Wednesday, December 31, 2008
In the meantime, I'm making some "hoovy doovies" (as we say at my house) for my family tonight, along with some goodies for the family dinner tomorrow.
Tonight we'll be having cocktail wieners in "secret sauce", the best queso dip with chips, and either pastrami sandwiches on sub-buns or beef fajitas, not sure which. I also have some chocolate peanut butter chip cookies I made last night (just the standard recipe from the back of the Reeses' peanut butter chip package, no secret to this one!) and some snow-drop cookies I made this afternoon. We'll probably toast the New Year in with eggless eggnog, if we're still awake.
Tomorrow's menu will include black-eyed peas with rice; Mexican cornbread; coleslaw; and a variety of chips and dips and desserts. For my contribution, I've already made a pot of black-eyed peas--my Mom makes hers with the leftover ham bone from Christmas, I make mine just like I do 10-bean soup, with chicken and ground meat. I have poppy seed cakes in the oven as we speak--one to take to family dinner tomorrow, one made as two loaves to gift to a couple of people. I'll also be making spinach dip and crab spread, (made with a combination of crab and shrimp this time) and will probably take a plate of leftover cookies.
I love the smells going on in my kitchen right now--peas are simmering, cocktail wieners are parboiling, cakes are baking...Ummmm, makes me want to bottle this up and give it away!
Hoping you and yours will have a happy and safe New Year!
Good cooking, and good eating!
Monday, December 29, 2008
While the simplest way to serve these is just heated up and then put on a plate with toothpicks stuck in them, the most popular way to do these is probably swimming in barbeque sauce.
I've discovered a secret, though, to a sauce that looks and tastes similar to bbq sauce, but tastes better, somehow, without anyone being able to put their finger on the difference. Unless they're in the Secret Southern Society of Cocktail Wiener Servers, of course.
My secret? Don't use barbeque sauce, use chili sauce. No, not chili, chili sauce. It comes in a bottle, right next to the cocktail sauce and the tartar sauce, between the ketchup and the worchestershire. Buy one bottle of chili sauce for every package or cocktail wieners you're planning to serve.
My next secret? Parboil the wieners first, before you put them in the sauce. Just put them in a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for just a minute or two, then drain the water off. This gets out some of the excess fat.
Next, add one bottle of chili sauce and a couple of tablespoons of grape jelly to your pan, and heat on low to medium heat, stirring until the jelly is dissolved. Add the cocktail wieners, bring to a bubble, and simmer on the lowest possible heat.
Another secret? Don't just pour sauce on them, heat, and serve. Let them simmer for a while in the sauce, and let the sauce darken and reduce just a little bit. You don't want syrup, but you do want it to thicken just slightly. If you have one of those little crock-pots, put wieners and sauce and all in it and let them cook on low for awhile. Take the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so to allow some evaporation and the sauce will thicken right up.
Try this one out, without telling anyone that you're using a different sauce. They won't be able to tell what's different, they'll just be able to taste a subtle something that I think sets these apart.
Good cooking, and good eating!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
- 16 oz sour cream
- 1 c mayonnaise
- 1 packet of vegetable soup/dip mix (Knorr or Lipton works for me)
- 1 box (about 10 oz) of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
Mix the sour cream, mayo, and dry soup/dip mix. When the spinach is thawed, squeeze the excess water out of it, then stir into the sour cream mixture. The recipe on the box calls for chopped green onions and water chestnuts; sometimes I add the water the chestnuts for crunch, but most of the time I forget to buy them, so I usually make it just as listed here. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve with crackers
Besides the things I made today to take to my mom's for dinner tomorrow, within the last few days I've made snowdrop/sand tarts and chocolate chip cookies, pasta bake, and queso dip. I've also bought the makings for crab spread, seasoned crackers, and eggless egg nog, or Just Nog as I like to say. Oh, and Hanukkah donuts. (The only reason I haven't made these yet is because I don't want to have to clean the stove!)
We'll be enjoying all of these and maybe more at some point during the holiday season. I mention all of these to say this--the recipes that I post here are things that I really make and eat. One of the things that helps me get into the holiday spirit is when I finally reach the place that I start cooking. Even if I do have to clean the kitchen up a dozen times in a day. Okay, maybe a half-a-dozen. I love to cook, both for my family and for others, those simple things that we all like to enjoy while we're enjoying the season and each other.
So, from my kitchen to yours this holiday season, good cooking, and good eating!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I did discover a few years ago, however, that I like fresh cranberries, and things made with fresh cranberries. So when I friend from work brought me a little dish of this relish to sample one year, I jumped all over it. Everything is done in the food processor-the hardest thing to do is getting the oranges ready--and that's not difficult, just messy, so you might want to do that part over the sink.
