Sunday, November 29, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash...

3 lbs Brussels sprouts
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash
4 to 6 Tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans
1 cup dried cranberries

Wash Brussels sprouts, remove loose or yellow outer leaves.  Trim off end, and then cut each sprout in half.  Place sprouts in a bowl and drizzle with 2 to 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, and add a sprinkle of salt.  Toss to coat sprouts with oil.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and place sprouts on it in a single as many cut-side-down as you can.

(It's very difficult to peel and cut through a raw butternut squash for me, so I pre-cooked it a little to make it easier.  If you are accustomed to cutting it raw and want to do that, then skip to next paragraph.)  Wash the butternut squash.  Poke all over with a fork.  Place the squash whole on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high for about 3 minutes.  Check it after 3 minutes and see if it is warm to the touch and if its appearance is slightly darkened in patches.  If not, place it back in microwave for one minute at a time until it is.  

Cut off the stem end and a little off the base end so it sits flat.  Then cut it in half and remove the seeds and fibrous center.  Peel (I cut each half into about four pieces to make it easier to peel).  Cut into about 1 inch cubes.  Place in bowl, drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, add 3 Tablespoons maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Toss to coat squash.  Line another baking sheet with foil, and place squash on it in a single layer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Roast sprouts and squash for about 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender and nicely caramelized, turning with spatula about halfway through cooking time.

Place roasted sprouts and squash into a large bowl.  Add dried cranberries and pecans, and toss gently.  

My notes:  Next time I might let each person add pecans to their individual serving.  I don't much like the pecans heated up with the leftovers.  I also think that some crumbled crisp bacon would be a yummy addition.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Salisbury Steak...

2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
1 envelope dry Lipton Onion Soup mix
3 Tablespoons A1 Steak Sauce
2 Tablespoons onion flakes
1 cup beef broth

1 sleeve of Ritz or Club crackers, crushed
2 eggs
2 pounds very lean ground beef
pepper to taste 
(I did not add additional salt as the crackers and gravy ingredients have quite a bit of salt included.  It can be added later if you think it needs more.

1 to 1 1/2 cup additional beef broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl stir together first five ingredients...this is the gravy mixture.  Set aside.

In a large bowl crush the crackers.  Add the eggs, ground beef, pepper, and a cup of the gravy mixture from the small bowl.  Mix well, and form into patties.  Brown patties in a non-stick skillet; this may have to be done in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.

Place the browned meat patties in a casserole dish.  Pour the gravy mixture into the non-stick skillet and stir in the additional beef broth.  When the gravy is smooth and heated through, pour it over the meat patties in the casserole dish.  

Bake for 45 minutes.  Serve with mashed potatoes and a vegetable.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpkin Bliss...

2 boxes Jell-o No Bake Cheesecake
   (plus milk, butter, and sugar as called for on box)
2 boxes Jell-o Pumpkin Spice instant pudding
   (plus milk as called for on box's 'for pie' recipe)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 8 oz container of Cool Whip, thawed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Mix crust of both No Bake Cheesecake mixes with the butter and sugar called for on the packages, and pat into the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan.

Mix the filling of the two No Bake Cheesecake mixes with milk as called for on the package.  To this add 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice and mix well.  Pour over the crust and spread evenly.

Mix the two boxes of Pumpkin Spice instant pudding with milk as directed on package for pie (less milk than is called for than making pudding) and pour over the cheesecake layer.

Spread the container of thawed Cool Whip over the top of the pudding.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with chopped pecans and a light sprinkle of cinnamon.  Cut into squares, and use a metal spatula to lift each serving onto plates.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jalapeno Sweet Potato Soup...

4 lbs sweet potatoes
1 medium onion
3 slices bacon
3 cloves garlic
8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup pickled, sliced jalapeños (chopped a little)
1 ½ cups half-and-half
sea salt to taste
course ground black pepper to taste

Scrub sweet potatoes, and bake until tender.  Let cool until you can handle them.  Peel and dice (large dice)

Peel and finely chop onion, bacon, and garlic.

In a large soup pot, place bacon, onion and garlic and sauté over medium high heat until onions are translucent.

Add chicken broth.  Cover, bring to a boil.

Stir the sweet potatoes into boiling broth. Lower heat and add the jalapeños, cumin, cilantro, and half-and-half.  Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup.  (If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a potato masher, it will just be a little chunkier.)

Add salt and pepper to taste.  

My notes:  I got the original recipe from Homestead Heritage in Elm Mott, Texas.  They have an amazing cafe.  I have made a few changes to suit our taste, and to make it easier for me. For instance, I much prefer baking the sweet potatoes rather than boiling them as the original recipe called for.  If you let the baked sweet potatoes cool until able to handle, they are so easy to peel, and you have saved washing a pot.   (If you let them cool completely, they are NOT easy to peel.)

Makes Me Go Weak in the Knees Brownies...

2 boxes Duncan Hines Chocolate Lover's Brownies Mix (I like walnut version)
2 (or 3) 5 oz. Symphony Milk Chocolate bars (I use the Almonds & Toffee Chips kind)
(also oil, eggs, and water as called for on brownie mix package)

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9"x13" cake pan with cooking spray.

Mix first  brownie mix according to the 'fudgy' directions on the back of  the package. Pour batter into the cake pan, and bake for about 10 minutes, just till barely starting to set up (usually just long enough for you to mix the second mix and break up the Symphony bars).

While that's in the oven, mix second brownie mix according to the 'cake-like' directions on the back of the package, and set aside.

Then open Symphony bars and break into pieces. They don't have to be chopped or anything, I just break them along the rectangular grid lines on the bar. 

Remove the pan from the oven, and arrange the chocolate pieces evenly over the top of the hot partially-cooked brownie batter. Then pour the second brownie mix over the top and spread to the edges of pan. The Symphony bar starts to melt over the first mix, so when you spread the second mix it will move around somewhat...this is fine.

Return pan to oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or till they're done to your taste...we like them really moist and chewy around our house. :) 

My notes:  I'm not really sure what these are called.  My sister-in-law gave me the recipe without a name.  I call it this, because when I was little I thought brownies were called 'brown knees.'  :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cooking spaghetti squash...

I really love spaghetti squash, and they keep very well at room temperature for quite a long time.

To prepare, I start by cutting the stem end off...just enough to get rid of the stem AND give you a flat surface to turn it onto.

Once it sits flat securely, use a large chef's knife to cut it as nearly into halves as you can.

This is what it looks like inside.

I just use a soup spoon to scrape out the seeds and inedible center fibers.  As you scrape, you will feel the firmer flesh underneath...try not to scrape into the flesh, but right down to it.

It should look like this.

Cover a baking sheet (one with raised edges) with foil for easy clean up.  Set the squash on the foil and drizzle one or two teaspoons of olive oil into each half.  Use your hand and rub the oil to cover all surfaces of the inside flesh.

Sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper, and then turn each half flat-side down on the baking sheet.

Place in a 350 degree F oven for about an hour, or until it is tender when pierced by a fork.

Remove it from the oven, and let cool for a few minutes.  I then hold it with a hot pad in one hand, and with a fork in the other hand I scrape the flesh away from the tough skin.  The flesh shreds into spaghetti-like strands.

Empty the squash into a bowl, and continue with remaining squash halves.

To the bowl I usually add about two tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste.  Tonight I also added about 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, and stirred well till evenly mixed in.

It was delicious served alongside tonight's Chicken Piccata (with a little of the sauce spooned over the squash) and broccoli.  Yum.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cookie Quickie

Cookie Quickie
1 box cake mix (any flavor, I used chocolate)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
optional additions: chocolate or peanut butter chips, nuts, or candy

Stir all together.  Add optional addition if desired (I used peanut butter chips).  Experiment with the combinations!

Drop by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese Deluxe...

Crispy and brown on top... and creamy inside.

1 8oz pkg elbow macaroni
2 cups cream style cottage cheese (small curd)
1 cup sour cream
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp salt
Dash of cracked black pepper
¾ cup Velveeta grated or cut in smallish cubes
1 ½  cups shredded cheddar cheese (divide: 1 cup and reserve ½ cup for top)

Cook macaroni as directed on package.  While it is cooking place all remaining ingredients in a large bowl (but reserve ½ cup of the shredded cheddar for top), and stir just till blended.  Drain the macaroni and then stir it into other ingredients.  Turn all into a greased casserole.  Top with remaining ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and bake at 350° F for 45 min.

This is a recipe my mother used to make.  I've been making it for as long as I can remember, and it is a family favorite. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Apple Dip...

8 oz of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp milk (if needed)
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

Mix the cream cheese and peanut butter together till smooth and well blended.  Mix in the sugars.  If you want a slightly softer consistency add the milk gradually, until it is the consistency you want.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Serve with apple slices and graham crackers.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Yellow Squash Casserole...

I didn't get a good photo, so will replace next time I make this.

1 lb squash (or more, can use fresh or frozen)
1/2 c chopped onion
2 Tblsp bacon drippings or butter
1 pkg jalapeno cornbread mix
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese

Cook squash and onion in saucepan with water till tender...have at least 1 cup liquid in squash. Mix in drippings or butter, cornbread mix, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix about half the cheese in with casserole ingredients.  Pour into a greased casserold dish, and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 till brown.

My note:  This tastes so much better than my photo above would lead you to believe.  It's similar to the squash casserole that is often found on home-cooking type restaurant menus.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tomato Pie

Tomato Pie
4 to six fresh tomatoes, sliced
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 of my easy pie crusts, unbaked

Slice tomatoes.  Lay two to three layers of paper towels on the counter.  Lightly sprinkle salt on one side of tomato slices, and place the salted side down on the paper towels.  Then lightly sprinkle salt on the top (unsalted) side of the tomato slices.  The salt helps draw moisture out of the tomato slices.  Leave them on the paper towels for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 350˚ F (180˚ C).  Slice onion.  Put mayonnaise in a bowl with cheeses, and add fresh cracked pepper to taste (I like lots!) and stir to blend.  Prepare a pie crust.  

