Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Biscuits, we just love them.  I have some really good recipes for Biscuits, some are time consuming, and well worth the time.  But these Cheddar Drop Biscuits are so easy! 

I got the recipe from Lucinda Scala Quinn, she's the host of the Mad Hungry Cooking show on the Hallmark Channel.  I just love her show, she's easy, and so down to earth, and I don't have to leave the country just to find an ingredient!  Anyway, back to the biscuits, they have chives and cheddar cheese in them, and they are so easy, just drop them on the cookie sheet, no rolling out!  I made them for my family tonight, and they were YUMMO! 


    Cheddar Drop Biscuits
    2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    Pinch cayenne pepper
    6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
    8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
    1 1/3 cups buttermilk, well shaken
    3 tablespoons chopped chives
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with racks in upper and lower third positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment or foil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper. Work butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until butter is incorporated and pea-size lumps remain. Stir in cheddar, then buttermilk and chives, just until dough comes together.
  3. Using two spoons, drop 1/4 cup quantities of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake in oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes, rotating baking sheets onceTry them and ENJOY!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cookie of the Week! Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies!

I try to make a batch of cookies every 2 weeks for my family.  There's nothing like the aroma of freshly baked cookies, and surprising my family with a homemade treat.  This Old Fashioned Sugar Cookie  is a Martha Stewart recipe that I found years ago.  It's so simple, it's not one where you roll the dough out and make cut-outs, it's just a drop cookie,  it's so easy, and so "old fashioned". Try them, you will love them!

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies 
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 TBS finely grated lemon zest plus 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
(I have omitted this, my kids didn't like the zest)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) Softened
2 large eggs
Sanding sugar for sprinkling, or Sprinkles

1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, (flour, baking soda, and salt) mix with a whisk to combine.  In a mixer, or by hand, cream the butter, then add the sugars, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Mix for 2 minutes.  Slowly add the dry ingredients, and mix for 1 more minute. 

2. Scoop dough using a 2 inch ice cream scooper or 2 tablespoons, 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Flatten cookies slightly with a spatula, and sprinkle with the sanding sugar, or sprinkles. 

3. Bake at 350 until gold brown about 10 - 15 minutes.  Let cool and ENJOY!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beef Stew

It's a rainy and chilly day again here, perfect for a nice Autumn day.  Halloween is coming, we love Halloween, no negative feedback please....we just go out and trick or treat and have FUN, and usually go to our church for their Harvest Fest, and the kids love it! 

Everyone is home tonight, and I know my family wants a really comforting meal.  Tonight it's Beef Stew!  I make this really easy recipe, and it's so delicious.  I use a "Chuck Roast", you can find the "Chuck Roast" already cut up into chunks.  The package will say "Stew Meat", but it's expensive, just for the convenience of the meat being already cut up.  Sometimes I even use a "London Broil", just cut it up in chunks, so easy!  It cooks for about 2 hours so start early in the afternoon. You can even use the crock pot, but you'll have to brown the meat first, and start in the morning.  Need a most delicious comforting meal?  Try this recipe, you will love it!

Beef Stew
1 pkg of Stew Meat or Chuck Roast, or London Broil, cut up into chunks
3 large carrot's peeled and cut roughly into chunks
1 large onion, cut up roughly into chunks
2 Celery Stalks cut up small
2 large Potato's peeled cut into chunks
1 tsp salt and 1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup Red Wine (optional)
2 TBS Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
2 TBS Oil (I use Canola)
1 cup Flour for dredging
3 cups of beef stock or 2 cups water and 3 TBS bouillon)

Cut up the meat, dredge in the flour, shake off extra flour. Heat up an oven proof roasting pan, add the oil and get it nice and hot.  Add the meat to the pan, and brown on all sides, for about 2 minutes each side.  Don't let it burn you may have to lower the flame. Salt and pepper, add the carrots, potato's, celery, and onion, red wine, and cook for about 2 minutes until the wine is evaporated.  Add the beef broth or water with bouillon, and bay leaf, and finally the tomato paste.  Stir, scraping getting all those delicious bits off the bottom of the pan....hey that's your flavor! If you want to use the crock pot, after doing all of this, put it all in the crock pot, turn on low and cook for 7 hours. 

