Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Chili

I took this to the community haunted hayride last night. Pumpkin chili IN a pumpkin was a big hit for the Halloween party! For a festive presentation, carve a relief design on the side of the pumpkin. I cut a notch in the lid and top of the pumpkin to fit my ladle.

This recipe filled the pumpkin about ¾ full, just enough to transport on the floor of the car protected by my daughter’s feet, without spilling. But drive carefully.

Amazingly, the pumpkin was a great insulator. It wasn’t too hot to carry and the chili retained warmth for a long time outdoors. They ate it all and the dish is disposable, just bring home the ladle!

I waited until Friday to shop for my pumpkins. By then, Wal-mart had them marked down to $2 each. I picked one for the chili, one to carve and as a bonus I picked up a huge winter squash they had thrown in the bin, not realizing it was not a pumpkin. A tremendous savings, since the best price I have found for winter squash is 99¢ per pound!

Serves 20

1 pound boneless pork loin, well trimmed of fat and diced 1/2”
1 cup onion, peeled and diced 1/2”
2 cups red, yellow and green bell peppers, seeded and diced 1/2”
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced 1/2” (almost 4 cups)
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. oregano, dried and crumbled
2 cups homemade chicken broth (or 1 (14.5 oz.) can)
1 quart cut tomatoes (or 2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced)
1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, drained
1 can (15.5 oz.) white hominy, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)
1 pumpkin shell and lid, 10”x10”

1. Season a 5 quart kettle over very low heat: Heat kettle until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while dicing the meat and vegetables.
2. Prepare pork and veggies and assemble the rest of the ingredients.
3. Sauté pork, peppers and onion over high heat, stirring frequently, until meat is browned and onion is translucent.
4. Add squash and seasonings and cook, stirring frequently, until squash is heated through.
5. Stir in rest of ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
6. Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Cover and simmer over low heat for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.
8. Spoon into prepared pumpkin and serve.

Inspiration from:
© Copyright 2010,
Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zucchini with Spicy Custard Top

I created this from a couple of recipes I learned many years ago. About 1980, a roommate from Seattle made a sauce of eggs and mayonnaise that she poured over casseroles and baked. Thanks, Joan! Then I found Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz’ recipe for Calabacitas con Huevos. It became a favorite. So I combined the two ideas and made this. It is very good! It could be lower in fat by using low-fat mayonnaise and low-fat cheeses.

Serves 4-6

½ lb. lean ground pork
1 medium onion, diced 1/2” (1 cup)
1 medium zucchini, (8”) diced ¾” (2 cups)
2 large tomatoes, diced ¾” (2 cups)
½ cup (2 oz.) shredded mild cheddar
½ cup (2 oz.) shredded mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup grated Parmesan/Romano
2 Tbsp. Texas Pete Hot Sauce (A buffalo wing sauce not like tobasco)

Heat a large metal skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and coat lightly with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat, while chopping the vegetables.

Mix pork and sausage seasoning. Sauté pork and onion in skillet over medium high heat, breaking pork into large crumbles, until well browned.

Stir in zucchini and tomatoes and continue to sauté and stir until vegetables are hot. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes, until zucchini is just tender.

Whisk together beaten eggs, mayonnaise, grated cheese and hot sauce. Pour evenly over zucchini mixture. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 -15 minutes until eggs are set.

Serve immediately with rice and a salad.

Hilltop Herbs Hot Italian Sausage Seasoning

This is a seasoning blend I developed when I was selling herbs and spices. This recipe makes enough to season six pounds of ground pork. Use 4 tsp. to season one pound of ground pork.

1 Tbsp. ground sage
1 Tbsp. ground marjoram
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. ground paprika
1 tsp. ground bay leaf
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. hot ground cayenne
Mix or grind these spices together.

Stir in the following spices.
2 tsp. whole fennel seed
1/2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. sea salt

Keep in an airtight jar, preferably in the freezer, if you won’t be using it soon.

Easy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

I have made this for quick dinners for many years. It is made just like Kraft in the box, but the real ingredients taste so much better. I make this recipe to use up bits of leftover cheeses. I have not found a cheese we didn’t like. I once made it five cheese macaroni with bits of Cream cheese, American, Colby, Jack, and Swiss. As long as it’s a variety of mostly smooth melting and less stringy melting cheeses, totaling 1 cup.

2 cups elbow macaroni
2 quarts water

1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (white or yellow)

Boil water and cook macaroni until tender, about 10 minutes.
Drain macaroni and return to pan.
Stir in butter until it melts.
Stir in flour.
Stir in milk over medium low heat until the sauce is thickened and just starts to bubble.
Stir in cheese until melted.

