Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cream Cheese Frosting

Generally speaking, that if something has cream cheese in it or on it, then I am probably making it.  It is my biggest weakness.  Cream cheese that is.  And if I can, I try to get away with frosting just about anything from cakes to breads with this perfectly sweet icing.  It is rich, sweet and because of the cream cheese, irresistibly delicious to me.

12 oz. of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup of real un-salted butter (softened)
2 tsp. of real vanilla extract
6 cups of powder sugar

-Mix together the cream cheese, butter and the vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Using small 1 cup batches, stir in the powdered powdered sugar completely before the next addition.  Use this to frost 1 double layer cake, a batch of cupcakes or 1/2 of the recipe for a 9"x13" or a 9"x9" cake.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal Banana Cake

This cake is basically a combination of three of my breakfast favorites.  I love bananas in my oatmeal and I am a firm believer that cream cheese makes everything better.  I tend to try and use it in, on and around everything that I can.  It has become one of my recipe weaknesses.  I absolutely love how thick and dense this exceptionally moist cake is.  A perfect match for bearing the load of the heavy sweet layer of cream cheese frosting over it's top.  All that you are missing is a very large glass of ice cold milk to be set.

1 1/4 cups of boiling water
1 cup of quick cooking oats
3 medium over-ripened bananas (mashed)
1 stick of real un-salted butter
1 tsp. of real vanilla extract
1 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs (at room temperature, then beaten)
1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/2 a recipe of my Cream Cheese Frosting

-Preheat your oven to 350*.  Grease and flour a 9"x9" baking dish; set aside.  In a large mixing  bowl, stir together the boiling water and the oats.  Then add in the mashed bananas, butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar and the eggs.  Stir well.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Stir the flour mixture into the oatmeal mixture in small batches until it is thoroughly combined.  Pour the batter into your greased and floured baking dish and bake at 350* for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Let it cool well before frosting it with 1/2 of a recipe of my Cream Cheese Frosting.  Serves 9.  Enjoy!

Mini Pattymelt Rye's

Talk about a blast from the past.  Or at least one from mine that is.  These were a constant 'snack dinner' in our household when I was a little girl.  They were usually reserved for making on a brisk fall day to munch on during the game.  These were the main part of why I watched football with my Dad back then.  Basically for the food.  Kinda not so far off from why I watch football with my husband now.  Basically still for the food, except it's even better now.  Mostly because I am easily enticed and have a hard time of not forever trying to out-do myself.  I prefer a vast array of fixings on Game Day.  And these are a great staple for that.  Everybody loves a good cheeseburger.  Especially when they are made by the cutest cook in the house, my 5 year old daughter, Paige Leigh.

1 lb. of 80/20 ground beef
1 jar of Cheese Wiz (yep)
1 loaf of mini light cocktail rye's (find by the deli at your local market)
1/2 of a large Vidalia sweet onion (halved and then sliced)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 T. of real un-salted butter
1 T. of real mayonnaise
1 tsp. of A.1. steak sauce

-Preheat your oven to a Low Broil and cover your baking sheets with aluminum foil (for a no mess clean up).  Mix together the ground beef and the cheese thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.  Spread a heaping spoonful on each of the slices of the rye bread (making sure to get it all the way to the edges-or else they tend to burn easily).  Line them up snugly on your foil-lined baking sheets and broil on low for about 10 minutes or until the begin to nicely brown.  Meanwhile, for the onion topping, over medium heat, saute the sliced onions in the butter with a good healthy amount of salt and pepper just until they are softened and become translucent.  Stir in the mayo and the A.1.; bring to a little boil while stirring well.  Top each of the cooling slices with a few onions as a garnish.  Makes an entire loaf perfectly.  Enjoy! 