Put into a 350 oven for about 1 hour, after the hour check it, taste it, what does it need, more salt?  Is the water/stock evaporating too fast, add more.  Cook for another hour, until meat is tender, and there's a nice gravy. Take out of the oven, if the gravy isn't thick, thicken it by making a simple gravy.  In a jar, add 2 TBS flour and about 1/4 cup cold water, shake.  Add very slowly to the stew, but do not add all at once, stir, do you need to add more?  Is the gravy thickening to where you like it?  Taste the stew, does it need more salt?  Always taste your food, that's how you learn.  Serve over mashed pots, or egg noodles......YUMMO!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Something Comforting....Steel Cut Oatmeal!

Well, it's finally cold outside, a chilly 38 this morning when I took my daughter Becca to the bus.  Loving this weather, and I'm ready for the colder months.  I hear rumors that we may get some snow tomorrow, wouldn't that be nice.  But, it is very soon, Summer was extended this year so it seemed.

Here's a quick and easy recipe when you're on the go. When the weather gets chilly out, I want a comforting breakfast, and I think oatmeal is just that! So, last night I whipped up a batch of Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal. You may be asking, why did you make it last night? Well, I made it in the slow cooker. It cooked all night long, so it would be ready for us when we all woke up.

I love oatmeal, and it's so good for us! And I wanted to try something different, and I heard about this Irish Steel Cut Oats....and always wanted to try it. I found a recipe for it online, and guess what, this morning it was waiting for us, and it was truly delicious!!!!
My hubby has been asking me to make oatmeal lately, and I've been forgetting. So this morning he was welcomed with the delicious smell of oatmeal cooking right when he woke up. Mind you, the kids wouldn't even try it, of course not. What is with them? I tried everything when I was a little girl, and I loved everything! Here's the recipe.

Slow Cooker Irish Steel Cut Oats
1 cup Irish Steel Cut Oats
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (or just leave them out)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups water
1/2 cup half & half or milk, or whatever milk you have
2 Tbs honey, or sweetener, or even sugar (I used the honey, next time I will leave it out and just add sweetener on to my own serving, I have to watch my sugar intake)

Spray the inside of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients into the slow cooker, except the half & half and honey. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours. When you wake up, it's all cooked, just add the half &half and honey, and serve.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Apple Sauce

The weather has been  just perfect!  It's been cool now for the past two days, no humidity, finally. The leaves are changing color and falling everywhere.  I love the Autumn, and I love the smells of Autumn, makes everything feel so cozy.  One of the smells of Autumn is homemade Apple Sauce. I wonder sometimes why we buy the jar, making Apple Sauce is so easy, but the jar is very convenient, and we do live in a busy world. I do wish we could all go back in time when everything was at a slower pace, and we had the time to "put up" several jars of Apple Sauce. Perhaps some day I will, anyone care to join me, or should I say show me?
Apple Sauce
12 apples peeled and cored and cut up into chunks
1/2 cup sugar or more if you want it sweeter
1 TBS cinnamon
2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider

In a big sauce pot, add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple cider.  Cook for 1 hour, the apples will break down and look chunky and saucy.  Taste it, what does it need? Is it a little sour?  Add some sugar, do you want more cinnamon?  Continue cooking until the apples are all broken down in to a chunky sauce, you may want to use a potato masher if you want it smoother, or put them in a blender after cooking, but we like ours on the chunky side.  Serve it warm, or chill if you like it cold.  Will last in the frig for about 2 weeks.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Pork Chops

What a glorious day here in New Jersey, there's a chill in the air, and I am loving it.  While cooking dinner last night, my oven wouldn't heat up, I preheated the oven to 350, and the oven wasn't even warm.  But the broiler worked, not very well, and I was able to still cook. So, now I will be without an oven for today, oh no!  What will I ever do?  Some people would be relieved, but not me!  Hopefully tomorrow the repairman will either fix it, or say, "I need a new oven".  I'll keep you all posted.

Pork Chops we just love them! But sometimes the Pork Chops come out dry. Mom use to make Stuffed Pork chops when I was a little girl, and I just loved them. She wouldn't make them often, just every once in a while, and when she did, they were delicious! .

