Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quick Delmonico Potato Casserole

I seem to be unable to take my photos as soon as these dishes come out of the oven. At that point, my only concern is getting them into the car for a ten-minute drive to our 42 game night so they'll still be hot and bubbly. Especially something as delicious as this potato casserole.

I've found similar online with grated potatoes, but this one is really quick and easy, and so very flavorful. I think it has the makings for being a very flexible dessert and as I make a change or two, I'll post the results. This time I followed my friend Shirley's recipe:

Potatoes 
1 32-ounce package frozen hash browns, thawed
1 can cream of chicken soup (low sodium suggested)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (sharp suggested)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, diced

Topping 
2 cups corn flakes, crushed (not too fine)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Now, we put all of this together:

Potatoes
Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350
Combine Potatoes ingredients, mixing well, then spoon into the baking dish.  I did put the thawed potatoes in last.

Topping
Combine corn flakes and melted butter.
Sprinkle over potatoes
Bake 45 minutes, or until bubbly

How much easier can you get? I must admit to a couple of change already - I was out of cream of chicken soup, so I used cream of chicken and mushroom. All I had on hand was light sour cream. Mine was deliciously creamy, but not quite as creamy as Shirley's when she brought it. This time, too, the cornflakes were a bit crunchier - perhaps she watched it more closely and didn't complete the full 45 minutes, we're not certain. We were certain that this was delicious!

Of course, we made more than one dish - even though this recipe will feed 12, and we're a group that has to watch carbs, this is a "More, please," comfort food.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cornbread - Small Batch, Small Cast Iron Skillet

I have a five- or six-inch cast iron skillet. I used to have one even smaller that my mother-in-law used to fry one egg at a time, but I don't know where that one ended up after a move or two.

This small one is just right to fix cornbread for four people (or two people two meals) and since there's two of us in this house and two next door, it seems appropriate (and well used.) Used to be that we'd keep one of the envelopes of cornbread mix in the pantry (well, maybe two or more) but we run out fairly often, so I went looking for a recipe that would give us the right texture, right taste at the right size.

Got it. Don't use it if you're making cornbread dressing or cornbread salad - it won't be sufficient. But - when you have a good bowl of beans or stew or chowder or anything such as that, this is just right. At least I got a photo, even if it was after supper!



I found this on Cookie Madness and must say I only made minor adjustments.

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal (she used slightly coarse; I used what was on hand)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk (well, I used 1/2 cup + 3 Tbls 2% milk - again, what was on hand)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (oops, didn't have any)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter or I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter spread, melted (we keep Parkay for Papa's sheet cake, so that's what we had on hand)
So, after those ingredients, come the instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place a 5-inch cast iron skillet inside to heat while you make the batter.
  2. In a medium size or mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk in the milk, buttermilk, and egg. Whisk in almost all of the melted butter spread, reserving about 1/2 tablespoon for the skillet later on.
  3. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  4. Add the reserved butter to the hot skillet. Pour the batter into the skillet (it should sizzle and butter should pool around it) and place it in the center of the oven.
  5. Bake until the center is firm and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.
That worked! Tonight we're having half with our bean supper, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I especially liked the crispness that the heated pan/melted butter adds. Enjoy!

Red Neck Spray Starch by Bonnie Bowman


No, that's not getting ready to cook - that the result of losing our dishwasher one day and our garbage disposal two days later. I had promised dinner for guests, and met that commitment. I dislike washing dishes!! But, it can be done.

Instead of working on recipes for eating, my appetite has changed and I'm gathering 'recipes' for quilts. I finished my very first one for our great-granddaughter, Jaylin, and enjoyed it tremendously! I found I like piecing the tops, my sweek OKSiL (which means Oklahoma Sister-in-Law) has a long-arm quilter and has discounted quilting the pieces for me. Then I get to add the binding and an embroideried note about the quilt - so I commited to three more in time for Christmas. I have one done:



I think it's beautiful - and I learned so much from creating it. No, it's not a pattern I followed. It's my own design and I couldn't describe it if I wanted to. I wanted to learn how to make blocks, so I made a sampler of several. Of course, they were different sizes and nothing fit together, so I did a reverse applique technique from a Fons & Porter magazine  (click here to watch the video) -- and it worked!!!