- 2 large navel oranges
- 1 1/2 lbs fresh cranberries
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 2 T minced mint leaves
Cut off the peel and all of the white stuff from the oranges. All you want is the flesh of the orange, no membranes or peel. (You might want to save some of the orange peel and make orange zest to use in other recipes. Or make some little curly things to garnish the serving dish. Or not.)
Put everything into the food processor, and chop. Refrigerate until serving, and that's it.
This is absolutely the best stuff, it has a tartness and bite to it that complement the sweetness.
Edited to add: I made this on Wednesday for Christmas dinner the next day. I knew it was tart, but I wanted a second opinion--my Mom and I added about 1/4 cup more sugar Thursday morning. I think my cranberries were a little unripe. As in pucker up your mouth. So always apply the taste test to everything, don't just depend on a recipe, there are too many variables, especially with fresh ingredients.
Good (un)cooking, and good eating!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
But I am making one of my favorite cookies this afternoon--Snowdrops--hence the snow reference. These cookies are also commonly referred to as Sand Tarts, and I think they're the same or similar to one called a Mexican Wedding Cookie. I think the only difference between all of these is the shape--Snowdrops are made into little balls, which flatten a little on the bottom as they bake; Sand Tarts you make little balls and flatten them before you bake them; and Mexican Wedding cookies are usually mad1e into little half moons or crescents--or sometimes I think they look kind of like little footballs (!)
Here is the version I made this afternoon:
- 1 c butter or margarine, softened
- 1/2 c powdered or confectioners sugar
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 c finely chopped almonds or pecans
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1 c self-rising flour
- additional powdered sugar to roll cookies in after baking
Cream together butter and powdered sugar; add salt, vanilla, and nuts; gradually stir in flour. This makes a very dry and crumbly dough. Shape the dough into little balls--larger than a marble, smaller than a walnut. Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes. Remove to wire rack and let cool . Roll in powdered sugar.
Note: I use self-rising flour almost exclusively, unless a recipe states that you absolutely-must-or-the-recipe-will-fail use all-purpose flour. I usually just leave out the salt and baking powder that the recipe calls for, or in this just the salt. I have no idea if these would turn out differently using all-purpose flour and salt instead of self-rising flour, because I've never made them that way.
Also--I always make these with pecans, I've never tried them with almonds, although I'm sure they'd be just as good. You might even want to add a little almond extract to the dough if you decide to use almonds.
One of the things I like about this recipe is that it doesn't make a huge batch. I love to bake cookies, but once I've mixed everything and done about the third pan into the oven, I'm ready to be through. With this one, it makes about three cookie sheets full, and that's all. So you have to time to do other things, like bake a different kind of cookie. Or blog.
At any rate, these are a pretty, light tasting, not overly sweet cookie, and if you do any kind of baking at all, you probably have all of these ingredients on hand most of the time, so they're any easy, quick cookie for any time of the year, not just Christmas.
My apologies for not posting pictures--we are at home in rural Louisiana for the holidays, and it just takes too long to upload pictures using dial-up. I'll try to post some pictures later.
Good cooking, and good eating, and happy holidays to everyone!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
You need three things to make these--oil, biscuit dough, and powdered sugar.
The first thing on the list is oil--I use canola oil if I have it, or whatever light vegetable cooking oil I have on hand. I've used olive oil, corn oil, or just a generic "vegetable oil" blend.
The second thing you need is powdered or confectioners sugar to roll the finished donut in. No glaze or frosting unless you just want to make some.
And last but not least, any refrigerated or frozen (thawed before cooking, please!) biscuit dough you have. I use what I call "canned biscuits"--the refrigerated biscuits that come in a tube--you can usually buy them with four tubes shrink wrapped together.
My mom and my aunt used to make these for us kids in an electric skillet. You could use a fryer if you have one. I don't, so I usually do these in a regular frying pan. I have to confess--sometimes I use my dutch-oven sized soup pot, because the taller sides keep the grease from popping everywhere. I hardly every fry anything, not because it's bad for you, but because I hate to clean the stove afterward!
Put about an inch of oil in your cooking vessel of choice. Heat the oil to a medium high heat. Sorry this is not more scientific. I do this the old fashioned way--I use a tester donut. Or two. (The gal who fries the donuts gets to eat the testers.) I fry these until they're lightly browned on the bottom, then flip them and fry until they're brown on the other side. Let them drain on some paper towels, then roll in powdered sugar. If they get brown on the outside but are still doughy on the inside, your oil is too hot. Reduce your heat just a little and try again. Just be sure to remember that adding several cold blobs of dough at a time will bring the temperature of your oil down a little more than just adding one, so a panful may take a little longer than just one or two at a time.