I make Pork Chops today for my family, but one of their favorite's is STUFFED! I use a BOXED, (please don't faint!) STUFFING, only on busy weeknights, but on special occasions, like Thanksgiving, I do make my homemade Sausage Stuffing, I will post that recipe sometime before Thanksgiving.  But because I'm trying to make easy weeknight dishes, and we do have very busy lives, we are using the BOXED STUFFING in this recipe....whew, feeling better now!

I like to buy the thick pork chops when I stuff them, of course they are easier to make that little pocket with a knife, but when buying pork chops, I do recommend you buy them on the thicker side, and with the bone, because they do dry out quickly, and the thicker, the tender and juicer. Try this recipe, you will  love it! 

Stuffed Pork Chops
4 thick bone-in pork chops
1 box stuffing mix (I use Stove Top)
2 TBS oil (I use Canola)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. In a frying pan, heat on high with 2 TBS oil. Mix the stuffing to the box stuffing the bird directions,  and on a MEAT cutting board (the one you don't cut your veggies on) take your pork chop and lay it down, and with a very sharp knife, with your hand flat down on the pork chop, butterfly a nice slice into it, that is your pocket for the stuffing, do not slice too deep, just big enough for a a nice amount of stuffing. Pack the stuffing into that pocket and brown in the frying pan for 2 minutes each side, salt and pepper each side. Do the same with the remaining pork chops. When done browning, put the pork chops into a greased casserole dish. Cover, and bake in the oven for about 1/2 hour.

Of course you need Homemade Apple Sauce wish this dish.....they just go perfectly together!  YUMMO!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homemade Dinner Rolls

There's nothing like fresh homemade bread baking in the oven, on a chilly Autumn day.  I bake bread often, it's really easy, especially if you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, with the special dough hook.  All you really do is put all the ingredients in the bowl, turn the mixer on low, and the dough comes together, and forms a ball, that's when you know the dough is kneaded and ready for it's first rise. 
 After you learn how to make dough with the mixer, you will want to try new recipes, and all kinds of bread, sticky buns, I have a GREAT recipe for STICKY BUNS.....whole wheat and raisin cinnamon loaves, pizza dough, and one of our favorites.... Dinner Rolls. 

Here's the recipe, it's so easy, and nothing so satisfying than making your own bread!

Homemade Dinner Rolls
1 1/4 cup warm water from the tap (WARM, NOT HOT, COOL TO YOUR WRIST)
3 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 TBS sugar

In a bowl, add the water, then the yeast, and the sugar.  Stir with a fork, set aside for about 5 mins  until bubbles and foamy, if it doesn't get foamy, the yeast must be dead, buy new yeast and start over!

TIP:  Yeast can be expensive, I buy a huge package at COSTCO for only $4.00.  If you buy it in the grocery store, it's a small bottle and like $6.00, or the envelopes are like $2.99 each.  Yeast is something I would always buy in bulk. 

In a Kitchen Aid Mixer bowl, add the following:
4 1/2 cup Bread Flour (you can use All-Purpose, but Bread Flour really is BEST for baking bread)
1/4 cup oil (I use Canola)
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar

If you don't have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, by all means make your bread by hand....using the same method here, but instead of the mixer kneading your dough, you will have to by hand, for about 10 minutes or so....add some flour if it gets sticky, pushing the dough to and away from you on a floured work surface.  You will know it's done when it's not VERY STICKY and you form a ball, and is smooth to the touch like a baby's bottom..... :)

Back to the Kitchen Aid Mixer Method
1. When the yeast is all foamy, (if the yeast doesn't turn foamy after about 5-10 minutes, your yeast must not be "alive" look at the expiration date, throw out and go buy new yeast, I usually store yeast in the frig) add it to the mixer bowl with the flour and other ingredients.  Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low.  Now is the dough coming together, forming a ball, or does it look like a batter?  If it looks like a batter you need more flour, add about 1/4 cup, now it should be coming together starting to form a ball around the dough hook, make sure you scrape the sides down, it may still be sticky, take the remaining dough off the hook and with floured hands combine all the dough forming it into a nice smooth ball. 