Crumbled Blue Cheese and Tomato Topped Fillet Mignon

When I was a little girl, I dreaded having steak for dinner.  And when I say dreaded, I mean dreaded.  Like dragged my feet to the table with the most painful distraught expression smeared all over my face.  I thought that it was terrible.   It actually hurt my jaw to eat my Mom's steak back then.  I would have to say, that if I were to compare it to anything else in this world it would have to be a tire.  Yep, a rubber tire from a car.  My Mom would make it all the time and I usually ended up basically dousing it with ketchup and A.1. and then pretty much just pushing it around my plate, in hopes to appear as though I was making any kind of progress.  When you are as desperate as I was at those moments, you will try anything to fool your Mother.  I was a table camper.  And if this term is new to you, I was basically that kid.  That kid that did not like anything that you served.  I am proud to say that I spent many many evenings alone at the table with my unwanted dinner untouched in front of me.  I was passionate even then.  I would sit and sit and sit there not eating my steak until either it broke down from the plethergy of sauces that I had it nearly swimming in or until my Mom got so frustrated with me that she would send me to bed.  She told me during one of my steak strikes that they all liked it (meaning her, my Dad and my brother), so I should like it too.  I can remember looking clearly at her and stating that everyone has different taste buds and mine did not like steak.  Not at all.  It wasn't until I was waitressing my way through college at a steak house of all places that I actually tried 'steak'.  The establishment was very thorough on making sure that all of the wait staff could describe how everything was made, seasoned and how it tasted.  And every time they introduced something new to the menu, we all were made to try it.  And they always prepared it medium, which is pink and warm throughout the center.  This was sheerly appalling to me.  Never never never had I ever ate any red meat that was not cooked completely, basically served as rubber.  As we all lined up in the kitchen to each take a bite of their new Gorgonzola and tomato topped sirloin, my mind was racing 2-40.  I was so grossed out by the thought of eating 'raw beef' that I thought I would pass out before my turn.  Or at least that was what I was hoping for anyhow.  And then, it was my turn.  And darn the luck I had, my bite was directly from the center of the steak.  Go figure.  So as I stood there in front of it with my fork and knife in my hands, I looked over to the manager who was psycho Nazi style watching over us as we were all trying this new wonderful steak and I caved.  All of my fierce resistance fled and I leaned forward and cut a small piece from the center of the steak.  And I ate it.  I can still taste it now.  It was amazing.  Phenomenal actually.  Basically the very most best thing that I had ever eaten.  And from that day forward, I was hooked.  I will take any steak prepared anyway as long as it is not thoroughly cooked.  And I strongly believe that a properly cooked steak does not need any sauce.  It is an insult to the cook.  Sorry Mom. 

4- 6oz. cuts of fillet Mignon (or beef tenderloin is great this way too)
Worcestershire sauce
McCormick's Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning4 oz. of crumbled blue cheese

2-3 fresh Roma tomatoes (sliced lengthwise about 1/4"-1/2" thick)
4 oz. of crumbled blue cheese

-Preheat your grill with a medium-high flame.  Place your steaks flat on a platter and douse both sides well with the Worcestershire sauce and a nice healthy sprinkling of steak seasoning (making sure to again get both sides well).   Toss them up on the top rack of your grill for about 4-5 minutes on the first side (longer or shorter depending on the thickness of the cut, but we are going for a MR-M doneness), then flip and grill for about another 3-4 minutes on the second side; top with a layer of sliced tomatoes, covering that with a handful of blue cheese and then a little bit of salt and pepper on top.  Close the lid and grill until the cheese looks melty and your tomatoes look a little bit flame kissed.  Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Take On a Coney Dog

Sometimes I make my Scratch-Made Chili so often that by the second or third day of having leftovers we become chili'd out.  Sad but true.  So, I try to find fun and different ways to get rid of the last lone bowl that is always left behind in the fridge.  Sometimes I freeze it, that way it is ready to be warmed up whenever Rich gets in from a cold morning, or let's just be honest here, a cold day of hunting.  And other times I use it for my Good Stuff Dip or for my interpretation of a Coney Dog.  And that's what we have here.  Basically it's a compile of all of my regular staples of my cooking that are leftover from previous meals from that week.  I am always whipping up a batch of my cole slaw to accompany my slow-cooker sandwiches that I am forever concocting and I always have my pantry stocked to the brim with my Jalapeno Dill Pickles.  So, when we have a little bit of leftover chili I always know what to do with it.  I keep a few packages of hot dogs and buns in the deep freeze at all times for this fun and impulsive dinner. 

