Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oven Baked Pork Spareribs! YUMMO!

It's finally feeling a little bit like Christmas today, the weather has been the in the 60's for the last 4 days, and just too warm if you ask me!  But today it's in the 40's, and chilly. Now all we need is some Snow!  I'm getting the house decorated for Christmas, it's almost done, still have a little extra touches to finish up.  Our Christmas Tree is done, and it's beautiful!

I love Spareribs, but they have to be tender.....pull apart, fall apart tender!  I have this great recipe that I've been making for years.  I don't use the grill, I use the oven, and they come out perfect every time.  Try this recipe for the most delicious, tender, and EASY Spareribs EVER!!!!

Oven Baked Pork Spareribs

1 Rack of Pork Spareribs about 3lbs
1 bottle BBQ sauce (or make your own if you wish)
2 cups water

Cut the Spareribs up into separated ribs, and put them in a roaster COVERED.  Add the water and bake in a 350 oven for 1 & 1/2 hours.  Drain all the water, and all the fat will go with it!  To the roaster pan add the BBQ sauce making sure all the ribs are covered.  Cook in the oven for another HOUR covered, the last 20 minutes UNCOVERED, this will add color, and everything will get all caramelized, and yummy!  EAT!  YUMMO!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Homemade Pizza!

Well, I've been under the weather now for 2 days.....coughing, sore throat, chest hurting, didn't even make it to church yesterday, and our choir sang, and I missed singing!  Now you know I'm sick if I miss singing in the choir!  Today I got up the usually time and got my kids off to school, even though I felt awful, but I'm a mommy, and that's what mommy's do!  My hubby is home and he helped out some, and I've let my house go, but I still managed to cook a nice dinner last night, Lentil Soup, which we all love, and it felt good eating something hot since I feel awful! 

I've been wanting to post my Pizza Dough recipe for some time now, but Thanksgiving got in the way. So, today I feel it's the perfect time to show you.  I love making Homemade Pizza, it's so easy!  My mom use to make Homemade Pizza for us when we were growing up, every Saturday, and it was delicious!  She would make 4 for our family, and there were never any leftovers!  Mom would buy the frozen pizza dough at the grocery store, and I use to, before I learned how to make my own.  Homemade Pizza Dough it's EASY, and so satisfying!

Homemade Pizza

The Dough - for 2 Pizza Pies!
1 1/4 cups warm water (warm water, NOT HOT)
2 TBS sugar
2 Tsp. Active Dry Yeast

In a bowl add the water, then the sugar and yeast...mix with a fork and let sit for 5 minutes until it gets all foamy, this is called "Proofing the Yeast".

Yeast all foamy
To the Kitchen Aid Mixing bowl add:
4 1/2 Cups Bread Flour (I use Bread Flour, but you could use Regular too)
2 TBS oil (I use olive)
1 tsp salt
Yeast Mixture already foamy

With the Dough Hook attached, mix on low.  Increase speed, and mix until all the mixture forms a ball around the dough hook, you may have to scrap the sides of the bowl down with a spatula. 
Dough hook with dough around it

Now look is the dough forming a ball around the dough hook like the picture above?  Or does it look like a "cake batter" in the bowl?  If it looks like a batter, add 1/4 cup more flour, you want all the dough mixture to be wrapped around the dough hook, that means it's done kneading.  Or, there may be extra flour on the bottom of the bowl, then you need to add a little more water. Take the dough out of the bowl, and work it a little with your hands, if sticky add some more flour to your hands.  Put in a well oiled large bowl, let rise for one hour.

These are the tricks to bread making, if you don't have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, you can use this same method, just the OLD FASHIONED way.....knead with your HANDS!!!!

When the dough is done rising, it will double in size, push down.  Divide it into 2 , and let sit for about 5 minutes, will be elastic and easy to spread. Spread each loaf onto a greased pizza pan or stone. You don't need a rolling pin, use your hands. Now it's all ready to be TOPPED!

Toppings for the Pizza - makes 2 pizza pies!

About 1 cup or more Tomato Sauce - sometimes I even use jar Tomato Sauce!  Now don't faint!!!!
4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parm cheese
Italian seasoning to taste
Garlic powder to taste

After spreading the dough onto your pizza pan or stone, top each pizza with 1/2 cup sauce (if you like more, use more), then top each with 2 cups of the shredded Mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle on the Parm cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder to taste.  Use your imagination, do you want meatballs or pepperoni, mushrooms on your pizza?  Go for it!

Bake in a preheated 450 oven.  Put one pie on the top rack and the other one on the bottom rack, the top rack pizza will brown lightly on the top and melt the cheese, and the bottom rack pizza pie will brown the bottom crust, so you need to switch them around during the baking time, get a long spatula, and look at the bottom crust, is it browning to your liking?  Yes, then switch them around so the top racked pizza pie bottom crust gets brown, nothing like a soggy pizza bottom crust!!!!

Take out, and cut and ENJOY!  YUMMO!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas is coming.....In Less than One Month!

Today we're going to cut down our Christmas Tree....yes a Christmas Tree, not a Holiday Tree, but a Christmas Tree!  We usually go early on in the Christmas Season, I like to decorate our house early, so we can enjoy it during the whole month of December!  I love Christmas, and enjoy all the festivities, and my kids love it too. 

