Saturday, January 31, 2009

I cheated........

I had fully planned on making pies from scratch. Until I looked at the price of organic blueberries and the pathetic baking apples in the grocery store. I know, face it Tami, you live dead center of the USA where we won't be producing good, edible produce for another 6 months. Ugh. So, I turned to canned fruit to bake pies. I have to say, they were brought to work last night and all were gone by 1 AM. Lots of compliments, so not a terrible idea I guess. Of course, maybe these people never get actual 'from scratch' desserts other than what I bring in. Yeah, I run with that idea.

My hubby's favorite pie, probably, is blueberry. When we went to visit his grandparents, Grandma Baker always had a blueberry pie waiting for the Dude. He would scarf that baby down like no body's business. Of course, when we met he weighed about 135 pounds and is about 5'10". Hee hee hee, after almost 20 years of marriage, I have put about 35 more pounds on him-which he needed. He looked awfully bony when I got him. I digress. Blueberry. I think it conjures up happy memories for him, so I make it a lot for him. Since I was disappointed with the lemon meringue and banana cream pies I brought in last week, I felt I had to redeem myself.

I do zhuzz (how do you even spell that sound?) the canned fruit up with other ingredients.

Blueberry Pie

2 cans blueberry pie mix
fresh lemon zest

Apple Pie

2 cans apple pie mix
fresh ground nutmeg

Roll out dough for 2-2 crust pies. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar in pie plate. Lay bottom crust over sugar and press down into pan. Pour in two cans of the blueberries.

Zest the lemon over filling

Cut decorative top (I have two different designs-I'm not very artistic)

Lay on top of filling

Spritz with water

Sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of sugar

Apple Pie

Assemble crust like above, with sugar in pie plate

Pour in two cans of apple pie filling

Run the nutmeg over a microplane all over the pie-don't use too much

Sprinkle with full strength cinnamon

Top with second crust

Spritz and sprinkle with sugar.

Cover edges of pies with crust protectors. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes, then remove crust protectors and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Normally with the apple pie, I sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over the top, but my jar was empty and I didn't want to stop to make more, so I just did regular sugar on this one.

I had to cut a piece for Hermit Crab so she wouldn't get mad

Oh so juicy

Smelled incredible, but no pie for me. I will have to make my pecan one to post. Of course, I will have to make it when I have to work or I'll eat that sucker all by myself (my hubby and kids don't like pecan). Then I'll gain 35 pounds!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tangy Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs. I was (ahem, still am) a picky eater as a child, but I loved deviled eggs. I love my eggs tangy. I experimented until I found the right combination. Do you ever go somewhere and get SO excited because one of your favorites in on the buffet table. With anticipation you take a bite and wait for the flavors to hit the tongue-and........nothing. Flat, dull, boring. What do you do? Spit it out? Swallow and pray you get it all the way down without gagging? Swill that glass of wine to drown the taste out? We had gone to a function (I won't mention details in case that person would read this-probably not, but covering my arss), and we had a huge spread. I spied those eggs and immediately popped one in my mouth. Holy squishy, disgusting moly. This person was a trained chef. Those were the worst eggs ever. It sounds terrible, but if we go anywhere that there are deviled eggs out, I won't try them anymore. Got my heart broke. I usually bring the eggs now.

Tangy Deviled Eggs

10 eggs, closer to expiration date (they are easier to peel)
Dijon mustard
yellow mustard
sweet paprika

Place eggs in a pot large enough to have eggs lay in a single layer. Cover with cold water until eggs are just covered. Place over high heat until water comes to a boil. When water starts a rapid boil, shut off heat and cover pan with lid.

Set timer for 15 minutes. When time is up, drain eggs carefully so as not to burn yourself with steam. Cover with cold water and let sit a minute. Drain and repeat. Shake pan so eggs rattle in pan into each other and sides to gently crack each egg. Cover with cold water again and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. I usually add a few ice cubes to make sure the water is cold. After letting eggs cool, peel eggs.

