8/28/10

A Cheater Recipe - Too Easy! Key Lime Pie or Daquiri Pie

It's a Saturday evening and I'm relaxing at the desk in front of a large open window, the breeze blowing through and rustling the leaves outside and I'm sipping a Mike's Hard Limeade. I truly wish they made a "light" version of their Limeade as they do the Lemonade, but alas, I'll make due.

In honor of my hard limeade I have lime desserts on the brain and thought I would post a recipe I have hand written on a small piece of paper, taped up inside my cupboard. A perfectly easy and quick summer dessert to whip up if you have guests coming or for your own family. Great with BBQ!!!

Key Lime Pie - EASY!

1 lg. graham cracker pie crust or
2 sm. graham cracker pie crusts
1 (6 oz.) can frozen limeade
1 (12 oz.) Cool Whip
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix above ingredients together; pour in pie crust. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
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8/26/10

How to Devein a Shrimp (in pictures)

When it comes to saving money on groceries, there is no doubt that if you love shrimp, you can save a bundle by purchasing your shrimp raw and not 'cleaned' which means they leave the tail and vein.

When I first started to buy shrimp I was a little intimidated by the thought of having to clean it. I didn't have the knowledge nor the time. And I admit that when I did start to buy it raw and clean it myself I mangled the first few as I didn't know what I was doing and I was trying to figure it out by reading instructions in an old cookbook. (There was no internet!).

Now you can find instructions and movie clips and everything you need to learn how to clean shrimp but I think it still sounds and looks harder than it is. So today I am posting the photos I took when I cleaned the shrimp for the soup recipe I made last month.

You can buy shrimp whole but typically you'll find the heads already removed. Raw shrimp at the most affordable level then, still has a tail and the veins. Many times you leave the tail intact for ease of picking up and eating, giving it a twist in your mouth and pulling it right out but for many recipes you'll want to remove the tail before cooking;

To remove the tail, hold the shrimp in your left hand between thumb and finger, place your right thumb and finger on the tail; grasp it firmly and twist and pull apart in one motion to remove the tail but leave as much of the shrimp meat as you can.

Now hold the shrimp comfortably in your hand, and using a very small, sharp knife, slice along the back side of the shrimp, right down the center.

The dark vein is right there, you can usually flip the tip of the knife under the vein and pull it out in one quick motion. Sometimes it breaks apart, you just pull it out.

Rinse. And use in your recipe.



Many times the difference between a couple pounds of shrimp cleaned and a couple pounds raw can be as much as ten dollars. Well worth the time it takes to clean and devein the shrimp yourself to save on the grocery bill.
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8/25/10

Did You Purchase a Grab and Go Marketside Sandwich from Walmart? Recall Notice....

Zemco Industries in Buffalo, New York, has recalled approximately 380,000 pounds of deli meat that may be contaminated with bacteria that can cause a potentially fatal disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

The products were distributed to Wal-Marts nationwide, according to the USDA's website.


# 25.5-pound cases of "Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches BLACK FOREST HAM With Natural Juices Coated with Caramel Color" with the number 17800 1300.
# 28.49-pound cases of "Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches HOT HAM, HARD SALAMI, PEPPERONI, SANDWICH PEPPERS" with the number 17803 1300.
# 32.67-pound cases of "Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches VIRGINIA BRAND HAM With Natural Juices, MADE IN NEW YORK, FULLY COOKED BACON, SANDWICH PICKLES, SANDWICH PEPPERS" with the number 17804 1300.
# 25.5-pound cases of "Marketside Grab and Go Sandwiches ANGUS ROAST BEEF Coated with Caramel Color" with the number 17805 1300.

The meats were produced on dates ranging from June 18 to July 2, 2010. The "Use By" dates range from August 20 to September 10, 2010.


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8/23/10

Pork Chops with Simple Mushroom Sauce


As a child my Mom made a very, very simple pork chop dinner that became a staple of my childhood; Pork Chops with Mushroom Sauce. It couldn't be easier; brown pork chops, put them in a pan and put a can of mushroom soup over them. You can almost picture it baking in a yellow Corelle baking dish with white flowers on the side, inside our avocado green oven can't you?

Although I made them a few times when I was first married because they were affordable, delicious and easy... my husband wasn't a fan of pork and honestly, living in Los Angeles, we adapted to the regional cooking styles and didn't buy much pork or beef. About eight years later I would make pork chops for the kids and I when my husband was working nights, but we didn't really buy many pork products until we were relocated to the Midwest. It's only in the last three or four years we've bought more pork regularly... including simplicities like bacon and ham. The kids love pork entree's but I still have to make them on nights when my husband works late!

This weekend I turned to Mom's old standby. The only thing I did different was to deglaze the pan so get the yummy flavor of the browned pork chop as well as make 'more' sauce so they were nice and tender without baking dry and there was plenty of sauce to go around as my three kids love the mushroom sauce as much as I do!



