Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bad Girl Contest: YOUR Grandma's Recipes


Time is up! Thank you for your entries!
Winner will be announced this weekend.

My great-grandmother, Frances, at age 10.
I wonder when she learned to make her Ice Box Cookies,
that are still being made FOUR generations later?

I am currently working on a Family Cookbook, which has inspired this nostalgic contest. My mom and I have gathered recipes from aunts, cousins, uncles, grandmothers, etc. and it has been great to go through them, get them ready for the book, hear what people treasure about them.

I now have recipes that were passed down to my grandmother, Lorraine, from her mother, Frances, whom I never met; recipes from my other grandmother, Pauline, who died when I was eight, that I found in my mom's recipe box.

my grandmother, Pauline, and her sister, Elfie

So many great recipes to try, that have more meaning because widespread members of my family have enjoyed them enough to save them and share them.

Submit your favorite old-fashioned recipe,
one that has some meaning to you and your family.

*If you ever debated sharing a "family secret" recipe,
now would be the time!*

I want to know:

  • Which old-fashioned recipe, passed somehow through your family, is your favorite? It could be from your mom, your grandma, your great grandma, your aunt, your grandpa, whoever it may be that is older than you!
  • Is it just a favorite of yours, or has it become a treasured favorite of the whole family?
  • Who made it when you were little? Who gave you the recipe?
  • Is it a tradition of some kind in your family?
  • Does it show up at every family get-together?
  • What memories do you have about this dish?
  • What or whom do you think about when you're preparing this dish?
  • Just what is it that makes this recipe special?
  • Has the recipe evolved? Have you adapted it from the original or do you make it exactly like your grandma does/did?

Of course, I'm asking for the recipes, but also for your stories--the recipe's background, where the recipe came from, who gave it to you, why you love it.

The winner selection will be completely subjective, based both on the recipe and the story behind it. So bring 'em on.

The prize, because it can't be a contest without one, will be this beautiful, old-fashioned style Cheese Spreader/Knife Set by Cambridge Silversmiths. This is a four-piece, fine stainless set in lovely red that is dishwasher safe. It is beautiful, can make any cheese plate feel more special, and would be a nice addition to your kitchen.

To give everyone time to peruse their mother's and grandmother's recipe boxes, (and because I realized just how busy I will be in the next couple weeks)
I am setting a generous EXTENDED deadline of
October 30th, 2008, at midnight PST.

**If you are not currently a member of The Bad Girl's Kitchen, you may leave your recipes as comments on this post for faster entry, OR go here to request a Bad Girl invitation in order to post directly on this website.**

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Min's Rustic Chili

I always make huge pots of chili when the weather starts to change. It is comforting to have a steaming bowl of spicy chili when the wind is blowing the leaves around and fall is in the cool air.

This recipe is an adaptation of my mom's chili, and honestly it is almost always different, but always always delicious. I have just recently started adding the bacon, which contributes a nice smoky flavor to the pot. Sometime I leave out the zucchini or even the diced tomatoes, sometimes I add mushrooms, I've even added broccoli before--it's all good! You can substitute different kinds of beans too, just make sure to use two or three different kinds.

You can make this ahead, just put the whole pot in the refrigerator for a day or two, or if you'd like to store it longer you can freeze it. Just make sure you let it cool to room temperature first. I recommend making this at least several hours before you plan to serve it, ideally a day ahead to let the flavors develop.

This recipe makes plenty of chili--some for eating and extra for freezing!

Serve with or without a dollop of sour cream, some crusty bread and or a green salad. It is equally delicious with a glass of red wine or a tall glass of milk. Or both.

Enjoy! Happy Fall!

Min's Rustic Chili
Serves A Lot

olive oil
1 pound bacon, chopped
3 pounds ground beef
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, diced
3 15-ounce cans kidney beans
3 15-ounce cans pinto beans
1 30-ounce can chili beans
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 46-ounce can tomato juice
flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
chile powder
basil, dried or roughly chopped fresh

Optional toppings:
sour cream
grated cheddar cheese
flat leaf parsley

Put a couple splashes of olive oil in the largest saucepan you have. Heat on medium heat, and add bacon. Fry bacon until it is about halfway done, then add ground beef. Stir frequently until browned. While the meat is cooking, you can chop your onions, adding them to the pot and stirring as you go. Mince and add the garlic after that, continuing to stir. Dice and add the zucchini and/or any other vegetables. Generously salt the meat mixture.