Slice eggs in half horizontally. Scoop cooked egg yolk into bowl and place egg halves on plate or deviled egg holder. This one has two yolks-I've never seen that before!

Mash yolks with potato masher.

The rest of the ingredients I kind of wing, but this is what I start with:

1/2 cup mayo
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP yellow mustard
2 TBSP vinegar *you might want to start with 1 as I like mine tangy

Beat this together and taste. You may need to add more mayo, a spoonful at a time. Or you might want it a little more yellow, so add another squirt of mustard. After getting the taste you want, spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a larger tip. If you don't have a pastry bag, scoop into a quart size plastic food storage bag and snip off the corner. Squeeze egg mixture into each egg. Sprinkle with the sweet paprika.

Thank the chickens for the gift of eggs

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This made me laugh

A friend sent me this. I can so relate

The Mom Song. Of course, mine would probably have a few cuss words thrown in, but that's just me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If you bake it, they will come

Nothing seems to get the attention of the family more than baking. I could have a turkey roasting or some spices in the kettle simmering, but it is the baking that always has doors opening. The Dude was literally sleeping and came out and said 'Um, do I smell what I think I smell?" Yes, the scents that really get them is apple pie and Banana Bread. I love the smell of banana bread; I hate bananas. It was made worse when 8 years ago I got really sick in the middle of the night and the Dude brought me to the emergency room. They ran test after test and decided to some kind of scan (it was like 3 AM and I was sick I wanted to die and can't remember what scan) and I had to drink a 20 ounce bottle of some God awful thick liquid goo that was strawberry-banana flavored. Don't you have grape or orange? Nope, strawberry-banana. Shudder. But I love to bake muffins and bread with bananas. Something about that warm, fruity scent transports me somewhere-not sure where, but some happy place.

A lot of times I will just make this in the extra large cupcake pans because it never seems to fail. The center is still gooey while the outside is overly done. I topped this with foil and took it off with the last 15 minutes to go. I do think it is my oven-I'm pushing for that new duel-fuel one at the appliance store! I did nuke it for 4 minutes after letting it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes-just because it looked too soft in the middle. It is almost gone today, so it must have worked out.

Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used whipping cream as I only had enough milk for kids breakfast)
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp soda
3 medium bananas, soft and mashed
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix sugar, milk, shortening, bananas and eggs. Add remaining ingredients slowly and don't overmix. Put in a 9x5 loaf pan, or make muffins. Bake one hour to one hour 15 minutes for loaf pan and about 30 to 40 minutes as muffins *depending on size of muffin pan used. I tented mine with foil to keep edges from browning too much and removed last 15 minutes or so to get it nice and brown. Inhale deeply.

Totally Random

So, since I work evenings, I only get to watch my favorite shows every other week because of how our rotating schedules work. Got home this morning and caught up on some blogs and then remembered that I hadn't watched Grey's Anatomy on-line yet since I worked last Thursday. I just watched it. Now if you don't watch it, this won't make sense, but the whole Izzy and the Dead Denny thing was weirding me out. And they swore they were not going to make her have a brain tumor, but he said he was 'there FOR her' meaning he was there to show her the way to the light. As hunky as Denny is, I think I would rather stay on earth a little longer. But then throw in the whole man-on-death-row with organs that match the sick little boy and they have to save the convicts life and then Mere goes to watch his execution? I'm a blubbering mess right now. Do I dare go over to and watch 'ER'? It's not easy being an emotional girl, I'll tell ya.

MeMe about Tami Tami

I was tagged by Vanessa at on a meme of six random things about me. I have no problem participating in them, I will leave it up to anyone who reads this to participate if they want to. I know some people really don't enjoy them and I'm the gal who likes to keep the peace :)

So, random things about me (I'm not too exciting so don't be too hopeful)

1) I have never broken a bone in my body. I remember trying to when I was a sophomore so I didn't have to participate in the swimming portion of gym class, because what pudgy girl wants to be seen in a bathing suit in third hour? Anyone? I didn't break anything, but I did have to have my tonsils removed and the doctor said it was a communicable disease, so I got out of it.