The kids with their Gingerbread Houses 2010

We'll start our Gingerbread house's soon too, last year I let my kids decorate 2 each, all by themselves, yes, no help from Mom, and their creativity really came out!

Preparing to make the Gingerbread Houses 2010

We'll start our cookies in a couple of weeks, it's a whole family affair, they all just love it....even my hubby! 
Sugar Cut-Out Cookies 2010

Becca decorating her Gingerbread Cookies

Aren't they cute?

Hubby and Davey making the roll out cookies!

Tomorrow we decorate the tree, and house for Christmas.....Enjoy! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

What to do with all those LEFTOVERS?......Why Turkey Pot Pie Of Course!!!

Well, it was a wonderful day.  Thanksgiving came and went so quickly.  Seems like we were preparing for weeks.  We went to my sister's house, and it was a very nice day.  The food was delicious, it was good seeing my family. My sister made all the fixings, I especially loved her "Acorn Squash" it was delicious!  Mom made her Apple and Pumpkin Pies, and my sister-in-law, Beth made her Pumpkin Bread.....and I made Pecan Pie, Dinner Rolls, and Sugar Cookies, everything was so YUMMO!  I could really go for a roll or piece of pie right now.

How did your dinner come out?  I'm sure you all did a terrific job!  I missed my hubby, he had to work, it was weird traveling, and eating at the table without him, and especially watching the "Cowboys" not by his side!  But I'm counting my blessings that my hubby has a good job, and he will be off for Christmas!

 Now with all those leftovers, what are you going to do with them all?  How about a Turkey Pot Pie?  I have a great recipe, it's similar to my Chicken Pot Pie, that I posted a few months ago.  I would love to make one tomorrow, but we have no leftovers!  YUMMO!

Turkey Pot Pie

The Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vinegar

In a large bowl put the flour and salt, and shortening, then using a pastry cutter or 2 knives cut the shortening into the flour and salt. Using a liquid measuring cup, break one egg into it, and then fill it to the 1/2 cup line with ice cold water, and add 1 tsp vinegar.....YES will be fine you'll see. Mix it with a fork, then add it to the flour/shortening mixture and mix together with with a fork, then get your hands in there and gather the dough together don't be afraid, this pie dough recipe you can work the dough and it will still be flaky!At this point you may need a little more water, depends on the weather. Form into a round disk, if it's too wet, add a little more flour, too dry, add very little will be sticky, but not overly sticky.....all depends on the day and humidity.......wrap in plastic wrap and put in the frig for about 1/2 hour, or you can even leave it in there for 2 days, or freeze it for whatever pie you want :)

The Filling
About 2 cups COOKED shredded Turkey
2 cups milk, 2% or whole
4 TBS cornstarch
2 cups water with 2 TBS chicken bouillon added
4 TBS butter (don't worry you're not gonna eat the whole pie, well maybe you will)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups mixed frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrots, whatever)

In a large pot, add the milk, cornstarch, add the water with the bouillon mixed, salt, pepper, butter,.whisk constantly, but watch it, keep whisking, you don't want it to will start to bubble and become thickened, take off heat and add cheese, stir let it melt, and then add the COOKED Turkey, and veggies, taste it, what does it need? More salt, pepper...Taste your food, make sure it's well seasoned!  Stir.....COOL... now the pie crust

Take the pie dough out of the frig, and on a well floured surface, cut the dough disk in half, take one of the halves and roll out, this is the bottom of the pie. Make sure you have a dusting of flour on the bottom and top of the dough before rolling, and on your rolling pin...roll out to a rectangle since you will use a 9x13 dish, or a round dish if you want to use a deep round casserole dish. Keep rolling take your time if it sticks add a little more flour, moving the dough so it doesn't stick, move it around after each roll with the pin. Put it on the bottom of a 9x13 dish, then add the cooled filling, and roll out the top pie crust the same way, lay it carefully over the filling, seal the edges, and cut three holes in the top crust for vent holes. Bake in a 350 oven for 40 minutes until you see it bubbling and light brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before servings......SO YUMMO!!!!.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving......A Great Appetizer...Stuffed Mushrooms!

I can't believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow, actually it feels more like Easter than Thanksgiving, it's just too warm here in Northern New Jersey!  It would be nice for some colder days to roll in, just makes the holiday feel so festive, especially when the fire is going.

Here's another great appetizer for your Thanksgiving Feast, Stuffed Mushrooms.  My Stuffed Mushrooms are so delicious, and EASY!  Actually this recipe is my mother's but she never used lemon juice in her recipe, but I think the added lemon juice really adds flavor. 

I like to serve appetizers for Thanksgiving, but the meal is so heavy, and when my family comes, I want them to eat a little bit before dinner, you know while I'm in the kitchen getting the final things done, and they all can just mingle around and munch. But I don't want to serve "heavy" appetizers.  Stuffed Mushrooms are perfect, they are light, and I think everyone loves them. I usually serve them with tomato juice, and a tray of cheese and crackers. Usually around Thanksgiving, the grocery store has those big "stuffing mushrooms", I love those, and they are big enough to hold a lot of the stuffing.  Try my Stuffed Mushrooms, you will love them! 