Open all your cans, then drain each can (except the chili beans) briefly and add the beans and tomatoes (if using) to the pot. Stir, then add tomato juice. Generously add spices. Honestly, I just eye it and dump them in! I use chile powder from the Latin/Mexican section of the grocery store, almost 1/2 of a 1 1/16th ounce package. Lots of cumin, at least three tablespoons if you measure. A healthy amount of dried basil. Stir and taste as you go. If you are using fresh flat leaf parsley or fresh basil, add a good amount, so flecks of green are visible in the chili.

Allow the chili to simmer over very low heat for at least two hours or more. Stir, then taste and adjust spices if needed. Remember that the spices will take some time to develop their flavors, but it should smell good and taste good while it's simmering. Making this several hours ahead, overnight if possible, will result in the best flavor.

Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese and/or chopped parsley.

This chili freezes very well. Just cool to room temperature, transfer to plastic containers with lids or even large ziploc bags, seal and freeze. You should probably use it within 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight if you can, or toss the frozen chili in a pan, covered, over very low heat. Stir frequently until thawed, then increase heat until heated through.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taste & Create XIV: Tofu & Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

So I've finally done a Taste & Create!  I've only been telling Min I'd do it for ages. My partner was Pavani from Cook's Hideout.  I'm glad I was paired with her...  she has TONS of vegetarian dishes and I was thrilled to try some new things!  

The dish I'm posting about was Tofu & Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce.  It seemed really simple, fast, healthy and flavorful.  It certainly lived up to my expectation! It was spicier than I thought it would be but that was fine.  I followed Pavani's suggestion and used a frozen stir fry blend of veggies.  Mine had broccoli, snow peas, red peppers, water chestnuts, carrots, baby corn and bamboo shoots.  I also served it with brown rice.  I wasn't sure about the corn flour...  I used corn starch and it came out just fine.  I also didn't have fresh ginger so I used dry (maybe 1/2 tsp.)  Start to finish the meal took less than 30 minutes.  Sorry about the picture...  it certainly doesn't do the dish justice.

On a side note...  I also made Pavani's Eggplant Wraps.  When you get a chance, visit Cook's Hideout and check out the recipe!  It was fabulous!  

Extra firm tofu - 16 oz. package, drained, chopped into bite size pieces.
Mixed vegetables - 2 cups (carrots, peppers, mushrooms, snow peas, onions, celery, etc... I used frozen snow pea stir fry blend.)
Black Bean Sauce - 2 Tbs.
Red Chili Flakes - 1 tsp.
Ginger - 1 tsp.
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Soy Sauce - 3 Tbs.
Sesame oil - 1 tsp.
Corn flour - 2 tsp. (mixed in 1/4 cup water to make a slurry)


  • Fry tofu in a little bit of oil, so that they are lightly browned evenly on all sides.  Remove and keep aside.  Skip this step if using baked tofu.
  • Heat 1 Tbs oil in a wok or large pan, add ginger, garlic and chili flakes.  Stir fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the vegetables and black bean sauce, stir fry until the veggies are crisp tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  • Add soy sauce, corn flour slurry and 1 cup water, cook for about 2 minutes until the gravy is thick. Serve with brown rice.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunny Chicken with Shallots, Artichokes & Mushrooms

This dish came about when both the boys were sleeping (a rare occasion), I was by myself in the house (ditto) and I remembered one lonely chicken breast in the freezer. I took the opportunity to experiment, and decided if the boys didn’t like it when they woke up, they could just eat pasta.

Sunny Chicken with Shallots, Artichokes & Mushrooms

Makes 4 servings

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 potato, diced

kosher salt

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced

6 cremini mushrooms, sliced

½ can artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup frozen green beans

juice from ½ lemon

buttered egg noodles

I heated the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat, and sautéed the shallot. I added the potato and stirred, then covered the pan so the potato would steam a bit and cook faster. I don’t mind a browned potato, but I did stir them every once in a while. Meanwhile, I (carefully) diced the frozen chicken breast, then added it to the pan, salted and stirred everything and covered it again so the chicken would thaw.