Serves 4

Light Quick & Easy Noodles Romanoff

Serves: 4-6

This is just like a Betty Crocker box mix my mother used to make in the ‘60s! It is light and creamy with just a bit of tang.

½ lb. fettuccine
2 Tbsp. EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil)
2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
¼ tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. parsley flakes, crushed
½ cup grated parmesan/romano
1 cup non-fat sour cream
¼ cup skim milk

Boil noodles per package directions. Drain and return to kettle.
Gently fold in oil and butter.
Add rest of ingredients and toss lightly until well distributed.
Serve immediately.

Unstuffed Zucchini

‘Tis the season! Our zucchini did not do so well this year. Last year, I still had fresh zucchini waiting to be cooked in my kitchen at Christmas! It stores well in a dry warm location like, well – squash. It has to be handled a bit differently for cooking depending on how tough the skin is or how big the seeds are.

This year, we planted late due to weather, fence repair, etc. And due to some health problems I encountered this summer, I did not devote myself to my several pest prevention strategies. But we have had several delicious zucchini meals.

This recipe is my own creation, reminiscent of Mom’s recipe for Gwumpky, at least that’s what it sounded like to us kids. I believe it is really called Golomki, stuffed cabbage.

1 cup rice, see (Foolproof Rice)
2 cups water

½ lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
1 egg, beaten
Salt & pepper

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 medium zucchini (4 cups)

1 quart cut tomatoes (or 28 oz. can)
1 cup puréed winter squash
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded co-jack cheese (or mild cheddar or Colby)

Cook rice in water per recipe for Foolproof Rice.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Coat 10”x 6” glass baking dish with canola oil spray.
Heat a large metal skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and coat lightly with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat, while chopping the vegetables.

Trim ends from zucchini and slice in quarters lengthwise.  Then slice crosswise into ½” pieces.
Sauté zucchini and garlic over medium heat until hot. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until zucchini is just tender. Layer zucchini in bottom of prepared baking dish.

Sauté ground beef with onion in same skillet, over medium high heat until browned, breaking up the meat into crumbles. Remove from heat. Fold in the cooked rice and beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. Layer rice and meat mixture over zucchini in baking dish.

Blend together tomatoes and winter squash in two batches in blender or food processor. Pour over meat and rice and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and crusty Italian bread.

Light & Easy Alfredo Sauce

There are many recipes for Low Fat Alfredo Sauce, but there is no fat in mine except for the cheese. I developed my recipe over many years and it uses no evaporated milk, cottage cheese or cream cheese. Cornstarch could be used for the thickener, but I didn’t like the texture. It’s also very quick and easy to make from ingredients on hand, while retaining the creamy texture and flavor of the original. Use parmesan, romano or a blend. Reduce the amount of cheese or use a low fat version for an even lower fat recipe.

2 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. parsley flakes
¼ tsp. ground white pepper

1 cup grated parmesan/romano cheese

Pour milk into blender, measuring by marks on side of blender jar. Add flour and seasonings, cover and stir until blended, about 30 seconds.
Pour into 6 cup glass microwaveable bowl.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir with whisk, scraping sides and bottom of bowl and breaking up any lumps that may have formed.
Microwave for 1 ½ minutes. Repeat stirring with whisk.
Microwave for 1 minute. Repeat stirring.
Add cheese and stir.

Yield:  about 3 cups.

Toss with al dente fettuccine or use in your favorite Alfredo recipe.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome to Get Real Cooking

My cooking philosophy is pretty basic. Food must be economical. I am very tired of all these fancy chefs, doing fancy things to fancy foods. It is nice to dream, but in reality, I can't afford to make that kind of food. Since I am NOT a fan of Reality TV, that’s probably the main reason I find them so irritating.

On the positive side, there are some real class acts I cannot help but admire – Julia Child and Emeril come to mind immediately. Both of these chefs are trying to make their food accessible. For fun ideas, I love to watch all of Guy Fieri's shows and the Bitchin' Kitchen is a real hoot.

As part of being economical, food should be grown as close to home as possible. It only makes sense to grow or pick your own and to support your local economy. Flavor and nutrition are at their best when food is freshly picked.

The food we eat should contribute to our health. Organic is great, but not when I have to pay twice as much for it and it isn’t as fresh as local. I also totally avoid artificial sweeteners. I generally avoid most other additives such as MSG, artificial colors and flavors. You should do your research. Some artificial colors and flavors are naturally based. And beware of pesticides.

I use very little Teflon or aluminum. Cast iron skillets and stainless pans are the rule. In the microwave, I use paper or glass with wax paper to cover - no plastic!

I don’t fry many foods in fat. I decrease the fat in almost all the recipes I make either by cutting back, changing the cooking technique, or substitution. A can of canola oil spray is always in use in my kitchen. Don’t butter your vegetables in the kitchen. Let your diners do it themselves at the table.