8 all beef hot dogs (I used Ballpark this time)
1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups of my warmed Scratch-Made Chili (see recipe)
2 cups of my Homemade Cole Slaw recipe:  http://tonya-justcooking.blogspot.com/2011/03/homemade-cole-slaw.html
1/4 cup of red onion (diced)
8 of my Sliced Jalapeno Dill Pickles (see recipe)
1 package of sausage roll buns (they are nice and thick-hold up better with all the heavy fixing's)

-Bring a medium saucepan to a rapid boil; add in hot dogs.  Boil the hot dogs for about 5 minutes or until they start to 'plump up'.  Remove and place one in each bun and cover it with cheese.  Spoon on a heaping ladle of chili, a mountain of slaw, a sprinkling of onion and wedge a pickle in the side.  Serves 4-8.  Enjoy!

Ricotta Cheese and Fresh Blueberries Stuffed Pancakes

What a delicious treat these pancakes are.  They are soft and creamy from the ricotta cheese, almost savory from it.  And then there is the fresh, bright, sweet burst of the blueberries to accompany it.   They pair together here like Yin and Yang.  Both of them complimenting the lemon enhanced pancakes perfectly. 

2 cups of Bisquick
2 tsp. of baking powder
1 T. of sugar
1 cup of milk
2 T. of lemon juice
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup of fresh blueberries (rinsed/ dried)
less than 1/4 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
real un-salted butter and maple syrup (I use Lite syrup-it's slightly less sweet to balance the over-sweet pancakes that I am always making)

-In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 3 ingredients well.  Stir in the milk, lemon juice and eggs (batter will be slightly lumpy).  Let is sit while you preheat your griddle or frying pan to a medium heat and then grease it all over with butter.  Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, or a gravy ladle like me, pour on your pancakes.  Then dot with ricotta cheese bits (I just used the tip of a knife and my finger to put them on with) and a few blueberries.  Once the bottom of the pancake has begun to turn a nice golden brown, flip them over to brown the side with the cheese and berries (about 2-4 minutes on each side-every stove is different-keep a watch).  Serve with butter and maple syrup.  Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Slow-Cooker Coca-Cola Pulled Pork Sandwich

There are basically two types of soda drinkers in this world.  One being Coke drinkers and the other being Pepsi drinkers.  Myself, I am a Coke drinker.  I absolutely love it.  I love the clean crisp flavor and the way it sparkles all the way down.  And I am pretty much certain that Pepsi could very well be subbed in for the Coke here, but I cannot say for sure.  Because I refuse to buy it, drink it or even cook with it.  Literally, I would take water over Pepsi any day of the week.  Sorry Dad (he's a Pepsi fan).  And to top off my already fueled love affair with this soda, I came across a Coca-Cola cook book one day at my Mom's house when I was younger.  I used to love to look and flip through them as I would eat my bowl of cereal or my Mom's honey pancakes in the mornings.  Some kids looked at toy magazines or teen magazines as they got older, me, I gazed at recipes.  Fitting I guess.  Well, anyways, I was awestruck by the idea that one could make anything from cake to meatloaf with a can of soda.  And that has always played around in the back of my mind as the years went by.  Then a few weeks ago it hit me.  Why not make a pulled pork, which I love and make all the time, with a can of Coke?  So I did.  And it was just as delicious as I was sure it would be.

3 lb. pork picnic roast (only because that's what I had in my deep freezer-you could use any pork roast)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 T. of bacon grease (I save my bacon drippings in an old pickle jar for cooking with)
1 Lg. vidalia sweet onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 can of Coca-Cola
1 jar of chili sauce
2 T. of light brown sugar (packed)
sliced Jalapeno Dill Pickles (see my recipe)