Stuffed Mushrooms

About 20 big White Button Mushrooms (if you have a crowd, double the recipe)
3 cans Minced Clams - sold by the tuna fish
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs or more
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
4 TBS Parm Cheese
2 TBS Lemon Juice

With a damp paper towel, rub the dirt off the Mushrooms, and carefully pop the stems out.  In a frying pan, melt the butter on med heat, add the clams, bread crumbs, oregano, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, Parm cheese, and lemon juice.  Mix up, is the mixture dry?  Add some water, if too wet, add more bread crumbs, you don't want it crumbly, it should look like stuffing and moist enough to hold together to stuff a mushroom. Taste it, what does it need, more salt, pepper, more lemon juice? Taste your food, make sure there's enough seasoning in it!  Stuff each mushroom generously, and put on a cookie sheet, or a 9x13 dish, and bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes, until the mushroom is soft.

Hint....I always make these a couple of days before, they hold great in the frig, but bake them the same day you make them, and heat them up in the microwave or oven right before everyone comes to dinner!  YUMMO!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving.....Baked Brie with Strawberry Jam and Almonds!

Here's another appetizer that I love to make, and it's one of the easiest around.  It's a Baked Brie!  It's so simple, but whenever I make it, I "WOW" everyone.  Baked Brie is truly a most delicious appetizer.  I know, Brie is an expensive cheese, but I buy a nice size round in Costco, so much cheaper than at the local grocery store.  I wrap a whole Brie round in 1 sheet of puffed pastry, but first I spread strawberry jam on both sides, and top it off with either almonds or walnuts.  So delicious, and EASY!  Try it!

Baked Brie with Strawberry Jam and Almonds

1 6 inch round of Brie
1 sheet of puffed pastry thawed
4 TBS strawberry jam, or whatever kind you prefer
1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds or walnuts whatever nut you prefer
1 egg and 1 TBS Water for Egg Wash

Unroll the puffed pastry and put it on a floured board, and just roll it out to get rid of the lines from the fold.  In the middle of the pastry, put 2 TBS jam, spread it in a circle, about the size of the Brie, top with 1/4 cup of the nuts. Take the Brie out of the package, and keeping the white part on, put it on top of the jam and nut mixture, and add more jam and nuts to the top side of the Brie.  Fold the Puffed pastry up around the top side of the Brie, folding it into a neat package.  Turn it over, the bottom will now be your top, since it's smooth and prettier.  Put it on a greased cookie sheet.  Crack the egg into a small bowl and add 1 TBS water, and mix, brush it all over the package puff pastry Brie,.  Now you can either bake it in a 375 oven for 20 mins or put it back in the frig and pop it in the oven right before your guests come. Serve with crackers on a pretty platter. YUMMO!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving..........The STAR of the DAY....Turkey 101

What are you all making for the big day?  Like I have said in my previous posts, we are going to my sister's house this year, but I'm not completely off the hook, I am bringing my Homemade Dinner Rolls, Pecan Pie which I posted a couple days ago, and my Homemade Sugar Cookies.  I enjoy cooking and baking for Thanksgiving, but I am so relieved that my sister is hosting this year!

Today I am sharing my secrets in making a most delicious moist Roasted Turkey, and some tips I have with the timing of how to get the meal on the table all at the same time.  I love roasting a Turkey, I find it easy!  I don't use the gizzard or "stuff in the bag". Yes, I know, some of you like using them in your gravy, or even stuffing, but I would just rather throw them out!  Please don't be intimidated by a big 20lb Turkey, it's just like roasting a big chicken, and you all know how to roast a chicken, cause I already showed you!

Roasted Turkey 101

20 lb Turkey (I like to use a Butterball)
1 stick of butter
3 cups hot water mixed with 3 TBS chicken bouillon
Salt & Pepper
Dried Rosemary (optional)
4 TBS flour
Cold Water and a jar with a lid for the GRAVY

1. Timing is the key, you want the Turkey to be done cooking about 1 hour before you eat, so the oven is free to put the rolls, stuffing, and other delicious food you so lovingly prepared.  You want all your food to be done at the same time, not waiting around for the stuffing or rolls to bake in the oven. And you can have your mashed pots done already, like I showed you in a previous post.

2. How many pounds of Turkey do you have,,,,20?  Then that bird needs about 3 1/2 - 4  hours to cook unstuffed, I never stuff my turkey.  I like the stuffing in a casserole dish. But if you want to stuff your bird, by all means please do so. It will take longer to cook.  So, say you want to eat by 2pm on Thanksgiving Day, then you need to put your 20lb Turkey in the oven by 10:30 that morning,

3. After you have rinsed your bird, and take the bag out of the cavity the night before, and made sure all is well. Pat dry with paper towels, be careful to wash your hands when done, cross contamination!  Put it in the roasting pan you want to roast it in.  Put it back in the frig and let it sit covered with foil for the night in the frig, kind of airing out,  Then in morning let it sit out on the counter 1 hour before you put it in the oven, to come to room temperature. 