2. Grease a large bowl with about 2 TBS of oil, put the dough in the bowl, turning it to make sure both sides are oiled.  Cover with a kitchen towel or foil.  Let sit on a warm surface, I usually put the bowl on the stove, for one hour until doubled in size. 

3. When the dough is done rising and doubled, punch the dough down getting all the air bubbles out, it will feel elastic, cut the dough into 18 even pieces and form into little balls, about the size of a golf ball.  Or with floured hands, roll each piece into a thick rope and tie into a knot, then form into a ball.

4. Grease a cookie sheet or 9x13 casserole dish, and put the balls in.  Now you have to let it rise again forming the dinner rolls, cover with a kitchen towel, or I use a piece of GREASED wax paper, and let them rise for 1/2 hour until doubled.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until lightly brown.  YUMMO!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Perfect Pan-Fried Hamburger.....with Caramelized Onions!

I love hamburgers!  Yes, a burger is one of my favorite foods.  I am picky when it comes to a burger, it has to be made with fresh ground beef, not one of those frozen "hockey pucks."

When I was a little girl, my parents would take us to this restaurant "St. John's", it was a little place on Liberty Avenue, in Queens, New York.  The restaurant was located right under the "A" Train, an elevated train station. I loved the BURGERS at this place, even as a little girl, I would order a burger, and it had to have caramelized onions, and the bun was lightly toasted. The burger was DELICIOUS! 

Today my hubby cooks burgers on the grill in the Summertime, but in the Winter months, when the deck is covered with snow, I pan-fry the burgers in my Cast-Iron Skillet..  Yes, a cast-iron skillet, those of you who have one know what I'm talking about, and it's perfect for pan-frying burgers!  The burger come out so perfect, juicy, and so delicious. I only use salt to season the burgers, it's the flavor of the beef that I only want to taste. Top the burgers with American cheese, toast the buns right after the burgers are done, yep, in the same pan, with the drippings......ok so your not gonna eat this everyday, so treat yourselves.   And don't forget the Caramelized Onions!  YUMMO!

Pan Fried Burgers
2 lbs 85% Ground Beef - makes about 4 burgers
Hamburger Buns

In a greased frying pan, or if your lucky, cast-iron skillet, heat on high.  Form your burgers into patties, make an indent in the middle so the burgers don't puff.  Put them in the hot GREASED pan, salt the burgers on the top side, and fry for about 3 minutes, you want a beautiful brown color on the bottom before you flip.  Flip the burgers and salt again.  Wait for another 3 mins, and remove the burgers onto a plate.  Drain all the fat, and lower the heat to med-low, put the burgers back into the pan, cook COVERED for another 7 minutes if you want a WELL-DONE burger like I do, or another 4 minutes if you want MED-WELL, or if you want it "MOOING"....about 2 more mins.  Turn off the heat and top the burgers with cheese, cover, let the cheese melt. Remove burgers and put on a plate, turn the heat to med and toast the hamburger buns in the skillet for about 1 minute, watch them don't let them burn!  Serve immediately.

Caramelized Onions
2 large onions, chopped
2 TBS butter
2 TBS oil (I use Canola)
salt & pepper
1 tsp. sugar

In a frying pan, heat on med-high, add the butter and oil, then add the chopped onions, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Lower the heat to med-low and cook the onions SLOWLY, stirring occasionally.  You want this to cook slowly, they will cook down and turn a light brown caramel color, about 20 mins or so.  Serve immediately.....YUMMO!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cookie of the Week.......Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

So, I'm going to start something new, I'm gonna TRY and post a new cookie recipe every week.  My kids love cookies, I don't usually buy store-bought, it's so easy to make homemade, and it's so much cheaper! These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies are so delicious, and we love them.  I started making them a while back when Becca was about 3 years old. They are a Martha Stewart recipe, she made them on her t.v. show back in 2000!!!!  Wow, that was a long time ago, and I've been making them ever since. 
I use my Kitchen Aid Mixer when making a batch of cookies, it's so easy, and saves so much time! This original recipe only made about 2 dozen cookies, so I double the recipe below, they are so good, one recipe is never enough. Try these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies, you will love them! 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 sticks of butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
One WHOLE BAG of Semisweet Chocolate Chunk pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Mix with an electric mixer the butter, peanut butter, and egg until creamy, add the sugar's and mix until very creamy.  In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine.  Add to the butter mixture and mix really good, add the vanilla, and chocolate chunks.  Grease your cookie trays and using 2 teaspoon's or a small ice cream scoop, put the dough on the cookie trays and bake in the oven for 18 -20 mins until golden brown.  Cool.......EAT......YUMMO!!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicken Cordon Blue......The Easy Way!