When the chicken was about halfway cooked, I removed the lid and sautéed everything more, then added the mushrooms and artichoke hearts. I added the corn and green beans, and squeezed half a lemon over everything. I stirred and replaced the lid again. When the corn and beans were heated through, I turned off the heat and waited for my egg noodles to finish. (should have started them just a bit earlier)

This was a good dinner, and fairly quick at just over ½ hour. Everything came from the pantry or freezer, and it ended up making 4 healthy servings, even without the noodles. (I bet you never thought a single chicken breast could feed a family of four!) The lemon and artichoke hearts gave everything a little bit of brightness, just a hint of flavor without overpowering.

I didn’t add spices other than salt this time, but I would be open to suggestions! What would you have done with these ingredients?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Butter Cookies

I remember my Mom making these cookies with us at Christmas. Again, the recipe may have come from Grandma. I made them with my kids & now with the grandkids. It is a requested cookie every Christmas & we've had some unusual colors over the years depending on who is helping & their favorite color. Remember the blue, red & purple Christmas trees anyone? The cookie press comes with assorted designs & we've tried them all. The Christmas tree works best.

2 1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. butter*
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract**
Several drops of food coloring.

Cream butter & sugar. Add egg & mix well. Add flour, baking powder, almond flavoring & food coloring. Mix well. Fill cookie press with design of your choice and dough; form on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.

This recipe makes 4 dozen, or more, cookies & doubles easily. Great for cookie exchanges & gifts.

* I always use butter - not margarine.
** If you have someone with a nut allergy you can use vanilla but we prefer the almond flavor.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pork Stew in Cider

This stew sounded so delicious, with pork, onions, apples, it seems just perfect for fall. The recipe comes from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook. This book will be featured quite frequently this fall; looking through it to compare it to the not-so “deluxe” edition reminded me of all the great recipes inside!

Of course I could not find hard cider in this almost virtually dry county (quite ironic that I live here, I know!) So I opted to use “Apple-Beer,” a non-alcoholic substitute. I can’t find genuine apple cider here (non-alcoholic) either, so I thought Apple-beer would be an adequate substitute.

And, I was right! This stew with Apple-Beer is delicious! I was worried about the carbonation, but should not have been. The stew is savory yet sweet, and very filling. I served it with egg noodles, and one of our guests stated I should open a restaurant. You should make this today! It is a perfect fall stew, excellent. I will definitely make this again.

Pork Stew in Cider

Although the water chestnuts are optional, they add a nice, crunchy texture. The cider is an important ingredient. The alcoholic stuff is best, so look for a good brand, such as Dry Blackthorn.

Serves 6

Cooker: medium round or oval

Settings and cook times: HIGH for 20 minutes (optional), then LOW for 7 to 9 hours.

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 large tart cooking apple, such as Granny Smith or pippin, peeled, cored and roughly cut into 1-inch cubes

One 8-ounce can whole water chestnuts (optional), drained and cut in half

1 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into ½-inch cubes

½ teaspoon salt

7 grinds of black pepper

1 ½ tablespoons rubbed sage

2 cups dry hard cider

Long-grain rice or egg noodles for serving

  1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Layer the onion, apple, water chestnuts, and pork in the cooker; sprinkle with the salt, pepper and sage. Pour the cider over all. Turn to HIGH for 20 minutes, if you have time, to heat through.

  1. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours.

  1. Serve in shallow soup bowls with long-grain white rice or egg noodles.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Taste & Create XIV: Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake

This month, I ended up with two partners for Taste & Create, the fabulous monthly food blog event hosted by the lovely Nicole from For the Love of Food. You probably already know that Nicole is on vacation this month, and I am the lucky guest host of the event! I'm very excited, it is an honor. Thanks again, Nicole, for the opportunity to help!

So my second partner is Stephanie from CIA - Cooking In an Apron. Stephanie has so many wonderful recipes, it was very hard to choose just one. I will definitely be making the Strawberry Colada Cookies with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting, and probably the Mojito Pound Cake, ooh! and the Cream Cheese Shortbread Cookies with Pistachios as well. Do you see what I mean about a hard choice?! That is just the beginning of my To Bake list from Stephanie's blog. I definitely have to space these sweet treats out, lest I eat them ALL by myself!!