4. Melt about 1 stick of butter, and brush your bird with the butter generously, salt and pepper very well, hey, it's a big bird, making sure all the parts are well seasoned,  I like to add a little dried rosemary too....adds flavor.  You will have some butter leftover, put it in a small pot and add the 2 cups of chicken bouillon mixture, and heat up, this will be the basting liquid.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and put the Turkey, UNCOVERED, in the oven, making sure the racks are in the lowest position. I never cover my Turkey, I want it golden brown.  Let the Turkey cook, and bast it every 1/2 with the basting liquid, this is the key for a moist bird! 

6. After about 3 hours get your handy meat thermometer and test the temp, stick it in the deepest part of the's it cooking, almost to 160 degrees?  Almost done...I like to cook my turkey to 170 cause then when it sits for that hour on the counting waiting to be carved it still cooks, but you want the meat to be white, NO PINK, and when you poke it, the juices MUST BE CLEAR!!!

7. When the temp reaches 170, take the bird out and sit on your counter, in the pan, and cover with foil.  When it cools some you can remove it and put it on a cutting board, and then pour the liquid goodness in a large saucepan to make your gravy!  Now get those Dinner Rolls and stuffing, and whatever else you have in the oven to COOK!

8. One half hour before ready to serve, take the bird out of the roasting pan, and put on a big cutting board.  Pour the roasting liquid into a large saucepan, and the leftover basting liquid, bring that liquid to a boil for about 3 mins. Now find a special person to start carving the bird, while you make the gravy.

The Gravy

 While the liquid is boiling for 3 mins, get your handy gravy jar out and add 4 TBS flour, and fill the jar with cold water, shake really well.  While the liquid is boiling, while whisking, add the flour/water mixture slowing, keep whisking so it doesn't form lumps.  Lower the flame to Med, is the gravy getting thick? Lower the flame to simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.  Now is the gravy at the right thickness?  Or do you want it thicker, then add 2 TBS  flour and about 1/2 cup water to the jar, and shake and add it slowly to the gravy, whisking, but not too much, it will get TOO THICK.....if it's too thick, add a little water.  Taste it, what does it need, more salt, pepper, some chicken bouillon?  Add it, use your taste buds to help you make your gravy....that's what good cooks do, they taste their food! 

While your gravy is done and simmering on low, and your special person is carving the bird, now you can be getting all your serving dishes filled with the glorious meal, putting ice in the cups, pouring the drinks.Yes, do all this before everyone sits down!  Be organized, light the candles, is everything in place?  But not the food, the food should never be on the table before your guests sit will not stay HOT....people like small-talk, they don't always rush to the table, you may have a slow, "never stop talking person" at your dinner, so wait.....

Call everyone to the table, and don't put the food on it yet, let everyone sit first.  Pray, give thanks to our Lord for all His blessings, and for His faithfulness.  After the prayer, as the hostess, stand up, and take another  special person , but not your hubby, with you and bring each dish to the table giving it to your guests first, and one by one they can pass the food around, until everyone is served, I find this so much easier than putting the food on the table, reaching for this and that, you may overlook something.

Most of all enjoy the meal, enjoy your guests, sit back, relax, don't be up-tight, your guests will feel uncomfortable. This is Thanksgiving, it took you FOREVER to cook this meal!  Enjoy it all!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baking for our Northwest Christian School's Annual Craft Fair.....Pumpkin Bread!

I've been baking all day, so it seems.  My son Davey's school is having their Annual Craft Fair this coming Saturday. Each family helps out and bakes four homemade items.  Now you all know I love to bake, so of course this can be easy for me. I baked two Marble Pound Cakes, and two Pumpkin Breads.  I just love these recipes, because they are easy, but delicious, and hope that someone snatches them up at our Bake Sale Table, at our Annual Craft Fair

So, if you live anywhere in Sussex County, New Jersey come on over to the Northwest Christian School Annual Craft Fair, at the Sussex County Fair Grounds, this Saturday, November 19th, at 10am to 4pm. You will love all the homemade crafts, delicious food, which includes homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (which I helped make) homemade Pea Soup, and homemade Beef Chili....and of course the Homemade Baked Goods, and it's FREE ADMISSION!

Here's my recipe for my delicious Pumpkin Bread, you will love it, and it's also great for a Thanksgiving treat!

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
2 cups canned pumpkin

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine.  In a mixer add the oil, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, buttermilk and canned pumpkin, mix really good, add the dry ingredients slowly.  Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake in a 350 oven for 50 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.  YUMMO!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving........Apple Pie!

Well, Thanksgiving is only one week away, are you ready?  We are going to my Sister's house this year for our feast, and to think of it, I am very relieved!  I do enjoy cooking the meal, setting the table, getting the house all ready for my family, but this year I am welcoming the break! 

The Thanksgiving menu is usually a very large menu, with all the fixings, we cook for days, and eat the meal in only 20 minutes, well in my family that's what we do, we don't linger at the table like most people do.  The desserts are usually pies, and of course cookies!  Mom would always make four different kinds of pies when I was a kid, Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat (YUM, yes I love Mincemeat too)  and Coconut Cream. I loved each one, but my absolute favorite was always Apple Pie!