I just love Chicken Cordon Blue.  My mom use to make it for us, it was usually for a special occasion. She would pound the cutlets thin, then roll them up and toothpick them together, and then deep fry.....YUM!  I guess back then we weren't counting our calories, but we just loved it!!! 

I've been making Chicken Cordon Blue for years, and my family just loves it, but it's so time consuming.  I came across this recipe, and thought it would work out so well, and it's delicious!  I don't pound the cutlets thin, I slice them, but not too thin, I like them a little thicker, they come out tender this way. And I don't roll the cutlets like a traditional Chicken Cordon Blue, the ham and cheese are simply laid on top of the chicken, and there you go, no toothpicks involved!  And, I don't fry the cutlets, I oven-bake them, saves so much time! Of course I have added my own touches to this recipe, like breading the chicken as I do with my Chicken Parm recipe, (you can find here),  I posted a few days ago, and .......the best part of this dish is..........the CHEESE SAUCE!!!!

Try my Chicken Cordon Blue, you will love it!  YUMMO!

Chicken Cordon Blue.....The Easy Way!

8 Chicken Cutlets, sliced but not too thin
2 cups bread crumbs, plus 1/2 cup reserved for topping
1/2 cup Parm Cheese
1 cup Italian dressing
8 slices Swiss Cheese
8 slices Deli Ham

If the cutlets are thick, slice in half..  Dip the cutlets in the Italian dressing, then dredge in the bread crumbs and Parm Cheese.  Put them on a greased foil lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until done, and golden brown, do not turn over. Top with ham first then the cheese and bake until the cheese is melted about 5 minutes or so.  Top with reserved bread crumbs and bake another 2 - 3 minutes until crispy!  ENJOY!

Cheese Sauce

1/2 stick Butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 TBS Mustard (yes mustard!)
2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese or American, whatever you have
salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and then add the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk for about 1 minute, add the milk, and keep whisking until all combined with the butter/flour mixture, Add the mustard and cheese and whisk again, keep whisking until all combined, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Taste it, what does it need, more salt?  More pepper?  Take the chicken out of the oven, and Serve with rice or noodles, and a veggie, and then top the chicken with the CHEESE SAUCE!  So YUMMO!!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana!

I've been making Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana  for years......ever since my Hubby and I were married back in 1988.  Back then my Chicken Parm didn't come out very good, it came out "soupy" and the chicken had no flavor.  But I came up with a new way to make it, and it tastes so much better, and it's easier! 

Yes, I still dredge the chicken with bread crumbs, but first I dip the cutlets in Italian dressing, then I dredge them in the bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese, put them on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake in the OVEN, yes the OVEN!  I find it so much easier, and I no longer have to stand in front of a stove frying chicken cutlets, and the chicken comes out tender and delicious every time. I don't pound out the chicken cutlets either, I usually slice them thin instead, so much easier, and no mess!  Try my Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana this way, you will love it!

Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana

8 Chicken Cutlets, trimmed from all fat
2 cups Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Parm cheese
2 cups Italian Salad Dressing (I use Good Seasons)
1 lb Mozzerella Cheese
2 cups or more of sauce

If you are using thick chicken cutlets you want to slice them thin, and trim all the fat.  Or if you want to pound them thin, please go ahead.  Combine the bread crumbs and Parm cheese in one bowl, and the salad dressing in another, and dip the chicken cutlets in the salad dressing first then the bread crumb mixture.  Do this for all 8 chicken cutlets.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread a little oil or cooking  spray on the foil, put the cutlets on the cookie sheet drizzle with remaining salad dressing, and bake in a 375 oven for 20 minutes, or until done.  Top each cutlet with Sauce and Mozzerella cheese, and put back in the oven, but on BROIL for about 3 mintues or so.  Watch it, you don't want the cheese to burn, just lightly toasted.  EAT and ENJOY! 