-In a large stockpot over high heat, brown your salt and peppered pork roast in the bacon grease for 3-5 minutes on each side or until you start to develop a nice dark brown (not burnt) crusting.  Once it is fully browned on all sides, remove from your pan and place in your slow-cooker.  Return to your pan and reduce the heat to medium-high.  Toss in your onions, garlic and a little bit more salt and pepper (to sweat them).  Saute' for a few minutes until the onions are softened.  Pour in the soda, chili sauce and the brown sugar.  Stir well while bringing it to a boil.  Then just pour over your roast that's in the slow-cooker and set it to go Slow and Low for 8-10 hours (as always in crockery cooking, the longer the better).  Once it is done, using 2 forks, shred and place on a bun with a pickle.  Serves 8-10.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shephard's Pie

Nothing says home cooking like some Shephard's Pie.  At least not to me.  Literally this one is one of my favorite meals to have when I go home to Missouri and sit at my family's table.  My Step-Mother, Angela, makes the all time best one that I have ever had.  And for years I have been trying to replicate it for my family at home, only to consistantly not get it quite right.  So, today I decided not to try and duplicate her's, but to enhance it and switch it up a bit with some of my Grandma's Grease Gravy done up more like dinner gravy rather than breakfast gravy and a handful of blue cheese.  Oh, and not to forget the addition of the apple cider.  I like to throw in some cider anywhere that I can when I am cooking in the fall.  It just feels right to me. 

1 lb. of bulk sage breakfast pork sausage
4 T. of pancake mix (I used Bisquick)
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of apple cider
fresh cracked pepper
3 Lg. baking potatoes (peeled, quartered and sliced)
sea salt
1/3 cup of milk
3 T. of real unsalted butter
12 oz. of frozen peas (defrosted)
1- 14.75oz. can of creamed corn
1 cup of shredded mild cheddar cheese (divided)
2 T. of crumbled blue cheese

-Preheat your oven to 350* and start a large stockpot of water for a boil.  In a large saucepan, begin browning your sausage over a high flame.  When your sausage has just begun to get a nice golden brown crusting on it (don't let it go too long or else the grease pulls up into it too much), stir in the pancake mix and continue cooking a few more minutes to brown it (make sure to be continuously stirring through this entire gravy making process).  Then add in your chicken stock, water and cider.  Bring this to a simmer while stirring constantly still until it begins to thicken and tighten up.  Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of a 2 qt. casserole dish.  Meanwhile for the mashed potatoes crust, add a healthy amount of sea salt into your rapidly boiling stockpot and the potatoes; boil for about 15-20 minutes or until they are soft.  Drain potatoes and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add in the milk, butter and some pepper (your salt is already in there from the boiling process) and mix well with a hand mixer (I like them whippy with a few little lumps); set aside.  Back to the casserole dish with the layer of sausage and gravy, cover this then with a layer of the peas, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, a layer of the creamed corn, the remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese, the crumbled blue cheese and then lastly the mashed potatoes (I spread them out keeping about 1" from the edges).  Bake at 350* for 65-70 minutes or until the mashed potatoes begin to get slightly brown on the edges.  Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving (or else it will be soupy-let it firm up while cooling).  Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Candied Sweet Potatoes

I had never met a person, let alone any man, that did not love prepared sweet potatoes.  And then, I met my husband.  We had just barely begun dating in the middle of the fall time and so, went solo to each of our family's Thanksgiving dinners.  He went to his Mother's for this holiday dinner and I was cooking up my first ever Thanksgiving dinner, completely on my own, for my entire family.  So, it was not until the following year that he and I had finally had our first Thanksgiving dinner together.  And that year it just happened to be back at my Mother's home.  As I was making all of our plates, at this time it was just Rich, Kalena, Kiley and me-Paige may have been in my belly, but I am not sure.  And Parker was just a dream away for Rich at this time.  Well, anyways, I was making all of our plates which was simple too at this time,  because this was before the girls had decided to change their lives and become hard-core vegetarians, which I admire and respect by the way.  But anyways, like I was saying, I was making up their plates and Rich was hoovering behind me, he was so cute-still new to the 'Family' and unsure of what to do with himself I think.  He watched me pile up all kinds of fixing's that my Mother made by scratch just for us onto his plate.  But, when I dug into her Candied Sweet Potatoes he stopped me with a "I don't eat sweet potatoes".  And boy did this ever stop me.  I was kind of confused I guess, because I had never met anyone who didn't just love them let alone love my family's version of them.  He had said that his family did not serve sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner and basically he had never ever had them prepared like this or actually never even had them really prepared anyway at all.  Well, I thought, you are gonna try them and like them today I bet.  But, of course still playing nicey nice and being on my very best girlfriend behavior-I still hadn't completely snatched him all the way up yet of course, I turned and smiled sweetly at him.  I told him that he would just have to try one bite of them and if he did not like them then he did not have to have anymore.  The funny thing is that this is exactly what my parents said to me as a child, here I was saying it to my future husband and I am still saying it to all of our children just about every day.  But, again back to the story, so being new and probably feeling awkward, because literally I think that the entire room stopped and stared at him like a whole mess of  deer caught in the headlights when he said that he didn't eat sweet potatoes, he smiled and said ok as I had already placed a heaping scoop of them on his already piled a mile high plate.  And as we sat at the table, each of us lost in a pleasurable eating frenzy, I gazed down next to me at his plate.  Mind you that my husband eats one thing on his plate usually at a time, where as I am a psychotic rotator of tastes.  Anyways, I gazed down at his plate to see that the very first thing that he ate was his sweet potatoes.  Every single bit.

