Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lasagna Soup

Photo courtesy of Family Fun Magazine
This is one of our family favorites and it is super easy.  This came from the Family Fun magazine about 2-3 years ago.  I also make changes every time I make it depending on my mood and what is in the pantry!

Perfect for a cold winter day, football weekend or holiday get together!
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (bulk or with casings removed)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
    1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain any excess fat from the pot.
    2. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes.
    3. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute.
    4. Add the tomato paste and sauté until the paste turns a rusty brown, about 5 minutes.
    5. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, and the bay leaves and bring the soup to a boil.
    6. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
    7. Add the pasta, then increase the heat to medium-high and boil the soup until the pasta is tender to the bite, following the time recommendations on the pasta package. 
    8. Discard the bay leaves, then stir in the basil. If desired, season with salt and black pepper to taste.
    9. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, the Parmesan, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the pinch of pepper.
    10. To serve, place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture in each bowl, sprinkle with some of the mozzarella, and ladle the soup on top. 
    11. Makes about 13 cups.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    you simply MUST put this recipe on your "to make" list!

    About 2 months ago, I tried this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  It was not only fabulous but my husband said that in the almost 17 years we have been together that this was quite possibly the "best soup I have ever made".  Wow!  Not sure I should take that as a compliment or a statement that all my previous meals were just mediocre.  Hmmm....need to ponder that some more, lol.

    I really thought he was just kidding me but I have made it 4 times since because my family asks for it every time we have a "rainy, soup is the food of choice" kind of night.  

    Even my short peeps who are sometimes picky in their food selections, gobble it up and ask for seconds.  So, this recipe is now a staple in my collection and I continue to add, improvise and make changes and it always turns out just as fabulous as the time before if not even better.  You simply MUST try this recipe.

    Tonight, I added leftover turkey, 1/2 can jalapenos instead of the green chilis (b/c it is what I had on hand), 1/2 a chipotle chili pepper (instead of the whole amount listed in the recipe to lessen the spice of the added jalapenos) and fresh minced garlic. 

    Oh yeah, I also don't use the mesa, I use cornstarch and heavy cream to thicken the soup.  I never have mesa on hand.  :)

    Xander said that I always needed to make it just like this from now on as it was simply perfect.


    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Peanut Chicken

    A dear friend of our Scott Roozen, who is also a firefighter in southern CA and an amazing cook, handed down this recipe to me.  It was a firehouse favorite and I can tell you that anytime Scott said come for dinner because he was cooking.........we ran right over!  What a great neighbor to have.  He first served us this dish in 2005 and I have been making it ever since.  Our family loves this dish.

    His wife, Vida, is a good cook in her own right.......Taco Tuesday was her gig and I learned a few tricks that I'll share in another post.

    Now on to Peanut Chicken...
    • 1 bulb garlic (or to taste) I don't think you can ever have too.much.garlic!  NEVER!
    • handful of cilantro (or to taste)
    • 1 whole bunch green onions
    • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
    • 3/4 cup medium picante sauce
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1 tblsp salt
    • 1 tblsp pepper
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 2 tblsp lemon juice
    • 3-4 chicken breasts, cut in to strips or use tenderloins
    Mix all ingredients in a large gallon size ziploc bag or rubbermaid container.  Shake vigorously until all ingredients are blended.

    Add chicken, seal bag, toss to coat and marinate for 4 hours or more.  Overnight is best if you can.

    Remove from marinade and grill til cooked through.

    Serve with white sticky rice, your favorite grilled veggies and grilled bread.  A delicious summertime meal.  I know I am posting it in winter but remember this site is for me to preserve all our favorite family recipes, right?  So some winter dishes may come in summer and vice versa.  I type up what I run across as I am looking through my handwritten cookbooks.

    Damn Good Pie

    My husband and my son named this pie because there were no other words they could find worthy to describe this creation.  So simple and easy yet so delicious!

    This is hands down a family favorite that I created 10+ years ago when we were living in Oregon.  When we lived there, I used Marionberries (all-time fav) as the main berry but since I don't have access to those anymore, my main berry is strawberries and blackberries.  Be creative, use the berries you love just always be sure to use the secret ingredient...........rhubarb.

    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 9 cups of fruit - divided from 3 different sources in a 4 cup, 3 cup, 2 cup ratio (rhubarb always the 2 cup %) - (strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb) (raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb) (Strawberries, blackberries, rhubarb) 
    • deep dish pie crusts, top and bottom
    • egg yolk + 2 tsp water
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Mix cornstarch and sugar.

    Place fruit in a large bowl, top with sugar mixture and toss gently to coat evenly.

