12/23/06

Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

Roasted Red Pepper Bisque with Shrimp

5 large red bell peppers (Char under your broiler until black. Put into a paper bag and let sit for 10 minutes. Peel off the blackened skin and remove seeds.)

3 1/2 c chicken broth
1 t paprika
1 t sugar
3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 grated romano cheese
hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 T olive oil
1 lb. raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
2 T chopped fresh basil

Cut the peppers into large pieces and place into the chicken broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender.

Puree in a food processor until smooth.

Pour back into the saucepan. Add paprika and sugar. Simmer 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Whisk in cream and cheese. Season to taste with a dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper if wanted.

Heat 1 T oil in skillet over medium. Saute' shrimp about 3 minutes until cooked. Season with salt and pepper and chop coursely if you prefer, or leave whole. Divide into 4 serving bowls and top with the soup. Sprinkle basil over to garnish. Serve.
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12/22/06

Triple Coconut Macaroons

1 c canned Thai coconut milk (it's canned and it's NOT cream of coconut)
2 T corn syrup
1/4 c sugar
4 egg whites
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
3 c sweetened shredded coconut

milk chocolate *optional*

In a bowl, whisk the coconut milk, sugar, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla extract and salt. In a larger bowl (mixing bowl) combine the coconuts and break apart any lumps. Pour the sugar and milk mixture over the coconut. Mix until everything is equally moist. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to let it soak in and set up.

Use 1 tablespoon of mixture for each ball. Using a pampered chef small cookie scoop works great. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375 about 15 minutes. Let cool on the parchment before attempting to move to a rack to cool completely.

At this point you can melt the milk chocolate (or semi-sweet if you prefer) and either dip the entire macaroon, dip half, or drizzle melted chocolate over top. The chocolate gives the coconut just the right flavor.
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12/20/06

Christmas Is Coming..... The Goose is Getting Fat

... please do put a cookie in the old mans hat.
Oh, I know it's a "penny" but I'm short on those right now. I have cookies though!



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12/15/06

Let the Baking Begin!



I'm oh-so-late on getting started with my baking and candy making for the holiday's.

Before I went back to work outside the home I would start baking around November 15th and do just one or two things at a time, taking it slow until I got to Christmas. I used to send 2 huge trays of goodies to work with my husband for his 125 employees, and then would do baskets for all the neighbors, the mailman, all three kids teachers, the school bus drivers and 2 trays to take to Christmas Eve with all the extended family.
With my current work schedule, my husbands (retail) schedule (read; never home) and the three kids, I'm dreadfully behind this year. I have 28 things on my 'list' with another 2 that I found in my hometown cookbook last night that I'd like to make as well.

That makes 30 different recipes.

Thirty.
And how many I have done so far?
Two.
Peppermint Pinwheels and English Toffee.

But I just returned from the grocery store with all the ingredients I need to make at least 28 things.

Let the Baking Begin!
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12/10/06

Steak Marinade

This is what I should be making right now instead of typing... hee hee.


STEAK MARINADE

1/3 c soy sauce
2 T vegetable oil
1 T brown sugar (I've used Sugar Twin with success)
3/4 t garlic, minced
1 t ginger
1 t seasoned salt


Mix and marinate your steaks. The longer the marinating time, the stronger the taste. We like ours strong so I refrigerate overnight if I remember to get it made that far in advance.
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Chewy No Fail Brownies

Tonights Special: Brownies

1 dry dark chocolate cake mix (18.25 size)
1 c chopped walnuts (omit if you want)
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter, melted
1 package of chocolate chips or a mixture of peanut butter chips, caramel chips, chopped up Snickers bars or other candy bars, etc. (Whatever you want!)

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine the dry cake mix and nuts in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and the evaporated milk. Spread 3/4 of the batter into a 9X13 inch pan (ungreased, or if you feel you must, just spray/grease the bottom only). Top the layer of batter with your mixture of chopped candy or chips. Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Spread a bit but most of the chips will show through.

Bake approximately 30 minutes. Cool. Cut into bars.

(If we want to make it official for this weeks topic by using fruit - lets top this with WHIPPED CREAM AND FRESH RASPBERRIES AND SERVE....). THERE. I used fruit. :)
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Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna

It's a recipe that my entire family loves and we have it fairly often. I recently posted it on my blog and it got rave reviews. Enjoy!


1 lb. Ground Beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 t seasoned salt
1 can diced tomatoes or about 1 cup fresh diced
2 - 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 - 4 oz. can green chilies
1 c ricotta or cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
10 flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Cook the ground beef and drain. Add taco seasoning, seasoned salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chilies. Mix and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Mix the ricotta cheese and eggs in a bowl. Preheat your oven to 350. Spread half of the meat mixture in a 9X13 pan. Rip your flour tortillas in half and lay about 5 of them down on top of the meat mixture to cover, overlapping if necessary. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers. Bake uncovered about 20-30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes to 'set up' before slicing into squares. Serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

*Note*
Recipes are NEVER mandatory as written. Use a mixture of ground turkey and beef, or tofu in place of the meat if you want. Mix the shredded cheeses or just use monterey jack or just cheddar. Use corn tortillas if you prefer, but the flour tortillas take the place of the lasagna noodles and are more pasta-like. Have fun with it!
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Breakfast Pizza

For the EGGS topic: How about a breakfast pizza? My SIL uses her Pampered Chef stoneware to bake it on after preparing the eggs seperate and adding them already cooked. Either way you'll get a yummy brunch item to serve.


Breakfast Pizza

1 lb. bulk sausage, cook, drain and set aside
1 8 oz. can crescent rolls
1 c frozen hash browns, thawed (I thaw in microwave)
1 c cheddar cheese
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 c milk
Salt and Pepper


Place the points of the crescent rolls (seperated) towards the center of a round 12" pizza pan. Press to seal and make a crust. Sprinkle the crust with the cooked sausage, then top with th hash browns and cheese. Combine the milk, eggs, salt and pepper and pour over the mixture. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with more cheese if desired (I always desire!) and bake 5 more minutes.
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Homemade Salsa

This was posted back in 2006 and revisiting it now (the end of 2015) I smile at how different recipe and food blogging was back then. 

Recipe blogs didn't really exist, and those that did were NOTHING like they are today.  Most were just textual recipes typed out - once in a great while, one had a photo posted but most did not.  Iphones weren't invented yet (until first released in 2007) so almost no one took pictures on their cellphones back then and if you did, it stayed on your phone.  It wasn't uploaded to a computer and certainly not the internet as the photo sites like instagram and twitter weren't invented yet.

With that background, you'll understand why many of the recipes on sites from 2005-2008 didn't have photos - or small, 'second thought' pictures uploaded.  They were uploaded from cameras, using memory sticks or cords - so it was a bit more labor intensive than it is today.  Also - no one had to water mark them back then because no one was stealing the images. 

