add more dried bread. If it is too dry (and it will soak up the butter as it refrigerates), add either melted butter or chicken stock by the tablespoon until it has the consistency you desire.

Cover finished stuffing and refrigerate overnight. Place desired amount in a covered shallow baking dish and heat in the oven at 350 for about an hour prior to serving.  I don't stuff my turkey, but you can...just be sure to cook it longer until the meat is done completely and the stuffing heated adequately.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving is coming....are you ready?

Up today is the Turkey.  The centerpiece of the meal.   Here's how I make it.

I use a stand alone electric roaster, like this one.


If you use one of these, you free up the oven to make everything else.   I heart my roaster.

Here's the step by step...

1) Buy a Butterball Turkey.  Don't be cheap.  Period.

2) Defrost turkey (if frozen) starting at least 3 days before you intend to cook it.  Put in a roasting pan in the refrigerator to defrost.  Trust me when I say you don't want any incidental defrosted turkey goo all over your fridge.

3) Clean turkey.  Or if you are terribly persuasive, get someone else to do it.  This part is just nasty.  Be sure you remove the neck and giblets.  Yes, I really know people who have forgotten to do that.  I let my kids dissect the heart....because I am just that way.  Rinse out the inside of the turkey really good and dry it off with paper towels.  Wash Bleach your hands, arms and entire kitchen.

4) If you insist on stuffing the bird, go to it.  Do not over stuff it, and be sure to tie the legs together with the little string they give you.  I do not stuff my turkey.  Well, because eww.  You have to cook a stuffed bird longer, and risk it drying out more.

5) Roast turkey

My recipe for the turkey has changed a little over the years, and though I make no claim to being a famous chef, I can make an awesome turkey.

Again, there are steps.  Worth following.

Here are the ingredients:

- Turkey (mine are usually in the 16 pound range)
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Garlic
- 1 stick of butter
- 4 cups chicken or turkey stock

1) Place turkey breast side up on rack in roaster.  If the legs touch the sides of the roaster, tie or pin in so they are not. It should be on a rack raised up from the bottom for two reasons.  One, it cooks a lot better.  Two, it is easier to get it out when it's done.

2) Rub all exposed areas with olive oil.  Rub generously with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

3) Place at least 2 tbsp freshly pressed garlic in the cavity of the turkey.

4) Melt butter in a saucepan, then mix with chicken stock and add to the bottom of the roaster.

5) Turn roaster up to highest setting and put lid on.  DO NOT OPEN for 30-45 minutes.  The turn down to 350 and roast for specified time depending on the weight of the bird.  Baste only once every half hour or so.  The more frequently you open the lid, the more moisture will escape.  I do not use the pop up button thermometers, in my experience they don't work well enough to be reliable.  We have gone through a lot of thermometers, and the best we have used is one that has a probe connected to a cord that houses the temperature sensor. 

Be sure to check temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and breast, being sure that you aren't hitting a bone with the thermometer.

This isn't a perfect guide, but most turkeys between 12-18 pounds take approximately 3-4 hours.  Altitude affects cooking time, it takes longer up here to be done. 

6) Once the turkey approaches 165 degrees, turn it back up again to brown the skin for 10-15 minutes.  If the  legs start to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. 

7) Remove turkey from roaster and let sit for at least 10 minutes before carving.  This helps seal the juices in and keep it moist. 

8) Use juices in the bottom of the pan to make gravy....that recipe will come later.   I know the anticipation is just killing you. 

Now, go get your turkey and convince someone to clean it for you.  :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

I make these, but I don't love them.  In fact, I can't even tell you the last time I ate one.  Yet, I make them for the benefit of others. 

There are some tricks to making these, and for whatever reason you really need to watch it with these particular cookies.  Make sure your oven is fully preheated.  Make sure the cookie sheets are cooled before you put the dough on it.  Bake only one tray at a time, and check cookies a minute or two before the specified time to make sure they don't get overdone.

Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (can use chunky if you prefer, I usually use smooth)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars in bowl.  Add vanilla and eggs.  Combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in separate bowl, then add to peanut butter mixture.  Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten in criss cross pattern with a fork.  Bake for about 10 minutes, checking early.  Be sure not to overcook them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Miss Mandy's Pumpkin Muffins

I've shared here before about my friend Mandy.  Here is yet another of her tried and true recipes.  I think this just might be the easiest thing I've ever made. 

If you are looking for a quick and easy breakfast or after school snack that smells and tastes like all the goodness of Fall, try these. 

Miss Mandy's Pumpkin Muffins

- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice  (she used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 12 piece muffin pan.  Combine ingredients in bowl, then spoon batter into pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fried Chicken Strips

While this isn't the kind of thing that you should eat all that often, it's good.  Really good. 

We actually own a deep fryer...one of those kitchen purchases that my husband was in charge of.  If you don't, a large, deep pot will work well too, just make sure you use only as much oil as you will need and cover when cooking.

Though this could easily work with any chicken pieces, we opted to make it with boneless, skinless breasts.  Increase cooking time if pieces of chicken have bones.

Fried Chicken Strips
- chicken, desired pieces, cut into manageable sections
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tbsp garlic salt
- 2 tsp ground pepper, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup hot sauce (we use Frank's Red Hot)
- 2 cups flour

Combine garlic salt and 1 tsp ground pepper in one shallow bowl.  Beat eggs, water and hot sauce in a second shallow bowl.  Combine flour and remaining tsp of ground pepper in a third bowl.