    Pour filling into deep dish pie crust.  Cover with top crust, make a small vent in the top or do as a lattice top.

    Brush top with egg mixture.

    Bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Cover top to prevent over browning.

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    The PERFECT scones....not dry one bit!

    If you have never tried scones or if you have and didn't like them because they were like bricks, then please, please, please I beg you to try these.  
    My older son, Xander, made this with his Aunt Amanda 2 years ago when we were on a trip to New England.  We explored her property, plucked fresh blackberries right off the bushes, okay, we ate a few too while we were gathering, and then came in to make these delicious scones.
     Aunt Amanda, we love you!
    I have to admit, I was one of those who doesn't particularly care for dry, brick hard bread wedges, when you have to drink enough milk to keep your mouth from drying out is not my idea of good food, but I was willing to give it a try.  And I was so glad I did, these were spectacular.  I instantly had a new love of scones and could imagine them filling every breakfast or afternoon snack from here on out!  One word.......yum!

    So, here's the recipe because I know you will NEED to make these the day after Thanksgiving.  You must!

    2 tsp flour
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 cup blueberries (we used blackberries, try what you like)

    1 ¾ cup flour
    1 tblsp baking powder
    ¼ cup sugar
    ¼ tsp salt
    1/3  cup butter
    2 large eggs
    3 – 4 Tblsp heavy cream or evaporated milk
    2 Tblsp milk
    Cinnamon sugar

    Heat oven to 425 degrees.
    Mix flour, cinnamon and blueberries together lightly; set aside. 

    Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together; cut in butter. 

    Break eggs into measuring cup; beat with fork. Add enough cream/evaporated milk to make 2/3 cup liquid. 

    Lightly stir egg mixture and berries into dry ingredients. Handle dough as little as possible

    Turn dough out onto floured board; divide in two portions. 
    Place on ungreased baking sheet; pat each dough portion into circle 6 in across and ¾ inch thick. 
    Cut into six wedges. Brush with milk and cinnamon sugar. 
    Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 
    Yield 12 servings.  You will love these so much you won't want to share!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Turkey-Cranberry Enchiladas

    For those adventurous types....... Recipe Girl says that you've just gotta try them.  Maybe I will...

    Turkey~Cranberry Enchiladas

    If you try them before I do, please leave a comment on what you thought. 

    How to boil the perfect egg!

    Ever wondered how some people's eggs come out perfect?  You know, without that unattractive green ring around the yolk?  Here's how you do it.

    Start with week old eggs.  If you want the perfect smooth egg white sides, do not use fresh eggs.  They are the kiss of death.  Fresh eggs do not peel well.

    Place eggs in large pot of cold water.  Do not over crowd them.

    Bring to a boil.

    Now here's the important part.  As soon as the water comes to a boil, set your timer for 10 minutes.

    Let boil for 10 minutes.  

    As soon as the timer goes off.  Remove immediately from heat, drain the hot water and let COLD water run over them until they are cool to the touch.  They may still feel warm but you can hold them.

    Peel them immediately.  The longer they stay in their shells and have the ability to cook, the more you run the risk of green ring around the yolk.  You want nice pretty eggs for deviled eggs, sliced eggs or egg salad.

    The best way to peel the eggs is to tap the egg against something to get the shell cracked and then roll it around until the egg shell is cracked the entire way around.  It should come off easily.  If you used eggs you just bought yesterday, it may be a little more difficult to peel.  But this is the best method I have found and it has worked for over a decade.  :)

    Cut in half lengthwise for deviled eggs.  If you want to be fancy and have a wavy edge vegetable slicer, use that instead to cut your eggs.  Everyone will ooh and aah.
    Use your egg slicer in one direction, then put the egg back in and slice in the other direction to make the perfect diced eggs for egg salad.

    So there you have it as taught to me by my wise friend Kathy Porter right after Bob and I first got married.  I haven't had a green egg since, it works.  She taught me lots of things in the kitchen, you'll hear all about her in recipes to come.

    Let the countdown begin...

    We are up.  We are ready.  Oven on.  Aprons on.  Food to cook!

    Today we are making the following.  I will post recipes later of all things not already on here.

    • Deviled Eggs - I have a secret ingredient even kids love
    • Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with chocolate crust - Xander's first attempt at making a cheesecake.  I am excited!
    • Corn Casserole - it is not Thanksgiving without this on the table!
    • Homemade Whipped Cream - this year Christian gets involved and takes over this responsibility!  Makes my heart go pitter patter.  I remember when Xander was his age and it was his job.  Traditions are the best and my family is full of traditionalists!