Updated to add: I made these Friday night using a fryer I borrowed from my mom--I cooked them at 170C/338F for two minutes on each side, and they came out perfect--done on the inside, but not too brown on the outside.
I usually try to get a little assembly line going. Open the biscuits and separate them; fry the donuts; drain and slightly cool; then roll in powdered sugar. If you try to do too many things at once--roll one batch while the next is frying, for instance--you'll probably end up with overcooked on the outside/undercooked on the inside blobs of dough. It's too easy to get the oil too hot. Don't ask me how I know this. It's better to fry a batch or two, then roll a batch or two. If you have someone to help you, so much the better.
If you want to get a little fancier, you can make a glaze. I did make chocolate covered donuts once by microwaving a small bowl of leftover chocolate frosting, then dipping the donuts in the hot frosting. When it cools, it firms back up and looks pretty.
Since a donut is basically just sweetened fried bread, you can use any kind of bread/roll/biscuit dough you want to use. Yeast rolls, biscuits; fresh, frozen, or refrigerated.
Point of interest--did you know that most home cooks used to make donuts as a twist, not round? That's how you knew they were done on one side--the cooked dough puffed up, and the twisted shape allowed the donut to roll itself over. All you had to do was fish them out when both sides were brown.
I hope you enjoy this simple treat, at Hanukkah or anytime.
Good cooking, and good eating!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Today in the bloggy progressive dinner is main dish time--this may not be something you'd want to serve for a fancy dinner, but it's easy, versatile, and some of it can be done ahead of time!
By now in the holidays, you may have gone to several parties and events, and be starting to tire of rich food. Don't give up now, you still have a couple of weeks to go before you're done! This recipe is perfect for those running-on-empty kind of days. It's one those quick-and-easy versions that you can always make more complicated when you have more time. Yeah, right, like that's ever going to happen. But I digress. It's also a bit of a break from the usual party food and holiday fare.
Sorry for the inexact measurements, this is another of those "just-wing-it-and-you'll-be-fine" recipes.
- 1 lb ground meat
- 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
- 1 packet of spaghetti sauce seasoning
- 1 box of rotini or penne pasta
- mozarella, provolone, parmesan, or Italian blend grated cheese
Brown the ground meat, drain, and return to pot. Add the jar of spaghetti sauce. I always run a little water into the jar, out the top back on, and shake it, then pour into the pan, to get every bit of sauce out of the jar, and lest you think this might make it watery, I'll let you in on my Big Spaghetti Sauce Secret--add a packet of spaghetti sauce seasoning to the jarred sauce. It makes it a little thicker, and adds an extra punch of flavor. I also tend to add a sprinkle or two of generic Italian seasoning and garlic powder (be sure not to use garlic salt, the sauce already has enough sodium in it) Bring this to a bubble, cover, and let simmer.
Meanwhile, boil your pasta according to the package directions. I like to use a mixture of rotini and penne--I usually just throw in a couple of handfuls of each, according to how much of this I want to make. Pasta Secret--for a dish that you're going to cooking again, be sure to leave the pasta a little al dente so it won't turn to mush. Drain the pasta, rinse with cool water, and allow to drain well.
Pour the pasta into a greased or Pam-sprayed casserole, dutch oven, or 9 x 13 baking dish. Add the sauce, and stir. Add as much or as little cheese on top as you'd like. I like a lot. So does my family. I usually use a mixture of mozarella and parmesan, Italian blend, or whatever grated cheese I have on hand. I think I've even used Mexican Blend in a pinch.
Cover and bake at 350 for at about 20-25 until heated thoroughly. Sometimes I take the cover off at the end so the cheese will brown a little on the edges.
I serve this with garlic bread, breadsticks, crescent rolls, or Italian herb bread from the bread machine.
Obviously you can vary the type of meat, from beef to turkey to Italian sausage
Use your own from-scratch-sauce if you have time, or if you have some leftover
Vary the pasta. I've even done this with spaghetti in a pinch. (Don't ask me why we didn't just have spaghetti--that would have been too easy!)
This makes a good take-to-someone dish--just put it all in a disposable pan and let them do the final baking at their convenience.
This has become one of my family's favorites lately. Somehow it seems different from just having spaghetti, I'm not sure why. I do like that I can use leftover sauce and pasta--just remember, it you mix it together straight from the fridge, allow some extra baking time to be sure it's heated all the way through.
Good cooking, and good eating!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Well, we in the blogosphere are invited to a bloggy progressive dinner, hosted by Amy at The Finer Things in Life. Each night this week, Amy or one of her blogging friends is playing hostess, featuring their recipes for their assigned course. But wait, there's more!! Besides their own recipes, other blogging women can link to their own recipes in that day's category.