This was the first time I posted my homemade salsa recipe - I went on to post it a couple more times later - with photos - but this one is true 'vintage'.  HERE is the 2012 version with updated photos:  http://www.housewifebarbie.com/2012/07/homemade-salsa-canned-salsa.html


Homemade Salsa

10 Cups of peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
5 c chopped onions
3 sweet banana peppers, diced
4 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 t minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 1/4 c vinegar
2 T chili powder
2 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 T sugar


Simmer 1-3 hours and can for pantry storage. Use a waterbath for extra protection, 25 minutes for pints.

*Save and can the juice from the tomatoes. Can each quart with 2 t lemon juice and 1 t sugar. Waterbath 45 minutes for quarts.



To peel/skin your tomatoes easily just put them in boiling water. Skins will split in 10 seconds - 2 minutes. Remove as soon as the skin splits and lay on a clean towel to cool until you can handle them comfortably. Some tomatoes won't split. If it has been in the water for approximately 1-2 minutes, lift it out and feel it. If it looks tight and ready to burst, yet it feels like a water balloon, then remove it to cool. It's ready.







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Chocolate Drops & Vanilla Wafer Cookies

These hardly warrant a 'recipe' but they were a huge part of my childhood and so... I post them.



Chocolate Drops


Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup of chunky peanut butter and 2 T butter. When smooth, drop by teaspoons onto foil. Place into the refrigerator and let harden.

I remember eating these when I was about 3 years old. We had to ask permission and we would be promised a chocolate drop "after nap time" or some such nonsense.





Vanilla Wafer Sandwiches


Place a tablespoon of Cool Whip or mixed up Dream Whip inbetween 2 vanilla wafers. Place them on a large cookie and sheet and put them in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours until they are 'soft'. Enjoy.



(My Mom was quite the cook... no?)
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Enchiladas

Since these are in the oven right now and I have about 20 minutes to waste I'll go ahead and type it up! *All amounts can be adjusted! More or less of any or all works just fine depending on what you have on hand and what your tastes are.


Enchiladas

8 flour tortillas
1/2 - 1 lb. ground beef ground with onion, or leftover cooked chicken or leftover steak
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c sour cream
1 t minced onion
1/4 chopped green pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin
1 c mozzarella cheese
3-4 oz. cream cheese


Use about 1-2 cups of whatever chicken or cooked leftover meat you have. A mixture of 2 works great. Mix all but the mozzarella and microwave it for 3-4 minutes until the cream cheese is soft and you can mix it all easily.

Place about 1/4 of the mixture into a flour tortilla and roll up. Place seam side down into a 9X13 pan. Cover with any leftover sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until heated through.
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Iced Almonds

Iced Almonds

1 1/2 c whole raw almonds
1/2 c sugar
2 T butter
1/2 t vanilla

Have a piece of foil ready on a cooling rack or laying on a kitchen towel. Place all the ingredients in a skillet and cook over medium high heat for 9 minutes. Spread on the prepared foil and let cool. Break apart. Mmm Toffee Almonds!
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Blueberry Pie

Tonights dessert: BLUEBERRY PIE


3 pints blueberries - cleaned and stems removed or frozen
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar (I use a mixture of brown and white)
1/4 t cinnamon
2 T butter, cut up

A double pie crust (I don't have time to post the recipe - so use your recipe or just buy the canned or frozen version).


Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and then place in the bottom crust. Top with the cut up butter and then carefully place the top crust over and crimp or use a fork to seal the edges. Slice a pretty star shape on the top with a knife or fork to let steam escape. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 for another 30-40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
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Hambuger Steak with Onions and Gravy

Looking over my files I see I made this on in December 1997 and I noted; "Ok, but not great. Ended up adding some mushroom soup to the gravy to give it flavor"

So here it is: Looks good but obviously didn't turn out for me, as I've never made this particular recipe since then! You can give it a go - maybe it's just too 'midwestern farmer-ish' for my personal tastes?


Hamburger Steak with Onions and Gravy

1 1/3 lb. ground chuck
3/4 c fine chopped onion
1 egg
1 T worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 t seasoned salt
3/4 t pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/3 c plus 1/4 c self-rising flour
3 T oil
2 medium onions, thin sliced
2 c water
1/2 t salt

Combine the first 4 ingredients with 1 t seasoned salt, 1/2 t pepper and the garlic powder. Mix. Shape into 4 patties. Dredge well in 1/3 c flour. Heat oil and add patties and cook until browned on both sides. Remove and add sliced onion to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and saute' the onion.
Combine water, 1/4 c flour, 1/2 t seasoned salt and the pepper. Stir and add to skillet. When thick, add the steaks. Turn to coat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

4 Servings
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Chili

Brown: 1 lb. ground beef or turkey with
1 T minced fresh garlic
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
Add; 1-2 T chili powder
1 t cumin

Add; 2 cans hot chili beans
1 large can crushed tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer all day if you can. Best if you can make it 1-2 days before, refrigerate and then reheat on serving day. Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese sprinkled on top and with garlic bread.
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Hot Fudge Sauce

Looking over the recipes I don't see that I've offered my hot fudge sauce... gasp! OK, but keep this one under your hat k? Cause it's amazing. So amazing that I (a person who does not care for chocolate, doesn't crave chocolate and can walk by a bowl of candy bars, mam's or anything chocolate without blinking an eye... will eat this with a spoon!)


Hot Fudge Sauce
(it's for ice cream but I won't tell anyone if you eat it up with a spoon!)

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter (not margarine! ewwww)
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c milk or coffee (leftover from breakfast is a great way to use it up!)
1/3 c cream (I've used half and half when I didn't have any cream on hand)
1 t vanilla

Melt butter and chocolate in a pan over low to medium heat. Stir smooth, do not scorch. Add sugar, cocoa, milk or cream, coffee and vanilla. Let it simmer about 2-3 minutes to thicken. Cool. Stores well in a canning jar.
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Bleu Cheese Dressing

As I'm munching on this right now, I decided I'd pop online and share the recipe. If you like bleu cheese you'll love this.


Bleu Cheese Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise (Kraft is best)
1 c sour cream
1 clove minced fresh garlic
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1/2 c bleu cheese, crumbled
fresh cracked black pepper
*optional: 1 teaspoon Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing mix


Mix all together with a wire whisk. I sometimes add the ranch dressing mix just for something different.
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Seasoning Mix for Burgers

This one originally started out as a copy cat style recipe. I have to admit that if you do this right, your burgers will taste like the popular golden arches!

