Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Soup with Orzo and Quinoa

If you still have turkey leftover, you need to either throw it out, freeze it, if you haven't already, or make this soup today. I know a lot of you are sick of talking and thinking turkey, but this is worth sharing. It is healthy and hearty. I just happened to freeze a leg and thigh plus the pan drippings from my bird just to have on hand for this soup. I made it last year, not really expecting much, just playing around with stuff I had on hand. It was a big hit, so I prepared for it this year. I have made this with bone in chicken as well. It is delicious either way. No more turkey talk after this post. I promise!

If you are starting off with uncooked chicken or turkey place in pot and fill with water, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender and falling off the bone.

Put your leftover turkey, skin and all, in a 5 quart or larger pot and fill with water.
Bring to a boil and redude heat, allow to cook covered for an hour or longer.
Remove the turkey and strain the broth in a colander.
Remove any meat left on the turkey bones and put back into the strained broth.
Saute some onion, celery, garlic and carrots in butter until partially cooked.
Add this to the broth.
Season with sage, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper. I also add some celery leaves for flavor.
Cook for at least 30 minutes.
You may need to add some more water or broth along the way as it cooks down. I usually add a little chicken broth.
During the last 15 minutes of cooking time add 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa and about 8 ounces of uncooked orzo and increase temperature to a low boil for about 10 minutes.
This may be adjusted according to how much broth you have. I use a 5 quart pot and this amount is just right.
Once the orzo is cooked pour a little cool water or broth in the soup to stop the cooking process. This prevents the orzo from over cooking.
Simple healthy and hearty. A good way to say farewell to your Thanksgiving turkey!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homemade Bourbon Whipped Topping

My good friend, Susan, owner of  laissezsuzanne.blogspot.com, made this to accent the pumpkin pie we had for Thanksgiving dinner. It is absolutely fantastic! It was also delicious on my Fudge Pie. This stuff is so good it will compliment fruit, pound cake, a steaming cup of cocoa or coffee. The possibilities are endless. I am going to play around with this recipe and see what kind of wonderful combinations I can come up with. Not that there's anything wrong with the original, it is superb just the way it is. I copied this straight from her blog. you should give this a try. Even on a store bought pie, if desired. I can't wait to make this. A good excuse to make another pie, I say!
Stick a metal mixing bowl & whisk & heavy cream in the freezer. Pull items out in about 20 minutes, before the cream freezes. Whisk 1 cup of cream until stiff peaks form (and yes, you can do this by hand, in a couple of minutes. You have more control over the whipping & are less likely to turn the cream to butter).

Whisk in 2 Tablespoons Real Vermont maple syrup, 1 Tablespoon good Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey (I'm using Jack Daniels this year; traditionally I use Bulleit), & 1 teaspoon of good quality vanilla.

Plop a dollop of this on your store-bought pie, & no one will notice or care that it came from the freezer. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Tetrazzini

Got leftover turkey you don't know what to do with? Here is an easy idea. It is delicious and your family won't mind eating these leftovers. If you just can't bear the thought of another turkey sandwich, here's a  good alternative.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream (heavy)
1 pkg spaghetti (7 oz) cooked and drained
2 cups cooked cubed turkey or chicken
1 small jar mushrooms
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (or more if you like)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat butter on Low in a 3 qt. saucepan until melted.
Stir in flour, salt, pepper until blended.
Continue cooking over Low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in broth and whipping cream.
Increase heat and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.
Boil and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in spaghetti and mushrooms.
Pour into a greased 2 qt. casserole dish.
Top with parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greg's Venison (Deer)

I'm switching gears a little bit here. It is deer hunting season in Tennesse right now. I have some relatives who enjoy this sport and have been very successful in coming up with some delicious ways to prepare it. Venison is a very lean meat, and that sometimes creates a problem with becoming too dry during the cooking process. The gamey taste can also be a turn off to some. Well, lucky for you. my brother in law, Greg, has a fool proof way to cook your deer. He is an avid hunter who doesn't mind sharing the kitchen duties with his wife of 38 years, my sister Gale.
They are like a well oiled machine in the kitchen together. They each just know what to be doing at the right time, creating the perfect duo. At any given time you may see Greg washing the dishes, chopping vegetables, whatever needs to be done. I realize there are lots of men who help in the kitchen, and I applaud all of you. Greg is just as comfortable in the kitchen as he is in the woods hunting. I know this recipe isn't for everyone, but hunting is deeply seated in my family heritage, like a lot of other people from rural areas of the country. I  think this recipe is worth sharing, for those of you who may want a new idea for venison. I suppose you could substitute beef if desired.