- 12/15 Joy serves drinks at Five J’s
- 12/16 Kate serves appetizers at A Simple Walk
- 12/17 JessieLeigh serves salad at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles
- 12/18 Amy will serve the main course at The Finer Things in Life
- 12/19 Toni serves dessert at The Happy Housewife
This is your chance to visit some new-to-you blogs, and maybe get a new recipe or two along the way. I linked my eggless eggnog and seasoned snack crackers to the beverage and appetizer courses already. Come back every night and see what new sites and recipes you can find!
Good cooking, and good eating!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
A lot of cookbooks and recipe sites list all kinds of recipes for "substitutes". I've seen the one about adding vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk to make a substitute for buttermilk; and using white sugar and syrup combined as a substitute for brown sugar.
This recipe is one I've never seen before until recently, though, so I thought I'd share
In a blender or food processor, combine the following:
- 1 c hot water
- 2 c sugar
- 2 c instant non-fat dry milk
- 6 T butter or margarine, melted
This makes three cups, or the equivalent of 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk.
Here's hoping that you never have to use this recipe, but glad you have it now in case you need it!
Good cooking, and good eating!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
One of special treats to indulge in at this time of the year is Egg Nog. I've always wanted to learn to make homemade eggnog, but the recipes all seemed so complicated. Separate eggs, cook the custard, beat the whites, fold in, way too many steps for this everyday cook. Not to mention that everything you read warns against using real (raw) eggs, you have to buy special egg white powder, who does all of that? So I've become a real connoisseur of good "store-bought" eggnog--trust me, all brands are not created equally! The problem with good eggnog, though, is that it's 1. expensive, and 2. extraordinarily full of fat and calories.
So imagine my delight when I found this recipe! It's super simple to make, inexpensive, and everything in it is a "regular food" ingredient, nothing exotic!
- 1/2 gallon milk of choice
- 1 pkg instant French vanilla pudding mix
- 1/4 c sugar
- 2 t vanilla
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Put the beans in the pot, and cover with a couple of inches of water. Bring them to a rolling boil, then put the lid on the pot and turn off the burner. Let them soak at least 30 minutes. Afterwards, they'll look something like this:
Once the beans returned to a boil, I put a couple of boneless skinless chicken thighs in there, straight from frozen. After the chicken was cooked through, I fished it back out and diced it, then added it back to the beans, along with some cooked ground meat (leftover from an earlier recipe.) I let all of it simmer until the large beans were tender, At that point I added my other secret seasoning--a liberal dose of Tony Chay Chay's (Tone Cachere's!) seasoning blend.
And then, because I am from Louisiana, after all, I served it all over rice. Yum.
And here is the finished product. I'm not a food stylist, so it doesn't look the greatest, but trust me, it's delicious. (And no bad after-effect!)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, that's what I was thinking about today when I took a cake out of the oven. Too bad this one doesn't have frosting!
Some of you may have seen my earlier post about my World Famous Poppy Seed Cake ;0), I was making one that week to take to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, and took a few pictures to post. The finished product turned out a little bit lopsided, though, so I never took the final picture.
Today I decided to make another one, and photograph the finished product.
Well, guess what? Not only did it fall, it tore coming out of the pan. I've made this cake dozens, if not literally hundreds, of time, and I have never had this cake fall. Never. Ever. So it made absolutely the worst looking finished cake. Well, maybe not the worst of all time, but Not Pretty.
And what did I do with this ugly, lopsided cake? I took a picture, anyway. And then I ate it. Yum.
So, here it is in all of it's glory.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Today's recipe is one of the simplest (is that a real word?) ones I've ever found for fresh homemade quick rolls, and the perfect solution for those times you need just a little something more to round out dinner. (Also good for those holiday mornings when you wake up in a cold sweat, realizing that you forgot to buy rolls). We made these in home-ec class in high school, (more years ago than I care to remember or admit!) and my teacher called these "Bachelor Rolls", because they were so easy that even a bachelor could make them. (Wouldn't exactly be considered politically correct these days, would it?)
I ran across this recipe again not long ago, so I thought I'd share it here.
- 1 c self-rising flour
- 2 T mayonnaise (it has to be real mayo, not Miracle Whip or similar dressing)
- 1/2 cup milk
Mix everything together, and pour into lightly greased (or Pam sprayed) muffin cups. Bake at 450 degrees F until lightly browned. (Sorry not to be more specific, it's been a while since I've made these--I'd set the timer for 10 minutes and go from there!) This makes 6 rolls, but you can easily double or triple this recipe.
What I like about this recipe, again, is that these are everyday ingredients that you probably have on hand most of the time.