Burger Seasoning for Grilling

In an empty spice container or other shakeable container mix;

4 T salt
2 T MSG
1 1/2 t pepper
1/4 t onion powder


When you make your hamburgers make them incredibly thin, try for less than 1/2 inch thick if you can. While grilling sprinkle on the seasoning liberally. Flip. Toast the buns briefly over the grill as well and then add dots of mustard, ketchup, reconsituted dried minced onion and 2 pickles to each burger. If you are liberal with the seasoning you'll end up with a pretty good match to mcdonalds.
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Pesto Pasta Salad

Much thanks to my anonymous BIL for the original version of this one.

Pesto Pasta Salad
(too easy!)

1 package 4 cheese torillini (dry, fresh or frozen... your choice, just cook it normally)
1 small jar pesto sauce (I use homemade - and no, I don't measure)
1/2 c black olives (if you use the canned, chopped or sliced it so easy!)
1 T fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered

Mix. Serve warm or cold. Both are delicious.
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Shrimp and Red Bell Pepper Bisque

4 red bell peppers
3 - 4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 t paprika
1 t sugar
3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c fresh grated romano cheese
hot pepper sauce
1 T olive oil
1 lb. raw, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped shrimp (easy to chop if partially frozen!)
3 T chopped fresh basil

Char the peppers under a broiler or on a grill until black. Put into a paper bag and let cool about 10-15 minutes. Peel off the black skin and seed the peppers. Julienne one of the peppers, coarsely chop the rest. Set aside the matchstick pieces and put the coarsely chopped peppers into a large pot with the chicken broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the peppers are tender (5 minutes). Work in batches to puree the pepper mixture in a blender or processor until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan or pot.

Mix in the paprika and sugar. Simmer 5 minutes. At this point you can refrigerate it for use the next day or continue on by whisking in the cream and romano cheese. Season to taste with a dash or few or hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the reserved julienned pepper and the shrimp. Saute until the shrimp is cooked through (3 minutes) being careful not to let the shrimp clump. Dive the shrimp into 4 serving bowls. Ladle warm soup over each and sprinkle with the basil. Serve.
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Seafood Bisque

Otherwise known to my kids as "Octopus Soup".


Seafood Bisque

3 T butter
1/4 c diced onion
3 T flour
1 T parsley
1/2 t salt
pepper
2 c milk
2 c chicken broth (or water with chicken bouillion)
1 1/4 c fresh mixed seafood (octopus, cuddlefish, crab, shrimp, squid and mussels)

In a saucepan cook the seafood mixture in about 1-2 cups of water. Boil about 5 minutes and drain part of the water. In 2-3 batches briefly process the seafood in a processor to chop the pieces smaller. (I pulse it about 3-4 times. The pieces should be about 1/2" big... do not process longer or you'll have seafood paste).

Melt butter in a large pot. Cook diced onion until tender. Stir in flour all at once. Add parsley, salt and pepper. Take off the heat, briefly. Cook 1-2 minutes while whisking or stirring. Put the pot back on the burner and add the broth, whisking smooth. Add the milk, heat to boil, boil 1 minute. Reduce heat and add the seafood. Simmer until needed.

*Note*
I like my bisque nice and thick so if your soup isn't thick enough, raise the heat to medium high and in a cup or small bowl place about 1/2 cup of flour. Add about a cup of water or more while whisking smooth. If it's too thick add a little more water. With your whisk going continually, pour about 1/5 of the flour/water mixture into the soup pot and blend quickly. Add another 1/5 and again blend. Giving the flour mixture about 1-2 minutes between additions, stop when the bisque is as thick as you desire. If you get it too thick, add more milk by the 1/2 cup until your desired consistancy. If you do add more milk/water or flour before to add more salt and pepper to adjust the flavor accordingly.
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Chocolate Pie with Pecan Crust

Crust:

2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/3 c firm packed brown sugar
1/4 c butter, melted
2 t Kahlua
Pam Spray

Combine the 4 ingredients. Firmly press into a sprayed, 9 inch pie plate. Bake 350 for 12 minutes. Press the crust back down with a spoon if it puffs during cooking. Cool completely.


Pie:

6 - 1 oz. squares of semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 t instant coffee granules
2 large eggs, beaten
3 T Kahua or coffee flavored liqueur
1/4 c powdered sugar
3/4 c whipping cream
1 t vanilla extract

Crust

3/4 c whipping cream
1 T Kahlua
grated chocolate

Place chocolate squares and coffee granules in a pan over boiling water (or a double boiler). Gradeually stir until the chocolate is melted. Stir a quarter of the mix into the beaten eggs and then return the egg mixture to the rest of the chocolate mixture in the pan. Stir in Kahlua and powdered sugar. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.

Beat 3/4 c whipping cream to soft peaks. Fold into the Chocolate mixture. Stir in vanilla. Spoon into the pecan crust. Cover and freeze. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator about an hour before serving.

Beat the remaining 3/4 cup whipping cream and add the Kahlua. Beat to soft peaks and use to make stars or dollops around the edge of the pie. Finish off with sprinkled grated chocolate shavings.

*Note*
My chocolate siezed up a bit so when I mixed in the whipped cream it was thick enough I did not have to freeze it. I simply refrigerated my pie and it turned out perfect.
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Valentine Cookies




Just finished making about 60 of these little heart cookies for my daughters Valentine's Day Goodie Bags. Thought I would share with everyone in time for Valentines just in case you wanted to make some too!



Frosting

4 c confectioners' sugar
3 large egg whites
1/2 t cream of tartar
1/2 t vanilla
1 T water

Beat 6 minutes on high
(add more or less water depending on stiff it is and how stiff you want it).



Cookies:

3/4 c sugar
6 T butter
1/3 c shortening
1 large egg
1 T milk
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
Dash of salt

Cream the sugar, butter and shortening. Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt then mix just to blend. Chill dough for at least 2 hours. Roll and cut into shapes. Bake on parchment lined cookie sheets for approximately 8 minutes at 370 degrees.

Cool.
Decorate





Do you need cookie cutters? Food color? Goodie Bags?

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - American Housewife at Amazon














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Unbaked Penne

I had cheeseburgers and buns on the counter planned for dinner last night as I was in no mood to cook. My oldest daughter raised her eyebrow at me and said; "Cheeseburgers. Again?" Yeah... that was all it took. I put it all away and looked (once again) in the refrigerator for something to 'jump out at me'.

I saw a 1 pound package of Italian sausage. I had no idea what I would use it for when I bought it, but I bought it anyway knowing I'd use it on pizza or in a spaghetti sauce, etc. So I took it out and started to brown it, still not knowing what I was going to do with it.

The result? This yummy amazing dish! It was going to be a 'Baked Ziti' type meal, but I was running the oldest child to dance class and the other two were hungry and there was no time to wait for a 30 minute bake time. It's my own version as I never (never!) follow recipes and usually take 2-4 versions of the same dish and make my own from all four. That is how this was born.