I also attended OKSiL's quilt guild in Tulsa where we listened to Bonnie Bowman give us tips on how to be a "Red Neck Quilter", money-saving tips for quilting supplies and this one recipe for Red Neck Spray Starch - here are my notes on that:
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon cornstarch  (less for less stiff, more for more stiffness)
3 tablespoons cold water  (to completely dissolve the cornstarch)
Place those in a heat-proof two-cup measuring container.  Add enough boiling water to make one cup, stirring constantly as you add. Then, add cold water to the mixture and fill to the two-cup line. Let the mixture cool, the pour into a spray bottle.  Shake well before each use.
You may have to experiment a  bit to get the right spoonsful of cornstarch for the stiffness you desire. Discard after a week or so and make a new batch. 
So - while coping with kitchen appliance change-out and adding a brand-new hobby with over-commitments, I still have time for recipes! That, my dears, is a recipe for happiness in life.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No, I Haven't ...

... been trying new recipes. Yes, I still have been cooking - but using tried and true recipes that are already listed here. Just yesterday I fixed Hot Corn Dip for a fellowship we had at church. That one is enjoyable, but I was close to the first of the line, the slow cooker had been on high for three hours and that first bite really did singe my tongue!

The night before we had our first Ladies Meeting for this fall - and I took advantage of the fact it was a salad night and fixed my mother-in-law's Tomato Aspic Salad. That recipe is over sixty years old, probably is not politically correct, but has such a wonderful crunch with a creamy texture that I really enjoy it. Only two other family members do, so I really appreciate our ladies!

What prompted this blog was a discussion with our pastor and other couples at the table about "Traditional Foods." There are vast differences between those in our northern states from our southern favorites.

For us, New Years calls for black-eyes peas. Whether simply factory canned, from an aunt's garden or a specific recipe such as Hoppin' John, eating twelve on New Years Day is supposed to guarantee twelve months' of good luck. Pastor's wife's family grew up on the tradition of cabbage for New Years, also designed for good luck. That holds for Cajun cooking, too. Their family fixed both. Recently their son asked why - the answer was "Tradition!"  He says he's starting a new tradition - one that does not include either menu item.

That brought to mind a Christmas dinner tradition we have with First Daughter and her husband. As the family grew, grandchildren married and family commitments had us scattering, it seem for a decade or so that every-other Christmas, there our two couples for Christmas dinner. The first time, we set a menu that has become our traditional Christmas dinner:
Shrimp cocktail - we all love those with the red sauce spiked with great horseradish
Baked potato - and all the trimmings: cheese, bacon, sour cream, chives (not all use all, though)
Tossed or wedge salad - nothing special, just our favorite dressings
Well risen yeast rolls (light and fluffy!)
Ribeye steaks - grilled to perfection, cooked to order - and Son-in-Law is good at that!
Dessert - individual preferences - cheesecake or peach crisp
As soon as that menu became part of the conversation, several people said they would sign up for that tradition!

Our family is in the process of setting up plans for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of those will be a group of close to thirty, with turkey and ham/or roast, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, fruit salad (maybe even the Tomato Aspic!), mashed potatoes, giblet gravy (yes, it will have giblets and boiled eggs - one lady I know does NOT include those), deviled eggs, pea salad - and those are the ones we can count on plus surprises every year!

Now -- aren't you ready to plan holiday menus?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Adaptations for Simple Way to Poach an Egg




This method had me tossing out my egg poacher (the little four-egg steamer thingy that always had eggs sticking!) and eating protein for breakfast.

The video is simple - select your pan, get the water to the point of boiling, add a bit of vinegar and salt. Have the eggs broken into ramekins, ready to go in when the water boils. We have chickens, so our eggs are usually fresh and float quite well. I have used store-bought and sometimes they stick, so remove those gently in order to keep them whole.