I add salt to very few recipes. Instead of listing an amount for salt, I usually list – “salt & pepper to taste.” If any processed food has been used, (especially canned soups and cheeses), you can be pretty sure you don’t need to add any extra salt. Again, let your diners do it themselves at the table.

We live on a hill and our water comes from a well. Think water conservation. This relates to cooking using as few pots and pans as necessary. I try to simplify cooking techniques to use fewer pans, to be simpler and to conserve.

We live in an old farmhouse without central heat and air. We do have free gas thanks to six gas wells on our farm, (but no royalties). So I do very little baking in the summer. It's just too hot to use the oven. I grill whenever possible. I had a convection/microwave oven that was wonderful in the summer, but it has perished. It gets very hot when I’m canning.

Our food should be pleasing to the eye and to the palate. We can do that without a lot of fuss.

In conclusion: "Moderation in all things, including moderation." - Titus Petronius (c. AD 27-66)

Or “All things in moderation, including moderation." - Mark Twain

Foolproof Rice

There are lots of varieties of rice out there. My favorite is Basmati. It smells so good when it’s cooking - like popcorn! It is a long grain rice in brown or white, and not generally sticky.

1 cup white basmati rice
2 cups water
dash of salt

Put all ingredients into a 4 to 6 cup saucepan with a tight fitting cover.
Bring to boil over high heat.
Immediately turn heat down to the very lowest possible.
Set timer for 20 minutes. Do not lift lid!
When time is up, remove from heat and let it steam for five minutes. Keep covered!
Uncover and fluff with fork. Serve.

Serves: 4 - 6

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Julia Child’s Napoleon’s Chicken

I just watched “The French Chef” on the Cooking Channel. This show is a hoot! Julia came out with a “Napoleonic sword” that looked more like a machete and started to cut up a frying chicken with it. She related the legend of the origin of the recipe for Chicken Marengo as created by Napoleon’s chef at the battle of Marengo from ingredients on hand. When she flamed the Cognac, it looked like the Fire Dept. should have been called. Whoosh!

Since this is the Italian countryside where Napoleon was trying to regain control of Italy from the Austrians, the foodstuffs available were: chicken, crayfish, olive oil, olives, bread, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, onions, wine, local herbs, and Napoleon’s own flask of Cognac. Food fit for an Emperor!

I looked all over for the recipe, but couldn’t find it. There are many versions of this recipe available, but none of them were true to what Julia made. I wrote this from notes and memory immediately after my search after watching the show.

Julia Child’s Napoleon’s Chicken
1 chicken cut into pieces for frying
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1 tablespoon of Napoleon's cognac (or Brandy)
2 medium onions, diced

2 lbs peeled, cored, seeded and diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (Julia used a garlic press.)
1 tsp Italian Seasoning, c/s (This is exactly what she used from a jar!)

8 large white mushroom caps with stems
1 Tbsp. EVOO
½ cup dry white wine

8 rounds of ¼” thick sliced Italian bread
(Julia used a loaf of square sliced white bread, removed the crusts, and cut it in half into triangles.)
12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
(If you can find large crawdad tails, use them!)

4 eggs
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
black olives

Rinse and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large seasoned skillet (a chicken fryer with 3” to 4” high sides) over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken and brown well on all sides.

Add white wine, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add cognac and flame. Add onions, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.

Remove stems from mushroom caps and dice. Reserve caps. Spoon some grease from pan. Sauté garlic and mushroom stems. Add tomatoes, white wine, and Italian seasoning stirring up all the chicken bits. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a high simmer. Return the chicken pieces to the skillet, folding into the tomato sauce. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 – 20 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a saucepan over high heat with EVOO and white wine. Add the mushrooms. Toss lightly a few times until they are tender, but not soggy or overcooked. The caps should be white and retain their shape. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a frying pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (may need more) until hot, but not smoking. Lightly fry the rounds of bread until slightly browned. Set them aside on paper towels. Keep warm in oven.

Add the shrimp to the hot oil and fry until they just curl up, about 1-2 minutes. Set them aside on paper towels. Keep warm in oven.

Heat another saucepan over high heat with EVOO at least an inch deep. Poach the eggs one at a time in the hot oil for a minute or so, lightly stirring with large spoon to keep egg together. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on paper towel to drain.

Putting it all together:
Set chicken pieces on serving platter. Spoon the tomato sauce over the chicken pieces and garnish with black olives.

Place the eight croutons around the chicken. Place an egg on every other crouton and garnish with parsley. Place 3 shrimp on each of the other 4 croutons.