    A funny.... on Monday when I was deciding what pies to make.  I thought I would try a "new" pumpkin pie recipe I had seen somewhere and was telling Mac and Moose about it.  Before I could finish explaining it, the Moose looked at me and said, "mom, can you just make the 'traditional' pumpkin pie?".  I asked him why and he said that it was because it was his favorite and if I wanted to, I could make BOTH pies but he needed the traditional one, lololol.  I had to laugh.  He's only 6 and he's a boy who knows what he wants!

    So into the kitchen I go.  I'll be back later to post the recipes and if all goes well, photos too!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    How do you store your recipes?

    A few weeks ago, I found out that my cousin started a blog to archive her recipes, check her out here.  But it didn't move me to think about starting one.  Granted I thought it was a great idea but I couldn't even manage my own personal family blog, how in the world was I going to maintain a SECOND blog?  

    Well, fast forward to last 15 year old son comes into the kitchen as I am cooking and asks if he can have 1 night a week to be the cook in the kitchen.  Absolutely.  Woo Hoo, one night I don't have to cook.  Yipee.  I am a happy dish washer when someone else cooks.

    Then he asks.........when I move out on my own, can I have some of your cookbooks to take with me?  Sure was my first response.  I was delighted that he enjoyed my cooking enough to want to carry on some of the recipes.  But wait.......

    What am I going to do without those treasured cookbooks in hand?  How will I make my favorite recipes?  How will I journal our food legacy?  Stop the presses..........that food blogging site my cousin started seemed more like something I needed to do.

    You see, for the last 17 years I have written in all of my cookbooks.  I scribble notes on the pages about who I made the dish for,  who was there, if we liked it and if I would make it again.  I also write dates in the corner to remember when I made the dish for the first time.  
    Going back has been so nostalgic.  I have cried at some of my notes, laughed at others and remember so many events and people based on those scribbles.  I know now, that I am not ready to part with my cookbooks.

    So here I sit today, in the middle of a busy holiday week when I should be baking pies.....oh wait, they are in the oven.......and I am sorting through cookbooks one by one and handwritten recipes handed down to me by family members.  I am chronicling our food history, our friends, our family and traditions handed by from generation to generation.

    These words are my own, they might not mean much to you.  But.....when my children decide they want to cook and open this blog, I hope they will find the perfect recipe and remember why it was important to our family.  

    So tell me, how do you store your recipes?  Do you blog them?  Do you write in your cookbooks?  Do you write down stories about meals you've served?  How is sharing your food legacy important to you and why?

    I am thankful that I can do this for my children.  I am thankful indeed.

    Bourbon Margarita Slushies

    This recipe comes straight out of the current Dec 2010 Southern Living magazine.  There are several "slushies" to choose from, this one however happens to be my favorite.  Mine is in the freezer getting all slushie but not before I filled a glass with crushed ice and had a little sample.  I had to do a quality control check.  At least that's what I am telling myself!  Enjoy....I know you will!

    This recipe is great even for those of us who don't particularly care for bourbon.  Bad incident when I was 16 that I never recovered from..... 

    1 liter bottle club soda
    1 12-oz can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
    1 1/2 cups water
    1 cup tequila
    1 cup bourbon
    3/4 Grand Marnier

    Mix all ingredients in a LARGE bowl (makes about 9 cups).  Divide between 2 gallon size ziploc freezer bags, seal bags.  Freeze 24 hours or up to 1 week (it won't last that long in my house, lol).  

    Serve in salt rimmed glasses with lime slices.


    Drunken Cranberries

    Every year I have ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, I have served this yummy creation.  It was handed down to me by a fellow Boy Scout parent, David Gal, years and years ago. 

    2 12-oz. bags fresh cranberries, rinsed
    2 cups sugar
    1/2 cup marsala wine
    1/4 cup Grand Marnier
    1/8 cup Angostura Bitters
    1 fresh pear, firm, skinned, cored and diced
    1 small can Mandarin oranges

    Over medium heat, combine cranberries and sugar, mixing constantly until sugar melts and cranberries pop and release their juice.  

    Puree mixture with a hand blender or in a food processor.  Mixture will thicken.  

    Stir in wine, liqueur and bitters.  Mix well.  

    Gently fold in pears and oranges.

    Line a decorative mold with plastic wrap.  Transfer mixture into lined container.

    Cover and chill until cranberries are set.  Cranberries can be made up to 3 days in advance before serving.  

    Unmold, garnish and enjoy.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Amish Friendship Bread - Traditional

    1 cup oil
    1 cup sugar
    2 cups flour
    1/2 cup milk
    3 large eggs
    1 large box vanilla instant pudding
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 tsp cinnamon (you can use up to 1 tblsp if desired)

    Preheat 325 degrees.

    Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend until all ingredients are combined.

    Grease bundt pan.  Generously coat pans with a mixture of cinnamon sugar.

    Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  Wrap in aluminum foil or place in an airtight container.  Can be frozen.

    Amish Friendship Bread Starter

    Amish Friendship Bread is my one "go to" bread that I make for neighbors, holidays, teachers, friends, gifts, whenever!  I have not met a single person in 12 years that has not liked this bread.  

    It also by far, makes the best banana bread EVER, hands down.  I know many of you will disagree and think you have the best.  But I am here to tell you that THIS bread is the best!

    This starter recipe is very easy.  However with that said.... 

    it does take time.....
    it takes patience.....

    and it takes a little work.  

    1 cup milk (no less than 2%)
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup sugar

    Place all ingredients in a zip loc bag, release ALL air from the bag and seal.

    Squeeze the contents until they are well mixed.  Let out any additional air.

    Now leave it on your counter for the next 10 days.  You heard me, leave it on your room temperature counter for 10 days but do the following each day:

    Day 1 - this is the day you made/received the starter.  Do nothing else today!
    Day 2 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 3 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 4 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 5 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 6 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk.  Release the air and squeeze the mixture inside til blended.
    Day 7 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 8 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 9 - Squeeze the bag, let out the air.  Let it rest, leave it alone.
    Day 10 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk and mix well in a plastic or glass container with a wooden spoon or plastic utensils.  Do NOT use metal.  Pour 1 cup starters into (4) 1 gallon ziploc bags.  Keep one starter for yourself and give the other 3 away to friends along with these instructions.  

    I have successfully frozen these bags of starter.  Because if you don't have many friends, it can multiply like bunnies.  Just sayin'.  Let it come to room temperature and follow the above instructions.

    Another sidenote - I have also been known to toss the plastic ziploc bag after the 2nd 10-day cycle and currently leave my starter in a large rubbermaid container.  I stir it and feed it every few days and release the air.  The longest I had my starter going in this method just sitting on my counter in the container has been over 2 years.  I even forgot to feed it for over a week.  It survived!

    The one catch - you CANNOT begin the starter in a rubbermaid container, you must start it air-free in the ziploc bags for at least 2 10-day cycles!
    When you finally get to the point your starter is all yeasty, growing and A-L-I-V-E....and it's in the plastic bowl living on your may sometimes separate and look like this.  Don't throw it away!!!!  It is still good, it is still living, I promise.  It is just telling you that it needs some love and some more food!  It got to this point because I neglected to feed it for over a week.  So see it is hearty starter and if it can survive ME, it can survive you!

    This is what the inside of the starter looks like.  Growing, bubbly and yeasty!

    The three above photos are adding the 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.  That's it.  Every 5-10 days.  You should probably make some bread every 10 days or so as well.  Your friends will love you and beg for more.

    All the food, now stir.

    And stir.  With a wooden spoon, not metal.
    Other than that, it is a hearty starter and will survive most anything, the fridge, the freezer, being unfed for over a get the point.
    This is what it will look like.  Don't try to stir out all the clumps, you'll be there all day.  The starter will feed on those clumps and they'll all be gone by tomorrow.  You'll see.  And no, the milk won't spoil.
    Contact me if you need help.  More yummy recipes to follow in the breads section soon!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Quick and Easy Yeast Rolls

    This recipe came from my Granny Shirl.  Another amazing woman who had 6 kids.  Had a garden larger than the home she lived in.  Canned all her own fruits and vegetables.  Could cook, sew, play the organ, paint amazing things, remember the words to every kids song known to man.............I could go on and on.  How is it that grandmothers are so amazing?  I miss her too!

    Anyway, I have been making this recipe for probably the last 14-15 years.  I visited her one time and she just whipped these up about an hour or so before dinner.  At dinner, I thought I had died and gone to heaven and told her I MUST. HAVE. THIS. RECIPE!  She laughed, gave it to me.  And the rest is history!  Enjoy.

    1 pkg. active dry yeast
    3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
    2 tblsp sugar
    2 tblsp vegetable oil
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 egg
    2 1/2-2 3/4 cups flour
    softened butter

    Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar, oil, salt and egg.  Stir to dissolve sugar and salt.

    Stir in one cup of flour until smooth.  

    Cover with cloth and put on rack over a bowl/pan of HOT water (not boiling) and let rise 15 minutes.  

    Grease 9x9 pan.

    Stir down batter and add 1 1/2 cups flour.  Stir until mixed.  

    Knead 3 minutes.  If sticky, knead in a 1/4 cup flour.