While not strictly a party food, I think these would be great to serve with a meat and cheese tray, along with one of condiments and relishes, for your guests to make their own mini-sandwiches.
Good cooking, and good eating!
Monday, December 8, 2008
To make this, first take a stick of butter, put it in a about a 2 qt baking dish. Put in the oven at about 350 to melt while the oven is heating while you mix the batter.
- 1 c self-rising flour
- 1 c sugar
- 1 cup milk
Once the butter is melted, pour the batter into the melted butter in the baking dish. Drain one can of sliced peaches, reserving some of the syrup. Spread the peaches over the top, and drizzle a little of the syrup can over the top (not much, or it'll be too juicy). Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the crust starts to brown and the center seems to set.
And now for the secret. Once it's cooked, dot the top with butter, and sprinkle lightly with sugar, then put the cobbler back into the oven till the butter melts and top browns a little more. I don't know what this does, but the crysatilized sugar adds just the right touch of taste and crunch to the top of this.
Let this sit just a few minutes to firm up, but not too long--this melts in your mouth when you serve it hot. My favorite way to eat this is warm with a little bit of "canned cream" (evaporated milk, undiluted and straight from the can!) poured over the top. Of course fresh cream would be good, too. Or Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.
To make this in a 9 x 13 pan or equivalent, you'll need to double this recipe.
I have a friend who used to make this with home canned peaches. Once by accident she made it with pears--she thought they were white peaches when she opened them. We liked it so well, she made it with pears from then on--the only other thing she changed was to sprinkle a little cinnamon on top with the sugar when she made it with pears.
You could probably make this with other fruit, but it's so good, I usually stick with the peaches.
What's your favorite cobbler?
Good cooking, and good eating!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
- 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
- 1 bottle of cocktail sauce
- 1 can of crab meat, drained, or equivalent in frozen or fresh (cooked) crabmeat
Spread the softened cream cheese directly onto your serving plate, almost to the edge. Pour the bottle of cocktail sauce into the middle, and spread almost to the edge of the cream cheese. Take the drained crabmeat and break it apart, and sprinkle on top of the layer of cocktail sauce.
Serve with butter type crackers, like Ritz or Town House.
Note: this is NOT one that should be made very long ahead of time, as it can tend to start getting a little watery if it stands a long time.
You could use little cocktail shrimp,or chopped up larger shrimp, in place of the crabmeat.
This recipe, like most of the ones I use, is deceptively simple. Everything can be kept on hand in your grocery stockpile, put together at the spur of the moment, if necessary.
Good (un-)cooking, and good eating!
Friday, December 5, 2008
- 1 1/2 lbs of lean ground meat (I've only done this beef, but you might be able to use ground turkey with some seasoning adjustments)
- 1 pkg taco seasoning (this is just the regular envelope of taco seasoning you buy next to the taco shells or with the seasoning packets at the grocery store)
- 2 eggs
- 1 block of sharp cheddar, cut into cubes (I used a package of already cubed cheese that you find next to the grated cheese, mine was a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar cubes)
Combine the meat, taco seasoning, and eggs until well mixed. Take about a tablespoon (or a little more, depending on the size of your cheese cubes) of the meat mixture, and mold around a cube of cheese, to form a small meatball. Bake these on a cookie sheet with a lip, or in a shallow baking pan, at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the cheese is melted.
You can change these up by varying the cheese and the seasoning in the meat. I've made the taco seasoned meatballs, and I've made them using a packet of spaghetti sauce seasoning in place of the taco seasoning. I usually grab a bag of mixed mozzarella and cheddar cheese cubes, both of these go well with either seasoning. If you want to change up the seasoning, and the cheese, I think the possibilities would be endless.
These meatballs are so simple and easy to make, and they beat pre-made, frozen meatballs, hands down. Use them for party food just as they are, or serve the taco meatballs with queso as a dipping sauce, and spaghetti sauce with the Italian. (I think the Italian meatballs would make a wonderful meatball sub, too).
Change the seasoning/cheese combination for something a little more sophisticated if you'd like, but try these, they are so easy, and taste so good.
Happy cooking, and happy eating!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It was homemade, and we thought it was So Exotic.
We even called it by an exotic name--"Ro-tel cheese dip".
Back in the "olden days", Ro-tel tomatoes came two ways--with green chilies, or without. The recipe was so simple--one can of Ro-tel tomatoes to one pound of Velveeta. Which meant if you bought the big box of Velveeta, you needed two cans.
These days, you can buy untold varieties of Ro-tel tomatoes. I saw some the other day that were flavored with lime juice and cilantro. (Something about that sounds sooo good.)