Julia Child’s Spinach Turnover

I watched “The French Chef” again, and again her recipes are NOT to be found written on the web, but you can watch the videos. A great visual was watching her squeeze the spinach by hand. She went to Provence for the assembly segment with her great friend, Simone Beck (Simcha). So, from my notes and memory, I wrote this out immediately after watching the show. This would make a great hors d’oeuvres.

Julia Child’s Spinach Turnover
The French Chef - “The Spinach Twins”

Pastry for 2 - 9” crusts, (unbleached pastry flour)
9 oz. fresh spinach, washed (Yield 2 cups blanched, drained- squeezed dry, chopped)

4 oz. fresh white small mushrooms, quartered
½ cup diced (3/8”) ham
1 Tbsp. butter

Sauce Bouillée:
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
¼ cup butter
½ cup flour
1 2/3 cup hot milk
1 egg
Salt & pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg

2 eggs, 1 separated
1 tsp. water

For Cream Sauce:
Remaining Sauce Bouillée
½ cup or more cream or milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

Wash spinach well and plunge into a large kettle of boiling water for about 2 minutes, then immediately shock it in cold water. Drain well, squeeze dry and chop. Reserve 2 cups in the kettle.

Wipe mushrooms with clean damp rag. Quarter mushrooms and sauté with diced ham in 1 Tbsp. butter, set aside. 

In a heavy bottomed 2 qt. sauce pan, ("We don't like soggy bottoms in pastry or scorched bottoms in sauces." ), sauté onion over low heat in 1/4 cup butter until translucent. Put half the onion in the kettle with the spinach.

For Sauce Bouillée:
Add the flour to the remaining onion and cook the roux over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk in the hot milk a little at a time. This sauce is going to be THICK, like paste. Take the pan off the heat and beat in an egg.  Salt and pepper to taste and add a pinch of nutmeg. ("You don't ever want someone to taste something and say, 'Oh: nutmeg.'") Put about a ½ cup of the sauce in with the spinach.

For Cream Sauce:
Stir ½ cup or more of milk or cream into remaining Sauce Bouillée until it is thinned to a sauce consistency. ("I'm using cream but I suppose you can use milk if you're on one of those hideous diets.") Simmer slowly, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to finish cooking the flour. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese, to let it melt and keep a skin from forming. Set aside. When ready to serve, warm it over low heat and stir in the cheese.

To assemble the pastry:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Roll the dough into a 10” by 15” rectangle, ¼” thick. Trim the edges so that it is even and square, saving cut scraps. Lay the dough 2/3 over parchment or wax paper, to simplify rolling over the top. Paint the pastry with egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp. of water.

Spread half the spinach mixture on the lower 1/3 of the pastry that is NOT on the paper, keeping a 1/2” edge bare for sealing. Place mushrooms and ham on top. Spread remaining spinach over ham and mushrooms.

Grabbing the paper, fold the pastry up and over. Seal the edges with fingers, then press with tines of fork.

Place on greased baking sheet. Cut pastry scraps into strips. Paint turnover with an egg glaze of 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water. Decorate with strips, laying them on a diagonal. Trim edges that hang over. Glaze again. Press cross hatch designs all over with a fork.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp.

Slide it onto a board to cut diagonally and serve with the warmed Cream Sauce.

This can be made ahead of time, without glazing, and refrigerated. Glaze just before baking. If baking cold, it will need a little more baking time.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Reuben Spread

This spread sounds very rich and tasty. Be wary if you need a low fat or low sodium diet!

2 1/2 cups cubed cooked corned beef
1 jar (16 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
Snack rye bread

In a 3 quart slow cooker, combine the first five ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for three hours.  Stir occasionally.  Serve warm with rye bread.  Makes about five cups

From: Taste of Home by Pam Rohr 

Steamy Smoked Oyster Dip

Smoked oysters are a favorite of my DH. I will substitute Neufchatel for cream cheese, and probably omit the butter. Almonds can be toasted in a seasoned cast iron skillet without added fat.

7 oz Smoked Oysters, rinsed, drained and mashed
1 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Almonds, sliced
1 1/2 tsp prepared Horseradish
1 pkg (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp white Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Milk
Black Pepper, to taste

1.      Melt the butter in a frying pan. Brown the almonds on all sides and set aside.
2.      Beat the cream cheese until smooth then blend in the milk. Add pepper to taste, horseradish, and chopped onion, blending well. Fold in the oysters and pour into a casserole dish.
3.      Sprinkle the browned almonds on the top and bake at 375 °F for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
4.      Put in a chafing dish and serve hot.

Makes about 2 1/4 cups of dip.