    Divide into 16 pieces.  Shape balls, arrange in pan.  Brush tops with melted butter.  (side note - I have also put 3 mini balls in muffin pans to make pull apart rolls, you can get creative with how you design your rolls.  Tell me how you made yours)

    Cover and let rise 25 minutes.
    Heat oven to 425 degrees.
    Bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown.  Remove from pan to rack.  Brush with butter again (I like to pour a little melted butter over it instead of just brushing the tops).
    VARIATIONS: (as if it couldn't get any better)
    CHEDDAR CHEESE - add 1/2 cup sharp cheddar with addition of flour.  Continue as directed.  Bake 15-17 minutes.

    CINNAMON NUT - after shaping, roll each ball in melted butter, then in a mixture of cinnamon, nut, sugar mixture (2tblsp sugar, 2 tblsp packed brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup chopped nuts).  Continue as directed.

    GARLIC - Add 2 cloves minced garlic to 1/4 cup melted butter.  Pour over rolls immediately after they come out of the oven.  Top with a little parmesan cheese.

    Grilled French Bread

    I know, it seems so simple.  However most people forget that they can actually slice up a loaf of French or Italian bread and grill it outdoors on the grill.  Perfect summer compliment to any meal!

    1 large loaf of your favorite hearty bread (French, Italian, other)
    olive oil
    kosher salt

    Cut bread on the diagonal into 1 - 1 1/2 inch slices.

    Brush both sides with olive oil.  Don't be shy, give it some love.  You don't want it dripping but you don't want it dry either.

    Lay them all out on a large cookie sheet until you are ready to grill.  Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt (to taste).

    When the meal is almost ready, pop these tasty morsels on the grill until golden on each side.

    You can add garlic, rosemary, cracked pepper or whatever else you like to the olive oil before you toast however, the simple classic harmony of olive oil and kosher salt blends together like nothing else in this world on the grill. 

    Serve hot.  I can almost guarantee that you'll never eat just one slice.  Enjoy!

    Fattoush - Lebanese Toasted Bread Salad

    This salad is DELISH!  If you are invited somewhere and they ask you to bring a salad....bring THIS SALAD!  It is unique, delicious and will be the star of the party.  Just try it, I promise you'll love it.  :)

    2 pita bread rounds
    6-8 large lettuce leaves, torn in small pieces
    1 large cucumber, cut into small cubes
    4 ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes
    8 spring onions, chopped
    4 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped
    1 tblsp fresh mint, chopped
    2 tblsp fresh coriander, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup lemon juice

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Toast bread rounds in oven for 8 minutes.  Tear into small bite size pieces after it comes out of the oven.  Set aside.

    Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, wisk well.

    Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl, add toasted bread then pour dressing over the top.  Toss lightly.

    Serve.  You can thank me later!

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Grandma Mae's Strawberry Fig Preserves

    You will hear me talk about my grandmother more than once.  She was one of the most incredible women I have known in my life.  I adored her.  I spent summers with her.

    She let me have free access to her the age of 10, 12, 15, whenever I was there to visit.

    She canned...a LOT!  She made the best jams I have ever consumed.

    Even in college, I begged for a few jars of whatever she recently put in jars.  It was gold.  It was wonderful.

    I just wish she was here now so that I could get her to make this jam for me.  I miss her. 

    3 cups fresh figs, peeled and mashed
    2 3-ounce boxes of strawberry jello
    3 cups sugar

    Mix all ingredients and bring to boil over medium heat.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Put into prepared canning jars and seal.  Check your Mason/Ball jars for appropriate canning methods if you are unfamiliar.  I will post some canning techniques at some point in the future.

    This is my most favorite jam ever in the entire world!  Enjoy.

    Strawberry Salad

    This is my mom's recipe which she handed to me on a pink sticky note years ago, which I still have.  The recipe AND the sticky note.  :)  As a kid, I did not like this recipe.  Don't know why.  Just didn't.  I think it was the thought of cottage cheese, which I despised.  However as an adult, I really enjoy this simple summer concoction and wonder why I never ate it, nor would I try it, as a kid.

    24oz.  cottage cheese
    1 small strawberry jello packet
    8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
    1 pint strawberries, chopped
    8 oz. coolwhip

    Mix all ingredients, place in your favorite clear serving dish (because it is so pretty).  Refrigerate overnight.

    This is the perfect summer "salad" to bring to a brunch, baby/bridal shower or outdoor holiday.  It is usually a HUGE hit with the kids.....just not me when I was a kid.  Go figure!

    Teriyaki Marinade

    In need of a quick dinner for the kids?  Put on your rice to cook.  Steam a veggie then saute the chicken right before serving.  It's a 30 minute meal and one that the kids will love!