I make a great Apple Pie today, it's probably one of the first things I make after we go apple picking.  The pie crust is my Easy Pie Crust that I have made for you all a couple of times already, you can find it here.  Please make an Apple Pie for Thanksgiving, buying one just isn't the same.  Ok, you can say it, I am a food snob, cause I would NEVER buy an Apple Pie, especially for Thanksgiving!  Homemade is the way to go!

Apple Pie
6 Apples peeled, cored and sliced thin (I like to use Granny Smith)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar
2 Tsp. Cinnamon
3 TBS flour
6 TBS of butter
1 recipe of my Easy No Fail Pie Crust
1 egg, 1 TBS water for Egg Wash

Roll the dough out

Dot with butter
Crimp the edges
All ready for the oven!

 Make the Pie Dough and put in frig for 1/2 hour to chill.  Take out the pie dough and start rolling it out.  Add the sliced apples to a big bowl, add the sugars, flour, cinnamon.  Mix well. Lay the bottom crust in a pie plate, add the apple mixture, cut up the butter into small pieces, and put them all over the apples, roll out the top pie crust, and top the pie.  Crimp the edges pretty, brush with egg wash, and cut 3 - 5 slits in the top crust for air holes.  Sprinkle with 1 TBS sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon for extra goodness.  Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 50 minutes.  YUMMO!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving.........Mashed Potatoes

We really enjoyed our mini Thanksgiving this past Saturday, with our friends Ed, Holly and their great kids. Like I have said before my hubby has to work this Thanksgiving, and I have been so bummed about it. So I promised him I would make a Thanksgiving Feast, since he won't have it on Thanksgiving.  It was a wonderful day, filled with laughter, and great memories.  And my hubby really enjoyed the feast, and I loved cooking for him and our friends.  My kids love when I cook for them, brings me great joy when they ask "what's for dinner," and this day they were so excited that I made all their favorites!

Mashed Potatoes are delicious.  I think Mashed Potatoes are so comforting and a MUST for a Thanksgiving Feast!  My Mashed Potatoes are so easy, and so delicious, they aren't anything out of the ordinary, just simple Mashed PotatoesI use a very special TOOL for my Mashed Potatoes, but you can just use a simple potato masher, but this tool is so easy.  It's a Ricer and my Mashed Potatoes come out so creamy with no lumps!  Make them, don't use the frozen potatoes, use FRESH potatoes, they are the best!  And please do not use the BOX, just isn't worth it!

Try this easy TIP - When I have company coming, and I know when they come in the door I want most of my meal cooked, the last thing I want is to be in the kitchen mashing the potatoes! So in the morning, even like 6 hours before they all come, I peel, and cubed the potatoes, and put them in a large stock pot with COLD WATER COVERING them......let them sit in the water for about 6 hours or longer,  nothing will happen to them, I promise you! Then even 1 hour before your guests come, you can cook them, and mashed them, and have them sit on your stove.....easy it's all done before your guests come, and you can even clean up the mess!  :)

Mashed Potatoes
1 bag 5lbs Potatoes, peeled, and cut up in small cubes (5lbs will feed about 8 people)
1 cup whole milk (or more if you need, but start with 1 cup)
1 whole stick of BUTTER (it's Thanksgiving people!)

In a large stock pot cover the peeled and cubed potatoes with cold water and cook on med-high for about 20 minutes until a fork goes through a potato cube very easily.  Remove from the stove and drain the potatoes using a colander.  Keep the potatoes in the colander, and using the Ricer, start ricing them back into the pot.  Add the butter so it can start melting. 

RICER (my best friend)

When they are all riced, add the milk, and start with about 2 tsp, salt......TASTE IT, what does it need?  More salt?  Add more salt, are they creamy?  No? Add more milk a little at a time, not too much go slow, if you need more add a little more. And start mixing it making sure you have no lumps.  Put back on the stove and cover, and let sit until you are ready to eat, you can put the flame on very low right before you eat, do not let them burn!!!!!! 

If you don't have a Ricer, of course just use your potato masher, it will work perfectly!  Or if you really want whipping potatoes, use your mixer, but first you have to mashed them up with the masher then add the milk, salt and start whipping with the mixer!  EASY, and you will never use the BOX again! YUMMO!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving......Pecan Pie!

We had friends over yesterday for dinner, and I made Turkey with all the trimmings.  You see my Hubby has to WORK this year for Thanksgiving, and I am NOT happy about it.  So, I promised him I would make Turkey with all the fixings one day before Thanksgiving, and as promised, I made it yesterday!

On the menu was one of my Hubby's favorite's...Pecan Pie.  I was busy all day on Friday, and wanted to get the Pecan Pie made that evening.  I knew the recipe called for Dark Corn Syrup.....I went into my pantry, and there was no Dark Corn Syrup.  What to do, it was late, I was exhausted, I was already in my pj's,  my Hubby left for work already, and did I say I was exhausted?  So I went online and looked for a recipe for Pecan Pie that didn't use Dark Corn Syrup.  And indeed, I found a recipe, and a really delicious one!  The pie isn't as sweet, and it's made with natural ingredients, no High Fructose Corn Syrup!  The pie's color is a little lighter, but other than that, it was perfect!