Start with 2lbs. deer steak or tenderloin. Dredge in seasoned flour. I use McCormicks season salt and lemon pepper. I don't measure. I just shake it in until I think its enough. Fry deer in hot oil until browned on both sides. It does not need to be fully cooked. Put in a large casserole dish. I use a large corningware dish. Mix two envelopes Lipton Beefy Onion soup mix with two cups water. Pour in casserole until it comes up level with the deer, add more water if necessary. Cook at 325 degrees at least two hours, you may cook it longer. Stir about every thirty minutes while it is cooking. The meat will be very tender and you will have a rich brown gravy. Serve over hot biscuits or rolls.

Honey Bun Cake

Believe it or not, I do have some healthy stuff that I cook. One would not think so when viewing this blog! I am thinking holiday food right now, so bear with me. This recipe came from an old cookbook I purchased from a church fundraiser many years ago. There are several variations of this recipe. I have only tried this one. It is always a hit, and very simple. I know it is filled with fattening stuff, but with a name like"Honey Bun Cake" it is to be expected! I always get requests for this recipe, as a matter of fact, I hadn't even thought about sharing this until a dear friend who I consider an honorary daughter, Jessica, asked for the recipe. It travels well if you need something to trek across the state with this holiday season, and is fantastic with a cup of your favorite coffee. Give it a try, just make sure you got some people to help you eat it. The temptation to eat another piece is going to be over whelming! This one is in honor of Jess, you asked and I delivered.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1    box yellow cake mix
4    eggs (I have used 3 eggs and you can't tell the difference)
3/4  cup vegetable oil
8    oz sour cream
1   cup brown sugar
1  tbsp cinnamon
2  cups confectioner's sugar
4  Tbsp  milk
1   tsp vanilla

Mix the first four ingredients by hand. Spread half of the batter in a greased and floured 9x13 pan. you can just use cooking spray if you like.
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a seperate bowl. Sprinkle over the batter in the pan.
Top with the remaining batter, easiest by spooning it on. It does not have to completely cover the brown sugar mixture.
Bake for about 40 minutes.

Mix the powdwered sugar with the milk and vanilla, you may need a little more milk to get the consistency right.
Poke holes in the hot cake with a fork and pour icing on top while still hot.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chicken and Dressing

Just in time for Thanksgiving I offer you a southern tradition, cornbread dressing. This recipe is from my sister, Gale. She usually gets recruited to make the dressing for the family functions, although all of my sisters can cook up some tasty dressing, Gale's is always delicious and moist. No need for gravy to juice this stuff up. It has a perfect consistency and is packed with flavor. I highly recommend picking up some fresh sage to add to the dried rubbed sage. Fresh sage is so aromatic and flavorful, it enhances the dish tremendously.
This recipe is a guideline. Dressing is one of those things that once you make it the first time, if it isn't perfectly suited to your taste buds, you can tweak it the next time. Everybody has a slightly different combination to make theirs unique. Here's a really fantastic way to begin, it don't need anything to improve it in my opinion, only a plate and a fork!

 Boil 4 chicken leg quaters and one breast in a large pot full of water. I also add celery tops and some onion, salt and pepper to taste. You will use this broth plus you may need some canned broth.

10 cups cornbread
6  left over biscuits or dinner rolls or you can use 6 pieces of loaf bread
1  sleeve of saltines crushed
1  medium onion chopped
2  ribs celery, finely chopped, you may use more if you wish
2 Tbsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp  lemon pepper
2 Tbsp black pepper
3 Tbsp rubbed sage, I like to use some fresh sage and parsely if I have it. You may also want to use more or less sage to your taste.
4  eggs beaten
12 to 15 cups of broth, depending on how moist you like your dressing.
Mix all ingredients except eggs. Taste and adjust seasonings. (very important)
Add eggs and chicken meat you have removed from bones.