    1 cup soy sauce (you can use low sodium variety if desired)
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup water
    1/2 tblsp fresh grated ginger (or ground if that's what you've got)
    1/2 tbsp minced garlic

    Heat in a saucepan until it comes to a slow rolling boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour over your favorite cooked meat.  Or allow to cool and use as a cold marinade for meats.

    French Dressing

    This recipe is from the archive's of my father's recipe file box.  I love handwritten recipes, they mean so much.

    2 tsp salt
    2 tsp paprika
    2 tsp dry mustard
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup white vinegar
    2 tblsp grated/minced onion
    2 tsp celery seed
    2 cups canola oil

    Mix all ingredients, warm slightly in the microwave and beat til thick.

    Refrigerate.  Use within 2 weeks.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    New Blog....

    Yes, there is a new blog in town.

    I know, how many more blogs can there be?

    At least one more, I say!

    This blog is going to be an edible living legacy to my kids.  I will "attempt" to post all the recipes I make that my family loves.....and there are hundreds of them.

    It's gonna take a while to get them all posted.......anyone got any extra time on your hands and want to help?  Just kidding.

    Actually, when I post each recipe, most will come with a story of the date I first made it, who was there, if it was good or not, if I changed the original around or if it was my own original.  Coming soon, there will also be steps. 

    I hope some day my kids, as they go off to college, will be able to access these archives and remember all the great times we shared around the dinner table and want to prepare some of these meals for their own families.

    In the meantime, as I slowly add to the categories, I thank you for stopping by to share in our family meal time history.  If you try a recipe and love it, please share your feedback.  If you hate it, keep quite......just really, let me know what you loved and didn't.  I might like your way better!

    I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season and you can bet that once again, those things we are thankful for will be shared.........around my dining room table!

    Happy Thanksgiving.


    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Basil Scented Chicken Salad

    A fabulous spring salad from Southern Living Easy Weeknight Favorites Cookbook!  I make this recipe when I have to bring a brunch dish to a spring event.  Serve with buttery croissants and some fresh grapes. 
    It always gets rave reviews and is one of my favs!

    ½ cup Mayo                                          
    2 tblsp lemon juice      
    ½ tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning                         
    ¼ tsp. hot sauce      
    1 tblsp Dijon mustard                     
    3 cups chopped cooked chicken
    ½ cup chopped celery
    ¼ cup shredded fresh basil                     
    ¼ cup chopped green onions
    6 cups torn or shredded  spinach                                               
    1 tblsp pine nuts or pecan pieces, toasted

    Combine 1st 5 ingredients, stirring well.  Add chicken and next 3 ingredients, toss gently.  Place spinach on individual serving plates, top with chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Yield: 3 servings.

    Mae McKinnon’s Crisp Cucumber Pickles

    Her handwritten recipe, circa late 1980's
    Everyone, including those who don't particularly like pickles, always rave about these perfect pickles.  This recipe is handed down from one of the most amazing women to have ever walked this earth.  You simply must try's a must I tell you!

    Slice 7lbs cucumbers.  Soak in 2 cups lime and 2 gallons of water for 24 hours.
      Wash good and soak in ice water 2 or 3 hours.
    Mix together:
    2 quarts vinegar (white preferred)
    4 ½ lbs sugar
    1 tsp whole cloves
    1 tsp celery seed
    1 tsp pickling spice
    1 tsp mace
    1 tsp ginger
    1 tsp all spice
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 stick cinnamon (chopped)
    1 tblsp salt

    Bring to boil and cook until sugar is dissolved. 

    Pour ice water off and drain well.

    Pour boiling mixture over cucumbers

    – Let stand overnight and then cook next morning for 35 minutes.

    Put into jars and seal.

    My darling daughter placing the seals atop each jar.

    **** I realize that this recipe is a little vague but it is posted exactly as my grandmother wrote it down on paper however; I do remember my mom and grandma using large coolers to do the mixing and soaking in.  If you need assistance with how to seal jars, refer to the mason box when you purchase the glass jars and lids, the info is there.
    Pickles completed!  Now share with those you love!