Unbaked Penne

2 T olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage
1/2 onion, diced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
12 tomatoes, peeled and diced into the pan with the juice**
2 t dried thyme
2 t dried basil
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 pound dried penne pasta
3/4 c fresh shredded parmesan/asiago/romano cheese mix (or just parmesan if that's all you have)

(*After last summers garden harvest I froze whole tomatoes in 1 gallon bags. This is what I used to make my sauce. There were approximately 10-12 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and frozen in the bag. I dumped them into the pan frozen and mashed them as they thawed. I think you could use fresh instead, or if you must, choose a large 24-30 oz. sized can of whole peeled canned tomatoes.)

To peel fresh tomatoes you drop them into boiling water for approximately 10-60 seconds until the skin splits. Place the tomato on a paper towel or clean dish towel, or in a colander, and when cool enough to touch, slip the skins right off!


Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until mostly tender. Meanwhile make the sauce;

Heat the oil in a very large pan. Brown the sausage for about 4-5 minutes, mashing into small bite sized chunks. Add the onion and garlic, stiring constantly. Cook about 4-5 minutes more until the meat is cooked through.

If you are using whole frozen tomatoes, remove the sausage from the pan and place the tomatoes into the pan to thaw and smash as soon as they are warmed through and reduced to a sauce, add the sausage mixture back to the pan with it. If you are using fresh or canned, add the tomatoes to the sausage mixture all at once. Add the spices.

Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for at least 10 minutes, and up to 30 if you have time. Pour the mixture and the pasta into an oven/broiler safe container. My sauce pans are metal with no plastic on the handles so I used the pan it was cooking in.

Cover the top of the pasta and sausage with the cheese. Preheat your oven and place under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes until the top is a beautiful golden brown on the tippy top of the edges.

Let it set for 5-10 minutes while you set the table... this helps it 'set up' and the pasta will absorb the tomato sauce. Serve with a crusty bread and salad.
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Artichoke Salad

We returned home late last Saturday night from being gone on a lengthy vacation. My plans of grocery shopping Sunday afternoon flew out the window when we had out of town guests that overstayed. Monday immediately following work was off to a different kind of store, picking up a child, making May baskets, delivering baskets, home to make dinner, drop off another child, home to finish making dinner and then off to pick up another child after a track meet. It was then almost 8:30 pm and all I wanted to do was take off my 'work clothes' and relax.

Now it's Tuesday and dinner time. I've not yet been to the grocery store since mid-April. What do I make? The freezer and refrigerator is almost bare. Let's see.........

Shrimp Scampi
Hash Brown casserole
Puff Pastry with Creme for dessert and......
Accidental Artichoke Salad

The salad is so yummy I can't stop 'snitching' it and I fear I am in no mood to eat the rest of the food made for dinner! I don't have a recipe and I just 'threw it together' but wanted to come online and write it down from memory for safe keeping and future reference.



Accidental Artichoke Salad

1 can artichoke bottoms, diced
6 oz. whole wheat spaghetti, broken into pieces and cooked as directed
2 garlic cloves, fresh minced
1/4 red pepper, julienned
balsamic dressing to taste
Italian dressing to taste
diced smoked provolone
4 oz. sliced black olives
1/4 c pesto

mix everything but the pasta and then toss in the drained, cooked pasta.

(I have homemade pesto in my freezer at all times. I had the provolone and red pepper also in the freezer, as I didn't want it to go bad while on vacation). YUM!
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Yorkshire Parkin

I was looking through a book I have of 'homemade' everything; from bath 'pretties' to foods to dried flowers. They had a photo of 5 different breads and named them all... and proceeded to give recipes for everything except the one I was most interested in! Yorshire Parkin. A bread that looked so dark it was almost black and had tiny dots of 'something' in it. I was a bit miffed it didn't give the recipe, but I suspect it is an oversight as it does give for all the other breads. Anyway, it piqued my interest so I had to come to the computer to look it up.

I will share with you what I found: A moist ginger cake usually served cut in squares. It originated in Yorkshire, where oatmeal is always used in its preparation.


Ingredients

4ozs lard or margarine
4ozs golden syrup
4ozs black treacle
4ozs sugar
8ozs plain flour
8ozs medium oatmeal
pinch of salt
4 teasp. ground ginger
2 teasp. ground cinnamon
1 teasp. bicarb. of soda
1 egg

Method

Heat the oven to 150C or gas mark 1.

Melt the fat. Add the syrup, treacle and sugar and warm over a very low heat till the sugar begins to dissolve. Avoid overheating the mixture, keeping the saucepan warm rather than hot.

Sieve the dry ingredients, make a well in the centre and gradualy beat in the liquid from the saucepan & the beaten egg. Mix to a soft consistency, adding a little milk if required.

Pour into a greased flat tin so that the mixture is 1 inch in depth. Bake for 1 hour in a cool oven (300 degrees,or mark 1) and partly cool it in the tin, then turn out to finish cooling.

Serve the parkin cut into squares.
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Moisturizing Cream & Body Lotion

Some day you are going to find me (hopefully) on a couple acres of land, barefoot, in a long white skirt with my hair braided down my back. I'm going to be gathering eggs from the chickens and then I'm walking into the house to continue whipping up some homemade lotions, bath scrubs and bath fizzies. I'll do this inbetween making my homemade soap and baking the bread. When I need a break I'll wander out to the garden and check my peppers and tomatoes, possibly stop by my flower garden to say hello to fuzzy yellow and black bumble bee's and then come back inside home where I'll sip some ice cold freshly squeezed lemonade.

Peppermint Body Lotion

1/4 t borax
1 t white beeswax
1 t lanolin
2 T petroleum jelly
5 t apricot kernel oil
4 t cold-pressed sunflower oil
10 drops peppermint oil

Disolve borax in 2 T boiled water. Melt the beeswax, lanolin and petroleum jelly with the apricot kernel and sunflower oil in a double broiler. Remove from heat and stir well. Add the borax solution, whisking until cool. Stir in the peppermint oil. Pour into a large glass jar and store in a cool dark place.



A Favorite Oil

3 T almond oil
1 t wheat germ oil
10 drops chamomile oil

Pour into a pretty glass bottle and store in a cool place.





Moisurizing Cream
(fragrance free for guys and girls)

2 T carnauba wax
1 T white beeswax
1/2 c almond oil

Melt the waxes and oil in a double broiler over low heat. Remove from heat and pour into a pot. Let cool to set up. Use as any moisurizing cream, especially before going out into the cold outdoors.
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On a Whim Soup


The other night I was in the mood for soup and homemade bread. I admit that I don't (ever) truly follow recipes, but use them more as a 'guide' of sorts, and I rarely measure. Still, I'm going to attempt to share this soup recipe with you because it was so yummy and perfect for a cold rainy evening.

I added things 'on a whim' and ended up with a wonderful Spicy Vegetable Cheese Soup... so that is what I'll call it.