I finally decided on Stephanie's Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake, for several reasons. One, the nearest Starbucks is over an hour away, and it's embedded in a grocery store so I'm not even convinced that actually counts. Two, I've never had Starbucks coffee cake, but I am also tempted by baked goods in a display case. (I don't recall even seeing a display case in the grocery store-embedded Starbucks!) And three, it sounds amazingly delicious, and if Stephanie says it is her "all-time favorite," well I just had to try it!

I did double the pecans in the topping. We love pecans, and I have no prior expectations for this coffee cake, not having tried the original...

This coffee cake indeed tastes like a classic, excellent! Everyone loved it. I will definitely be making this one again.

Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake
Serves 8

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I doubled the pecans)

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven 325 degrees F. Butter and flour into 9 x 13 pan, set aside.

Make topping by combining flour with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in medium bowl. Mixture should have consistency of moist sand. Add pecans.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In separate large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, sugar with mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and mix well. Add dry mixture to moist ingredients, a little at a time. Add milk and mix well. Spoon batter into pan. Sprinkle crumb topping over batter, be sure topping completely covers batter.

Bake cake for 50 minutes or until edges begin to turn light brown. Cool and slice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peking Honey Chicken Wings

I knew there was a reason I needed hoisin sauce! I accidentally bought chicken legs, but no matter. I just increased the cooking time a bit.

This recipe comes from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, and I just thought it sounded good. Incidentally, I received a copy of the "deluxe edition" of the cookbook in the mail, but to me, it doesn't appear "deluxe" to me at all. Some of the recipes from the original book have even been deleted! They did add a chapter of "Recipes for Two," but that certainly doesn't apply to me any longer. I sent it back, happy with the original version.

This chicken is tangy and delicious. I was tempted to reduce the delectable sauce to pour over the chicken legs, but with people clamoring for dinner I decided not to. The chicken had such great flavor, and was really easy to make. H-Bomb ate two chicken legs for dinner! I recommend you try it!

Peking Honey Chicken Wings (or Legs!)

These wings are nice party food, salty and sweet at the same time. Or serve them with rice for a casual dinner. Serves 4 as a main dish, 10 as an appetizer
Cooker: Large round or oval
Setting and cook time: HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (2 to 2 1/2 hours if using legs)

4 pounds chicken wings, cut into joints, with bony wing tips reserved for stock or discarded; or 3 pounds chicken drumettes (or 4 pounds chicken legs)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup orange marmalade
6 green onions (white and green parts), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few splashes of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the wings nicely, in batches if necessary, 3 to 5 minutes per side. As they brown, transfer to the cooker.

3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a medium-size bowl, and pour over the wings; stir the wings to coat evenly. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (2 to 2 1/2 hours for chicken legs). If possible, stir gently halfway through cooking with a wooden spoon, pushing the wings on the top to the bottom to coat with sauce. Serve hot or warm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taste & Create XIV: Mushroom-Peas-Corn Pulao

Taste & Create is a monthly food blog event, in which participants are randomly paired with other food bloggers and asked to choose and prepare a recipe from their partner's blog. Taste & Create is hosted by the lovely Nicole of For the Love of Food. This month, Nicole is taking a much-needed vacation, and I am the lucky guest host! It is so exciting to help out with this event that I love! I am so happy to be a part of this...Thanks, Nicole, for having faith in me and bearing with me and coaching me through all the minutia of details!

So this month, I was paired with Divya of Dil Se... She has so many delicious-sounding recipes, with alluring and fascinating blends of spices (and some ingredients I have never heard of!) It was difficult to narrow down, and there are still quite a few on my list.

I was intrigued by Divya's Mushroom-Peas-Corn Pulao, and I happened to have all the spices! I even found a recipe for ginger-garlic paste, and as luck would have it, the grocery store has actually started to carry fresh ginger! I made my garlic-ginger paste in my mini food processor, then proceeded with the recipe.

I don't have a pressure cooker, so I just put a lid on a pot. I also couldn't find Basmati rice, so I used Jasmine. I'm sure there is a difference, but to me, rice is rice is rice. I used frozen corn and peas, and butter instead of ghee. I believe those are all my changes...