4 large or 2 lbs. of sweet potatoes (peeled and 1/4'd lengthwise then thickly chopped)
sea salt
1/4 cup of light brown sugar (packed)
4 T. of real un-salted butter (chopped into tiny cubes)
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of pecans (chopped)
3/4 cup of mini marshmallows

-Preheat your oven to 375*.  Start a large stockpot of water for a boil.  Once it has reached a rapid boil, stir in a dash of salt and carefully add in your potatoes; cover and boil for about 12 minutes.  Strain the potatoes well and place them in a a large 2 qt. baking dish (I used stoneware), dot with the butter cubes and sprinkle on the nutmeg and the cinnamon.  Bake it uncovered for about 35 minutes, stopping and stirring it about 1/2 way through.  Remove it from the oven and sprinkle the pecans on and cover it all with the marshmallows; return it to the oven and bake for about 5 more minutes or until the marshmallows have a tinge of color to them.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Green Chile Corn Muffins

These corn muffins are my very most favorite thing to have with a steaming hot bowl of my Scratch-Made Chili.  They are the perfect match for it.  Sweet, cheesy and with the perfect amount of spice.  They come out golden and crispy on the outside while staying soft and moist in the middle.  In other words, they are absolutely delicious.
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg (that has sat at room temperature for about 20 minutes)
1/3 cup of milk
4 T. or 1/2 a can of diced green Chile peppers
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar Monterrey jack cheese

-Preheat your oven to 400*.  Spray a metal muffin pan with canola oil well (making sure to get the entire surface because you want big popover style muffins).  Stir together all of the ingredients until combined (the batter will be a little bit lumpy-that's ok).  Fill each muffin spot 3/4's of the way with batter and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are a perfect dark golden with brown edges.  Makes

Floured and Fried Bacon

The last recipe that I ever thought that I would write would be one on how to fry bacon.   But, well I just couldn't help myself from sharing this little technique with others.  This is definitely how to do it, if you are frying up some bacon for breakfast.  The flour coating actually melts into the bacon and kind of 'plumps' it up and also keeps it from shrinking as much as it does regularly.  This bacon looks almost as great as it tastes.

1 lb. average sliced bacon of choice
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

-Spread flour out evenly on a large dinner plate and place next to your hot griddle.  Dredge each piece of bacon through the flour, on both sides, and fry on just about high heat for about 3-4 minutes on the first side.  Make sure to watch it and flip it only once when the bottom has become golden brown.  The second side only takes a minute or so to brown.  Serves 4-6.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cream of Chicken Soup with Gnocchi Dumplings

What a quick and easy alternative it is to use the frozen gnocchi in here rather than scratch-making the dumplings yourself.  Sometimes it's just nice for things to be a little bit easier at dinner time.  And honestly, I am not even sure which one I like better than the other.  I love the simplicity and the great flavor of the gnocchi.  They are kind of like soft little cheesy pillows with enough flavor and texture to stand out on their own, but to also enhance and blend right in with the soup as if it was the traditional way of making it all along.  And let's not let the easiness of using them verse making dumplings be unnoticed either.  All you have to do is open the bag and add them right on in.  Can't get much quicker than that.