(Seriously, try my easy pie crust have everything in your kitchen, and it takes 5 minutes [you don't have to cut in butter or roll it out] and it tastes SO much better than store bought.  I use it for everything from quiche to chicken pot pie, and from pecan to fruit pies.  No, it is not Martha Stewart's way, but it so good for as easy as it is.  Making it in a glass pie plate is important.)

Place a layer of tomatoes in the pie crust.  Evenly spread the onion slices over the top, then add another layer using the remaining tomato slices.  Spread the mayonnaise/cheese mixture on top and spread to edges.  Bake for about 40 minutes or till cheese topping is brown and bubbly.


My notes:  When I have all the ingredients called for in the inspiration Tomato Pie recipe by Design Corral, I will try it that way too.  But I really loved the tomato being the star of the show in the one I made tonight.  Don't add additional salt to the mayonnaise and cheese mixture, there is plenty of salt on the tomatoes already.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Asparagus, Tomato, and Avocado Salad...

I adapted the dressing slightly

Salad ingredients:
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
1 pint of cherry tomatoes (I used a mix of colors)
1 Haas avocado, ripe

Dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
juice of one lemon
kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Trim or snap the tough stem ends of asparagus and discard.  Cut the spears into about 3 inch pieces.  In a fry pan, place enough water to cover bottom bottom of pan and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil.  Add asparagus to the pan, cover, and boil for three minutes.  At end  of three minutes, remove from heat and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.  You want it to be still crisp.  Drain well.

Cube avocado, and place in bowl with the asparagus and the whole cherry tomatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad and serve.  

My note:  It doesn't keep well since the avocado will brown, so eat every bit of it.

It is delicious with broiled salmon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Crowing Hen...

I'm calling this Crowing Hen.  It's basically an open-face chicken salad sandwich which is broiled until brown and bubbly.  I made it for a quick supper.  I think it would also be good for a ladies' lunch, a pot luck, etc.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

1/2 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c butter, softened or melted
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/8 c sliced scallions, including both bulb and green stems
1/8 c shredded parmesan
1/8 c shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp powdered garlic
2.25 oz can sliced ripe olives

French bread sliced about an inch thick

Mix first 8 ingredients together.  Spread thickly on French bread slices.  Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, and bake for about 15 minutes or till heated through.  Then turn oven to broil, and watch closely till just browned.

I used a large loaf, so this amount made about two very large slices.  If you use a baguette, then it would make quite a few slices, but be sure to make them thick slices (about an inch) to support a thick layer of filling (these might not need to bake quite as long).

This is based on a yummy bread that I had about twenty years ago at a church gathering, and is similar to The Pioneer Woman's Olive Cheese Bread.  I wanted to make a supper of it, so I thought I would add the cooked chicken.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie...


   1 pie crust  (either store bought or my favorite pie crust)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
   4 large eggs (beaten)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup pecans, lightly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Roll crust out.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon until frothy.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans till evenly distributed.
  5. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
My note:  Pecan Pie is not my favorite, but it is Carey's.  I've found that adding chocolate and bourbon, takes it to a whole 'nother level.  I do love this recipe.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chicken á la King Pot Pie...


1 Rotisserie Chicken, boned
   (or 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts cooked and cut up)
1 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup
½ c mayonnaise
½ c sour cream
1 c milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrot, corn, peas, green beans)
1 bag frozen broccoli florets
1 small jar diced pimientos
1 tube refrigerator biscuits

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In pan on stove top, melt butter.  Add onion and saute until translucent, stirring occasionally.  

To the onions in pan, add soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper.  Stir to mix the sauce ingredients.  

Add the boned chicken, frozen mixed vegetables, broccoli florets, and pimientos, and stir to combine.  Simmer for about 15 minutes till warmed through.  (Vegetables may still be undercooked, but they will finish in the oven.) 

Place in greased casserole and arrange refrigerator biscuits on top.  Place in oven for 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

My notes:  Could be made lighter by using olive oil instead of butter, and low-fat mayonnaise and sour cream.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Texas Caviar...

This makes the Southern tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day not just bearable, but YUMMY.

Texas Caviar
2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
    (I use 1 bag frozen cooked to direction)
1 large red or green pepper, finely diced
1 bunch green onions and tops, thinly sliced
1 envelope Good Seasons Italian dressing mix made as directed on pkg.
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1/4 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapenos peppers

Mix Italian dressing according to package directions, adding the 1 additional Tablespoon vinegar.  Combine dressing with rest of ingredients and refrigerate.  Serve with crackers.

Make ahead, it's even better the next day.