This dish smelled amazing while sauteing everything together...that was my favorite part. The rice was finished in exactly 20 minutes, perfectly done and beautiful. The spices were a bit much for our little boys, but it was delicious for us!

*Be sure to check out Divya's post about making reddquilter's Breadsticks!

Mushroom-Peas-Corn Pulao

2 tablespoons Ghee /oil (I used butter)
Cashews (I used a small handful, chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 whole cloves
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Ginger- Garlic paste
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup corn
1/2 cup green peas
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin/Jeera powder
2 cups Basmati Rice (I used Jasmine)
Salt to taste
Coriander (cilantro) for garnishing

In a pressure cooker (or dutch oven pan) heat ghee/oil over medium heat and fry the cashews. Once they turn golden brown, add the cumin seeds and cloves. Then add the onions and ginger garlic paste and saute until they turn translucent.

Then add the mushrooms and fry till they turn brown and all the moisture evaporates.

Then add the corn and saute for a minute. (I added my peas at the same time as the corn, since both were frozen)

Add all the spices and salt and allow them to cook for a minute.

Add 3 1/2 cups water and once it begins to boil add the rice and peas.

Close the pressure cooker and cook for two whistles. (Or cover your dutch oven, turn heat to low, and simmer for roughly the amount of time it says on the rice package.)

Do not overcook.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with raita. (oh, how I wish I had the ingredients for raita...)

P.S. The garnish in my photo is Italian parsley, just for looks! =)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ginger Creams

Editor's Note: Cheryl originally posted this recipe on 9/30/08, as a contest entry. I received notice of the post, then some technical difficulties made it disappear! I am reposting since she is on vacation and will not have access to the blog before the end of the contest...aren't I nice? Maybe she'll bring some Ginger Creams to my house when she comes--Min

Ginger Creams

I got this recipe from my Mom. I don't remember if it came from my Grandma or not. We usually made these cookies in the fall. It just seems like the right time of year for them. Our kids liked them when they were growing up, too. They are excellent as is or frosted. (Cheryl uses Dreamwhip Frosting)

Mix together thoroughly:

1/4 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c molasses

Stir in: 1/2 cup water

Sift together & stir in:

2 c sifted flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Chill dough for 1 - 2 hours. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400* for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Posted By Cheryl to The Bad Girl's Kitchen at 9/30/2008 02:59:00 PM

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spiced Quinoa with Cherries

Quinoa is a wonderful grain that has a very high protein content.  The texture is neither mushy or crunchy and it has a nice "nutty" flavor to it.  It's easy to make and very versatile.  This recipe for spiced quinoa works as a hearty breakfast or pairs nicely with baked butternut squash as a side dish or main course.  I've split open a butternut or acorn squash, scooped out the seeds, added a little butter and baked the squash for 1/2 hour or until soft.  Fill the squash half with the already prepared quinoa.

We will be having this dish solo (no squash) for Christmas 2008.  Picture will be forthcoming!

Here's how I usually make it...

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp cinnamon
@ 1/3 cup honey
1 6-oz package of dried cherries (or cranberries)
@ 1 cup sliced almonds or pecans or walnuts

1)  Get one cup of quinoa and rinse it well in a very fine sieve or a colander lined with cheese cloth.  

2) Boil the water and add the rinsed quinoa.  Turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the quinoa opens and most of the water is gone (about 15 minutes).  Stir often so it doesn't stick.

3)  Add all other ingredients in a big bowl with the cooked quinoa.  I like cherries but cranberries add a tartness that goes with the sweetness of the other ingredients.  The amounts given are only approximates...  adjust to your tastes.   You can also add things like nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice... whatever you like.  Stir everything and serve.  

Serves 6-8

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taste & Create XIV Partner List

I am happy about the opportunity to provide Nicole with a much-needed break this month, and so excited to guest-host the fabulous Taste & Create XIV. Thank you for following the links and signing up, your dedication to T&C is great. This is always a very fun event! Tell all your friends for next month!

Rest assured that the entry submission method will be the same as usual, following the instructions on the Taste & Create website. (please follow the link if you are new!) Please remember your photos must be 250 x 250 pixels in size.