2) We have owned over 50 cars in the 21 years we have been a couple (19 married). What normal people have owned that many cars? The hubby likes to buy broken ones and fix them. We have had many street rods. We have had some that we used for a few months (like winter beaters). Sold a few cheap to people who were in need of one and couldn't afford it. We currently own 10. Only three of us drive, but Drama Queen starts drivers training in a couple weeks.

3) I have never had a speeding ticket or a parking ticket. My hubby calls little miss goody two-shoes.

4) I stand like a flamingo when I am in the kitchen. Right leg bent at the knee with right foot planted on the left knee. Don't know why but have done this since I was a child. Usually when I am in front of the sink doing dishes or in front of the island reading mail or looking at recipes. I have unusually long legs. Not really tall, but my leg length is far greater than my trunk and head length.

5) My name was suppose to be Katrinka. My Mom wanted to call me Katie but apparently in the 60's you couldn't just name someone a "shortened" name so was going to name me Katrinka to call me Katie. She didn't like Katherine (someone in her past had that name and grudges are held a long time I guess). So Dad saved the day and came up with Tami Lyn (my full name-with last-sounds like I should have been a country singer in the 60's!)

6) My daughter's both wore my baptismal dress-but I never did. My Mom was Lutheran and my Dad's family was Baptist and even though Dad was never baptized into his family's faith, he had religion forced on him so he said he would never do that to a child. I had to make up my own mind. I got baptized the same day as my oldest daughter. My Mom cried more the day that I was baptized than when I got married. She was sure the minister would not let me marry Randy in a church since I wasn't. The pastor reassured her that it would be okay.

Okay, wasn't that fun? Man am I boring. Never skydived (would rather cut my pinkies off), or driven a motorcycle, ran off with the circus---man, I've still got some living to do!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mello Jell-o and cookies

I have been sick for the last two days and all I want to do is stay in bed. I could have, but after laying there for so many hours, the back was killing me and I was drowning in, well, snot. Drama Queen had 4 friends here making a video for Spanish class. I was trying to keep them quiet as the Dude was sleeping to go in for OT again tonight. Not an easy task with 5- 15 year old girls! I cooked and baked a bit today so I would have posts ready for most of the week. Some things went well, some things-not like I had hoped. I made Heather's (from S'more cupcakes without the success she had with them. They tasted good, but mine sank in the middle, the crust was a little crumbly (think I need to add more butter) so they didn't look pretty like hers. We ate them anyways! I made two of my favorite comfort foods since I don't feel good. Every year at Christmas we had to split the holidays between Mom's family and Dad's family. Christmas Eve was with my Mom's folks and Christmas Day was with Dad's. Every year I looked forward to Christmas Day dinner because my aunt Twyla would bring 7-Up Salad. Now, I am a purist when it comes to Jell-o. I like it plain, in a bowl with a spoon. But she made a lime Jell-o with 7-Up and apple sauce. She also made Carrot salad which was orange Jell-o and shredded carrots. This was my sister B's favorite. Mom never made these for us; I wonder why? Love orange, it is my favorite flavor, except for when this is on the table. Now, before we proceed-there is no way to make Jell-o look attractive on a plate. I tried many different ways. The photo was ticking me off, so I just plopped it on my plate that I was going to eat (since it would make me feel better) and went with that one. Not pretty, but oooo, the lime-y goodness with applesauce to cut the sweet. Yummy. After that I made a few other things, and at 1:30 I was starving (Jell-o doesn't really fill you up) so I made another comfort food. Chocolate chip cookies. Do you remember that episode of Friends when Phoebe wants chocolate chip cookies like her Grandma made, but doesn't have the recipe and Monica goes crazy trying many different versions? Long story short, they were "Ness-Lay Tulle-hus". Nestle Tollhouse. Yep, that is what I always make. Recipe on the label. They are always gone in a day. Haven't found a reason to switch it up yet! I won't post that recipe since it is on package and I don't want to be sued or anything even if I do credit them!! Put a glass of milk in the freezer when the cookies go in the oven and it will be icy cold when you burn your mouth with one of those It-is-hot-but-I-can't-any-longer moments.