Date: 4/2/2007 7:31 PM
Submitted by: Richard Lee Holbert

Walnut Cheese Spread

When I made this I did not roast the nuts.....also used pecans instead and was short on time, so chopped the nuts. Still makes a great spread. - Bert

4 cups (16 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup walnuts, roasted, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients and let stand in refrigerator overnight. Spread on assorted crackers.

To roast walnuts: Place the walnuts in the oven for 10 minutes at 250°F.

Date: 9/3/2009 1:00 PM
Submitted by: Bert Detraz

Bacon and Green Onion Dip

I will substitute non-fat sour cream here. Beware, this would appear to be very high in sodium. Do you think this recipe came from Nabisco or Kraft? I think they are both owned by Philip Morris.

1 lb. (16 oz.) Velveeta cheese, cut up
1/2 cup green onion slices
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
1/2 cup sour cream

1.      Mix Velveeta, onions and bacon in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high 5 min. or until Velveeta is completely melted, stirring after 3 min.
2.      Stir in sour cream.
3.      Serve hot with assorted cut-up fresh vegetables or Wheat Thins Crackers.

Date: 9/3/2009 1:31 PM
Submitted by: Bert Detraz <bdetraz@******.net>

Ham-It-Up Dip

I don’t buy deviled ham. I think I will make this with ground ham. I also use Neufchatel instead of cream cheese for lower fat content. Thanks, Bert.

2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 (6 oz) cans deviled ham
2 heaping tablespoons horseradish
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until cream. Add all the other ingredients. Chill and serve with crackers.

Date: 9/3/2009 1:31 PM
Submitted by: Bert Detraz <bdetraz@******.net>

Garbage Dip

Here’s an interesting dip, despite the name.

I have joined a new recipe group on appetizers. I figured if I posted it to them, I ought to post it here…

1 can pitted black olives
1 can chopped green chilies (or chopped green bell pepper)
4 to 6 green onions
2 tomatoes
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
Big dash Tabasco

Chop all, including onion tops. Combine all and chill overnight. Serve with Doritos.

Date: 9/3/2009 1:31 PM
Submitted by: Bert Detraz <bdetraz@******.net>

Lois’ Family Favorite Cheese Ball

This is our family favorite cheese ball. Most of our family doesn't like nuts. - Lois

2 (8 oz.) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby etc.)
1 (1 oz.) pkg. (1 Tbsp.) Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained, finely crumbled

1.      Combine cream cheese, shredded cheese and ranch mix in mixer, beating until well mixed.
2.      Shape into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until chilled.
3.      Remove cheese ball from refrigerator; unwrap and roll in crumbled bacon until well coated.
4.      Wrap ball tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.

Date: 2/4/2008 5:51 PM
Submitted by: Lois

Christmas Cheese Ball

This makes 1 large ball or 2 small balls. Here is a good example of the way recipes are passed around the internet, posted by Terry, Sharon, and Lois, then me. ;-)

This is a very nice cheese ball and it is very tasty. I think the 12 ounces of cheese would be plenty. I received this recipe from another group and it was posted by Terry.  – Sharon

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
12 ounces (3 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 package (1 ounce) (1 Tbsp.) Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
¾ cup chopped pecans
4 pecan halves

Mix together cream cheese, grated cheddar cheese, and dressing mix. Form into one large ball or two smaller balls. Roll in chopped pecans to cover. Decorate the top with pecan halves. Refrigerate at least a couple of hours or overnight before serving.

Date: 2/4/2008 5:51 PM
Submitted by: Lois

Buffalo Chicken Dip

My friend Lisa sent me this recipe in 2004.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups Franks Red Hot sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup celery finely chopped
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
2 cups Monterey jack cheese

Poach chicken and shred.
Heat in large skillet with red hot sauce until hot.
Mix cream cheese, celery, and ranch dressing with a mixer until creamy.
Stir into chicken in skillet until hot and creamy.
Pour into a 13” x 9" glass baking dish.
Sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and bake at 350 °F for 30 minutes.

Eat with Tostitos bite size chips.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Passing of the Wild Black Raspberry

I especially like black raspberries or blackcaps as my grandma called them. One of the things I loved about staying at my grandparents’ northern Michigan farm in the summers was picking and eating berries, especially blackcaps. Grandma and I would go to the woods to pick blackcaps. Grandpa had a more agricultural approach. He planted a large variety of raspberries - red, black and purple. I liked to help him pick those, too! I don’t know how much they appreciated my help though. I had a tendency to eat a good bit of what I picked.

On our West Virginia farm, I have educated my husband and son to not mow down the berries – black raspberries, blackberries and elderberries. It is to their benefit also, since they like jams, pies and homemade wine.

This has been a good year for berries. I haven’t been able to pick berries for several years, so I was eager to pick the black raspberries around our home. Then I went to look around the neighborhood for more. My husband and son had been telling me that there were lots of berries on the ridge. I was very disappointed that I could hardly find any wild black raspberries other than at home. There were quite a few blackberries waiting to ripen. And there were these weird hairy red brambles, that I didn’t recognize.

My son had picked some strange shiny, sticky raspberries by his cabin last summer, that we never did identify. Well, the black raspberries were almost done and the blackberries were starting to ripen. The guys said there were lots of berries on the ridge and went to pick them. They came back in a short time with at least a gallon of berries - strange shiny, sticky raspberries. Mind you, when I was picking black raspberries, I never did get at least 2 quarts at a time so I could make jam. They told me that there were huge patches of these berries all over the ridge. I was happy to have some raspberries, but worried about what had happened to the wild black raspberries.

It was time to investigate. After some diligent web searching, I was able to identify the strange berries as wineberries. I was also alarmed to discover that they are an invasive pest from Asia. They are displacing native species. With the explosive growth in our neighborhood in the last few years, they have displaced the wild black raspberry. The only reason I was able to pick them this year is because I love them and have encouraged their growth around my home. I can remember huge patches of wild black raspberries thirty years ago, where I could pick gallons over hours. Patches were closely guarded secrets. Now they are nonexistent.

Please check this link for more information:

Chicken Molé Tostadas with Avocado Sauce

This has become a favorite quick Mexican dinner at our house. My DH discovered these bags of corn tostadas at the Dollar Store. Being from Phoenix, he can’t resist buying them. I also found them at Aldi’s. The chicken, molé sauce and avocado sauce can be prepared a day or so ahead of time.

1 lb. Easy Poached Chicken, shredded
1 (15 oz. can) refried beans
1 (12 oz.) bag corn tostadas (use ½ bag ~12)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheese – jack, Colby or mild cheddar
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 tomato, diced

Mix the shredded chicken with the molé sauce and heat in microwave.
Heat the refried beans in microwave.
Spread some beans on a tostada. Put two tostadas on each large plate.
Sprinkle with molé chicken, cheese, lettuce and tomato.
Top with a good dollop of avocado sauce.
Serve immediately.

Serves 5-6.

Quick Molé Sauce

I developed this very tasty sauce for a quick molé fix.

2 cups water
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon base
2 Tbsp. dark roasted chilies, ground
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. cocoa
½ tsp. oregano, c/s
½ tsp. cinnamon, ground
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Scant 1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
Pour into 6 cup microwaveable bowl.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir with whisk, scraping sides and bottom of bowl and breaking up any lumps that may have formed.
Microwave for 1 ½ minutes. Repeat stirring with whisk.
Microwave for 1 minute. Repeat stirring.

Use in your favorite recipe. I like to toss it with shredded poached chicken and use in tostadas, enchiladas and burritos.

Yields about 2 cups

Chili Chicken with Avocado Sauce

Serves 4

2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
4 (1 – 1 1/2 lb.) boneless skinless chicken breasts

Heat iron skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with vegetable oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing chicken breasts.

Combine chili powder and cumin. Sprinkle chicken with salt and coat with spices.

Brown chicken breasts in seasoned skillet, 2 minutes on each side. Cover, lower heat and cook until just done, about 5 more minutes.

Put chicken on plates and cover with avocado sauce.

To Die For Avocado Sauce

This spring I got a great buy on some discounted Greek yogurt at Kroger. Anytime avocadoes are less than $.69 each, I usually buy several. I was getting tired of the usual guacamole and was experimenting with different sauces. I found an 11 year old recipe in my file for Chili Chicken with Avocado Sauce. I think it came from Recipezaar, which has now turned into The original recipe is still available on the web from several sources, but none state the origin.

I adapted my avocado sauce from this recipe. I am just incapable of following a recipe exactly, and that’s really how we should all cook - use a recipe as a base and adapt it to the ingredients and methods available. This sauce is cool, smooth and creamy, a bit tart and spicy, with a hint of bitterness - a wonderful blend of flavor, texture and temperature.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in my previous avocado recipes, but I learned a new trick from Alton Brown last year on how to remove the pit from an avocado. After slicing it lengthwise, give it a twist and the halves pop apart. Whack the pit with the blade of a fairly large knife, embedding it somewhat in the pit. Twist the knife and the pit will come right out! Then whack the pit against a cutting board to loosen it from the knife. Make three lengthwise cuts on each half. The skin will fold back and four slices will peel off easily. Slice or dice as needed. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice to keep from browning, if you will not be using them immediately.

When I made it with Greek yogurt, I added a bit of water to bring it to a looser, saucy consistency. I didn’t need to add water when using Dannon non-fat plain yogurt.