    The title says Filet Mignon Chili, however if you are like me and on a budget, you can never afford worries......use whatever cut of beef you have.  Don't want to use 5lbs of ground sirloin?  Mix the ground sirloin with ground pork and/or turkey.   It's all good, don't be afraid to change it up a bit!
    1. Heat up ½ cup of the butter in a large sauce pot over medium high heat until very hot.
    2. Add diced filet and cook until seared and browned around the edges.
    3. Add ground beef and cook until all of the beef is browned thoroughly.
    4. Remove the meat and set aside, draining off ¾ of the fat (leave the rest of the fat in the pot).
    5. Add the diced onions and chile pepper to the pot and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
    6. Add the meat back to the pot.
    7. Add the Guinness and let boil for 1 minute.
    8. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute.
    9. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and the beef stock and stir thoroughly.
    10. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add both of the beans, the chili powder, cumin, salt, white pepper and brown sugar.
    11. Let the chili simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
    12. Finish by stirring in ½ cup more of the butter and the shredded cheddar cheese.
    13. Garnish or serve with any of the following: sour cream, diced red onions and pepper, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, fresh chopped cilantro or my son’s favorite add-in honey, yes, you heard that right, honey.
    Enjoy.  Serves 12-15
    You can brown all your meats and put this in a very LARGE crockpot or 2 smaller ones and let it cook on low all day.  Serve the next day, it’s always better.  It also freezes well.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Paul Prudhomme's Jambalaya

    Seasoning Mix:
    2 whole bay leaves
    1 ½ tsp salt
    1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    1 ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
    1 ¼ tsp white pepper
    1 tsp black pepper
    ¾ tsp dried thyme leaves

    2 ½ tblsp chicken fat or pork fat (I used olive oil or safflower oil instead)
    2/3 cup chopped Tasso or other smoked ham
    ½ cup chopped andouille sausage (or other good smoked sausage)
    1 ½ cups chopped onion
    1 cup celery
    ¾ cup chopped green bell peppers (I have been known to add a jalapeno or other fun spicy pepper to kick it up as well – depends on who’s coming to dinner, wink!)
    ½ cup chicken, cut into bite size pieces
    1 ½ tsp minced garlic (I add more because I love garlic and it really enhances the dish!)
    4 medium size tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I use 1 14 oz can of the Hunt’s diced tomatoes with green peppers, onion and garlic or celery – whatever you can find)
    ¾ cup canned tomato sauce
    2 cups Basic Seafood Stock (again, I use my leftover shrimp shells to make a broth and substitute chicken broth for any additional stock that is needed, always turns out divine)
    2 cups uncooked long grain
    1 ½ dozen (or more, J) medium shrimp
    1 ½ dozen oysters in their liquor (I have never added these although I am sure they would be great in it)

    Sidebar: When I am cooking for a crowd, I just adjust the recipe as I see fit.  I might add more broth and more rice and a few more shrimp and seasonings to taste.  This is a recipe that you can play with until your heart is content, it will never turn out bad!!!

    Combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.

    In a 4 quart saucepan, melt the fat (or oil) over medium heat.  Add the Tasso and andouille sausage and sauté until crisp, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.   

    Add the Trinity – the onions, celery and peppers; sauté until tender but firm, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pan as well.   

    Add the chicken.  Raise heat to high and cook 1 minute stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium.   

    Add the seasoning mix and minced garlic, cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pan as needed.   

    Add the tomatoes and cook until chicken is tender, about 5-8 minutes.  

    Add the tomato sauce; cook about 7 minutes stirring often.   

    Stir in the stock and bring to a boil.  

    Add the rice, shrimp and oysters, stir well.   

    At this point the recipe calls for you to transfer it to an oven safe pan and bake for 30 minutes however, I have always just put the lid on the pan, reduced the heat, set the timer for 20 minutes (without lifting the lid at all) and let it cook.  After 20 minutes, lift the lid, stir and determine if more cooking time is needed.  If so, return the lid until done.  If it is ready, plate it and dig in!!

    Tortilla Soup

    2 skinned and boned chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
    2 cans Mexicorn
    1 can white whole kernel corn
    1 large onion
    2 garlic cloves, pressed
    2 cans chicken broth
    1 can diced tomatoes (I use the flavored kind)
    1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies, undrained
    1 tsp. salt
    2 tsp. ground cumin
    1 tsp. chili powder
    1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
    1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
    1 bay leaf
    4-5 tortillas (any flavor)
    Garnish: (optional) fresh chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, chopped tomato, sour cream, cheese and tortilla crunchies!

    Combine ALL ingredients minus tortillas and garnishes into large dutch oven, bring to a boil and simmer over med heat for 30-45 min.  Combine ½ cup milk and 2 tbsp. cornstarch, bring soup back to a boil and pour in corn starch mixture and boil until desired thickness is reached.  Soup is then ready to serve!

    Optional: Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on HIGH heat for 6 hours.  Add cornstarch mixture when ready to serve.

    Cut tortillas into ¼ in wide strips, place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 375° for 5 minutes.  Stir strips and bake for 5-7 more minutes until crisp.  Serve with soup and garnish as desired.  Yields about 10 cups.