Here is a few things I did today:

S'more cupcakes from Heather:

7-Up Salad

1 small box Lime gelatin

1 cup hot water (minus 2 TBSP)

1 cup 7-Up

1 cup applesauce

Dissolve gelatin in hot water. Stir in 7-Up and applesauce. Place in refrigerator to set up. Enjoy in bowl with a spoon! Or on the plate like I did so you don't think I am a total barbarian and that my mama didn't teach me no manners. And I know Christmas is over, but I love my new snowflake dishes and tablecloth and am not ready to wash and store them quite yet.

Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies: flip that bag of morsels over

Yep, that is where my big mouth took a bite! Happy, happy tummy

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cola Beef in Crock

About a month ago I made an awesome dinner. A round steak and a can of Coke. I had seen a recipe somewhere for a pot roast with cola in it, so I thought, hey I'll try that with the round steak. It was awesome! The flavor was unbelievable. I tried it a few weeks ago with a different cut of meat. Ugh. It was terrible. We often grocery shop at 6 in the morning on our way home from work, and the other morning we stopped to get our weekly groceries and the meat manager was already in. First I asked for Round steak-nope, they don't carry it anymore as there wasn't a big demand. What? Then they had in house chicken on sale. Nope. They ran out. The poor man felt so sorry that he couldn't help me with anything on my list that he went and got some Gold-N-Plump chicken and gave it to me for the sale price of the in-house brand. That was nice. So as we are perusing the meat aisle (the butcher we normally go to unfortunately wasn't open yet or else we shop there) I thought I would pick up the boneless chuck steak and try that. It was good and tender, but a lot drier than the round steak was. That confused me as there some nice marbling in the chuck steak. I apologize for the bad after photo-it looked good in the viewfinder and when uploaded it is blurry. This is simple and I really recommend the round steak as it turned out the best.

Cola Beef in Crock
2-1 plus pound boneless chuck steak (or 2 pound round steak)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
seasoning-I picked Penzey's beef roast seasoning
1 can cola-I had Pepsi on hand
butter (not shown)

Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for several minutes. We are just getting them soft. Is there any smell better than onions frying in butter? Oh my goodness, I love it.

Transfer the onions to the slow cooker. Place meat in pan to get a nice sear and some color on it.

Place meat on top of onions in slow cooker and then pour can of room temp cola on top.

Cover and cook on low for about 6 to 7 hours. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Tonight, since I have caught the Dude's righteous cold, I made nothing. The teenage girls that were here earlier tasted tested a recipe that I did for the Noble Pig's Super Bowl challenge. They said it was good, but when one left she said it was a little dry-oh crap! One of the girls is still here spending the night-no school as it is end of quarter, did eat a nice helping of this, while my daughter ate a bowl of cereal.

And not that I should since I have felt like poopy, I did open a new wine tonight. I know this isn't a wine glass, but we got these in Mexico last February and they just make me smile when I take them out of the hutch that I decided to use it tonight. The wine isn't bad. A little on the sweet side, which I like, plus you can chill it. I have a thing about beverages, well food too, but with beverages they either should be hot or cold. Not room temp. I think that is part of the problem with me and most red wines, other than being so tannin-esque(?) it makes my butt pucker. I need them cold and they should usually be served at room temp. I am a rebel though. If you see me with a red that should be room temp, you'll see an ice cube in my glass. Don't judge people, it is just how I get through the day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If life gives you Bacardi 151, make Hurricanes

I found Hurricanes quite by mistake. We were having dinner out with friends and they were the happy hour special (which, by the way, should be like 3 hours long-not just an hour). I ordered one and was in heaven. Yes, they are featured in the Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffet song, but I knew nothing about them. And now, that restaurant was closing (but might have been bought out and saved) and I can't find them at any other podunk restaurant in our immediate area. I looked on-line and found a couple different recipes. They only thing I knew about the recipe at the restaurant was passion fruit juice (another thing I couldn't find until the organic section at the grocery store was in full swing). We tried 3 versions at home the other night. One didn't cut it at all, the second was okay, but the third one was pretty good. Not good like the restaurant good, but good at home, good. It reminds me a the Mai Tai's we have in Mazatlan-which is like a vacation in my mind when it is 12 below zero again today-ugh.