Try this recipe, you may NEVER have to buy Dark Corn Syrup, again....cause what else do you buy that stuff for?

Pecan Pie
You will need 1 pie crust. You can find my recipe for my Pie Crust  HERE! (you only need 1/2 of the dough so make the pie dough, and when it's done chilling, cut the disk in half, and roll out.  Wrap the other half in plastic and put in a baggie, and freeze for your next pie!

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees               
In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla and nuts. Pour into an unbaked 9-in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done. YUMMO!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Counting Down to Thanksgiving....Homemade Cranberry Sauce

I love Cranberry Sauce, even the can stuff is really good!  I always have a can of Cranberry Sauce in my pantry, even for a weeknight chicken meal, and my daughter Becca loves it too.  I started making my own Cranberry Sauce several years ago.  I didn't know how EASY it is to make it homemade.  I use the bag of fresh cranberries, there's a recipe right on the back of the bag, but like everything, I add my own touch to to the dish.  I don't like it so sweet, and I like it tangy, so I add some fresh orange juice and cinnamon. Fresh Cranberries are seasonal, but you can substitute frozen cranberries, and it still comes out perfect! Homemade Cranberry Sauce, you will love it, and will not want to serve the can stuff again!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 Bag Fresh Whole Cranberries (sold in the produce)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 TBS orange zest
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a medium size pot bring the water and sugar to a boil, add the orange juice, and bag of cranberries.  Lower the heat to med/low, and continue cooking, you will hear and see some of the berries pop. Keep cooking for about 15 mins and stir occasionally.  It will thicken some. After the 15 minutes, take off the heat and add the orange zest and cinnamon.  Stir and let cool.  Put in a container and refrigerate overnight.  Put in a pretty dish, and serve at room temperature.  YUMMO!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Counting Down to...... Thanksgiving!

I don't have a recipe today, but I do have some pictures to share with you all from last Thanksgiving!  We prepared the FEAST at our house, and it was so nice.  I really enjoy entertaining and cooking for my family and friends.  Hopefully these pictures will inspire you to host Thanksgiving one year.  Yes, it's a lot of work, but at the end, it can be so satisfying!  And.....don't let the "Bird" intimidate's really easy sticking your hand IN and getting the junk out! 

Enjoy the pictures!

Me and "Mr. Turkey"

My Hubby and Me!
The Table
The Leftovers! 
My Sister, Me and Mom
Davey, My Little Indian! 
The Pies!!! YUMMO!
Davey ready for dessert!

My Sister and her kids, my Mom, Hubby's Parents, and Becca

Enjoy it all!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Countdown to Thanksgiving.....Broccoli Casserole

Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away!  I hope you all have made plans on "who is hosting the holiday".....our family plans way in advance, seems like we kind of all want to host the holiday. I prepared the meal the last 2 years, now it's my sister's turn.

 When I was a little girl, my Mother would always host Thanksgiving.  She did a wonderful job cooking and preparing for the feast, and for like 17 people! Her meal was delicious, her desserts even better, and her table was set all in her very best china, best linens, and best crystal.  We always had a wonderful day, and Mom made it that way, and she really did it all herself.  Sure my sister and I would help a little, but Mom cooked and baked everything, and not just 2 pies, but like 8, and from scratch!!

I do remember helping my Mom set the table the night before, but I never helped cook the meal.  I always enjoyed helping my Mom with "domestic duties", I enjoyed being in the kitchen with her, watching her cook, bake, and even help.  Mom was a great teacher to me in the kitchen, and I did learn it all from her, and I am very proud to say, and I always had samples, just to see if the food was good enough to eat!  HA!

Here's a recipe that my Mom would make often when we were kids, but never for Thanksgiving.  Fresh vegetables were always on her menu.  It's a Broccoli Casserole tt's delicious and easy, and I think would go perfect with a Thanksgiving dinner.  Try delicious and EASY!

Broccoli Casserole

1 bag 16 oz frozen Broccoli florets
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 pkg 16 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Defrost the frozen broccoli.  In a bowl combine the thawed broccoli, 2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup, milk, and half the cheddar cheese. Mix really good. Pour into a GREASED casserole dish, top with the remaining cheese, and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.  Cover, and bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes, uncover and cook 10 more minutes until it bubbles.  YUMMO! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Countdown to Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving, I don't appreciate the "early advertising" for Christmas, and I feel sometimes Thanksgiving can be ignored.  When I was a little girl, Thanksgiving was a big part of our family traditions.  We made a very big deal about the holiday.  It was a time to give thanks to our Lord, and get together with our close knit family, and enjoy the feast that my mom so lovingly prepared for us. I try to instill these traditions in my family today, and my children have grown to love the holiday as well. 

This year I am not hosting the special day, but my sister Lois will be.  We are looking forward to spending the day with my Mom,  Brother and his family, and my Sister and her family.  I miss my Dad, he's been gone now over 3 years.  Dad was a big part of our Thanksgiving Day, when we were younger he made a point for us to learn to be thankful to our Lord for all His blessings.  And I truly am.  Dad carved the turkey every year, we enjoyed his SLOW CARVING, it took him a very long time to carve that big turkey, and it was frustrating at that time, but now I would love to have my Dad back, and help carve our Thanksgiving Turkey this year! I do miss him.