1-2 T. of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 1/2 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken stir fry meat
3 stalks of celery (sliced)
1 medium sweet Vidalia onion (chopped)
2 small cloves of garlic (minced)
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 T. of dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. of dried crushed basil
32 oz. of frozen gnocchi

-Heat your e.v.o. in a large stockpot over high heat and add in the chicken along with some salt and pepper.  Saute for about 6-7 minutes then add in the celery, onion, garlic and a little bit more salt and pepper.  Saute until the chicken and the veggies are all cooked and softened, but don't brown (you want the chicken to be soft and not tough).   Pour in the chicken stock and add in the bay leaf.  Once you reach a good strong boil, add in the cream, parsley, paprika and the basil; return to a boil.  Add in your frozen gnocchi and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and discard it.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fresh Mozzarella Fettuccine

This is one of my personal favorite pasta dishes.  I absolutely love the way the Italian sausage tastes along with the veggies.  The older I get the more I love them and try to incorporate in as many in my cooking as I can.  But seriously,  lets not leave out the huge wads of ooey gooey goodness, the fresh mozzarella.  That would have to be my most favorite part.  That and how well all of these ingredients stand out on their own and create balance at the same time.  It truly is a work of art.

1 T. of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. of bulk Italian sausage
1 bundle of asparagus (with the dry cut ends snapped off at their breaking point and then chopped)
1 roasted red bell pepper (chopped)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup of white wine (I used a sweet Pinot Grigio-use whatever white wine you would drink)
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
3 T. of fresh basil (thinly chopped)
1 lb. of fettuccine or linguine uncooked pasta

-Start a large stockpot with water for a boil.  In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat up the e.v.o. to brown the Italian sausage.  Meanwhile, once your stockpot reaches a rapid bowl, stir in a healthy dash of sea salt and then blanch your asparagus cuts in it for 3 minutes.  Strain out the asparagus and place them into an ice water filled bowl (this stops the cooking process) and return your stockpot water to a rapid boil; toss in the pasta for 7 minutes for Au-dente' (it will finish cooking in the sauce).  Back to your saucepan now, once the sausage is nicely browned, add in the strained cooled asparagus and the red peppers and saute for 1-2 minutes to heat them all up.  First pour in the wine to deglaze the pan while stirring it with your wooden spoon, then pour in the chicken stock and the red pepper flakes.  Bring this up to a boil.  Once the pasta is done, strain it and fold it into the sauce.  Lastly, fold in the basil and then the chopped mozzarella cheese.  Serves 4-6.  Enjoy!

Apple Cobbler

I just love to bake with apples.  I especially love the aroma of them wafting all throughout my home.  It makes me feel comforted and warm.  Exactly what you need on a brisk fall day like today.  I think that it is one of the safest fruits to work with.  It pretty much goes with everything, you can always find them in season and just about everyone likes them.  This cobbler recipe is just as perfect for apples as it is for peaches, pears or blueberries.  No matter what type of ripened fruit you use, the rest of the ingredients stay the same. 

1/2 cup of real un-salted butter (melted)
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
3 tsp. of baking powder
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 cup of milk
6 medium tart baking apples (cored and thinly sliced)
1 T. of juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg

-Preheat your oven to 375*.   Pour your melted butter into the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish.  In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and the salt. Slowly pour in the milk and stir until just wet.  Layer this batter over the melted butter layer in the baking dish.  DO NOT STIR THEM TOGETHER.  Then is a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat bring the apples, lemon juice and the sugar to a boil (while constantly stirring).  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon and the nutmeg.  Again pour this mixture over the first 2 layers in the baking dish without stirring them together.  While it is baking it will combine as much as it needs to.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Serve with some vanilla bean ice cream and cool whip.  Serves 9.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fresh Tomato Pasta

Here is yet another fantastic quick fix for dinner.  From start to finish I would say that it only took me about 15 minutes to assemble, make and serve this dish.  And for another bonus, it basically all came from my own garden.  I just love the simplicity's of it all.  With the light fresh sauce and the delicate pasta.  A perfect pair together making this pasta dish ultimately balanced and delicious.