This is enough for an 11" by 13" cake pan and a 2 qt corning ware casserole dish. You may want to halve the recipe unless you are feeding a crowd.
 If you wish you can use a larger flatter pan instead of 9x13. I prefer my dressing cooked in a shallow pan to prevent the center from being too mushy. (my tip, sorry Gale!)
Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven until edges a browned and center is set, usually about 30 minutes in an undisturbed oven.Too many door openings affects cooking time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Crock Pot Oatmeal

This is a simple way to get a hearty breakfast anytime with little effort. Imagine waking up to a delicious breakfast waiting on you! All you have to do is grab a bowl and dig in. I suggest this for Thanksgiving morning. Growing up in Tennessee, dinner was in middle of the day and that evening meal is supper. My mother always got up before dawn on Thanksgiving to start preparing her meal so it would be ready by noon, that was when dinner was served. She would have thought anything later was unheard of! She always had a meal that would impress even the most experienced chefs. They don't have nothing on my Mama when it comes to cooking anything southern style. She always managed to put together a fantastic meal, and get it done! She would have loved this recipe. If it had been around when we were young, she wouldn't have had to fix breakfast for eight hungry people before she started her "dinner" cooking! So I offer you this wonderful breakfast idea for Thanksgiving, or any time for that matter, in the spirit of my beautiful, awesome mom, Amy. I just wish I could have some of her good food right now. She was the expert on everything good!

4  cups milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups old fashioned or steel cut oats (not quick cook)
2 cups apple, chopped
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Coat the inside of a 3 to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well.
Cover and cook on Low overnight,  do not exceed 7 to 8 hours, depending on how fast you crock pot cooks, this may need to be adjusted. Don't over cook.
Stir and serve. The leftovers can be refrigerated.
Simple, huh? Enjoy!

Squash Casserole

This is a fantastic recipe that I got from my sister, Sissy years ago. I can remember when I first started really cooking, not just grilled cheese and omelets, I relied on my older sisters a lot to guide me along. They always came through for me. Back in the day I remember thinking this was so hard! It really isn't at all. I had just never really cooked anything that reqiured steps, only things that you put in a skillet or pan  and cook. Now I don't see this as much of a challenge, just a little chopping, but once you try it you will see that it is easy and worth the effort! Thanks Sissy for helping me become a confident cook. I may not always follow your advice on everything, but I listened this time!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 1/2  cups cooked  yellow squash (I cook it in water on medium low heat until tender)
2   cups cornbread, crumbled (good way to use leftover cornbread, I freeze mine for stuff like this)
1   stick butter or margarine, melted
1   can cream of chicken soup
1   8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1   medium onion, finely chopped 
2   carrots, shredded
2 to 3 tbsp. bell pepper, finely chopped

Mix the melted butter with the cornbread.

Line the bottom of a casserole dish with half the cornbread butter mixture.
Mix all other ingredients together. Pour on top of the cornbread in pan.
Top with remaining cornbread and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour until done.

Chess Pie

This is always a crowd pleaser. I'm not sure if chess pie is considered a southern thing or not, but there has always  been one at most every function involving food for as long as I can remember, Not all are created equal. Every southern cook thinks theirs is the best, so I'm not going to make that claim. I will however, share with you the one I like best. This one came from the same wonderful lady that gave me the fudge pie recipe that I shared on here. The only difference is I use premade pie crust. I am almost ashamed to say that I have never made a pie crust from scratch! Maybe I will try it someday. Anyway, here is my favorite chess pie recipe. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

1/2  cup brown sugar
1 1/2 sugar
3  eggs
1 stick butter, softened
1  tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. cornmeal
1 tsp.  vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar (I use lemon juice)
Mix together and pour into an unbaked pie shell.
Bake for 45 minute to an hour until lightly brown.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is another one of my traditional holiday side dishes. Some argue that it should be on the dessert table, since it is so sweet, but I like it right there on my plate beside the dressing. In my opinion, the rules don't really apply during the holiday meals. My kids love this. There is never any of this left over. If you need a delicious, colorful easy dish to round out your Thanksgiving meal why not give this one a try? 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1  large can of sweet potatoes, drained (if using fresh sweet potatoes, about 4 or 5 boiled until tender)
1/2  stick margarine or butter, softened
2  eggs, beaten
1/2  cup evaporated milk
 Mix these ingredients together in a medium size baking dish.