    The BEST Coconut Cake EVER!

    1 box Yellow Cake Mix
    1 can Cream of Coconut well shaken (found in the liquor mixer section of the grocery aisles)
    1 can sweetened condensed milk **
    1 large container of Extra Creamy Cool Whip
    And of course Coconut!

    Bake cake according to directions on box for a 9x13 cake.   Mix the cream of coconut and condensed milk together, set aside. 

    Immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes throughout the entire cake with a large tined salad fork, chop stick or something comparable (this is important to the absorption process of the liquids. However, do not mutilate the cake). 

    Pour the liquid mixture over the cake.  It will look like you have too much liquid on the cake but I promise, you won’t!  Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight or until completely cold. 

    Once cold spread a small amount of coconut over the cake, cover with Cool Whip and then top again with a thick layer of coconut.  You’re done!  Serve cold.

    Keep in the refrigerator for best consistency. 

    **You can substitute whipping cream for condensed milk if needed.

    Shay's Corn Casserole

    This is the PERFECT compliment to any Thanksgiving table.  It's is the easiest recipe ever.  How can it not be good with 2 sticks of butter AND sour cream......oh my!  Just be sure to wear the stretchy pants to the dinner table, you'll need them.  :)

    Preheat oven to 375◦.

    2 cans whole kernel corn (about 1/2 way drained - each can)
    2 cans cream corn
    2 boxes Jiffy Cornmeal Mix
    1 16 oz. container Sour Cream (fat free works well in the recipe also)
    2 sticks butter (for those faint of heart, you can use 1 stick and it will still be just as delicious!)

    Place butter sticks in 9x13 baking dish and melt in preheated oven.  Mix all other ingredients together thoroughly and pour into baking dish with melted butter, do NOT stir.  The butter will rise around the corn mixture; this gives it the rich edges during baking!! 

    Bake for 1 hour and 45-50 minutes or until firm and golden brown on top.  If it starts to brown too much, cover with foil until done.  You can cut this recipe in half for a small family but I have found that it is better the 2nd day re-heated and half the recipe doesn’t leave enough to enjoy the next day!!

    Apple Enchiladas - SO EASY!

    1 21 oz. Can Apple Pie Fruit Filling
    6 8 in Tortillas
    1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
    1/3 cup Butter
    ½ cup Sugar
    ½ cup Firmly Pack Brown Sugar
    ½ Cup Water

    1.       Spoon fruit filling evenly down center of each tortilla; sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.  Roll up, place seam side down in a lightly buttered 2 qt. Baking dish.
    2.       Bring butter  and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.  Pour sauce over enchiladas; let stand for 30 minutes.
    3.       Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
    4.       Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Maple Sausage Breakfast Casserole

    • 1 bag Country Style Hash Brown Potatoes (12-16 Ounce Bag)
    • ¼ cups Chopped Onion
    • 2 Tablespoons Parsley
    • 1 pound Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage (in The Roll)
    • 8 whole Eggs, Scrambled
    • ¼ cups Butter
    • ½ cups Flour
    • 1 teaspoon Salt, Optional
    • ¼ teaspoons Pepper
    • 1-½ cup Milk
    • 1 cup Sour Cream
    • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (I Use Sharp Cheddar/Monterrey Jack Combo)
    • ½ cups Shredded Cheese (for Topping)

    Heat oven to 350F. Everything will get layered into a greased/buttered 9×13 baking dish. I just layer each item after it has completed cooking.

    Cook hashbrowns according to package directions and drain grease. Stir in onion and parsley and cook for a few additional minutes until the onion is translucent. Place in the baking dish.

    While the hashbrowns are cooking, brown the maple sausage, drain. Place in the baking dish on top of the potatoes. Prepare scrambled eggs and set aside. Do NOT place in the baking dish yet.

    Melt butter in a medium size saucepan. Add flour, salt and pepper. Add milk and cook until the sauce thickens – cook on medium temperature. Stir in sour cream and 1 cup of grated cheese and remove from heat.

    In your baking dish that has the hashbrowns and maple sausage, pour 1/2 of the sauce over the mixture. Cover that layer with scrambled eggs then pour remaining sauce over the top. At this point, I will take a spoon and make sure that the sauce is spread around and covering everything in the pan and in between the cracks. I just like the yummy goodness to get everywhere.

    Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese and additional parsley if desired.
    Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

    ****I always double this recipe, still baking it in the same 9×13 pan. Also, all ingredients are previously cooked, so the baking process is to bind everything together and heat it through.

    Put this dish together the night before and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature on the counter while the oven is heating in the morning, bake as directed and have a completely stress free breakfast ready for friends and family.