When boiling, stir the pot (clock- or counter-clockwise - his little joke) and get the water swirling around the pot. I cook two eggs for me, and I've done four in the same two-quart pot. Slide the eggs from the ramekins into the moving water and watch the whites swirl back into place. I've never had to 'shape' them using this method.

I like my whites done completely but the yolks runny and I've found that four minutes gives me the best results. Took a couple of times to get to that perfect time, but it works. Once my eggs are in, I set the four minutes - timer goes off, they are just right.

Remove them with a slotted spoon large enough to hold the whole egg, with enough slots to get rid of all the water. If that's very important to you, blot with a paper towel.  I simply put them on toast and I'm just fine. That's how I serve myself, with salt/pepper and a bit of prepared mustard.

This is very adaptable - there's no limit to what you can do: Eggs Benedict (did you notice that Ree does that swirly thing, too), or Savory Bacon & Crab Cakes (unless you don't like crab, then substitute another meat), or maybe some Huevos Rancheros (remembered poached is better for you than fried!) and I'd add a spread of home-made-non-refried beans. Be creative, it will be delicious!!





Monday, July 1, 2013

Nancy's Pot of Beans


For lunch today I'm having some left over beans from our church fellowship (and awesome fireworks display!!!) Sunday night. I took my favorite Precious Pineapple Pie, but fell in love with my daughter's pot of beans.

It's not just the taste that I like - every ingredient has a long shelf life so you can keep all of the ingredients on hand, just don't run out of them. I know, it's all processed - but there's a place in our lives for processed food, and this is one of them.

Ingredients:
1 can pinto beans
1 can great northern beans
1 can light red kidney beans
1 can dark kidney beans
1 envelope dried onion soup
1 envelope ranch dressing
1 envelope chicken white chili

Instructions:
Don't drain the beans, add all the ingredients into a slow cooker, mix slightly and set to low for four hours.

OK, now we get to the flexibility part (you know how I love flexible recipes):

  • Change the beans, or even add another can for a larger group. If you like black beans, go ahead and add. 
  • Cook the beans from scratch, if you have the time and inclination, it's not a huge flavor changer. 
  • Experiment with different flavors to match your family's taste. A touch of jalapeno would make it a bit spicier, too. I like a bit more cumin in mine. 
I really love simple recipes that are filling, easy to cook and taste wonderful. Gives me more time to do other things.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

I found a similar recipe on Facebook, but didn't keep the URL, so I apologize for 1) not being able to track back to the original and 2) not getting a photograph when I made this last week.  I thought it might work for one of our 42 nights and did a test case.

Of course, I made changes.  I used chicken thighs cooked in a slow cooker, with the can of soup. That meant pulling the thighs out to shred and leaving as much soup in the cooker to mix later. That's what I like about flexible recipes -- it still worked quite well.  Spicing, of course, is up to individual tastes - I like a touch of cumin in almost all we cook, but Beloved Husband doesn't do well with pepper, so we omit that. We really like our dumplings rolled thin (really like homemade noodles!), but this really did have great flavor and the crust did give the taste of dumplings.  We both voted we'd do it again. When we do, I promise a photo!

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick of butter
2 cups Pioneer's Buttermilk and Baking Mix (or Bisquick)
2 cups milk (we use 2%)
1 can Campbell's chicken and mushroom soup
3 teaspoons of Wyler's chicken granules
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon of salt (we prefer Lawry's Seasoned Salt)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Layer 1 - In 9 x 13 casserole dish, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Spread shredded chicken over butter. Sprinkle black pepper and dried sage over this layer. Do not stir.
Layer 2 - In small bowl, mix milk and baking mix. Slowly pour all over chicken. Do not stir.
Layer 3 - In medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of chicken broth, chicken granules and soup. Once blended, slowly pour over the baking mix layer. Do not stir.
Bake casserole for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown