Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Apple Pancakes and Childhood

Today is Tuesday. In my world it is one of my busiest days. I teach at four homeschool co-op programs throughout the week and Tuesday is CHET day. We have classes from 9am to 4:30 and I am teaching all of that time except for a 30 minutes lunch break. I then have to come home and make dinner and be sure that Kami gets off to cheer practice. Normally I am pretty smart and I take something out of the freezer a day or two before so it is thawed and ready on Tuesday morning, so I can just toss it into the crockpot. It might be a beef or pork roast, a chicken dish or some kind of soup or stew. I was not so smart this week. It was that and the fact that I was out of town Saturday and Sunday celebrating with my siblings. My older sisters, twins, turned 50 on Sunday. I am sure that is some kind of mistake because they are 4 years older than I am and I KNOW I am not just 4 years away from fifty... but I digress. Dinner... that is what I was talking about.

I realized too late that I had not remembered to thaw the requisite roast and therefore the crock remained under the cupboard and dinner was a mystery - for everyone. When in doubt, make breakfast, right? So, bacon is quickly thawed in a sink full of warm water (thanks, Ali) and a box of Bisquick (shoot me, I didn't do them from scratch this time) made quick work of supper. But I am not such a slouch. I grabbed the bag of chocolate chips and created chocolate chip pancakes from half of the batter and then in the other half, I made some very yummy apple pancakes. No recipe, just what sounded good to me, and I have a bunch of apples on my kitchen table, so it was an easy decision. Try them!

Apple Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick (or whatever pancake mix)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 small apple, peeled and grated with the box grater
1/2 t. cinnamon
dash nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients together and cook on a greased griddle. Serve with butter and real maple syrup (and bacon).

As a child I remember Saturday morning breakfasts. Sometimes we had "sugar cereal," which was a real treat. We only got it on the weekends. In those days the boxes had some sort of toy inside. My mom would remove all the toys and on the days when we would have cereal, or when she had an abundance of the toys (I can't remember which), she would distribute the toys. Lani swears my mom would intentionally give her the bad ones. In retrospect, they were probably all pretty bad. Sometimes she would make doughnuts...chocolate, plain, and molasses. They would fry in lard on the kitchen stove. I wish someone had written down her recipe. This weekend Lani brought her Le Creuset enormous dutch oven (totally jealous and REALLY NEEEEEEEED one of those, btw) and a bucket of lard and fried up some doughnuts for HER birthday (and Lori's). The smell in Mark's kitchen brought back some amazing memories. I felt like my mom or even my grandmother must have been in the kitchen - the smell was haunting. Another breakfast memory is of the waffles and my mother's waffle iron. I lucked out and found one exactly like it several years ago, thanks to my friend Lacey. It makes me happy every time I use it. Breakfast holds many happy memories. I hope it does for you too.

Until next time, stay full and loved, my friends
ps. Yes, Grandmother, I licked my plate. I know you are smiling from Heaven.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beef Enchiladas... and anticipating the great reunion

Nate has a craving for Mexican food - at least he knew better than to ask me to stop at Taco Bell. The easy way out is to make tacos - you know, brown some meat, throw in a packet of taco seasoning, toss a bag of lettuce and a bag of shredded cheese on the counter and let them make their own. Not tonight. I am making enchiladas, which takes a little more time, but not that much. I am throwing some yellow rice on the stove and hopefully Nate will be satisfied. I snuck a few vegetables in here, so if you have picky eaters, this might be a good way to get in a few veggies. My crew is not picky for the most part - a trait for which I am eternally grateful.

Beef Enchiladas

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, grated
2 medium carrots, grated
1 T olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. cumin
1 can corn kernels
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. salsa verde or 1 small can diced green chilies
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese
1 lg. can enchilada sauce
12 8-inch flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion and carrot until it is tender. Add in the ground beef and brown until no longer pink. In a large bowl, place the corn, salsa or chilies, and beef mixture, stirring well. Stir in the sour cream and then stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese.

Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. In a cake pan, pour 1 cup of enchilada sauce. Place one tortilla in the cake pan and coat both sides with sauce. While it is still in the pan, place 1/3 cup of the filling in the tortilla and roll up. Place it seam side down in the baking dish and repeat with all of the tortillas. I can fit 10 along the pan and the other two I fit in the sides. Top with the remaining sauce and 1 cup of cheese. Spray a sheet of foil with non-stick spray and cover the dish tightly with the foil. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until thoroughly heated.

If you read my blog, consider subscribing, or sharing it on Facebook. I have had pretty low blog views lately, which is a bit discouraging. Hopefully if I start writing more again, the numbers will go back up. If you have questions or meal ideas, something you want me to come up with a recipe for, give me a holler. I love to try new things.

This weekend I am heading to South Carolina for exactly 24 hours. That is 24 hours with my amazing siblings. We are going to "Eat, Drink & Be Merry" as much as we possibly can in 24 hours. Not sure how much sleep it going to be done, but we can do that on the plane. We have not all been together for 10 years. Two more sleeps!!

Until next time, be filled and loved :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

fantastically famished: Seriously Good Vegetable Soup

fantastically famished: Seriously Good Vegetable Soup: I am going to attempt a blog post in under 10 minutes. That's the story of my life. I never seem to be able to stay in one place for very lo...

Caramel Brownie Cheesecake

Labor Day Weekend I made this dessert. I meant to post the recipe and never really got around to it. Now seemed like a good time :) It was definitely enjoyed.

Caramel Brownie Cheesecake
1 box brownie mix, baked according to package directions and cooled completely
Chocolate Crust:
45 vanilla wafers
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 stick butter, melted
4 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 c. sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

1 jar caramel sauce

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350. In your food processor with the blade attachment, crush the cookies and pulse in the sugar and cocoa powder until well-combined. Drizzle in the melted butter while the processor is running and combine. Dump the crumb mixture into a 9" springform pan and push the crumbs firmly into the bottom and 1-2 inches up the sides. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes and allow to cool while you are making the cheesecake filling.

In a mixer bowl, add the cream cheese and the sugar and beat until fluffy and well-combined. Add eggs one at a time, then add in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust. 

Cut 1/2 of the pan of brownies into small pieces and place them on top of the cheesecake mixture, pushing them down into the filling. Drizzle about 1/2 - 1 cup of caramel sauce over the top of the cheesecake. Bake in a 350 oven for 1 hour or until completely cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 30 minutes. Loosen the cheesecake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the edge. Let it finish cooling to room temperature before covering in plastic wrap and putting in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

I may get around to another post tonight. I am making a yummy chicken dish. Don't forget to check out the soup I posted yesterday!! It's that time of year again!

Until next time, stay warm and filled, my friends!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seriously Good Vegetable Soup

I am going to attempt a blog post in under 10 minutes. That's the story of my life. I never seem to be able to stay in one place for very long. I always have to be somewhere doing something other than what I would really like to be doing, which would be sitting on the couch like a vegetable ... or a potato... but I digress. I am going to write this recipe for seriously good vegetable soup (or so Ali called it today) so I can remember it again. Try it!

Seriously Good Vegetable Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 med. carrots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
2 handfuls of baby spinach/arugala mix
1 can cannellini beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

In a large pot, brown the ground beef until no longer pink. Add in the onions, carrots and garlic and saute until the onion is tender. Add in the green beans, tomatoes, beef broth and 2 tomato cans of water (about 3-4 cups), salt and pepper and cook until the carrots are tender. Add the beans and the greens and cook until everything is heated through. I cooked some ditalini pasta and served the soup over the pasta, so it was like minestrone.

Trust me, it's good. 8 minutes down, I gotta run!
Until next time, stay cool/warm, well-fed and loved, my friends!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chili - With No Problems!

I made chili on Friday night (to go with the cornbread) and I actually ate it without any problems. I am one of those freaks of nature that can make gallstones with no gallbladder. Chili always seemed to complicate issues. I don't know what it was about it. I would be in excruciating pain about an hour after a bowl of the stuff. A year and a half ago I had a procedure to remove a couple of stones and the surgeon made a little incision to hopefully allow future stones to pass along through - and so far, it seems it has been a success. I was a little unsure until I ate that chili and passed the rest of the evening is satisfied peace.

Chili is chili is chili (don't shoot me) - even though we all have different recipes and different levels of heat we enjoy, and we all think that OUR RECIPE is the best, when all is said and done, they have similar ingredients and taste pretty much the same. I am a non-measurer. I don't think I ever make my chili the same way twice, and Friday night was no exception. It tasted delicious to me and to four teenagers and one husband, on Friday night, and I think I even got Savannah Tawater (The Queen of Picky Eaters - really, the kid lives on buttered spaghetti noodles and french fries) to eat a little bit of it yesterday, so it must be pretty good. So I will do my best to recreate the recipe in writing here. You give it a try and let me know how yours comes out.

Painless Chili

3 lbs. ground beef
2 large onions
3 stalks celery
3 medium carrots
3 cloves garlic
1 28 oz. can tomato puree
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 14 oz. cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. salt
1 t. fresh ground black pepper
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. adobo seasoning
1 T. cowboy rub (this is a McCormick seasoning blend I found and LOVE)
4 T. chili powder
2 T. olive oil

In a food processor, finely chop the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Heat olive oil in a VERY large pot. Add in the chopped vegetables and sauteed about 5 minutes just until they begin to soften. Add in the ground beef and cook thoroughly, until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease off of the meat and return to the pot. Add all remaining ingredients except the beans and stir well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and let it go. Mine simmered about 2 hours. About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the beans and heat through. Serve with that cornbread I posted on Friday night :)

Tonight we are going to attempt a trip to the Franklin Drive-in. The remnant of Tropical Storm Lee is rolling though town, so we will see if we actually make it. Tomorrow is a day of either fun in the sun or fun inside... and cheesecake :)

Until next time, stay dry and loved, my friends!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yankee-fied Southern Cornbread

Necessity is the Mother of Invention, right? Tonight is one of those make-do-with-what-you-have kind of meals. I will post the recipes as separate blog posts, just because I haven't posted in FOREVER!! Think I will even hold off a little bit and post the other one in the morning. Also, I have a yummy dessert to post, which will have to wait until Sunday.

Have you noticed how your cooking changes in the summer? In the winter we make lots of soups and stews and casseroles and roasts and things in the crockpot - soothing, comforting, warm, and full of flavor. Summer is just so darn hot! I don't feel inspired to cook much in the summer. We make salad, grill chicken, the occasional burger and macaroni and cheese (yes, from scratch, are you kidding??) and lots of veggies. I still make spaghetti sauce in the summer. Otherwise we eat differently.

School started back for my kiddos this week, and despite the fact that it was 100 degrees outside today, I felt the urge to make something warm and comforting. So a pot of chili is simmering on the stove and 2 loaves of a Yankee-fied cornbread are in the oven baking away happily. I am not the Queen of Cornbread. I have one recipe that I love, but didn't have the ingredients for it. So, off I went to find one that I could make with what I have. First of all, I have self-rising cornmeal... I feel a bit ashamed of myself. It seems like a cheater's way of baking - the whole self-rising flour thing. I grew up where everything was made from scratch and this seems kind of half-way between scratch and a mix. I think I have blogged about my feelings for self-rising flour before, so I will just leave it at that and say that I have it because my husband bought it :) Yeah, I'll just blame it on him and move on. I like sweet cornbread that is more like a cake and this fits the bill. I have made cornbread in a skillet in the oven, in a square baking dish, in a glass pie plate (my favorite recipe is done this way) and in muffin tins. This is a first in loaf pans. This is Yankee-fied because I made it sweet and did not make it in the skillet like my southern friends would do. I think I finally hit on a winner.

Yankee-fied Southern Cornbread

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 2/3 cups self-rising white cornmeal
2 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar (I used light, either way I think it would work)
2 cups milk
4 large eggs, beaten
Honey to top with
* Recipe makes two 9-by-4 1/2-inch loaves.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9x4 ½ inch loaf pans  and line with parchment paper, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and flour, set aside. Melt the butter in the microwave for 2 minutes, stir in the brown sugar, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Whisk in milk and then eggs. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until blended. Evenly pour batter into loaf pans, making sure the tops are smoothed. Bake until loaves are golden, about 30-35 minutes. Let cornbread loaves cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold with butter, honey, jam...

Ps. When I go to Cracker Barrel, I like to ask for corn muffins and a bottle of maple syrup (one of the only places you can get the REAL THING) and I make that my dessert. I see something like that in my future this evening!

Until next time, stay cool and loved, my friends!