Spicy Vegetable Cheese Soup


7-8 cups water with
4-5 chicken bouillon cubes and 3 beef bouillion cubes (or just use chicken broth)

add;

1 chopped onion
3/4 cup grated or finely chopped carrots
2 stalks of diced celery

When tender add;

1/2 c flour mixed smooth with 3/4 c water

Whisk into the liquid and stir until thick over medium high heat. Reduce to medium and add 1 c milk.

Add;
1 3/4 c assorted shredded cheese, I used monterey jack with jalapeno, and cheddar.

When heated through and cheese is melted... serve.
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Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 3/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c vegetable oil
2 c shredded zucchini
1 T vanilla
3 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
dash baking powder
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 loaf pans and line with parchment paper on the bottom (optional). In a bowl mix together the sugar, eggs and oil until blended. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. In another bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until blended. Add the mini chocolate chips. Pour into pan and bake 1 hour until done. Cool completely befroe cutting. Best for cutting the next day after wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerating.


If you don't currently have zucchini... don't buy it. I can almost guarantee you can get free zucchini just by putting out the word! Either your neighborhood or workplace... someone within "2 degrees of separation" from you has zucchini coming out of their ears from their garden and would love to share a couple with you for free! Just put the word out.
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12/6/06

Molasses Cookie Mix

I started to make this particular recipe in 1998 and was surprised to find out that my husband and three kids love this cookie. My husband lists it as his 2nd favorite out of the 20 different recipes I make at the holidays. I guess I was suprised that it's also one of the kids favorite since it seems like such a simple, old fashioned cookie.

Molasses Cookie Mix

6 c flour
3 c sugar
1 T baking soda
1 T baking powder
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground nutmeg
3/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground allspice

Additional ingredients

3/4 c butter or margarine
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
sugar

In a bowl combine the first nine ingredients. Mix and store in an airtight container or zip lock baggie. Will make 9 cups of mix - or 3 batches of cookies.


To make cookies: Cream butter, add egg and molasses. Mix well and add 3 cups of the mix. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar. Bake 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 9 minutes at which time the edges should firm up and surface crack. Cool completely. You should get about 4 dozen per batch.
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11/27/06

Amaretto Truffles

Amaretto Truffles

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Amaretto
4 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate
cocoa powder

Place chocolate in stainless steel bowl. Combine the cream and butter in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour over chocolate. Add Amaretto and stir until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or until set.

Shape the chilled mixture into 1-inch balls, rolling with the palms of your hands, and set aside on waxed paper. Chill for 1 hour. Melt milk chocolate. Dip the chocolate balls into milk chocolate and, immediately, roll each in cocoa. Chill.
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11/26/06

Truffles Truffles Truffles!

Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Truffles

1/3 C heaving whipping cream
6 Tbs unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 C Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet chocolate chips OR (2) 4oz Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate baking bars
3/4 C finely chopped almonds



Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add butter and stir until melted. Add Ghirardelli chocolate, stir until melted and smooth.

Remove from heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cool, cover and refrigerate until firm - at least 2 hours. Roll mixture into 1" balls and then roll each ball into the finely chopped almonds.

Put into a cute little mini muffin tin sized holiday or foil cupcake liner.
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11/25/06

Use up that Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving is over and you still have cranberry sauce leftover. Yeah! Lucky you! Now you can make these yummy bars. They also could double as a coffee cake and are so delicious you should invite someone over for coffee to share!



Cranberry Bars

2 eggs
1 stick butter
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
1 t baking powder
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c leftover cranberry sauce - any style


Beat together the eggs, softened butter, sugar, vanilla and almond. Add flour and baking powder. Mix well. Spread 3/4 into a lightly prepared 9X13 inch pan. Spread the cranberry sauce over the top. Using the last 1/4 of the batter, drop it by spoonfuls over the top covering as much as you can.

Bake at 350 for approximately 40-45 minutes until just golden and the center is done. Prepare a simple powdered sugar glaze (powdered sugar, milk and almond extract) to drizzle over the top of the cooled bars.

Enjoy!
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11/23/06

Lemon Supreme Pie

This is the pie I wanted to make this year for Thanksgiving but I already made a traditional pumpkin, pecan pie, and double layer pumpkin chiffon. 3 pies so far... and there are only five of us! LOL. I'll put this on the back burner to make in a week or two 'just because'. This is one of my families favorite pies. I've been making this particular recipe since around 1997. We've never found one we like better.

LEMON SUPREME PIE

1 baked pie shell
1 1/2 c sugar
6 T corn starch
1/2 t salt
1 c water
2 T butter
2 t graded lemon zest
2/3 c lemon juice
12 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c powdered sugar
2/3 c heavy cream
1 T lemon juice

In a saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook and stir 2 minutes until smooth and clear. Remove from heat, stir in butter, lemon peel and lemon juice. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

In a bowl mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in the whipped cream and lemon juice. Save 1/2 c for garnish. Spread the remaining into the pastry shell. Top with the lemon filling. Chill 8 hours. Garnish with reserved whipped cream mixture.
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11/19/06

Old Fashioned Stuffing

I've posted this one before but it's Thanksgiving Week here in the States and I wanted to post it again incase someone needed it.

Old Fashioned Stuffing
Nothing crazy or fancy - no raisins or oysters, sausage or corn bread. Just the yummiest stuffing like Grandma made.


1/2 c chopped onion
3/4 c diced celery
1/4 c butter
4-5 c dry bread cubes/pieces
3/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/4 t poultry seasoning
1/4 t sage
1 egg
water - about 1 cup


Cook onion and celery in the butter. Add this to the bread pieces and cubes in a large pan. Sprinkle with all the seasonings. Mix the egg and water together in a cup. Pour over the bread cubes and toss with a fork or large spoon. The amount of water depends on how dry or moist your bread cubes are. If you have to use moist bread it will take barely 1/2 cup. Very dry bread cubes and pieces require about 1 cup or more. The stuffing should be moist, but not soggy. It should still be in cubes and pieces, not mashed together. Stuff the bird immediately and roast.

Remove the stuffing into another bowl to serve. Being inside the turkey gives it the wonderful flavor you won't have if you bake it outside the bird.
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Make your gravy this week so you don't have to on Thursday!

This is the worlds best thanksgiving gravy - and not only for the flavor, but for the fact that you can make it ahead of time and it does not gel up!


GRAVY
*best when used with homemade broth - recipe at the end.



Mash 6 T butter with
3/4 c flour

Mash until it's a paste and break into 4 chunks.

Bring 6 c chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gradually whisk in flour chunks one at a time, whisking until thick and smooth. Boil 3 minutes. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed within 2 days. If longer, be sure it's in an airtight container in the coldest part of the fridge. Can also freeze until needed and slowly cook and reheat to thaw before continuing.

When you make your gravy;
After your turkey is done, add the pan drippings - at least 3/4 - 1 cup (up to 2 cups) heat until hot and serve!