They also come already diced, which is where the problem lies. Most people, these days, when they make ro-tel dip, just chunk up the Velveeta and pour the diced Ro-tel tomatoes over the top, then melt it all together in the microwave. Now, I have to say, it's not bad that way. But if you use the old recipe of two cans of diced Ro-tel to two pounds (the big box) of Velveeta, it's not the right consistency, and to me, it doesn't taste as good as the way we did it back in the "olden days".
And how did we do it "back in the day" before Ro-tel came already diced? We opened up the two cans of Ro-tel, dumped it into a blender or food processor, and more or less liquefied it. Then chunked up the Velveeta, poured the liquefied Ro-tel over the top, and melted it in a double boiler, or very carefully in a regular saucepan, on top of the stove.
Stay with me, now! I'm not advocating ditching the microwave!! Melted is melted, I don't care which way you do it! BUT--and this is the BIG SECRET--whether you buy the old fashioned, whole Ro-tel tomatoes, or whether you buy the diced ones---throw them in the blender and liquefy them all first.
You may not think it would make that much difference, but it does, TRUST me. The flavors of the tomatoes and the spices blend with the cheese so much better.
Microwave on about 80%, and stop and stir every few minutes or so. Once it the Velveeta gets melted and you can really stir and blend it together, it looks disgusting, but persevere! Continue to stir, and all of a sudden, it will go from weird looking mixture to the Best Cheese Dip Ever.
Now you know I can't do a recipe without giving you some variations. Add one of the following stir-ins for something different:
- cook and drain 1/2 lb to a pound of ground meat or pan sausage and stir into dip
- add a small container of chopped or sliced black olives
- for a creamier dip, use one can of Ro-tel, one pound of Velveeta, and after melting, add an 8 oz container of sour cream and a packet of ranch dressing mix.
- add a large can of chili when you add the tomatoes; heat and stir all together
But my very favorite way to eat this dip is just plain, made from two cans of liquefied Ro-tel and the big box of Velveeta.
Pass the Ruffles, please.
Good cooking, and good eating!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Here is the basic recipe:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 c mayo or Miracle Whip
- 1 t garlic salt
- 1 t worchestershire sauce
- 1/4 t pepper
- 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese
- 6-8 oz crab meat
Allow the cream cheese to soften, then mix in mayo/miracle whip and seasonings. Once well blended, sitr in grated cheese and crab meat. Refrigerate for several hours-overnight is best, it lets the flavors really blend. It gets really stiff when cold, be sure to remove from the fridge for a while before serving, to allow it to soften back up a little for ease of spreading.
Most of the time I use imitation crab meat--you know the stuff I'm talking about--I drain it, and chop it fine before adding to the cream cheese mixture. If I do use real crab meat, I break it up a little with my fingers before mixing it in. I double this recipe a lot, and when I do, I usually use one package of the fake crab meat, and one can of real crab meat, or frozen if I can find it. (I seldom have the budget for fresh crabmeat, but by all means use fresh if you have access to it). If you buy canned, fresh, or frozen crab meat, buy the cheaper stuff, not the more expensive white or lump crab meat. Save the expensive stuff for a fancier recipe than this one.
As far as seasonings go, I use Tony Cachere's Creole seasoning mix in everything, so I use about a teaspoon of Tony Chay Chay's as we call it in my family, and leave out the garlic salt & the pepper. I do use the worchestershire sauce, though.
If you don't like crab, or you have someone who is allergic to shellfish, leave out the crab meat, add about an extra cup at least of grated cheese, to make it more like a cheese ball.
I usually put this in a pretty pink fluted glass serving dish that I have, that has a matching round serving dish that I use for the crackers. You can garnish it with a little parsley if you'd like.
Tune in tommorrow for another good dip/appetizer recipe.
Good cooking (sort of) and good eating!
Monday, December 1, 2008
If this has happened to you in the past, the easiest way to avoid a repeat is in the planning stages. First of all, food doesn't have to be elaborate to taste good. Good food, simply prepared, and presented in an attractive way are really all that's needed to make most of your guests happy.
I'll be posting recipe and menus ideas that can help you to Keep It Simple Sweety, so that you can Have Your Cake and Enjoy Eating It, Too.
So, take a deep breath. Let it out. And begin.
Unless you enjoy making something that has 27 ingredients and takes 15 incremental steps. In that case, you're on your own!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
- 1 pound of ground meat
- 1 can of whole kernel corn
- 1 can of beans
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 1 can of cooked tomatoes
- 1 pkg of taco seasoning.
Over the years I have varied this in lots of different ways. My family doesn't really like "chunks" of tomatoes, so I leave that out, and I usually use tomato sauce instead of tomato paste, so I use 2 or 3 cans of tomato sauce in place of the tomatoes and tomato paste. Once in a pinch I used a can of tomato soup and a can of cheddar cheese soup, and it was delicious that way, too.