I will be posting some really delicious Thanksgiving Recipes over the next several days.  I hope you will try one or two.  Enjoy!

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
1 lb ground sausage (I like to use the frozen uncooked in the tube, not italian)
1 bag Cornbread Stuffing Cubes such as Pepperidge Farm or Arnold
2 cans Chicken Stock
2 tsp. ground sage
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 stick of butter melted
4 stalks celery chopped small
3 onions chopped small
1 whole bunch of parsley minced
EXTRA butter for dotting

In a large skillet, melt the stick of butter, add the onions, celery, saute until soft.  Add the uncooked sausage and cook really well, and break it up until little bit size pieces, DRAIN all the grease.  In a large bowl, add the package of stuffing cubes, the sauteed onions and celery, sausage, and minced parsley.  Add the 2 cans of chicken stock, salt, pepper, and sage.  Taste it, what does it need, more salt, pepper, sage?  Add them to your liking. 

I don't usually stuff the turkey with this stuffing, I do enjoy it in a casserole dish.  Put the stuffing in a 9x13 greased casserole dish, and dot with EXTRA butter on top, and cook covered in a 350 oven for 1/2 hour.  YUMMO!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Smothered Chicken.....MY WAY!

I make this really delicious Smothered Chicken, my family really loves it, especially my little boy, Davey!  It's just chicken cutlets sliced really thin, pan-fried in my trusty cast-iron skillet, and the best part is the GRAVY!  The gravy is made from the pan drippings, chicken bouillon, and White WINE....don't worry, the wine evaporates, so all that is left is the delicious taste, and not the alcohol, perfect for my little guy!  It's a great weeknight dinner, so easy and so delicious.  Try it you will love it!

Smothered Chicken

6 -8 chicken cutlets sliced thin (or pounded whatever you prefer)
2 TBS canola oil
1 cup flour for dredging
2 cups water
2 TBS chicken bouillon
1 tsp. powdered garlic
2 tsp. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried
1 cup White Wine, or if you prefer Cooking Wine
1 TBS lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 small Jar with 2 tsp flour and 1/2 cup cold water (to thicken the GRAVY)

Slice the cutlets thin or pound them out, whatever you prefer.  Heat a skillet, or if your lucky like me, a Cast Iron Skillet, with the 2 TBS Canola Oil.  Dredge the chicken in the flour shake off any existing flour, put in the hot oiled pan, and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown, do not let them burn....salt and pepper each side. Continue frying all the cutlets, you may have to do this in batches, and add more oil to the pan after each batch.  You are just browning the cutlets, they will still be pink inside.  Put the cutlets on a dish, and now make your GRAVY!!!!

To the hot pan add the 2 cups water with chicken bouillon, and whisk, add the WINE, and whisk really well, add the garlic powder and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil, for 1 minute.  Lower heat to med-low and  put the chicken back into the pan making sure the gravy is covering each cutlet and cover, cook for 1/2 hour on med-low. 

Now to thicken the GRAVY,  just like I always thicken my gravy's, in a jar with a lid, put 2 tsp flour in the jar and 1/2 cup cold water, shake, and slowly add to the gravy, you may want to take the cutlets out to do this, to really whisk the gravy and get it all thick and delicious!  You don't want it too thick, just thick enough to coat the chicken.  Put the cutlets back in and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.  Top with minced parsley, and SERVE over rice, egg noodles, or even mashed potatoes!  YUMMO!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Roasted Chicken

Have you ever roasted a whole chicken?  If you haven't, then you surely are missing out!  A whole Roasted Chicken is so delicious, inexpensive,  and best of all, EASY!  I usually roast a chicken 2 times a month, I like the leftovers for Chicken Pot Pie, or Chicken Noodle Soup.  I like to buy the Perdue Oven Stuffer, it has a lot meat, it's inexpensive, especially when it's on sale at Shoprite.

I like to use Ina Garden's recipe.  I love her show, Barefoot Contessa, and have many of her cookbooks.  I think she is a true cook, so easy going, and I usually have all the ingredients to her recipes in my pantry. And I love the way she entertains, no fuss, she really just wants to enjoy her guests, and I feel I do the same.  When Ina made her Roasted Chicken, she roasted it on a very high heat, 400 degrees, with NO LIQUID!  I have always roasted a whole chicken using at least 2 cups of liquid in the roasting pan, and of course on a low temperature like 350.  But I wanted to give Ina's recipe a try, because it looked so easy, and of course so DELICIOUS!!!  I made her Roasted Chicken, and it came out so tender, and the skin was so crispy.....everyone in my family loved it, and I will NEVER roast a chicken the "old way" again.  Try this recipe, you will LOVE IT! 

Roasted Chicken
1 whole Roaster Chicken about 6 lbs (Perdue is really good, and has the pop up timer!)
3 TBS Olive Oil
! TBS Salt
2 tsp Pepper
2 tsp. dried Rosemary or 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary

Rinse the whole chicken, and take out the special know what I mean, then I usually throw it right in the garage, don't want to see the "heart, liver, and gizzard!!!  Go ahead an make your gravy using those, but I sure won't!!!! 