1     cup brown sugar
1/2  cup margarine or butter, melted
1/3  cup flour
1     cup pecans, chopped

Mix together and sprinkle on top of potatoes.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beer Brats

Okay, this is the final entry of the beer recipes. I'm ready to switch gears, but this one is a good for for an easy supper or game day. If you prefer, you can use smoked sausage or kielbasa. This makes a great sandwich or can be served as an entree. Either way, the sweet onion paired with the beer makes a delicious combination, and it's only four ingredients! Enjoy!

2  Tbsp. butter or oil
6  Bratwurst
1  large sweet onion, sliced into rings
6  oz or 1/2 of a beer

Heat 1 tbsp oil or butter in large dutch oven on medium heat.
Cook bratwurst until golden brown. Do not puncture the brats while cooking.
Remove to a platter
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan
Cook the onion rings in the drippings until they are soft and golden but not brown.
Place the brats back into the pan and add beer.
Cook over medium heat until beer reduces down to a syrup like consistency.
Ususally takes about 15 minutes.
Place on a bun or serve with your favorite sides.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beer Butt Chicken

It's exactly what it sounds like...a chicken with a beer in it's butt. Whoever came up with this one had a sense of humor, and a knack for knowing what's delicious! May I also mention that it is ingenious and resourceful. I can't think of a better way to use that can of beer that has gotten pushed to the back of the refrigerator. It is wonderfully juicy and flavorful. Why not let that chicken stand on it's own two feet, one last time?

This needs to be cooked on indirect heat for best results. If you are using charcoal, place the coals on one side of the grill. For gas grills heat only half of the burners. I suppose you could also use the oven. I would suggest a 350 degree oven.

Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken cavity. Rinse and pat dry.
Rub the chicken with vegetable oil.
Mix up a dry rub of salt, pepper, thyme, sage, Whatever you like, this is up to you.
Rub this generously all over chicken.
Open a can of beer and drink about half of it, you only need half for the chicken.
I like  to put a sprig of rosemary and some fresh sage in the beer can for added flavor.
 Now it's time to place the chicken on the beer can . Once it is sitting up real straight and pretty, using the legs and can sort of like a tripod, sit it on the cool side of the grill.
Cover the grill and do not disturb for one hour.
After an hour check it for doneness. it needs to be 160-165 degrees internal temperature.
Check every 15 minutes, refreshing coals if necessary.
It usually takes about 1 1/2 hours to cook if you are using a 4 to 5 pound chicken.
If you don't have a meat thermometer, pierce the thigh, when juice runs clear it's done.
When you get ready to remove the chicken from the grill you will need to place a large spatula under the can bottom and use tongs for the top portion. Put it on a tray and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Lay chicken down and carefully remove the can.
It will be hot and maybe stuck. Please be careful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beer Rolls

This is a simple recipe that I think you will enjoy. Considering how easy and quick it is, you can have home made rolls anytime. No waiting for them to rise and messing with yeast. Give it a try. It only has three ingredients! Well, four, if you count the cooking spray! Try some won't you? Good quick idea for Thanksgiving. Who has time to slave over rolls on Thanksgiving? Better that brown and serve and just maybe, you won't burn these! That always seems to happen in my house with brown and serve rolls. Put them in the oven, get distracted with something for just a minute, next thing you know, the rolls are burnt! That won't happen this year, I'm making these!