Coat chicken with garlic salt and pepper mixture, then dredge in eggs, then coat in flour mixture.

Fry for 8-10 minutes if boneless, 12-15 if bones in.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beef & Vegetable Casserole

This is a recipe I got from my mother in law and tweaked.  It was pretty easy to make and is filled with vegetables and meat.  Lots of meat. 

If you have someone who likes meat....try this one out.

Beef & Vegetable Casserole
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 package sliced mushrooms
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine or cooking sherry
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 can beef broth
- pinch of pepper
- 2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tbsp water
- can of refrigerated bread stick dough

Cook meat in large skillet, remove and drain.  Set aside.  Saute vegetables in oil until soft.  Add garlic salt, pepper, tomato paste, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, broth and beef to pan.  Bring to a boil and cook for about five minutes.  Add cornstarch mixture and heat  through until thickened, stirring constantly. 

Pour beef and vegetable mixture into 9x9 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Top with bread stick dough cut into strips.  Bake at 400 for 12-14 minutes or until dough is browned. 

Adapted from a recipe from Cooking Light.

Two Minute Bruschetta

I hosted bunco this month and found myself staring at the pantry with not a clue what to make.  I settled on fried tortellini (ravioli works better, since it is bigger and flatter) and bruschetta dipping sauce.  Having never made bruschetta before, I guessed.  I guessed pretty well.  This is the lazy way to make it.  I am sure you could spent lots of time chopping tomatoes, but I just used a can. 

Ideally, you'd have a crusty baguette to toast and serve with this.

Bruschetta
- one can petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp minced basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parmesan, romano or mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients in a non-metallic bowl, tasting to determine how much salt and pepper to add.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the ingredients blend together. 

Slice and toast the bread, top with bruschetta and fresh shredded parmesan, romano or mozzarella cheese.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls

The by-product of not making a meal plan for this week is that I have to come up with dinners using whatever is in the house.  Plus, I was talking to a friend about Japanese food yesterday and about how much I love it.  And how I could totally live the rest of my life eating only Japanese food.    In my fantasy world, I have a teppan grill in my house.  Really.

This is what I made last night.

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls

- Steamed rice (If you don't have a rice cooker, you must get one.  Go.  I'll wait.)
- 1-2 crowns of broccoli, steamed (If you don't have a microwave steamer, you must get one.  Go.  Again, I will wait.)
- Shredded carrots, about 1/2 cup
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- ground pepper
- 2 tbsp sesame oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup prepared teriyaki sauce (though this is on my list of things to make from scratch....stay posted.  If buying a prepared one, my personal favorite is Mr. Yoshida's Original Gourmet Sauce.)

Cook rice.  Steam broccoli.  The rest only takes like 3 minutes. 

Soak chicken in rice vinegar a few minutes.  Heat oil on high in large skillet (Or ideally, a wok....you know....one of the things you must get.  Go. I can wait.)  Cook chicken, tossing frequently in pan.  Season with freshly ground pepper, cook until done.  Add shredded carrots and cup of water, toss and cook on high until crisp tender.  Add teriyaki and toss to coat.  Remove from heat.  (Teriyaki has a high sugar content and will scald, so you have to do this fairly quickly.)

Next time I make these, I will throw in some sugar snap peas too.  Love those. 

Layer rice, then broccoli, then chicken in bowl.  Drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meatloaf

Nothing says home cooking like a meatloaf.  I've been sent many recipes for these over the years, but I always seem to end up making it the same way I always have.  Which isn't much different than the way my mom used to make it.  And probably was the same way she learned. 

I make this ahead and let it sit in the fridge for a while before I bake it.  Served with mashed potatoes, beef gravy and green beans.  And for the rest of my family, ketchup.  I don't get the whole meatloaf/ketchup thing, but I digress. 

Meatloaf
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup ketchup, plus more for top
- 1 egg
- 1 small onion finely minced
- 1-2 tsp garlic salt
- bacon slices if desired for top

Combine all in a large bowl.  Yes, you have to mix it with your hands, nothing else will combine it well enough.  That, my friends, is why they invented soap. 

Now, if you are down at sea level, you can put it in a loaf pan and bake, but up here close to the sun, I have to use a larger baking dish so it isn't as thick....otherwise it would take forever.  My mom used to slather the top with ketchup and lay bacon slices on the ketchup.  Can't go wrong there....bacon makes everything better.

Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Single Guy Queso

My brother in law came over to sit on my couch and watch football last weekend. He got roped into making ink out of blueberries with the kids though, so he paid his dues.  And he brought a snack.  Chips and queso, single guy style.

Now, if I was to make queso, it would have far more ingredients than this and it sure wouldn't have a brick of processed cheese product in it....but I must say that it was actually good.  Like, really good. 

So if you have a single guy around (or for that matter, any guy....I think they all like this stuff), try this one next time he shows up to hold your couch down.  I'm sure they will all love it.

Single Guy Queso
- 1/2 brick of Velveeta, cut into smaller pieces
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes

Microwave the cheese until it starts to melt, stirring occasionally.  Add entire can of tomatoes and microwave until completely heated through. 

Sit on couch.  Eat with chips.

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