1 lb. of uncooked angel hair pasta
5-6 T. of extra virgin olive oil
7-8 Roma tomatoes (chopped)
4 small cloves of garlic (minced)
2 T. of fresh basil (chopped)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/8 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
fresh grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

-Bring a large stockpot of water to a roaring boil and add in a sprinkle of salt and the pasta.  Cook pasta about 3-4 minutes for Au dente'.  Meanwhile heat your e.v.o. in a large saucepan over high heat.  Once your oil is very hot, add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat some and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Strain your Au dente' pasta and fold it into the saucepan.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.  Serves 4.  Enjoy!  I know we did :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coca-Cola Bread

Can it get any easier to create this recipe than mixing together two ingredients?  This 'quick' bread is a no-brainer even for the baking impaired.  The only thing that could possibly go wrong would be if you over stirred them it the bowl.  The reason that you are barely combining the two ingredients,  is so that you keep all of the air that is in the carbonation from the soda.  You are basically using the soda as your leveling agent to ensure a proper rise for the bread.  Plain and simple here is the key to this wonderfully delicious bread.

3 cups of pancake mix (I only use Bisquick)
1- 12oz. can of Coca-Cola soda

-Preheat your oven to 400*.  Grease the inside of a loaf pan (I used stoneware).  In a large bowl stir together the pancake mix and the soda just until wet (it's ok-the batter will be lumpy).  Pour into your greased loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Serves 8.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Blackened Striper

Some of our most favorite dinners are the ones that 'fall' into my lap, or more literally, hook themselves onto my husbands' line.  I had not layed out anything from the freezer for the main part of our dinner for tonight, even though I had already made my Corn Bread Casserole for a side and also my Honey Peach Crisp for the dessert.  This, I guess, would be what I would consider to be some of my very own Woman's Intuition.  Rich said that he was going fishing this afternoon on one of the big lakes near our home.  I figured that he would be bringing something good home in the live well.  And boy did he ever.  He brought us home a 7 1/2 pound gorgeous Striper Bass.  And there's no better way to prepare this particular catch than with a great blackening rub and served with some down home fixings. 

4- 6oz. striper bass filet's
ice water
2 T. of sea salt
4 T. of season salt
2 tsp. of dried oregano
1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper
2 T. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of ground cayenne pepper (it has a nice kick at this amount)
1/2 tsp. of sugar
1/4 tsp. of celery salt
1 bay leaf (crushed)
1/8 tsp. of cloves
1/8 tsp. of allspice
1/8 tsp. of ginger
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
2 T. of extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe of my Scratch-Made Tartar Sauce
fresh lemon slices for garnish

-Clean and disinfect one side of your sink.  Place the cleaned fish filet's, sea salt and enough ice water (2 trays or so of ice) to cover them in it.  Allow to soak (keeping it iced) for 30-60 minutes (the longer the better to remove the 'fishy' taste from the striper).  Meanwhile, for the rub, combine the next twelve ingredients from above in a small bowl and mix well.  Transfer the rub to a large dinner plate and spread it out evenly.  Heat the e.v.o. in a large skillet over a high heat.  While your pan and oil is heating up, drain the salted ice water and pat both sides of the filet's dry with paper towels.  Dredge one by one through the rub and place in the very hot oiled skillet.  Saute for 5-6 minutes on each side (longer for the thick pieces-you want it to flake just like salmon), flipping with a wide spatula only once.  Serve with a slice of lemon and a dollop of my Scratch-Made Tartar Sauce.  Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Honey Peach Crisp

Another wonderful way to make something out of nothing.   Just like in this deliciously simple dessert.  The majority of the ingredients can be found in any well stocked pantry, all you need to do is grab up some fresh peaches at the market.  And remember, if they are not ripe just place them in a closed large brown paper bag along with 1 ripe apple in your pantry for about 2 days (this will flash ripen them).  So, with that in mind, this is not limited to just having in the late summer.  And if at all necessary, you could even sub in some drained canned peaches-techniqally they are fully peaked and ripe.  But for me as with anything, fresh is the way I prefer to go.