I played with the recipe I found on-line as it was WAY too strong. Here is what I came up with:

1 oz light rum

1 oz golden rum

1 oz Bacardi 151

6 oz pineapple juice

6 oz orange juice

1/2 oz grenadine

Squeeze of fresh lime juice (not shown)

Fill cocktail shaker half full with ice. Pour in all ingredients and shake. Pour into hurricane glasses filled with ice. Garnish with lime slice. This made enough for the two of us.

I added a little of the passion fruit juice to mine as the Dude didn't really care for the taste.

Another note. We tried 3 recipes this night trying to find the balance, then made two more after hitting the right one. You should never have 5 cocktails in one night with that many shots of 151. My head was pounding the next day for most of the day-some lessons are just harder than others to learn.

If I'm so fricking tired, why can't I sleep?

4 hours of sleep. In the last 36 hours. Seriously, I should be drooling on this keyboard with the imprint of it on my face. Nope. Can't sleep. Been thinking of what to make for the Noble Pig's challenge of Super Bowl foods. That came to me at 1:30 this morning. Been wondering if I have thrown away one of my Christmas decoration holder-thingymabob because I recently found some random decoration sitting on my table, and I don't remember seeing the box it is suppose to be in. Been wondering if I drink a bottle of wine at 7:31 AM Central Standard Time would it help me sleep? Been wondering how my fake Christmas tree sheds-and I'm still vacuuming up the fake needles. Been wondering why the Hermit Crab insists on making cookies while I am at work, eating them in my bed, and leaves all the baking mess on the counter and in the sink. Been wondering how long it will take to peel all the disgusting caulk off of my shower so I can get it replaced. Too much thinking, not enough sleeping.

I will return later in the day. Found some awesome cupcakes over at Diary of a Fanatic Foodie that I was going to try, plus saw some cookies on Cathy's Noble Pig site, and I need some beef so I have to figure out what to do there. I was going to do my retro jello but Drama Queen drank all my 7up, so might have to send eldest to the store on her way home from work to get me more. And now she is babbling. I'm gonna try going horizontal again and see if I can stop thinking and start sleeping....................................zzzzzzz

Friday, January 23, 2009

Who you calling a hoar?

It was so foggy Thursday morning when we were driving home from work. I hate fog. I hate it more than snow or ice or rain. You get disoriented and even if you know you are the 5th telephone pole from the corner, until you see those trees and mailbox, you feel like you are lost. About 20 minutes after we got home, the sun came up and the fog started to dissipate and the most beautiful hoarfrost emerged. I love hoarfrost-I love to say hoarfrost. The trees and bushes and powerlines were all covered. Booger (our youngest, also known as Drama Queen) was laughing at the fishing line and bobber hanging from the telephone wire from the house to the pole. Dad was showing her how to cast about 5 years ago, and the line and bobber are still hanging there. It was all covered also. Funny story about Boog and hoar, or rather hore? About 7 years ago she got off the bus and was practically in tears. When we asked her what was wrong she said the 'mean boys on the bus called me a bad name'. We asked her what name they called her and she said 'I can't say it, I'll get in trouble'. We promised her she wouldn't and she said 'they called me the 'H' word'. Now, we are standing there scratching our heads and looking at each other. H word? Heathen, harlot, haystack? We told her we couldn't think of any bad words that started with H other than hell, and she loudly whispered...."they called me a whore". We started laughing A) because she was like 8, and B) we had to explain to her that the H word really started with a W. She looked confused and we told her the W was silent, like the K in knife. When I told her yesterday morning that hoarfrost did indeed start with an H she was like "ha, ha , very funny Mom!". I explained that it really did, but it was hoar.