I usually serve this with buttered egg noodles, or some kind of pasta and of course a salad. YUMMO!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crumb Cake!

Crumb Cake, a nice piece of Crumb Cake with a hot cup of coffee in the morning is the perfect snack in my little world.  Well, only sometimes, that is!  I have this recipe for Crumb Cake, and it's so easy, and simply delicious!  This cake is an old stand by recipe for me, in a pinch when I have to bring something yummy to a friends house for coffee, or even for my kids school functions.  It has the perfect "crumb", nice big pieces, perfect to pick off the cake, when you just want to eat the "crumbs"....hey I'm not the only one who does that, now am I?

This cake starts off with a CAKE MIX........oh no!  Did she just say "CAKE MIX?".....YES I DID!!!!  That's why it's so EASY!  And the "Crumb Topping" is, of course, homemade, well something has to be homemade!  Here's the recipe.

1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix (follow the directions to the cake mix, add the eggs, water, and oil, mix it up and pour in a 9x13 BUTTERED baking dish. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, or just until you see a "skin" forming on top of the cake.

Crumb Topping
4 cups flour
3 sticks (yes 3 sticks butter) Melted
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2  cups Brown sugar

Melt the butter, in a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar, crumble with your finger, if too wet add a little more flour, depends on the humidity I think.  When the cake has that "skin" on top,  put the crumb topping on the cake evenly, making sure it all covered.  Bake another 10 - 15 minutes until done and the topping is golden in color.  Cool.......YUMMO!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Broccoli, Bacon, and Cheese Soup!

I made this most delicious soup last night for dinner,  Broccoli, Bacon and Cheese Soup!  I have always wanted to make a broccoli and cheese soup, and the weather yesterday was perfect for soup! I love going to Panera, and whenever we go, I always order the Broccoli and Cheese Soup, and it's so yummy. So I came up with this recipe, and really hoped it would come out great, and it sure did! My whole family loved it, Becca had two bowls, and even little Davey loved it too....especially since it had BACON in it.....Davey just loves BACON, who doesn't?

This soup is so easy, but it's not one of those soups where you start in the morning and simmer on the stove all day long.  It cooks up in like 1/2 hour, so it's so easy to make. 

Here.s the recipe, ENJOY!

Broccoli Bacon and Cheese Soup

3 cups of broccoli florets cut into small pieces
3 cups milk (I used 2% and it came out GREAT!)
2 cups chicken stock (or 2 cups hot water with 2 TBS chicken bouillon)
1/2 cup flour
6 TBS butter
2 tsp. salt and pepper
2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
about 5 slices of bacon fried and crumbled
2 cups Cheddar shredded Cheddar cheese

Frying the bacon.  I fry bacon in the oven.  I put the slices on a large cookie sheet lined with foil, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so on 375.  Drain on paper towels. 

Cut up the broccoli florets and add to a medium size pot with water and cook for about 5 minutes until a little tender.  Put aside and make the SOUP!

In a large SAUCE pot, on medium/high heat, melt the butter and then add the flour stir, do not let it burn, whisk for about 1 minute.  Add the milk, and chicken stock, keep whisking you want to incorporate the flour mixture into the milk and stock mixture, and you don't want this to burn, then lower heat to med/low.  Add 2 tsp salt and pepper, and the nutmeg.  Whisk until this comes to a boil and thickens will take about 7 minutes or so. When thick, take off heat and add the cheese, keep whisking add the broccoli, and crumbled bacon.  Taste it, what does it need?  More salt and pepper or nutmeg?  Simmer on low for 15 minutes or so.  Eat right away, so delicious!  YUMMO!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A little about me.......and some pictures too.