Just a reminder:

-the rules can be found here.

-please do not email me your submission, go to Nicole's new Taste&Create website, register/sign-in and submit your entry there by the 24th of October.

-in your post please include a link to the Taste&Create website and/or include the T&C logo (available at For the Love of Food), so we can get the word out and have others join in the fun.

I will try my best to post your entries as they come in, they will show up here. Please bear with me, I am new at this! If you don't see your entry on the website a week or two after you've submitted it, feel free to leave me a comment or send an email and I'll track it down.

And without further ado, the October Partner List:

Grow. Cook. Eat. & TastyCurryLeaf
Iron Stef & The Lives and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
Columbus Foodie & My Kitchen Treasures
Dil Se.. & The Bad Girl's Kitchen (Min)
Little Ivy Cakes & Dragon Musings
I'm Running to Eat & More Than Burnt Toast
Fun Foods on a Budget & One Little Corner of the World
Angry Asian Creations & The Spiced Life
La Recette du Jour & Fridgg
Cook's Hideout & The Bad Girl's Kitchen (Shell)
In My Box & Spice-O-Life
Cooking In An Apron & The Bad Girl's Kitchen (Min)

Thanks again for participating! I can't wait to see what you all decide to create.

Monday, October 6, 2008

John's Salsa

This recipe brings back fond memories from the time JennyLee and I took a road trip with our combined four kids (plus one in Jenny's belly) to her sister (Lori) and brother-in-law's (John) house in Arizona. We filled up the minivan and just drove. It was an adventure! It was fun to see where JennyLee grew up, meet her mom, her family, her friends.

Lori and John were so welcoming, and their home is amazing. They whipped up this salsa in no time. It is perfect for when you have no fresh tomatoes, but want a great-tasting salsa to accompany your chips or chorizo and eggs with fresh tortillas. Thanks, Lori and John, for making us feel at home and sharing this awesome recipe.

This is the first time I have tried this recipe, and unfortunately our cilantro didn't survive this year, so I used basil. I will also reduce the sugar by at least half next time, this batch tastes a bit sweeter than I remember. I used 3 peppers instead of 2 because Number One has a nasty head cold and I'm trying to help him clear his sinuses. A good, fast salsa.

Feel free to try this at home...

John's Salsa

  • 2 small green onions cut about 2"
  • palm full of cilantro
  • 2 Mezzetta hot chili peppers

Mix together in blender or processor then add:

  • Large can of whole peeled tomatoes (drained)
  • Can of diced green chili
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Blend till you get consistency you like.

Favorite Pie Crust

This recipe was originally posted with reddquilter's Famous Pear Pie (which you should Go Make Right Now). The pie crust is delicious, easy, and you can freeze it two ways, so I decided it deserved a post of its very own. --Min

Reddquilter's Favorite Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

I usually make a large batch in my food processor (make sure not to over mix--easy to do in the processor) WITHOUT the water. Then I package it into single pie crust portions in zip lock bags then freeze till needed. Add the water later by hand with a fork.

I also have made the pie crust including the water and then put in the freezer in individual single crust packets as well as actually rolled out the crust into the pie plate and then freeze till needed. I now prefer to just do the dry mix, works best for me.


Now, this is Min again. For those who need more step-by-step instructions, this is how I make reddquilter's delicious pie crust:

Add flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor bowl. Cut COLD butter into cubes, and add to food processor bowl. Pulse quickly in short bursts, just until the butter is reduced to pea-size lumps, don't process too much. Dump the flour/butter mixture into a small bowl, and add water by the tablespoon, mixing with a fork just until the crust starts to come together. Sometimes I need to use 6 or 8 tablespoons of water. The crust will not be completely together, it will look crumbly but should not look floury at all. Don't worry about this.

Generously flour the surface you'll be rolling your dough out on. Turn the dough out into a pile on top of the flour, then use your hands to gently push it together into a round shape. Flour your rolling pin, and roll out your dough. The key is not to work it too much. And you're done! Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate, and proceed with your pie!