I've used several different kinds of beans, according, again, to what I've had on hand. One of my favorites for this is small red beans, but I've used kidney beans, pinto beans, ranch style beans, and canned baked beans. I think it would be really good with a mixture of black and red beans.
You can also vary the meat if you'd like. I've made this with ground beef or turkey, and often use a mixture of both if I have them on hand.
My version that I make most often these days is 2 lbs of ground meat, 2 cans of corn, 1 can of beans, 2 or 3 cans of tomato sauce, and 2 packages of taco seasoning. This makes a big pot full. I've never frozen this, because we usually eat on it for a couple of days, and then have any other leftovers for lunches, but I think it would probably freeze well.
Serve this with grated cheddar cheese, crackers, tortilla chips, cornbread, or any combination of these! (It's really good with a little dollop of sour cream on top, but I'm the only one in my family who likes sour cream, so I seldom have any on hand unless I need it for a recipe!)
I think one of things I like about this recipe is that most of ingredients are things you can have on hand at all times. Obviously, you don't have to use just canned ingredients. I've made this using leftover cooked pinto beans and frozen corn from my parents' garden, and with frozen home grown tomatoes that I've thawed and run through the blender (to get rid of those pesky "lumps" of tomatoes).
Any way you make it, this is good!
Good cooking, and good eating!
edited to add: for links to more recipes, see The Grocery Cart Challenge
Friday, November 28, 2008
First of all, realize this. Pretty much anything you can make with boiled or pre-cooked chicken, you can make with turkey. Chicken salad, chicken & dumplings, chicken & rice, chicken alfredo--all of these can be made with leftover turkey as a substitute for chicken.
But let me give you some advice. If you cooked enough turkey for an army, and after two days you still have turkey left, you can do the frugal thing without having turkey-ten-ways-for-ten-days-after-Thanksgiving. What you do is this: take it off the bone, bag it up, and freeze it. Bring it out later in a dish you usually make with chicken. Don't tell them it's ghost-of-holidays-past turkey. Just let them assume it's chicken.
Not long ago I did this when chicken was on sale. I bought a big pack of chicken leg quarters, then went ahead and boiled all of them at once in two big pots, then sat and removed the skin and took the meat off the bone. I divided it all up in meal-sized bags and froze them, then I had pre-cooked chicken ready for a quick and simple homecooked pot of chicken and rice, chicken alfredo, and chicken and dumplings. Boiling and de-boning the whole bag of chicken doesn't take that much longer than doing just a few pieces, and I only have the mess and clean-up once instead of every time I want to cook something that requires boiling chicken. It's an easy way to have "homemade" convenience food.
Leftover turkey can be done the same way, and is just as good in these kinds of dishes.
Do you have an all-but-unrecognizable turkey carcass with bits of meat left on it? Put it in a stock pot, cover with water, throw in some celery and onion or whatever you have on hand, bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for a while. Once the carcass is boiled, any little bits left clinging to it should fall right off. The resulting stock can be strained and used now, or also frozen to used later, just like chicken stock.
What do you do after that? Or what if you have just a little turkey left, not enough to really bag and keep?
Here's the secret. Take a deep breath; let it out; and then--throw it away.
Did you get that? You've gotten your money's worth. Your family's sick of it. You've done well, grasshopper. It's time to move on. Give it a rest. Throw it away.
Happy "uncooking", until next time...
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
You can make this the night before and refrigerate it, just make sure you allow for extra baking time to bring it back up to temperature.
- 6 c mashed sweet potatoes
- 2 c sugar
- 1 c melted butter or margarine
- 4 eggs
- 2 t vanilla
If you're using canned sweet potatoes/yams, drain and mash. If using fresh sweet potatoes, bake these ahead of time, then scoop out the insides. Add the sugar & melted butter. Beat eggs separately, and add after the butter has cooled a little. Add vanilla, and beat with mixer until ingredients are well blended. You will probably still have some lumps, unless you run it through a food processor, that's okay. You can mix by hand, but the batter will not be as smooth. Pour this into a greased or cooking-sprayed 9 x 13 pan or equivalent casserole dish.
In a separate bowl, mix together :
- 1 c chopped pecans
- 1/2 c flour
- 1 c brown sugar
- 5-6 T melted butter or margarine
Mix together the nuts & flour, then add the brown sugar and stir together. Add the melted butter last, and stir until everything is moistened.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, (longer if you make this ahead and refrigerate overnight) or until topping is melted together and browning on the edges.
I got this recipe years ago from a co-worker, and this is the sweet potatoes we've made at holidays ever since. I hope you enjoy this as much as we have over the years!