Well, we've been cooking together now for a couple of weeks, and I really enjoy sharing my recipes with you all.  So today I thought I would share some of my life with you.
I've been married going on 23 years. I met my husband David so many years ago, we grew up together in our church, we actually played in play pins together when we were babies, and then became very good friends in our church youth group.  I was never interested in him, but one day he took a liking to me, and then we started dating, and never looked back.  We got married in 1988, it's been a long time, and David was my best friend many years ago, and today I can say he still is my very best friend.

We've been blessed with 2 kids, it took a while for them to finally come, the Lord had other plans for us, but it was in His perfect timing, and we are so blessed.  Rebecca is 15, a sophomore in high school, she is a joy, but on some days, I want to pull my hair out.  She's very bright, and loves animals, she wants to be a vet one day.  Davey is 7, started 2nd grade, can't believe it.  He is full of life, and a real boy who never stops, and brings me such joy as well.

Becca and Davey they do love each other!
My crazy kids at the beach!
 We live in the country in New Jersey, with cows, and horses......but I grew up in New York City, yes a real city girl at heart, but love my country living!  We have chickens, and we get about 8 eggs a day, which is really nice.  I have been blessed to be a stay at home mom now for 15 years, I am lucky, I know.  I work hard here at home, making our house.........a home, and wouldn't have it any other way.  I love to cook, entertain, decorate, and garden.  My flowers in the summertime are usually beautiful, because I take care of them and weed my gardens, I dislike weeding, but I do it, cause I know my flowers will be happy!  We have a veggie garden full of goodies, even though this year I was so disappointed because my zucchini plants all died, along with the eggplant, and we hardly got any cucumbers.  But our acorn squash were delicious, along with the green peppers and tomato's, and a bountiful of greenbeans. Makes all that weeding so worth while!

Hubby and Me!
This past Mother's Day
Me on Easter Sunday, had a house full of family, it was a hot but fun day!
I love to cook a nice meal almost every night.  Sometimes we'll have Chinese take-out, those are the nights when I'm tired, or just bored with dinner, yes even I get bored with dinners.  I love making my family's favorite meals, and love seeing their eyes light up, and thanking me. Brings joy to my heart, and it was so worth the time to prepare the meal for them.  I love food, everything about it. I love watching cooking shows on t.v., reading cooking magazines, cooking blogs, I have tons of cook books, and if you know me, I love them for presents too! I have a real passion for food.  And I hope you will too!  Get cooking, try a new recipe, you won't be disappointed, and then try another one.  YUMMO!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pot Roast.......and GRAVY.......101

 Today's a little different, MY SISTER and I are both blogging about the same recipe.  Please stop by her blog and say Hi!!! 

Pot Roast is one of  the most comforting and delicious meals to me!  I make a killer pot roast, my husband and kids love it, and I learned it all from my Mom!  Mom would make a pot roast just about every week, either for Sunday dinner after church, or during the week.  Mom's Pot Roast was a most delicious dish, so tender it just about fell a part when you sliced it.  Her gravy was dark brown, and thick, not thin like a sauce, but thick, like a gravy, (there I go again talking about sauce and gravy!) and it was HOMEMADE, never from a jar or packet. I have perfected this dish, and tastes almost exactly as my mom's. 

I use a Rump Roast, sometimes a Bottom Round Roast, they are the best cuts for Pot Roast. Mom always used a Rump Roast. I know some people use a Chuck Roast, and I've tried it, but like using a rump or bottom round better.  Browning your meat is the most important part when preparing the roast, even when I use the crock pot, I ALWAYS brown it first, with plenty of salt and pepper on ALL SIDES OF THE ROAST,  then add it to the crock pot. It's those bits in the pot that you want to flavor the roast, and makes a delicious gravy!  Pot Roasts are suppose to cook a long, long time, these cuts are tough. You don't want ANY PINK in a pot roast.....that's call Roast Beef.  You want your Pot Roast to be tender.  A good way to check to see if your roast is tender and done, is by putting a very sharp knife through the roast, if it goes through without any hesitation, than it's done.

A good dutch oven is the key to a delicious Pot Roast. You need a deep oven-proof dutch oven, something well seasoned, makes all the difference when you are making the gravy.  I have been using the same dutch oven for years.  I bought it at Woolworth's years ago when I was first married for only $5.00, makes the best gravy!  Don't forget the mashed potatoes and carrots, they are a MUST, and perfect for this meal.....YUMMO!