7-8 medium ripe peaches (pitted and sliced)
3 T. of sugar
2 T. of lemon juice
1 T. of honey
1/2 cup of quick cooking oats (because that's what I had-you can use old fashioned rolled oats as well)
1/2 cup of brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. of ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of real un-salted butter (melted)
3 T. of shredded coconut
1/4 cup of chipped pecans

-Preheat your oven to 375*.  Toss the sliced peaches along with the sugar, lemon juice and honey in a 9"x9" or like I did in a 5"x9" baking dish.  Then in a medium mixing bowl, using a fork, stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Once it's nice and crumbly, slowly stir in the melted butter while continuely stirring.  Add in the coconut and the pecans.  Cover the top of the fruit mixture with the oat mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Serve alone, over vanilla bean ice cream or with whip cream.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

Cornbread Casserole

This is one of the items on my personal childhood favorites list.  You would find this little gem of a casserole on the table spread of all of my family holiday dinners.  May it be on Easter Sunday or on our country's day of thanks, you could guarantee that either my Mom's or my Grandma Marge's Corn Casserole would be there.  And that was all good and fine by me, because I think that that was always my favorite part.  That everything else would change, ham for Easter, turkey of course for Thanksgiving and Fried Chicken (my request one year) or Lasagna for Christmas.  No matter what the main part was of the meals, the Corn Casserole still always made it to the table.  Although, usually, especially if it was left to me to be the one to bring it out, there may have been a spoonful or two missing by the time it hit the pot holder.

1 cup of sour cream
1 can of whole kernel yellow sweet corn (drained)
1 can of cream style yellow sweet corn
1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1/2 cup or real unsalted butter (at room temperature-not melted)

-Preheat your oven to 350*.  In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients together well.  Pour into either a 8"x8" or a 9"x9" square baking dish.  Bake for about 1 hour or until the top is a nice golden brown.  Serve on the side of your favorite meal.  Serves 8.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Steamed Broccoli and Cheese

A good smothering of cheese sauce can make anything taste good.  But, there is some kind of magic that takes place when that thing being smothered is a steamed veggie.  The kind of magic that makes little non-veggie eaters eat their veggies and then even ask for more. 

16 oz. of frozen broccoli florets
4 T. of real un-salted butter (melted)
3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

-In a medium saucepan, covered and  over medium-high heat, steam the broccoli in a 1" of water for about  minutes 5 minutes.  You want it to be just a little bit tender, but still slightly firm.  Drain broccoli and place in a medium microwave-safe serving bowl.  Drizzle with melted butter and evenly sprinkle with the shredded cheese.  Place in microwave on high for 1 minute or until the cheese is nice and melted.  Remove dish with potholders, stir and add a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Serves 4-6.  Enjoy!

Honey Mustard Glazed Smoked Ham Steaks

This was just absolutely fantastic.  The ham was cooked just the way that I like it, soft and juicy throughout from the glaze and with a hint of charring (flavor maker) of the marbleizing on the edges.  The smokey flavor combined with the sweet and tangy sauce was a match made in heaven.  My only regret with this recipe is that there wasn't enough for leftovers.  They ate every last bite and I even caught my daughter, Paige, gnawing on her fork when she was done.  I asked her jokingly if she wanted to suck on the bone and she was like, "Sure".  That's my girl.

1/4 cup of apple cider
1/4 cup of honey
3 T. of Dijon mustard
2 T. of real mayonnaise
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 large smoked ham steaks

-Whisk together the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl.  Once thoroughly combined, cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge for a few minutes while you preheat your grill to a medium-high flame.  Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the ham steaks and toss onto the top rack of your grill.  Baste with the honey mustard sauce and flip throughout the entire grilling process of about 5-6 total minutes on each side (I flipped it maybe 4 times throughout).  Towards the end of the grilling, transfer the ham steaks down to the bottom rack to really charr them up a bit and add some grill marks.  Serve with a drizzle of the remaining honey mustard sauce on top.  Serves 4.  Enjoy!