Makes 12 rolls

Preheat oven to 400
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray

31/2 to 4 cups baking mix (like Bisquick)
1 12 oz beer
3 tablespoons sugar

Mix everything together pretty good and spoon into muffin tins.
Bake for 20 to 25 minute until light golden brown.
That's all! Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beer Cheese Fries

This recipe was inspired by the "Piggie Fries" served at Nashville's own Lipstick Lounge. Although they have some delicious food on their menu, this is my favorite! Creamy warm beer cheese sauce generously poured over a huge pile of crispy french fries, topped with bacon! It doesn't get any better than that! That my friend, is a comfort food that can't be beat! After having these wonderful fries, I knew I was gonna have to try my hand at beer cheese. I didn't get it exact, but I think I did okay. I search many recipes and used bits and pieces from several. This dip can be enjoyed with pretzels, bread, veggies or whatever you choose. I recommend having extra cheese on hand, just incase you need to thicken it up. It's so good you will want plenty anyway!

8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 oz. velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 beer at room temp (you can take a swig or two, you probably won't need all of it.)
Tabasco to taste
Cooked bacon ( for garnish)

Heat about half of the beer to a simmer on a low temperture
Add pepper an dry mustard
Add cheddar cheese in batches, while stirring continuously
Add worcestershire and Tabasco
Add velveeta cheese a few chunks at a time stirring continuously
If it is too thin or thick you can add more cheese or beer to suit your taste.
Pour over crispy cooked warm fries
Top with bacon and sprinkle with season salt or paprika if desired.

Beer! It's Not Just For Drinking!

Lot's of people love beer. It goes with most anything and is a favorite among many. I personally prefer to use it for cooking rather than drinking. The hardest part about that is prying it out of the hubby's hands! When I say I'm going to use some of his beer for a recipe, he usually just gives me a blank stare that speaks volumes! He reluctantly agrees, especially when I promise to fix something delicious! Over the next day or so I will be sharing some of my favorite beer recipes. I encourage you to give them a try. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mocha Truffles

If I haven't got your attention yet, then maybe this will do it! Everyone that has ever tried these has loved them! It originally came from a Taste of Home magazine from years ago. My sister, Brenda, was the one to first introduce the family to this recipe. I'm not sure if it is exactly as it was, since none of us ever bothered to write it down, but they are absolutely sinful! If you love chocolate and mocha, you simply must try this! It is perfect for Valentine's Day!  No one will ever know that you didn't slave over them. (not much anyway) The hardest part is rolling them out. I suggest getting the kids involved, if you can keep them from eating it all!
These need to be made in a glass bowl, suitable for your microwave. Yes, I said microwave, no stove necessary!

2 12 ounce bags semi sweet chocolate chips
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules dissolved in a tablespoon of hot water (use less if you want a milder mocha flavor, 2 Tbsps is delicious too.)
1 package of dipping chocolate or bark coating

Melt the chocolate chips according to pkg directions in microwave. If there aren't any, I stir every minute until creamy, don't over heat.
Add the cream cheese immediately, stir until mixed well, then add coffee water mixture
Mix very well
Refrigerate at least 2 hours until they are chilled completely but not hard. If you leave it in the fridge too long you may have to let it set out for a little while.
Spread out some wax paper and roll it into balls, about inch in diameter. I suggest rolling them quickly between your palms.  This is going to be messy, but well worth it, trust me! The longer you handle it the softer it will become and my be difficult to shape. They don't have to be perfect, because you are going to dip them anyway.
Once you have then all rolled out, melt your dipping chocolate. You can use the stove top method if you prefer, but I use the microwave instructions.
I recommend melting half of the dipping chocolate at a time in a small deep mixing bowl. It makes it easier to dip and it doesn't start cooling before you finish dipping. Trial and error here, you may have a better method. If so please share it.
Dip the truffle balls in the chocolate and allow them to cool on the wax paper for a little while.
If desired, you can drizzle them with white chocolate, maybe tinted pink for Valentine or any other concoction you so desire.
Once they are cool enough to handle, put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Once they are cooled you may store them at room temperature.
That is all. You will find that they are even more delicious a couple of days after you make them, if they last that long! ENJOY!