SIMPLE PORK CHOPS WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

Pork Chops (4-5)
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
salt & pepper


In a pan, heat a tablespoon of oil or shortening until hot and quickly brown pork chops two at a time, both sides, until a nice golden brown color. Season with salt and pepper while you are browning them. They will not be cooked on the inside, this is only to sear them a bit and add color. Keep the pan hot. Remove the chops to a baking dish of your choice. I use a foil lined baking pan for easy clean up afterward.

With the pan empty but still hot, add a half cup of water and quickly scrape the bottom, stirring and scraping to deglaze the pan. Turn the heat down or even off at this point. Add 1 can of mushroom soup to the pan and whisk the soup into the sauce. (I have used JUST the deglazed sauce over the pork chops and NOT added the soup - which is wonderful as well.) Whisk until smooth and pour over the pork chops to cover.

Bake in the oven at 350 for one hour until the pork chops are completely done and tender. If by chance they start to get too dry before they are done to your liking, just cover the pan with foil while it bakes.

Another hint: If you cover the pan tightly with foil at the start and bake it for an hour completely covered, it makes enough sauce to double as a great mushroom gravy for mashed potatoes!

Whisking the soup into the deglazed sauce

Once incorporated, whisk until smooth

Have your browned pork chops waiting

Cover the chops with sauce and bake open-topped for a nice thick sauce
or cover completely to seal in the steam to make enough
sauce to double as a great mushroom gravy to serve
over mashed potatoes with this dish!




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8/20/10

Kudo's to Costco for Fast Egg Recall Information

Everyone has probably heard about the huge egg recall going on right now but many have no idea if they've actually bought the product or not. Tonight after work I saw a message on my home phone. What a surprise to hear a recording from my local Costco store letting me know that according to their records I have bought eggs between April and July that were included in the recall.

Granted, any eggs I bought in April or May are long used up by now (and no, we did not get sick) but I thought that was pretty awesome to not only have called customers who have purchased eggs included in the recall, but that they did it so quickly.

I would not have returned the eggs, but only made sure they were completely cooked and I did not use them any uncooked desserts, salad dressings or undercooked breakfast eggs but I was still happy to know Costco put their customers first and got the calls out to their clientele so fast!
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8/19/10

Gazpacho

To me, Gazpacho is 'summer time in Arizona'. It's a soup to me that means nice cold goodness on a hot summer day, served along side a grilled steak. I am sitting outdoors, poolside, looking down at the soup in front of me with a slice of french bread in my hand. Don't ask me why I have this vision but I do... I'm a visual person and I play out vignette's in my head constantly with every thought, song, conversation or even words.

The end of summer is near. As a matter of fact our kids have started school already! Gone are the lazy days of summer for us, but I hope wherever you are, you can enjoy another couple weeks of summer fun and great summery food.


Gazpacho with Tortillas

1-1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (seeded and chopped or cheat and use canned)
1 c chopped cucumber (peel and seed)
1/2 c chopped red onion
1/2 c bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeño (seeded and chopped)
1/4 c cilantro leaves
1/4 c olive oil
1 c V-8
1/2 t cumin
2 T lime juice
Salt to taste
1 cup fried tortilla strips or tortilla chips crumbled

Combine all ingredients except for lime juice and extra virgin olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Pour or dish mixture into a kitchen blender until about 2/3 full. Purée until smooth about 2-3 minutes.

Pour the puréed soup into a medium sieve over another large mixing bowl. Repeat process until all vegetables are puréed.

Push the soup through the sieve using the back of a ladle. Discard the remnants in the sieve. Using a whisk, whip in olive oil and lime juice. Adjust seasoning and consistency with salt and V-8. Garnish with fried tortillas and chopped vegetables if desired.
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8/18/10

Pecan Pie - Perfect for Autumn


Although most of the country is enjoying the last two weeks of summer, school in our area has begun. Yes, yesterday was the first day of school, which means no matter the temperature, it already feels like 'Fall' to us!

With fall comes a change in cravings. A thick stew. Homemade bread. Pies. Tuck this one away for after your children start school and it feels like 'Autumn' to you too!








Pecan Pie

1 1/4 c flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 t salt
1/2 c cold lard, or shortening cut into pieces
2 T cold butter, cut into pieces
3 to 4 T ice water

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup toffee bits
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 c 'pretty' pecan halves, for garnish

For the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in lard and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about the size of peas. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix lightly with a fork after each addition, until it forms a dough. Turn out dough onto plastic, shape into a flattened disk, wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim, fold under and crimp edges.

Preheat oven with a rack set in the lower third to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, salt, vanilla, almond extract, toffee bits, and chopped pecans.