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

My favorite recipe for pumpkin pie uses fresh roasted, pureed pumpkin. It is amazing, worth the {small} effort and incomparable to canned pumpkin (blech). When H-Bomb was little, I would serve him the roasted, pureed pumpkin for dinner. As he grew bigger, he would eat chunks of roasted pumpkin as fast as I could serve them up. We have done everything from saving and roasting scraps from Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns to buying special-marked "pie pumpkins." I have also substituted butternut squash in this recipe. All of the ways are delicious in this recipe, every single time.

The original recipe comes from the Moosewood Cookbook, a continuing source of inspiration.

Use your favorite pie crust recipe, or reddquilter's or Marlow's, or Pate Brisee. You choose.

*To roast the pumpkin, cut off the top and halve pumpkin. Scrape out seeds (reserve for roasting separately!) and most of the strings. Place face up on a large sheet pan, and bake at 350 degrees F until the flesh is soft (easy to stick a fork in), about 45 minutes or so. When done, peel off all the skin and puree in a blender or food processor, in batches if you've roasted a lot of pumpkin. You can find pictures of this process here.

You can also freeze the pumpkin puree, in baggies pre-measured for the exact quantity of your favorite recipe (3 cups!) and just take it out and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before you need to make your pie. Be aware that it may take extra time to bake if you use frozen puree. I have also successfully frozen the peeled roasted pumpkin. (and just puree when you need some)

No-Fault Pumpkin Pie

20 minutes to prepare; 50 minutes to bake
Yield: 1 compact 9-inch pie (about 6 to 8 servings)

* I usually end up with a 10-inch pie, filled to the brim! Whenever there is a range of spice amounts listed, I use the larger of the two measurements.

3 cups roasted, pureed pumpkin or squash
3 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon cloves or allspice
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (lowfat ok)

1 unbaked 9- or 10-inch pie crust (see above for recipe links)

Optional Toppings:
whipped cream with a little sugar and rum
whipped cream with a little sugar and vanilla
vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Place pumpkin or squash puree in a medium-sized bowl, and add all other filling ingredients. Beat until smooth.

3. Spread into the pie crust and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 40 minutes, or until the pie is firm in the center when shaken lightly.

**Sometimes this pie takes much longer to bake...with the previously frozen puree, it took twice as long to bake the pie, but it was perfect when it FINALLY came out of the oven!

4. Cool at least to room temperature before serving. This pie tastes very good chilled, with rum- or vanilla-spiked whipped cream, or some high-quality vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Morning Brunch

This recipe comes from my grandma. I got it when I was looking through her recipe box this summer, and I decided to prepare it for a gathering of part of Number One's family here at the ranch. This breakfast casserole is especially convenient for a large gathering because you put it together the night before, and refrigerate the casserole overnight. I doubled the recipe and used a huge pan that I have, but the recipe as written here makes a 9x13 pan regular size.

It is quite easy to put together, even after several glasses of wine. Or perhaps, ahem, many glasses of wine. Anyway, it's easy. And delicious...I love mushrooms, and sausage, and eggs, and the flavors combine wonderfully in this casserole. Rave reviews all around, and just a few pieces left over this morning.

Sunday Morning Brunch

Serves 8 to 12

8 slices bread, diced

1 pound sausage, cooked and drained

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 small can mushrooms

1 dozen eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon mustard

1 can mushroom soup, diluted with 2/3 cup milk

In large bowl, mix eggs, salt, milk, mustard and diluted soup.

In 9x13” pan, layer bread, sausage, mushrooms and cheese, cover with egg mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Creamy Baked Chicken

This is a simple recipe that can be prepared in just a few minutes and bakes up in 30-40 minutes.

Here's what you'll need...

4 Chicken breasts
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Fresh or Dried Herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary)
1 Can of Campbell's Healthy Requests Cream of Chicken soup
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water

Place the chicken in a baking dish with a lid. Spray the dish with cooking spray first. Brush the chicken with olive oil. Season it with salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like (I used dried thyme and rosemary because that's what I had!). Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until it's done.

When the chicken is close to being done, put a little olive oil in a pan and heat for a minute. Add the minced garlic cloves and cook for a minute. Add the soup, water and a some pepper... stir well while heating.

Whip up some cous cous or rice while the chicken is cooking as well. Serve chicken breast on top of the rice/cous cous and spoon some sauce on top. Add a vegetable and you have a quickish meal!

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