Pat dry the chicken, and put it in a roaster pan, Rub the Olive Oil all over the bird, and salt and pepper the inside, and the outside, generously, and sprinkle the Rosemary all over the bird.  Put it in a preheated 400 degree oven, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the pop up timer pops up!  The skin will be so crispy you will want to eat it right away!

Chicken Gravy using pan drippings
Using the pan drippings, make a most delicious gravy, skim off some of the chicken fat, and bring the drippings to a boil.  In a jar with a lid, add 2 TBS flour and 1/2 cup cold water.  Shake really well and add slowly to the pan drippings and whisk, whisk, whisk, lower the heat and bring to a simmer, and cook until it's has thicken.  Now taste it, what does it need?  Add salt and pepper and 1 - 2 tsp chicken bouillon.  YUMMO!!

Cookie of the Week....Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin....YUMMO!

This week's cookie is one of my family's favorite...."Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"!  Do I hear a YUMMO for this cookie?  My family loves this cookie more than my chocolate chip cookies.  I try to make them once a month, and when I do they aren't around for long, that's why I call them "Vanishing".....get it?

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are on the healthy side. The oatmeal and raisins are good for you, so when I have one or even two for breakfast with my coffee, I don't feel so bad!  I bake the cookies a little long than usual, they come out crispy, not too soft like most Oatmeal Raisin cookies, but you don't, bake them to the texture you like. 

It's the weekend, thank the good Lord, so make up a batch of my delicious "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies".....make them before the kids come home from school, the house will smell so good, and hopefully your family will give you hugs and kisses, hey, that's why I take the time to cook and bake for my show how much I love them, and I do!  YUMMO!

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 sticks of butter softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

In the mixer add the butter and mix until light and fluffy, add both sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Beat until fluffy and mixed real good.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups Old Fashioned Oatmeal uncooked
1 cup or MORE raisins

Combine all the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk to combine, add to butter mixture SLOWLY, or your kitchen will have flour everywhere, and mix real good.  Line cookies sheets with foil or parchment, I use foil, and spray with veggie spray so they won't stick, drop the dough onto the cookie sheets, and bake in a 350 oven for about 10 - 13 minutes until light brown or a little darker brown if you like them crispy!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hearty 16 Bean Soup.....Yes 16 BEANS!!!

We are just about back to normal here in New Jersey, we were hit  hard by the "October Snow Storm". Now we can enjoy the rest of Autumn, hopefully the snow will hold off till December for Christmas!

I make this really delicious soup,“Hearty 16 Bean Soup", yes there are 16 different kinds of beans in this soup, and they all can be so delicious! Please do not be discouraged by the 16 beans, they really do make a yummy soup. I put kielbasi in the soup, and it really makes for a wonderful and hearty dish, or you could use ham, even a ham bone!  Try it, you will love it, so comforting!  YUMMO!

Hearty 16 Bean Soup
1 bag Goya 16 Bean Soup
(yes there really is a bag of 16 different kinds of bean all in one bag)
1 large onion minced
3 large carrots cut up small
3 celery stalks cut up small
1 long link of Kielbasi cut up in pieces
or 2 cups ham or a whole ham bone
3 TBS Beef bouillon
6 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 TBS salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 small can tomato paste
2 TBS canola oil
So colorful, yes 16 different kind of beans!

Preparing the Beans
Bag of 16 Bean Soup Mix

Rinse the beans then soak beans overnight in a large stock pot with about 6 cups cold water, cover.  The next day, drain all the liquid, and rinse the beans really good.  Continue making the soup.

Or if you forget to soak the beans the night before, and still want to make the soup on the same day, rinse beans then put them in a large stock pot cover with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Take off of heat and let sit for 1 hour in the water. The water will look blackish, drain all the liquid, rinse the beans really good, and let sit in a colander until ready to make the soup.

Making the Soup
In a large stock pot add the oil then the onion, celery, carrot, add the salt, pepper, onion powder, and saute until soft, add the kielbasi, and saute for 3 minutes, add the already soaked and rinsed beans. Add the 6 cups of cold water, tomato paste, and bay leaf and beef bouillon. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat down to simmer.  Cook for about 4 hours, until the beans are tender, and the soup is  somewhat thicken.  Taste it, what does it need?  More salt, or pepper.  I like to serve this over Brown Rice, and a loaf of freshly baked homemade bread!  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Snow!

Well it's been a long time!  We had snow on Saturday, into Sunday, about 12 inches actually. The first October snow I have ever seen! The power went out, didn't get it back until Monday, around 6 am.  I am so happy it's back on. Just got cable and Internet back today.  I have some great pictures of the "October Snow Storm", and we did have a nice time, it was cozy, I made a most delicious soup early that Saturday, knowing the power would go out, we enjoyed it with a loaf of homemade bread, I will post those recipes later.  The kids built an awesome snowman, and I couldn't do much, so I relaxed. 

I am so glad things are back to normal around here.  Life if GOOD!  Enjoy the pictures.
Our Home with the snowman

My two KIDS building their snowman!