Good cooking, and good eating!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Ordinarily, I am not a big fan of saltine crackers. My family likes them, but I'm more of Ritz gal, myself. When I first ate these crackers, though, they turned me into a saltine believer.
- 1 1/2 c olive oil or canola oil
- 1 pkg dry Ranch dressing mix
- 3 T crushed red pepper or pepper flakes
Pour over the contents of 1 box of saltine crackers, in a sealable bowl. "Marinate" the crackers for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes. Spread crackers out a cookie sheets or baking pans, and bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Let these cool, and dig in.
I don't even need dip or spread with these, I like to just eat them plain. You can vary this easily by changing the seasoning. I think Italian dressing mix and a little Parmesan cheese would be excellent. If you don't think you'll use this quantity, make just enough for a stack or two of crackers, instead of the whole box.
During the holiday season we tend to make a lot of dips and spreads and party foods, and of course we have to buy chips and crackers to go with them. Most seasoned snack crackers can be a little pricey, especially when you look at the quantity that you're getting for your money. These are a tasty, frugal alternative, especially if you stock up on saltines when they're on sale. Several stores in my area run crackers on sale B1G1--these are especially good when they're made with free crackers!
Make them for the cost savings, but eat them for the taste!
Good cooking, and good eating, until next time...
edited to add: See links to more recipes at The Grocery Cart Challenge
Sunday, November 23, 2008
What magic cake is this? My world famous Poppy Seed Cake. Unlike most poppy-seed cakes or muffins, this one has no lemon, and it also requires no frosting or glaze--I sift powedered sugar over the top after it's cooled, and that's all it needs to be the perfect cake.
And now for the recipe...shhh...quiet, it's a secret...
- 1 box of Duncan Hines butter recipe golden cake mix
- 1 8oz container sour cream
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/2 c cooking oil
- 4 eggs
- 3 T poppy seeds
Mix all ingredients but the poppy seeds, and beat for 2 minutes on low to medium speed. Mix poppy seeds into the batter. Pour into a greased or cooking-sprayed tube or bundt pan. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. If the top seems not quite done, I turn the oven off and leave the cake in it for about 5 more minutes. I watch for the edges to start pulling away from the pan. If I use a bundt pan, I loosen the edges with a butter knife, and remove from the pan immediately. Most of the time I use a tube pan--like an angel-food cake pan. I remove the cake from the outer ring, and let it sit on the inner ring until cool, then run a butter knife around the bottom and the tube in the middle. Once plated, sift powdered sugar over the top. I like lots of powdered sugar on the top. I'm making two of these this week for Thanksgiving, I'll try to remember to take pictures so you can see the finished product.
And that's it. As I said before, deceptively simple. It really is better the next day. These make good gifts, too, becuase they keep so well, and everyone I know who has ever eaten this has liked it.
Note: I gave this recipe to a friend many years ago. She never used the Duncan Hines cake mix, she used a different brand. She used meduim eggs, and I use large or extra-large eggs. She didn't put as many poppy seeds in hers.It was just not the same cake--not as moist, not as good. It was just an ok cake. So if you want to get the full effect, make it at least once with the name brand cake mix before you start tweaking it. The only thing I've ever left out were the poppy seeds when I used the recipe to make cupcakes for a pre-school class--they tend to not like "things" in their food, and it was still a good, moist, cupcake, just not a poppy-seed cupcake!
Good baking, and good eating; until next time...
With the holidays coming up, I wanted to give you one of my favorite, all around, recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Are you ready?
First you need to buy a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I've used the good brands, and I've used the store brands. I buy whichever is cheaper at the time--the good brand if it's on sale and I have a coupon, if not, then the cheap brand.
Start off with the basic cookie recipe on the back of the package. It should go something like this:
- 1 c (2 sticks) of butter or margarine, softened
- 3/4 c brown sugar
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 c of self-rising flour (or add 1 t salt & 1 t baking soda to regular, all-purpose flour)
Cream together the butter & sugar; add eggs & vanilla; add flour.
And now for the secret--add only HALF the package of chocolate chips, and only HALF of the amount of nuts called for on the package recipe. That translates to this:
- 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 c chopped pecans
Bake as usual, 9-11 minutes at 375 degrees. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack or plate to finish cooling. (If you can keep your family out of them long enough.)
Don't tell anyone what you've done, just sit back and wait for the compliments.
This is not just to be cheap (I prefer frugal, thank you); it actually makes a better tasting cookie. It gives a better proportion of cookie to chunky stuff. I've done this literally for years, ever since a
cheap frugal friend told me about this. She started it to save money, and got so many compliments that she just continued to do it. Luckily, she believed in sharing!
Good baking, and good eating; until next time...
Saturday, November 1, 2008
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