*broth*

6 c chicken broth (water with bullion is fine)
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 c sliced fresh carrots
1 c water or dry white wine
1/2 c celery leaves and stems

Mix all ingredients in a soup pan and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a wire strainer and disgard vegetables. Add water if needed to make it 6 cups.


Save for gravy.
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11/18/06

Pecan Pie... just in time for Thanksgiving

Pecan Pie

I've been making this particular version of pecan pie since about 1994. I've often told myself I'd branch out and try new versions (chocolate pecan pie) but before I know it, Thanksgiving is once again upon us and I'm scrambling to get all the pies made and I decide I'll just make this traditional pecan pie 'one more time'.

This year I'm doing one little itty bitty thing different. Instead of using pecan halves and laying them out in a beautiful sunburst design on top of the pie, I bought pecan pieces and I'm going to be mixing them into the filling for tiny pecan bites throughout.

1 - 9" unbaked pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1 c light corn syrup
1 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1/3 c butter
dash of salt
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c pecans

Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl combine the corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Pour filling in the crust and position the pecan halves around the pie in rows until you finish with one pecan half in the center. Bake in a gas oven approximately 50 minutes and in an electric oven about 1 1/4 hours. Test for doneness with a toothpick. You can cover with foil if it is getting too brown on the edges for your tastes.

*note*
This year I bought pecan pieces so I can mix them into the filling and pour it in the crust. Will top with pecan halves to make it pretty.
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11/9/06

Mini Thanksgiving Dinner Cupcakes

Here is another 'classic' in our family... itty bitty fake Thanksgiving dinner topped cupcakes!



Needed:

Brach's Maple Nut Candies
White frosting
Yellow gel food color (in a little tube)
non-perils - red or green (for tiny red cranberries and green peas)
I couldn't find them so I bought the long shapes and called them 'green beans'
chocolate chips or butterscotch chips for 'gravy'
a package of cookies - I choose the ones with the 'pretty edge' to look like a plate
yellow frosting or other for the 'plate'


Bake and cool your favorite cupcake recipe. Place frosting on the cupcake and top each with a cookie while the frosting is soft to 'adhere' the cookie-plate to the cupcake.

Slice the maple nut candies thin and layer them as 'turkey'. Dab some white frosting next to it for 'mashed potatoes' followed with a little dab of yellow gel food color as 'butter'. Melt your butterscotch or chocolate chips and thin with a little vegetable oil. Drizzle over the 'turkey' as gravy. Finish it off with the 'cranberries' (red colored sugar or non-perils) and little green 'peas' or 'beans'.


Update:
This years Thanksgiving Dinner Cupcakes... 2006



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Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

I believe I started to make this recipe around 1993. It's a no-bake double layer pumpkin pie made with pudding. It's a tradition in our family and might become in yours too!


Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 c cool whip
4 oz. soft cream cheese
1 T milk
1 T sugar

1 c cold milk
2 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 can real pumpkin
2 t pumpkin pie spice

1 graham crust


Mix the cream cheese, milk and sugar with a whisk until smooth. Add the cool whip and spread into the graham crust on the bottoms and up the sides. Mix 1 c milk with the pudding. Whisk for 1-2 minutes until thick. Add pumpkin and spices. Spread over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish and serve!
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11/4/06

Hash Brown Potato Casserole

This is being posted to remind myself to make it again... soon! We love this sidedish.

Hash Brown Potato Casserole

1 - 2 lb. package frozen hash browns
1/4 c chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream (I always feel guilty and only use about 3/4 of it
2 c cheddar cheese
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 c crumbs of choice (corn flakes!)
1/2 stick butter


Mix everything but the crumbs and butter. Melt the butter, stir in the crumbs and pour over the top in a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
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10/29/06

Edible Worms

One word: GROSS

Yes, they taste good - truly! But OMGosh to see a pile of them is just so gross. LOL. Still - perfect for a Halloween party so? Knock yourself out. They are worth it.



I chose to put all the straws back into the cardboard container, then placed the box into a juice container as I knew the cardboard would leak.


I removed the cardboard by ripping it and pulling it off. A congealed mess
awaited me... but it smelled yummy! I used peach jello so
it smelled like peaches and cream.



I couldn't get my oldest daughter to taste them.
She attempted, but when she touched them she said
"EW! They feel like REAL WORMS!" and refused to taste.
I had one nibble... it tasted like jello and whipped cream of course, which I actually don't 'like' whipped cream mixed my jello (never have!)  I can't stomach it, nor any jello/whipped cream dessert, so I didn't eat them. I got the youngest child to taste them.
"Tastes like jello."


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10/27/06

Severed Fingers Halloween Cookies

A tradition in our family!



Severed Fingers Cookies

1 tablespoon red food coloring
30 almonds
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, at room tempature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1 2/3 cups flour

Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. Toss the almonds into the bowl with the food coloring and stir them until the color is evenly distributed. leave them in the bowl and stir them every so often until the color is as dark as you like.

Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white.

In an electric mixer combine butter, confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add 1 whole egg, the extra yolk and the vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into fifteen pieces. Roll each piece into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife.



Transfer fingers to parchment lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.
Bake at 350 about 12 minutes.





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10/20/06

Cake Truffles

I'm not supposed to share this recipe with anyone, so keep it under your hat ok?

My kids LOVE these 'truffles' and they are unbelievably easy and fun for kids to do. My 10 year old made them last night to bring to school as a treat for the class today. She doesn't want anyone else to know the 'recipe' since I made this up for them one night due to our (my) penchant for eating dry cake mix as a snack. *wink*










CAKE TRUFFLES

1 box white cake mix
1 container pink vanilla frosting with sprinkles
water

In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix and the tub of frosting. Mix until the dough is roughly the consistancy of play-doh. Use up to 1 T water if you need to. Depending on the temperature and humidity sometimes I have to use water, sometimes I don't.

Using a small ice cream/dough scoop (the smallest size from Pampered Chef) or make 1 inch balls by hand. You can roll them in the colored sprinkles that come with the frosting, or just add the sprinkles to the dough when mixing. Place on parchment or foil lined cookie sheets. Does not need to be refrigerated.


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10/15/06

It's Sunday Morning... Go Make Some Pancakes

Pancakes


1 c buttermilk (or sour milk)
2 T oil (or melted shortening)
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1 T sugar
1/2 t baking soda

Blend the egg with the buttermilk and oil. Blend the dry ingredients and stir them into the liquids. Beat by hand just until moist. Batter will be lumpy, do not over mix.

Pour 3/4 c mix onto a hot, oiled griddle. When the air bubbles all start to pop it's time to flip it. Cook until a warm golden color. Serve with syrup and butter. Bacon and coffee on the side too of course! *grin*
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10/10/06

Chalupas Anyone?