If you have fresh cilantro, use a tablespoon of it in place of the cominos. A dash of chipotle or jalapeño hot sauce will spice it up.

1 lg. avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 c. non-fat plain yogurt
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. cominos (Ground cumin seed)
Dash of salt
Dash of garlic granules or powder or juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix until smooth. Pour over your favorite dish.

Yields about 1 cup

This is a fresh sauce, not for heating. Unlike guacamole, this avocado sauce keeps well in the refrigerator without browning due to the acid content of the yogurt and lime juice.

Now, how to use it? The original use with Chili Chicken Breasts is excellent. I also use this sauce on poached and shredded chicken. It is fabulous on chicken tostadas. Use your imagination! I crave this sauce. I think it could be addictive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pot of Gold

Serves 4-6
This recipe is my long time favorite from Girl Scout camp. My family loves it too. I’m not sure which company created this recipe. It was either Campbell’s, Bisquick or Kraft. My research found versions of this recipe still floating around, but not the original. The original was made with water instead of milk and used Bisquick and water for the dough (we were camping). Use yellow sharp cheddar instead of white and you will have big fluffy dumplings leaking golden cheese in tomato soup.

1 large (26 oz.) or 3 small (10.5 oz.) cans condensed tomato soup
2 cups 1% milk (or water)

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Dash salt
1/2 cup of milk
2 Tbsp. canola oil

4 oz. extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, cut into 8 cubes

Put soup in large kettle with lid. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring just to boil and immediately turn heat down to simmer. Don’t let it boil or milk curdles!

In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and oil in a cup. With a fork, vigorously stir milk mixture into flour mixture.

Grease hands and scoop up about 1/8 of dough. Set the cheese cube in the middle and wrap the sides up and around it, sealing the cheese inside the dough. Drop gently on top of simmering soup. Repeat until all cheese and dough is used.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. 

Quick Dumplings

2 cups Home Made Biscuit Mix
2/3 cup of milk

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and oil in a cup.  
With a fork, vigorously stir milk mixture into flour mixture. Drop by spoonfuls on top of simmering soup or stew. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Additions: ½ cup grated or shredded cheese and/or 1 tsp. various dried herbs added to the flour mixture.

Home Made Quick Biscuit Mix

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
Dash salt
3 Tbsp. canola oil

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in oil with fork.

Use immediately in place of 2 cups of Bisquick in your favorite recipe.

Easter Egg Pie

Have you wondered what to do with all those Easter eggs? When our children were small, it seemed we always had lots of hard boiled eggs to use up after Easter. There is only so much deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches and potato salad we could eat. I created this recipe to use up some of those eggs, necessity being the mother of invention. :-) .

For safety, only use eggs that are clean, have been dyed with food coloring, have no cracks and have been out of the refrigerator for less than two hours.

Serves: 8

1/2 lb. Bulk sausage, sage flavored
1 Medium diced onion
6 - 8 Hard cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
1 cup (4 oz) Shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/4 cups Milk (1%, OR non-fat Half & Half OR low-fat buttermilk, etc.)
2 Eggs
1 cup Home Made Biscuit Mix OR (1 cup flour and 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder)
1 tsp. Ground yellow mustard seed
1/2 tsp. Ground celery seed (or whole seed)
1/2 tsp. Ground paprika
1/2 tsp. Ground sage
1/4 tsp. Granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat an 11" deep dish pie plate or 8”x 8” baking dish with canola oil spray.

Brown and crumble sausage and onion in seasoned skillet over medium heat. Pour off excess grease. Drain sausage on paper towel. Spread sausage on bottom of prepared pie plate.

Layer eggs on top of sausage and sprinkle cheese over eggs.

Whisk remaining ingredients together in blender or medium mixing bowl until just blended and pour evenly over pie plate.

Bake 30 minutes or until edges are just golden brown and pie is set. A knife inserted in center should come out clean. Remove from oven and let stand five minutes before cutting into wedges.

Serve for breakfast, brunch or dinner accompanied by fruit: orange and grapefruit wedges, sliced bananas and strawberries, or a wedge of melon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Boiled Peanut Soup

Serves 4

I started out with a recipe for “Hotel Roanoke Peanut Soup”, but of course I can’t follow any recipe exactly. I prefer different cooking techniques and usually less salt and fat. What I ended up with was sooo delicious! It reminded me of that addictive flavor of boiled peanuts.
The original recipe follows. Be sure to use a broth that is not too salty. This is a good time to use leftover broth from poaching chicken. You can use either smooth or chunky peanut butter. The butter can be left out.