Pour filling into pie crust. Top with pecans in a circular pattern and bake for 1 hour until the center is set and knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
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8/16/10

Our first foray into buying a 'whole pig' - It was a learning experience!


Our pig has arrived! In three coolers.

This was our first foray into the world of buying a pig direct from a farmer and having it processed at a meat locker. We used the locker near where the farmer lives (about 3 hours away from us) and I was disappointed that they weren't very helpful when it came to the cut and processing choices.

In the end it was a good learning experience but if we do this again, I'll better know what to say or do or ask for!

First: The pig was the 'smallest' one at 175 pounds.

When the locker called me to ask how I wanted it processed I didn't know my options and although I had looked online to see if they offered a downloadable form so I could know ahead of time what the options were, they didn't even have a website. So I explained to her that I've never had a pig processed before and would she please let me know my options for each cut as we get to it?

She didn't. And since I was put on the spot and trying to make decisions quickly, I made some stupid ones that I know not to make again.

When asked about pork loin, pork roast and ham steaks, I declined. I had 2 seconds to make my decisions and knew we don't eat much pork loin, we only like pork roast about once a year and I knew I would never 'fry up' a ham steak. She said she would add those to the 'trimmings'.

Hocks? I said - just one as I'll only use it for soup and probably only once this year. The other three were to go for trimmings.

No heart, tongue or liver needed this time around.

No lard rendered either.

Hams? We only like a big ham dinner about once a year so I said just keep one of the big hams and cut it in half. Make the other into trimmings.

We finally got to the reason I said 'yes' when I got the call from my brother (the farmer) to buy one of his pigs; bacon.

Yes please!

Bacon and pork chops and then the trimmings were made into brat patties.

Last night my brother and his wife arrived at our home with 3 coolers of meat for us that they had picked up at the locker. On the processing form that the lady was supposed to have gone over with me I saw many, many more options that I would have LOVED to have known about!

Smoked brats
Smoked Brat Pepper jack Cheese
Smoked Links with Cheddar
Little Smokies - regular and cheddar
Ring Bologna
Pork Patties
Ribs with a Dry Rub
Laua Loaf

She didn't mention any of this!

When I ok'd the processing I didn't think that I could have gotten ALL the hams and even though we don't like ham dinners, I could have had them shave it for sub sandwiches. I buy deli ham EVERY trip to the grocery store!

I didn't think that the ham steaks could have been diced up for chef salads and pizza toppings and omlets. (I'm so stupid for nothing thinking faster!!!).

I could have marinated the pork loins - or had them sliced into medallions.

In the end, due to my lack of experience and not knowing what choices I had available to me, we received;

Pork Chops - doesn't say on my form
2 hocks for soup - 7 lb.
1 whole ham (cut into two family sized) - 21 lbs.
Seasoned Sausage - 17 lbs.
Bacon - 15 lbs.
Brat Patties (not links) - 51 lbs.

Fees include processing, butchering charge, offal disposal charge, curing charge per pound, seasoning charge, cutting and patties per piece charge.

*If we do this again I will get the pork loins and ask them to add the dry rub. I will get the flavored cheddar and pepper jack cheese options for brats. I will get little smokies. I will get all the hams and have them sliced/shaved for deli meat. I will get the ham steaks and use them for chef salad, omlets and pizza.

I won't make these mistakes again and hopefully this helps someone else know their options if they are doing this for the first time and not dealing with a very helpful meat locker.
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8/12/10

Corn Salad (Great with Steak)

It's in season, it's yellow, crisp, sweet and good. It's corn! Celebrate the seasonal harvest with a quick and easy corn salad recipe that goes very well with a grilled steak dinner!






Corn Salad


3 ears of fresh corn in the husk
1/4 cup red onion sliced
1/4 cup small diced tomato
1/2 cup baby arugula
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1-1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place corn on a baking sheet and put into a 400ºF oven for about 25-30 minutes until the husk is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once cool, take the corn out of the husk and cut off the cob. Place corn in the mixing bowl with red onion, tomato, parsley, arugula, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.
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8/7/10

Cream of Herb and Shrimp Soup

Put plainly, bluntly and simply; we had no groceries in the house this week. We all have times when the refrigerator and freezer are getting low and for whatever reason (or many reasons working together) a trip to the grocery store just isn't in the cards. Due in part to our family camping trip (with 6 teenagers!) and then returning to a crazy, insane week back at home, and it being the week before payday with school registration due; a trip to the grocery store did not happen.

I know many that would simply 'go out' to eat but when you don't have the extra cash on hand and don't use credit cards for things like that, you do what I do. Get creative. Low-Grocery Time in our house typically means; homemade soup. Made with almost anything you have on hand, homemade soup can almost magically be made with little, feed a lot and tastes incredible.