Here are the trees in our backyard.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bye bye Ms. Lemon Meringue Pie

Last week when I made the Rocky Road bars, I said that the recipe came from a cookbook that the Dude gave me several years ago. He picked it up because it had a recipe for Lemon Meringue pie. It is one of his favorites and I have made it many times. Not real often as it is a little labor intensive. I made two pies Tuesday to bring to work on Wednesday. Randy likes pie, but eating a whole pie probably isn't a good thing to do and I only like Pecan and chocolate mousse. I should have known things wouldn't go well when I tried to make the crust and it fell apart. Thankfully I had backup in the fridge: refrigerated pie crusts. The filling went great, so I thought. I had a small problem with the stabilizer for the meringue topping and had to redo that. The meringue whipped up fine. I covered that bad boy from edge to edge making sure I covered every speck of filling. Baked it off, put it on the rack to cool. Covered it and put it in the fridge with the other cooled pie. Got to work-the meringue had shrunk away from the edges and the filling got all watery. They downed both pies and said they liked them, even if it kind of looked like soup. I have no idea what happened. My ingredients were all fresh. I have made it before with stellar results. No idea. I think maybe I should not drink rum and cokes while baking? My husband-trying to be helpful-said "maybe you used old stuff" 'maybe you used 1 cup when you should have used 1/2 a cup' 'maybe you used flour and not cornstarch'. I told him I know how to read and maybe he should stop talking.

Here is the recipe anyway. It is normally fantastic-and pretty. From Diner Desserts:

Sky High Lemon Meringue Pie
1 fully baked pie crust
1-1/2 cups sugar
6 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cup water
5 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 TBSP butter cut into tablespoons
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Meringue Topping:
4 tsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg whites (from the eggs used up in filling)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar (I always use regular)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place rack in upper third of the oven. Make sure pie crust is baked and fully cooled. To make lemon filling, in a medium nonreactive saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt until well combined. Gradually whisk in the water until smooth. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove pan from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cornstarch mixture into the yolks, then return the yolk mixture to the saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute or until very thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon zest and juice and butter, whisking until butter is completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Leave filling in saucepan while preparing meringue topping. To make the meringue topping, in a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch and water. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds or until translucent. Whisk in vanilla. Remove from heat and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat the whites while gradually adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat the whites on high speed until they are glossy but not dry. Whisk a scoop of the beaten whites into the cornstarch paste until blended. On low speed, beat the cornstarch mixture into the remaining whites, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase speed back to medium-high and whip just until stiff peaks form. To assemble pie, place the pan containing the filling back on the heat to reheat for a minute. Scrape the hot mixture into the baked pie crust and smooth the top. Scrape the meringue into a pastry bag and using a large star tip, pipe high dollops of meringue on top, covering the filling completely, or pile it on the pie and spread over pie edge to edge with the back of a spoon (which is what I did). Bake pie for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temp or chilled.
Before baking-edge to edge
Looks good here, only I like it a little more brown. Hubby offered to let me use the torch, but I declined-rum being on the counter and all.
Off to bed-working some OT again. I'm ordering that new camera this weekend. My Dad bought his from a place in New York so I am ordering it through there-the best deal we could find with lots of extras. Please let it help with the photos!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cluck-n-Tater hotdish

Yes, here in Miny-soo-tah, we call them hotdish-Wisconsin does too. I do believe that most other places in the country it is called a casserole. And the joke goes "What do we call a casserole? Hotdish! And what goes in every hotdish? Cream of Mushroom soup!" Seriously, that was used in a commercial on the radio. I can't even remember what they were selling, but I remember the bit.

I found this recipe probably close to 15 years ago in some random magazine. I had to modify it as everyone in the house likes a different version of it. One likes hers with corn and no cheese, one like green beans and cheese and the Dude doesn't care as long as he gets some! It looks pretty unappetizing-one of those 'are you kidding me-that looks awful' dishes, but it is sooooo good. I think it just looks bland since the colors are pretty mundane.

Cluck-n-Tater Hotdish

1/2 cup Miracle Whip (or mayo)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 can of corn or green beans, or a small can of each (I'll explain at the end)
2 cups cooked, diced chicken
4 to 5 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

I am showing how I cook my meat only because I cooked up several breasts so I could have some chopped chicken in the freezer. I simmer it for about 45 minutes in a box of chicken broth and some fresh rosemary. When it is cooked through, let it sit for about 15 minutes then chop as you desire. The rest of the recipe will go on as if you already have the chicken cooked and the mashed potatoes made (I put my recipe on the blog for my mashed spuds).

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix Miracle Whip, milk, salt and pepper in saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly. I will tell you now-it looks gross, but it is worth it in the end. Stir in drained corn or green beans *you can use fresh, it is just the middle of winter here and I have no frozen ones left in the freezer* and diced chicken. Stir to combine and heat through. In a 2 quart casserole, spread about one cup of mashed potatoes on the bottom of the dish.

Pour the creamed mixture over the potatoes. Spread the rest of the potatoes on top, smoothing it down. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes. After removing from oven, let it sit to let it firm up.

I said everyone likes their own version at our house, so when we are all home, I make each person an individual one in a ramekin, so that is why I use a small can of each vegetable in the winter months and one can have it without cheese, one can have green beans, etc. Tonight the Hermit Crab had to work so she didn't eat before she left. I'm sure she had tacos at work. The Drama Queen was home, so I left cheese off the one side. She loves mac and cheese and cheesy bread, grilled cheese-but no cheese on her hotdish. What gives?

Oh, random photo here. The Drama Queen told us at 5:30 that she had to go back to school because she forgot she was singing the National Anthem at the BB game tonight. Let me tell you-I had on long johns, sweats, a 13 year old sweatshirt from the place I used to work, hadn't washed my hair and was full of flour as I was baking today too. Grrrr! Had to jump in the shower and go out with wet hair. Her and Em did a great job. She can sing really well-takes after my side, but not me. I can't carry a tune in a bucket (I would rather carry my beer there anyway), but both my parents and my siblings sing. Really sucks as that is what I would do in a different life. Oh well. She is the one in the green sweater holding the mic.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Day

Never did I think I would be witness to such a day as today. Whatever your politics, whatever your beliefs, this is a day that will be like no other. God Bless America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some days, fast and easy wins

I was prepared to read into brining my pork chops, but in the end, I was just plain tired and took the easy way out. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work this morning (Dude hates this, but does it anyway) and we have been very good sticking to our non-weight related resolution of $100 a week for groceries-except for his movie purchase, but I digress. They had nice thick pork chops on sale and he salivated, so we picked up a package for the two of us. The kids don't really like the chops and who knows where they would be today. I had read about people brining the chops-and all sorts of other meats. I was going to do that today, or at least look into it as I know it takes awhile and I had other stuff I planned for dinner. Yeah, slept late, kids interrupted everything I wanted to do and soon it was 7 o'clock. Too late to make the Clucks-n-Spuds casserole, so I just took the easy way out. Marinate the chops in my favorite marinade, slap them in the cold cast iron pan and gently cook until 160 degrees. They were very tender and by the time we ate, I would have been happy with cold cereal. In case you need a quick pork chop option, here it is:

Easy pork chops:
2 bone-in chops (I threw away the wrapping, but they looked like a T-bone steak)
Lawry's Steak and Chop marinade

Place a small amount of marinade in a flat dish that is big enough to hold chops. Nestle the chops in the marinade. Place chops on top and then pour some more marinade on top. Man handle the dish to get the marinade all the way around the chop. Let sit on counter for half an hour. Place chops in a cold, dry skillet (I used my cast iron one). Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until a nice sear appears. Flip and cook another 10 minutes. These were thick chops-at least an inch thick. Do not cook them this long if you have thin chops. The last 5 minutes of cooking, I added about 1 TBSP water to pan and it helped boil up the juices and fond on the pan and gave the chops a nice caramel color. Test with instant read thermometer to make sure the pork is done. I took my off the heat at 155 degrees and let rest for about 8 minutes and it hit 160 degrees no problem. Since it was so late and I wanted to gnaw the legs off the table, we used a box of potatoes and rounded out the meal with a bollioa roll (Mexican roll). They were tender and we both enjoyed them. Especially with the hurricanes I made-that will be another post!