2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
1 small onion, diced 
1 stalk celery, diced 
1 quart chicken broth 
1 tsp lemon juice 
2 tbsp flour 
1/2 lb (1 cup) peanut butter
Salt to taste 
1/4 cup ground peanuts

Heat a 2 quart metal saucepan until hot and dry. Remove from heat and coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing vegetables.
Sauté onion and celery in butter in the pre-seasoned saucepan over medium heat until onion is translucent.
Put sautéed vegetables in blender. Add 2 cups of broth, lemon juice, flour, and peanut butter. Blend well.
Pour back into saucepan and stir in remaining 2 cups of broth. Bring to boil and simmer until thickened, stirring frequently. Taste and add salt as desired.
Sprinkle ground peanuts on top before serving.

Hotel Roanoke Peanut Soup

Posted 2/11/10 by Sandy at

1 small onion, diced
1/3 tsp celery salt
1/4 lb butter
1 t salt
2 celery ribs, diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup ground peanuts
2 quart hot chicken broth
1 lb peanut butter (creamy)

Melt butter in sauce pan and add onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes (do not brown). Add flour and mix well. Stir in chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Add peanut butter, celery salt, salt, and lemon juice. Sprinkle ground peanuts on top before serving. Makes 20 1/2-cup servings.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chicken and Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf

Serves 6

1 tsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup wild rice
3 cups water
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tsp. butter
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 cups shredded poached chicken

Season pan. Heat a 6 cup metal saucepan with a tight fitting lid until hot and dry. Remove from heat and coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while dicing onion.

Sauté wild rice and onion in 1 tsp. butter in seasoned pan. Add water and cranberries. Cover tightly. Bring to boil. Turn heat to very low, keeping tightly covered for 45 minutes.

Sauté pecan halves in 2 tsp. butter.

When rice has cooked for 45 minutes, turn off heat and let rice stand for five minutes without removing cover.

Stir pecans and chicken into rice.

Serve with a salad.

Easy Poached Chicken

Poaching means to cook something in simmering (where little bubbles form, before it's actually boiling) or almost simmering liquid, about 160-185°. If you bring it to a full boil, it will break down the food instead of gently cooking it. Boiling tends to make meat tough. With poaching, the meat will stay moist and tender, and this cooking method requires no fat. Here is a technique that you will want to remember for those days when time is really tight, everyone is hungry, and can’t wait to eat. This is the best method for chicken salad. The meat has a texture you cannot obtain with any other cooking method. It is almost silky smooth.

You can also choose from a huge array of liquids in which to poach; the most common are simple water, wines of varying sorts, and stocks (concentrated broth). In addition to the liquid you choose, you can greatly affect the flavor of what you cook like this by adding 'extras'; onion, garlic, spices of all sorts, vegetables, and so on.

Put your chicken pieces, bone in or boneless, skinned or skinless, in a pan big enough to cover them with water. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the water and use it for soup. Cover with cold water for 10 minutes until cool enough to handle. The skin and bones pull off easily. They can be saved for soup, too. Shred or dice the meat as your recipe directs.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Serves 8

This recipe started out as a copycat of Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup. But I have made it so many times over the last four years that I have improved it quite a bit!

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 medium Onion, diced
1 Tbsp. chopped Garlic
1 tsp. ground Cumin
1 tsp. Chili Powder (no salt)
dash of hot pepper sauce
1 cup Masa Harina
2 qt. Water (divided)
2 Tbsp. Chicken bouillon
1 can (15 oz.) diced Tomatoes
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
1 pound American cheese

Heat a 4 quart kettle until hot and dry. Remove from heat and coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing vegetables.

Sauté chicken, onion, garlic and spices in kettle over medium high heat, stirring constantly until chicken is not pink and onion is translucent.

Stir in Masa Harina. Stir in 1 quart water until all lumps dissolve.

Stir in remaining quart of water, chicken bouillon, tomatoes and green chiles. Return to boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Drop individual slices of cheese, about four at a time into kettle and stir until melted. Continue until all cheese has been added.

Serve with hot buttered tortillas.

Real Cheeseburger Soup

Serves 6

Thomas asked me to make Cheeseburger Soup for dinner. I read at least six different recipes and put together this one. It has everything on a cheeseburger and includes the fries!

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cups diced peeled potatoes
1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed tomato soup
1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups milk (1%)
¼ cup diced dill pickles
¼ cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
½ pound American cheese

Heat a 4 quart metal kettle until hot and dry. Remove from heat and coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing vegetables.

Sauté beef, onion, carrot, celery and potatoes over medium heat, breaking up beef into small chunks, until beef is browned and onion is translucent.

Stir in soups, milk, pickles, ketchup and mustard. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Drop individual slices of cheese, about four at a time into kettle and stir until melted. Continue until all cheese has been added.

Serve with a hearty sourdough bread and now you have the bun!