Pot Roast 101
1 6-8lb Rump or Bottom Round Roast
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion chopped
3 cups water or more to half way cover the roast
3 TBS beef bouillon

In a large dutch oven on medium high heat on the stove add 2 TBS canola oil.  Add the roast and brown on ALL SIDES for 2 minutes, salt and pepper each side. Take off of the heat, add the onions, water, and bouillon.  Cover, and put in a preheated oven on 350 first for 3 1/2 hours, take out and check to see if done by inserting a sharp knife through the thickest part, if there is hesitation, continuing cooking for another 1 hour, do the knife thing again, you want it tender. You will notice the liquid getting dark, and has reduced to about 1 cup or so, that's good, you want to save's for the GRAVY, and do not throw out the cooked onions in the liquid, you need that for the GRAVY too! Take out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, then make the GRAVY

Pan drippings from roast
1 cup cold water
2 TBS flour
salt and pepper to taste

Take the roast out of the pan, and cover with foil.  Using the same dutch oven but on the stove, there will be leftover drippings and onions in that pan, put the burner on high, bring drippings to a boil, reduce the drippings a little, let boil for about 2 minutes.  In a jar or container with a lid, whatever you have, add 1 cup water and 2 TBS flour, shake, it will look like a creamy paste, if really thick add a little more water, and SHAKE. While whisking, add to the boiling drippings, keep whisking you want all the lumps to disappear, keep whisking, it will turn thick, again, if too think, add more water, about 1/2 cup.  Add about 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper, taste it, what do you need, more salt?  Is there's too much salt, then add a little more water, about 1/2 cup or so.  Turn to simmer and cook for 15 minutes whisking occasionally, you don't want this gravy to be so thick but not too thin.  ENJOY!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quesadilla' YUMMO!

I hardly ever eat lunch, sometimes I think it's the "forgotten" meal.  But my family has to eat, and sometimes peanut butter and jelly just doesn't cut it.  I came up with this Quesadilla recipe a couple of years ago.  We were all hungry, all out of bread (yeah, you can't believe it, huh?), and the fridge was empty. I was planning on going food shopping, but not that day, I know, but it was Summer, the day was beautiful, and I wanted to be in the pool all day long.  We did have floured tortilla's, and of course my pantry was stocked, so I grabbed a can of refried beans. I always have some kind of cheese in the fridge, and there was some leftover chicken.  I got the griddle out, and started making Quesadilla's.  It's like a grilled cheese with refried beans, and whatever else you have laying around. Sometimes for a treat I make a Nutella and banana Quesadilla, now that's delicious!!! They cook up really fast, you gotta watch they can burn!  After taking the refried bean Quesadilla off the griddle, I usually cut it into 4 -8 pieces, and serve with sour cream, salsa, chopped tomato's and even a little cilantro, gives such a fresh taste.  These make a great appetizer too!   A perfect "sandwich" for a perfect lunch or snack!  YUMMO! 

Refried Bean Cheese Quesadilla
2 large floured Tortilla's
About 3 TBS Refried Beans
leftover cooked chopped chicken or beef (optional)
Shredded Cheddar (or whatever you have) Cheese
1 TBS butter

sour cream
chopped tomato's

Preheat a frying pan or griddle to high.  Using the 2 tortilla's, spread 3 TBS of  refried beans on one tortilla, sprinkle with desired amount of cheese, add the chicken if you want, if you don't have, it's fine without the chicken.  Put the other tortilla on top, like a sandwich.  Butter both sides. Lower to MEDIUM it could burn.....cook for 2 minutes until golden brown. Flip and cook another 2 minutes on other side. Cut into 4 - 8 wedges, serve with sour cream, salsa, chopped tomato's and cilantro.

Nutella and Banana Quesadilla
Same method......Just substitute Nutella and banana's.  DELICIOUS!!!!
Pizza Quesadilla
Same method.....Just substitute "sauce" do have some kind of pasta sauce in your fridge or pantry, right? 
and Mozzarella cheese, leftover meatballs, sausage, or DELICIOUS!  ENJOY!