Tonight we are having chalupas. Fancy shmancy name for a soft shell taco of sorts, but it's really not, as the flavor of the meat and the baja sauce turns it into something altogether different.

To be authentic you can/should make an Indian fry bread to wrap them in, but you can always skip that part by a) buying some, b) buying a pita or wrap or c) using good thick flour tortillas. That is what we are doing since I really wasn't in the mood to 'cook' tonight so I only made the meat and sauce from scratch. Ok, enough with the preliminaries, let's eat!

Chalupas

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 c flour
3/4 c warm water mixed with;
1 T dried onion flakes
1 T chili powder
1 t paprika
1 t salt

Mix the ground beef in a bowl with the flour, chili powder, paprika and salt. Mix well. Add the water and the onion and mix again. Now cook it in a hot skillet, mixing and mashing until browned and 'done'. You want the meat to be more like a paste than 'ground beef' chunks.




Sauce

1/4 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
2 T diced onion
1 c mayonnaise
1 T vinegar
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1/8 t garlic powder +
1/8 t cumin +


Mix the peppers and onion with 1 T vinegar in a food processor or blender. Puree. Add the mayo and the remaining ingredients. Puree' smooth. Chill 2-3 hours if possible to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

Using the Indian fry bread or tortillas, build your chalupa with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Top with the baja sauce and/or salsa.
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10/6/06

Stuffed Bread Bowl (Sandwich)

NOTE:  This recipe post is from 2006!  Back when food blogs weren't a 'thing' and no one had iphones so all pictures were taken with a regular camera or a little 'flip phone' (remember those!?).  Sorry about the horrible photos.  It's a pretty old post.  But the recipe is AWESOME.  :)


This is an all-time favorite in our household. Originally I made one for a SuperBowl party we were having, but my family started asking for it regularly so it became one of our 'tried and true' recipes that I make at least once a month.

I full-heartedly suggest trying it for your next football get-together.


Stuffed Bread Bowl
Something important to point out is this recipe doesn't have exact amounts, and you need to add/delete what your family likes.


1 round loaf bread - homemade is best but grocery stores carry these all the time now
1 dry package Italian dressing mix*
1/2 c regular mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c black olives, chopped
1/2 c dill pickle relish (or chopped fine dill pickles)
lettuce
tomatoes
green peppers
onions
smoked ham
turkey
cotto salami
bologna
american cheese slices
provolone slices


Mix the mayonnaise and sour cream together with 1/2 package of the dry Italian dressing, pickle relish and black olives.

Slice the top 1/3 of the bread bowl off. Remove the inside of the bread bowl leaving one inch of bread around the entire side and leaving at least 1/2 - 1 inch of bread on the bottom.



Save the inside of the bread for other uses such as stuffing, croutons or dice it up, toast it and serve it with a flavored oil for dipping. Whatever you do, just don't throw it away.

Now, spread the mayo mixture on the inside of the bread bowl and the lid of the bread bowl. Make sure all the insides are covered with a nice thick layer. Using the lettuce, line the bowl and lid completely with the lettuce leaves. After the lettuce is in place, layer the bread bowl with a layer of the deli meat - you choose which one you want to use. Continue to layer the meats and cheeses until you get to the top. I typically layer salami or bologna, then american, then turkey, then provolone then ham. Press each layer down compact into the bowl as you go.

Top your bowl with the green peppers, thin sliced onions, tomatoes, etc. (and anything else you may want to add.) You want to be sure your bowl is filled to the top and can even be up to 1 inch over the top. Now use the bread 'lid' to top it off.



Wrap the entire sandwich tightly (!) in saran wrap. The tighter the better. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours and up to about 12. (I've done it for up to 24.) This is BEST if made the DAY BEFORE YOU NEED IT. This mostly is because it helps 'set up' this way and won't fall apart when you slice it.



Unwrap and serve. You can slice it into triangles if you prefer, but we like to make one slice down the center to cut it in 'half' and then I make vertical slices on each half. This makes for easy slicing, serving and eating. You get about 12 servings.





* Italian dressing mix works best but I recently started to buy my spices from Penzeys Spices and last night I used their Creamy Peppercorn dressing base spice. I used 1 tablespoon of spice for 1 cup of mayo/sour cream mixture. It was wonderful and I'll be using either/or from now on as I really like both.
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9/26/06

Frozen Margarita's

Have I posted these already? I'm not sure if I have, but here they are again never-the-less. Since I'm not a drinker, when I do have a drink I'm particular. These margaritas are one of the only ones I like!

12 oz. frozen limeade
2/3 c tequila
1/2 c triple sec
4 c ice cubes
lime

In a blender combine the limeade, tequila and triple sec. Add the ice cubes and blend until smooth. Rub the rims of the margarita glasses with the cut lime and dip in margarita salt. Serve!
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9/19/06

Garlic & Spinach Chicken Sausage with Pasta


Earlier this week I bought a package of garlic & spinach chicken sausages. I've bought them once before and didn't really know what to do with them. We cooked them and browned them and sliced and ate them with a side dish, but they really just wanted to be used 'in' something, I could tell.

I decided to use what I could from our garden as well as the sausage, and what I ended up with was a delicious, wonderful recipe that is now copied down in my recipe book for future reference.


Spinach & Garlic Chicken Sausage with Pasta

1 lb. package of spinach & garlic chicken sausages (Costco and Target both carry them)
1 lb. pasta of choice (I used a hand rolled authentic rainbow colored colored pasta from Italy mixed with some regular penne, but I any penne or bow tie pasta would work great!)
3 T olive oil
1/2 of a large onion, or 1 medium onion, sliced
1 small to medium sized zucchini, sliced
1/2 t caraway seeds
2 c cherry tomatoes (I only used these because they were ripe and in the garden) use any tomato you have - chopped
1/2 c fresh grated parmesan, asiago and romano cheeses
1 T fresh basil leaves, ripped
1 t salt
fresh ground pepper


Saute the onions and zucchini in the olive oil over medium high heat. Put the golden zucchini and onions to the side and add the sliced chicken sausage and tomatoes. Stir until the sausage is golden and mix in. Add the seasonings; salt, pepper, caraway and basil. Cook the pasta while making this and after draining, add to the sausage mixture. Sprinkle heavily with fresh grated cheese and serve. I easily served 6 with this recipe.
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9/13/06

Apple... Errr... Zucchini Pie? ZAPPLE PIE!




MY ZAPPLE PIE

Apple... errr, Zucchini Filling

6 c peeled, scooped out, quartered and thinly sliced zucchini
1 c sugar (3/4 - 1 1/4, adjust to your own taste)
1 t vanilla
4 T real butter
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/3 c lemon juice + water to make 1/2 c
1/3 c flour
1 pie shell with top crust


Preheat Oven: 450.

In a saucepan over medium heat combine the zucchini, sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add 2 T lemon juice. Stir to mix and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Mix the rest lemon juice and water with the flour in a cup and stir into the zucchini mixture to thicken. Remove from heat.