First I pulled the bread machine out of the cupboard where it typically resides as I almost never 'bake' my bread in the machine. I tend to use the KitchenAid to mix the dough, shape it and bake it. But having no time and needing to get to work, I put the ingredients in for a basic white bread (flour, water, butter, dry milk, sugar, salt and yeast) and turned it to complete the cycle and bake while I was at work.

Then I opened the freezer. I spied a package of frozen, raw shrimp. Bingo! Cream of Herb and Shrimp Soup.

I made this recipe up sometime around 2003 or 2004. I usually chop the shrimp but this time around I decided to leave them whole. That is completely up to you. I'm not sure I prefer it either way. They are both good.

PS: If you use heavy cream and leave out the flour for thickening this could be a low-carb option for you.

CREAM OF HERB & SHRIMP SOUP

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c beef broth
Bay Leaves
20 shrimp - chop if you wish or leave whole. Up to you!
1 1/2 c heavy cream (I use milk too - use what you have. Improvise.)
salt and white pepper
1/4 c fresh parsley or a T of dried
2 fresh sage leaves or 1/4 t dried, ground sage
1 t thyme and dill

Melt 2 T butter in saucepan. Add 2 T flour. Whisk in 2 c beef broth. Simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 1 qt. water and the bay leaves to a boil. Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes until done. Drain and discard the bay leaves.

Stir 1 1/2 c cream (or milk) into the broth. Return to a simmer. Do not boil. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the seasonings and add the shrimp. If you chop them, you could leave a few whole to garnish the bowls at serving. (I usually add a little more milk or cream, or sometimes more beef broth or even just some of the water from cooking the shrimp, and then add about a tablespoon of flour/water mixture to the hot soup for thickening to make this go farther and feed more people.) It feeds six-eight easily this way.



Chop shrimp to add or leave whole and add at the end.
Completely up to you but top each bowl with at least
one whole shrimp for presentation when serving.


Whisking in the parsley, thyme, dill and sage


Homemade soup with a slice of
homemade bread smeared with a bit
of real butter.
Delicious.


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8/5/10

Homemade Taco Pizza Recipe (with a pizza dough recipe too)

On mornings like today I miss being home full time. I'm in the mood to post photos and recipes that are waiting patiently (oh so patiently) in my files of things I've made, baked, cooked or want to review, but never seem to have enough free time to get them uploaded, typed and posted.

Today I'm going to share a craving I had a couple weeks ago; Taco Pizza. Quick and easy to make (literally almost throwing it together) and you have a delicious dish that is a meal in itself if you wish it to be. No other side dishes needed.


TACO PIZZA

1 pizza crust - partially pre-baked (I make my own homemade pizza crust but feel free to use Boboli or similar that you buy at the grocery store)
Lettuce
Red onion sliced and pulled apart into rings
Shredded cheddar cheese or a cheddar cheese mixture
1 Can refried beans (any style, regular or fat free)
1/4 lb. ground Italian sausage, browned (can use ground beef flavored with a bit of taco seasoning)
Tomatoes - sliced or diced
Black olives (optional of course)
2 handfuls Doritos or tortilla chips, slightly crushed
Taco Sauce/salsa
Sour Cream


Pre-bake your homemade crust (or even use frozen, thawed bread dough pressed into a pizza pan and let set about 10-15 minutes before baking) for 15-20 minutes until it starts to turn golden brown, or use a store bought Boboli or similar crust. I usually bake my pizza crusts around 400 degrees. Spread refried beans over the crust, covering all. Sprinkle the sausage or taco meat on top. Place in the oven and turn the oven off while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Remove the pizza from the oven and slice it with a pizza cutter before you add the 'cold' toppings (to make serving easier).

Add chopped lettuce followed by the optional onions, black olives, chopped tomatoes, cheese and more. Finally top with crushed Dorito's. Sprinkle with taco sauce or salsa and serve additional taco sauce along with sour cream along side the pizza.



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8/2/10

Cherry Dessert

All these recipes I had high hopes for... until we ate all the fresh cherries! Yes, I gathered a handful of recipes I was excited to use my fresh cherries in this year but time got away from me and with each passing day the cherries were eaten. Not a bad thing, but it means you'll have to try this recipe before I do!

This is similar to one that my family has been making for years, but using canned cherries. I was excited to try fresh, but that's ok. My Grandmother's old standby recipe will work just fine!


Cherry Dessert

9 graham crackers (each 2 1/2 by 5 inches)
2 tablespoons plus cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound fresh sweet cherries, such as Bing, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar until finely ground. Add butter, and process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using the base of a dry measuring cup, firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of pan. Bake until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add cream, and beat until soft peaks form; spread mixture in cooled crust. Scatter cherries on top.

In a small saucepan, combine jam and 1 teaspoon water; heat over low until liquefied, about 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush, dab cherries with glaze. Refrigerate tart at least 30 minutes or, covered, up to 1 day.
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