He offered to help me 'undecorate' the tree, so I'm off in search of boxes. Don't judge me-I have worked a few days of OT lately and I just keep staring at tree, trying to will it to shed my ornaments and hop back in that box. So far, it just looks at me and mocks me. Stupid tree.

I thought I saw it in one of the cookbooks.....

Show of hands-how many of you own over 100 cookbooks? C'mon, I know you do! This is one of my shelves with cookbooks in my kitchen. They won't all fit on these two shelves (I knew I should have had more installed!), so some are in a bookcase in the living room. My husband just laughs when I ask for new cookbooks. 'When are you going to make something from the ones you already have?' Okay, another show of hands-how many of you read cookbooks like a novel? I do. I take them to bed with me at night (well, morning in my case) and read. Even those I have read time and time again, I always find something new. A new twist, a new prep method, a new something. Oh, and the Dude always buys me the cookbook. I think he is looking at the payoff if he gets it! Coming this week, and probably one post later tonight, I will be doing some family favorites like Cluck-n Spud casserole, Does Jello make you Mello, Feels like summer salad and Pork chops. Yah, no cool name for that dish. I'll work on that. Many people are doing light cooking with the new year, new habits, etc. I fail miserably when I make my resolution to lose weight. Instead I am taking a new approach-I'll just stay plump! Ha ha. Okay, so actually what works best for me is just moving more, watching my portions and moderation. My cholesterol is very good, my blood pressure is good, no thyroid problems, nothing showed up in my blood work, so the doctor says that there is no reason to go crazy with some diet. Just move more and don't eat every meal super sized and deep fried. Of course, she doesn't know my love affair with mashed potatoes, so we'll just keep that to ourselves. So, let me know-how many cookbooks are in your collection. My collection is about 125.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good Ol Rocky top

It is like a heat wave this morning! We left the plant and it is 19 degrees ABOVE-woo hoo! Break out the shorts, man.

Today it is Rocky Road bars. I had mentioned in the pork roast post that my hubby bought me a really cool cookbook about 5 years ago. It is called 'Diner Desserts' and is filled with yummy things that, well, you would find in a diner. They went over really well at work last night, but I would cut down the bake time a little, since you have to stick them back in for the topping. They were good, but just a tinge firm. From Diner Desserts.

Rocky Road Bars
5 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons (I didn't do this as it was quite soft)
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup flour
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
Topping :
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup milk chocolate covered English toffee bits, such as Heath
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and side of a 9x13 baking pan (grease it really well). To make brownie base, place the chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

Remove pan from the heat and let the chocolate mixture cool for 10 minutes. Stir the sugar, salt and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until there is no trace of the yolk. Stir in the flour until just blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.

Bake the brownie base for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center just barely comes out clean (this is where I should have checked 5 minutes earlier, as mine came out clean). Remove from oven and leave oven on. To make the topping, sprinkle half of the chopped walnuts evenly over the top of hot brownie base. Sprinkle half the toffee bits, then half of the semisweet morsels, and half of the mini marshmallows. Repeat these layers.

Return the pan to the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the chocolate is partially melted and the marshmallows are softened and lightly browned (I broiled mine for 1 minutes to get it more brown-wouldn't do that again). Place pan on a wire rack and cool 30 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares. Serve the bars at room temperature. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days, but bring to room temp before serving.

They went like hotcakes. The Hermit Crab asked if we brought any home for her and when I said no, a not so ladylike response came out of her mouth. Might have to put these on the menu for her grad party this summer.

Have a great day-I'm off to sleepyland now.