Spoon the zucchini filling into the pie shell. Place the top crust on and crimp the edges to seal. Put the pie into the hot oven and close the door. Then reduce the heat to 350. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling.

Cool completely or slightly warmed to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*One of the original recipes called for 3/4 c sugar and 1/2 c of lemon juice. I found it to be too much lemon and not sweet enough. Increase or decrease according to taste. I also used 3/4 white sugar and about 1/2 c brown sugar.


















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9/6/06

Ho Ho Birthday Cake


I made this one for my sons birthday. It was a huge hit and my husbands first words after taking a bite were; "It's a keeper!" I used two different recipes though, and just kind of muddled my way through. This is the end result.

Cake:

1 dark chocolate devils food cake mix (brand name, not store brand)
1 1/4 c water
3 eggs
1/2 c canola oil

Make the cake according to directions and bake in (2) 8 or 9 inch round pans. Follow the timing on the box (averages 32 minutes). Let cool completely. Slice the tops off to make them completely flat and even.

Filling:

1 cup sugar
6 oz. evaporated milk
1/2 c butter
1 T vanilla
2/3 c shortening
1/8 t salt

Icing:
1 container store bought dark fudge frosting

Beat the filling ingredients until light and fluffy. With a KitchenAid mixer this only takes about 3 minutes. With a handheld it may take up to 7-8 before it comes together. Spread the filling over the cooled cake and top with the second cake. Press down lightly to flatten and make even.

Microwave the frosting for about 20 seconds until it's pourable. Drizzle the frosting over the sides and then pour 1/2 - 3/4 on top. Smooth with a butter knife, spatula or frosting knife.

Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 24 hours.



*edited to add*

Here is feedback from a reader sent by email re; the cake!

Thank you so much for the recipe for your Ho Ho cake!  I made it today for
my husbands birthday, and it was a huge hit!!! Your recipes always look
delicious, and this one ROCKED! Thank you so much!!
Have a great weekend,
Jen



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9/1/06

Steps to Easy Homemade Ravioli

If you have a pasta machine in your home, I sure hope you are using it! Even before I bought mine (back around 1993 or 1994) I made homemade noodles and ravioli by rolling the dough out by hand. It's worth it... every minute of it... but if you have a pasta maker then there is no excuse to not drag it out and use it at least once or twice a year. It's so easy and so relaxing!

Using your favorite pasta dough you divide it into 4 equal portions and let them set for 20 minutes while you assemble the rest.

If you don't have a recipe for your favorite pasta here are two of mine:


Homemade Spinach Pasta
Homemade Butternut Squash Pasta

1 egg
1/2 t olive oil
4-5 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and briefly cooked or  1/2 - 3/4 c butternut squash puree - already baked and scraped from the shell

Place into the bowl of a food processor and whirl until smooth.

Add
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt

Process just until it gathers to a ball.   Let set 10 minutes before working with it.

Roll it out very thin on a lightly floured surface, or if you have an Italian pasta machine, roll it out in portions starting at 1 and thinning it down to a 3 or 4.  If you have rolled it thin by hand, now use a pizza cutter to slice it into 1/2 inch strips, or even 1 inch if you like your noodles wide.   With the pasta machine, make it into noodles if you have the attachment or lay it out and use the pizza cutter as well.   This pasta is also perfect for making homemade ravioli with if you cut it into squares, fill and seal instead of slicing into pasta strips - SEE BELOW.   Use right away by dropping in boiling water and boiling for about 8 minutes.  Toss with butter, salt and pepper or your favorite sauce or use in a chicken noodle soup!  If you want to let them dry, just let them dry on the counter overnight, flipping the next morning and continuing to dry or if you have a Pasta Drying Rack, let hang over night or to the next day until dried.  Store in a sealed ziplock in the freezer until use.


Jalapeno Pasta

2 1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1-2 t olive oil
3-4 eggs
2 - 5 small jalapenos (depending on how hot-spicy you want your pasta)

In a food processor bowl, place the salt and flour.  Put the top on and while pulsing or running on low, add a teaspoon-ish of oil and start adding eggs.  You probably only need 3 eggs so start with that.  Add your jalapenos.  I used 2 small jalapenos and the dough was so mild even children could eat it without spice.  If you know you like jalapeno's, use more.  Process until the dough forms a ball shape.  If it hasn't gathered itself in a ball by the 3rd egg, you can add another teaspoon of oil or water or use a 4th egg.  Water or additional flour by the teaspoon will give you the texture you need for it to be a ball.

Let it rest 10 minutes.  Then either roll very, very thin with a rolling pin or use a pasta machine.  I use a manual, hand crank pasta machine and starting with number 1, I run it through to a number 4.  You can then cut into thin noodles or use wide sheets to make homemade ravioli.



Now - for ravioli!
(also check out my homemade jalapeno ravioli with cream cheese filling here)



Using the largest setting (1) feed the pasta through the machine and crank the handle slowly to allow for stretching. Repeat, and then move the number to (2), crank the pasta through and each time move the number one digit higher. I like to keep my pasta around 4 or 5 for noodles and ravioli. Any thinner and it tends to rip too easily.



Now the fun part! If you have a ravioli maker (as I do in the photos) you lay your pasta sheet across the top and use the white mold to push the pasta down a bit. Remove and fill with your favorite filling. Top with a second sheet of pasta.

If you don't have a pasta maker, you make it the way I used to; lay the sheet of pasta on a lightly floured surface and pile teaspoons of filling 1-2 inches apart evenly over the entire sheet of pasta. Use a pastry brush to brush water or egg white around and inbetween each filling. Top with a second sheet the same size and press around each ravioli. Use a pizza cutter to slice into even squares.


After topping with the second sheet, use your rolling pin to roll across the top, cutting each ravioli apart and sealing it.


Pop each ravioli out (or if by hand, place them one by one) on a cookie sheet and if you are going to use them right away, place them into simmering water and simmer them 5-8 minutes until done. I like mine with alfredo sauces or butter, but you can also serve with spaghetti sauce or whatever your favorite pasta sauce may be.

If you are going to freeze them, freeze them on the cookie sheet until frozen solid. At this point they can be frozen in a larger bag.






Related Products you might be interested are available from Amazon;

 Fox Run Brands Ravioli Pasta Cutters (set of 2)
Norpro 1040 Jumbo Ravioli Maker, 12.25 by 5.125 by 1-Inch
Norpro Ravioli Maker With  Press
Marcato Atlas Wellness 150 Pasta Maker, Stainless Steel


    









 From the Comments:
junay: Yes - boil them frozen. If you do thaw them you would have to lay them out individually on parchment so they didn't touch each other and stick. You could do this of course - but it's so much easier to cook from a frozen state - just as if you bought them from the freezer section of the grocery store.

















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