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

This is a super easy recipe that is easily adjusted to suit your taste. It is great for entertaining, because it is simple and foolproof. This is a perfect dish for a football party. It is hardy and will feed a lot of people. You need a bun with a little substance, perhaps toasted, because it is juicy! I like to use some of the juice for dipping the sandwich into to fully enhance the goodness. This recipe is for a 4 pound or larger roast. If you cook a smaller one, I would suggest using half of the rest of the ingredients. Also you do not need to add salt. Learned that one the hard way, as I do most everything!

4 pound or larger beef roast, any kind will work, I prefer a sirloin roast
1 jar pepperoncini peppers, rough chopped, if desired, stems removed
1 package dry Italian Dressing mix (like Good Seasons, found in the salad dressing aisle by the ranch dressing mix)
I sometimes add a little fennel seeds, completely optional
Sprinkle the roast with the Italian Dressing mix and place in the crock pot.
Pour the jar of peppers on top, juice and all (I always remove the stems)
Cook on high for the first hour at least. If desired you can turn down to low after it gets started good.
Usually takes 6 to 8 hours to cook, depending on the size of the roast
Once it's finished place it into a serving dish and shred apart with two forks if necessary. Usually it is so tender this step is optional.
Grab some buns and maybe some provolone cheese and chow down! You will be amazed at how good and easy this is. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fudge Pie

This an easy recipe. I got it from a wonderful elderly lady I used to work for. No telling how many generations have cooked this recipe. It is amazing what you can learn from listening to senior citizens. They have experienced things that most of us can never imagine. She was a master at being thrifty and she taught me how to cook many things that I didn't even know I liked!

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour ( I use self rising, but I don't think it matters)
1/4 cup cocoa
1 stick margarine softened to room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a regular size pie unbaked pie shell. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. If you want to make a larger or deep dish pie I suppose you could double the ingredients, although I've never tried this. I just make two instead. You know one won't be enough! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Confessions of A Reformed Coffee Snob

Gone are the days when I didn't think twice about driving thru the local Starbucks and dropping six bucks on a pumped up Mocha. I mean, why bother if you aren't going to get a double shot of espresso with your beverage of choice, right? Don't get me wrong, I still love the stuff, but I just can't justify the cost anymore. Especially now that I've discovered the French Press. They make average coffee taste phenominal! I couldn't believe how rich and full bodied the coffee is. You just wouldn't think it would be that good, considering the simplicity of it. They are widely available and can be found in stores like Ross or Marshall's for a very good price. I suggest you pick one up. The only down side is you can't leave it sitting in the pot without it getting too strong. I remedy that by brewing my second cup while drinking my first, or make two or more cups and pour the extra in a coffee carafe. The process is simple and well worth a try. Let me share the way I brew it. I'm not sure if it is the French way, but it works for me. If anybody has any suggestions I would love to hear them.

The coffee press will most likely have a measuring spoon with it.
Place the coffee in the bottom of carafe
Bring water to boiling point
Pour into coffee
Rest the plunger on top of the pot (do not press down into coffee)
Wait exactly 4 minutes
Press plunger down into coffee and serve.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crescent Roll Coffee Cake

This is another frequently requested favorite of mine. I got this recipe from a cookbook I have that celebrates Home Economics teachers. This particular one comes from a teacher named Debra Bowen from North Stokes High School in Danbury NC. This book was published in 1993. It is like a survival guide in my kitchen. We love this cake and I hope you do too. Thank you Ms. Bowen, because of your recipe I have brought smiles and satisfied tummies to many folks, and plan to keep sharing the joy!

2 8 count cans crescent rolls
1 egg white slightly beaten (save the yolk)
2 8 oz packs cream cheese
11/2 cup sugar (reserve half cup for top)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Arrange one can of the rolls in bottom of lightly greased 9x13 pan. Brush with egg white.
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, vanilla and egg yolk until light and fluffy.
Spread over layer in pan.
Top with remaining can of crescent rolls. You can stretch and piece together as best you can. It really doesn't matter if you have a few small gaps not covered.
Brush with remaining egg white.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and pecans and sprinkle on top.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy!

The Absolute Best Premade Cookie Dough!

Don't you just love it when a spouse or family member approaches you with "Oh I forgot, I'm suppose to bring something for a party at school / work tomorrow." This never happens when you just happen to already have something on hand. A couple of years ago, when my hubby needed something for a work party the next day and it was already 8:30 in the evening, past my creative cooking time, I went to Kroger and just couldn't bring myself to buy those bakery cookies or cupcakes. They are rather pricey and to be honest, not that tasty. His co workers have come to expect a little more than that from him, since they know I'll be representing him with something at least homemade, So I thought what the heck, they are getting premade cookies, that's the best I can do. I wasn't expecting much, I picked up a couple of packs of the premade Kroger brand of Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut cookies. I cut them in half to make smaller cookies so they would cook a little faster and go a little further. Let me tell you, not all of the cookies made it to his work, good thing I bought two packs! They are fantastic and taste like homemade! If you haven't tried them yet, please do! They will fool even the toughest critic. Everyone was asking for the recipe! Kroger got it right with this one, better than name brand. Next time you need to bake some cookies give these a try. I think you will agree with me, they are way better than you expect and may just become a new favorite.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creative Gift Ideas On A Budget

This holiday season many of us are having to do more with less. It is very possible to give a thoughtful and useful gift without breaking the bank. One of my favorite things to give and receive for the holidays is food. You can easily put together an impressive gift without even having to turn on the stove or mess up one dish. Last year I put together a pasta gift bag that was a big hit. I picked up a couple of jars of pasta sauce; alfredo and marinara, two varieties of pasta and a loaf of Italian bread. I lined a colander with a colorful dishcloth that I bought at Dollar Tree and placed the items in it. I then set it down in a reusable shopping bag and that was it! No wrapping or stressing! You could even add some wine, cheeses, chocolates or italian coffee. The beauty of this type of gift is it can be personalized and the recipient will love it! Who wouldn't love dinner in a bag? Especially during the holiday season when everyone is busy. Planning the regular meals and grocery shopping for the essentials sometimes gets ignored during the hustle and bustle. Another added bonus is with a little planning you can probably catch sales at the market on everything you will need. Take the stress out of your shopping and give useful gifts. I plan on giving foodie gifts this year too. The possibilities are endless. Get inspired and take a different approach this year.

Crock Pot Cream Corn

This recipe makes corn a new favorite again. It is not something you would want often if you are counting calories, but it is fantastic and easy.

2  12 ounce bags of frozen corn
1 8 ounce package cream cheese cubed
1/2 cup butter cubed
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
sometimes I add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or a chopped hot pepper, completely optional

Put all these ingredients in your slow cooker and cook for 21/2 hours on high or 4 to 6 hours on low. Stir occasionally if possible. That's all. I said it was easy!

The Best Hashbrown Casserole Ever!

This is probably my most requested recipe for family dinners. I started out with the traditional recipe, using cornflakes for topping. The original recipe also has less cheese and is cooked at a lower temp. I sort of took a generic hashbrown casserole recipe trying to copy the ones served at Cracker Barrel Restaurants, which isn't all that fabulous in my opinion, and totally made it mine! I tweaked it in all the right places! I will admit, I usually am very generous with my measurements of sour cream, an extra tablespoon or two can't hurt, right? Also, sometimes add a little more onion. depending on who I'm serving. Some of my people don't do onion, but love this! The trick to pleasing everyone with this is chop the onion very fine and make sure it is mixed well.  Four tablespoons is enough to give it a nice flavor without offending the no onion crowd. I simply cannot make it without it. The chips on top are like a little party going on in your mouth, way better than corn flakes. This is awesome, you should give it a try.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 bag of frozen shredded hashbrowns (thawed)
4 tablespoons of finely chopped onion
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup (can substitute cream of mushroom for vegetarians)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all these items together very thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed well. It's okay to just dig in with your hands if necessary.
Place in a buttered baking dish.


3 cups crushed potato chips ( I recommend plain chips, although it is a good way to get rid of those partial bags of chips. I have used a mixture of BBQ, sour cream and onion flavored. Get creative here to find your favorite.)
1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter or margarine melted

Mix together and place on top.
Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. Make sure that it is lightly browned on top and around the edges.