Filed under: Recipes
What is your favorite comfort food?
When I think of comfort food my mind goes back to my childhood and dinnertime. My mom used to make fried pork chops with a milk gravy. The pork chops were crispy but moist and tender and the milk gravy had bits of the crispy coating from the pork chops. My favorite part of the meal was the milk gravy over bread. I haven’t eaten this since I was a kid.
My kids would say their comfort food is macaroni and cheese. The most tasty and easiest recipe we have found comes from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. We altered the recipe to suit our tastes.
Mac n’ Cheese
16 ounces macaroni (4 cups) I prefer Rotelle pasta. I use the whole wheat from Trader Joe’s.
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in a teaspoon of water
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces grated cheddar cheese ( approx 3 cups)
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for the macaroni. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and the macaroni and cook until almost tender but still a little firm to the bite.
While the pasta is cooking mix together the eggs, half of the evaporated milk, the mustard mixture, Tabasco, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Set the pot over low heat and stir in the butter until melted.
Stir in the egg mixture and half of the cheddar until the cheese is melted. Continue to cook over low heat, gradually stirring the remain milk and cheddar, until the mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
September 25, 2010
What will you be grilling on the BBQ for Labor Day weekend?
My sister turned me on to the fabulous grilled fajita recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Everything is cooked on the grill, right down to heating up the tortillas. This recipe saves clean up time and keeps the house from heating up.
The marinade is not spicy. If you prefer more heat add some jalapeno seeds. When grilling the tortillas have a large sheet of foil ready to wrap the tortillas in to keep them warm.
Chicken Fajitas for the Grill
1/3 cup Lime juice , from 2 to 3 limes
6 tablespoons Vegetable oil
3 Medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Brown sugar
1 Jalapeño chile , seeds and ribs removed, chile minced
1 1/2 tablespoons Minced fresh cilantro leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed of fat, tenderloins removed, breasts pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1 Large red onion (about 14 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (do not separate rings)
1 Large red bell pepper (about 10 ounces), quartered, stemmed, and seeded
1 Large green bell pepper (about 10 ounces), quartered, stemmed, and seeded
8 – 12 plain flour tortillas (6-inch)
1. In medium bowl, whisk together lime juice, 4 tablespoons oil, garlic, Worcestershire, brown sugar, jalapeño, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade in small bowl; set aside. Add another teaspoon salt to remaining marinade. Place chicken in marinade; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes. Brush both sides of onion rounds and peppers with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Light all burners on gas grill and turn to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes; scrape grill grate clean with grill brush. Leave one burner on high heat while turning remaining burner(s) down to medium.
3. Remove chicken from marinade and place chicken smooth side down on hotter side of grill; discard remaining marinade. Place onion rounds and peppers (skin side down) on cooler side of grill. Cook (covered) chicken until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; using tongs, flip chicken and continue grilling until chicken is no longer pink when cut into with paring knife or instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers about 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Meanwhile, cook peppers until spottily charred and crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice as needed; cook onions until tender and charred on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes, turning every 3 to4 minutes. When chicken and vegetables are done, transfer to large plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
4. When grill is empty, set all burners to medium. Working in batches, if necessary, place tortillas in single layer on grate and grill until warm and lightly browned, about 20 seconds per side. As they are done, wrap tortillas in kitchen towel or large sheet of foil.
5. Separate onions into rings and place in medium bowl; slice bell peppers lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips and place in bowl with onions. Add 2 tablespoons reserved unused marinade to vegetables and toss well to combine. Slice chicken into 1/4-inch strips and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons reserved marinade in another bowl; arrange chicken and vegetables on large platter and serve with warmed tortillas.
Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated
August 30, 2010
I love camping. We are going next week and I am looking forward to unplugging for a short time. Part of the excitement is the anticipation and planning for the trip. I have to plan our menu for our time away. I try to make and freeze meals beforehand so I don’t have to do a lot of cooking while I’m there. Part of the menu is something I like to call “camp food”.
“Camp food” usually requires that it be cooked on a open fire. Our best-loved camp food is banana boats. Banana boats are simple to make and easy for kids to prepare themselves. An extra bonus is that the kids get to place the banana boats in the coals of the fire. (with adult supervision of course.) Kids love to put stuff in the campfire. These can also be made on a grill or in a backyard fire pit.
1 banana(with peel on) per person
1 bag of mini chocolate chips
1 bag of mini marshmallows
Optional add ins: coconut, chopped nuts
12 inch x 10 sheet of aluminum foil(one per banana)
Hold the banana curved side up. Take a sharp knife, shallowly split the peel down middle. Open the peel wide enough to stuff with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Make sure to push the chocolate chips and marshmallows down inside the banana. Close up the peel and wrap the banana in foil. Place the foil wrapped banana in the coals. Cook until chocolate chips and marshmallows are melted, approximately 5 minutes.
Remove from the fire and peel open foil carefully. The banana and the contents will be syrupy and hot. Use a spoon.
To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. ~Helen Keller
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir
August 11, 2010
My garden is full of ripe, juicy tomatoes. They are so numerous that they have graduated from salad status to main dish. I add them to pasta and slice them up with fresh mozzarella. The flavor of a fresh picked, vine ripened tomato is intensely sweet and mildly acidic. Most store bought tomatoes are picked green and ripen en route to local stores which diminishes the taste of the fruit. The flavor of a home grown, vine ripened tomato is unsurpassed.
Fresh tomatoes pair perfectly with extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic and fresh basil. Toss this in some warm pasta until the tomatoes are slightly wilted. The warm pasta intensifies the flavors of the tomatoes, basil and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When I have at least four of five tomatoes I will slice them up and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If I want a more substantial dish I add fresh mozzarella and basil. My favorite part of eating this salad is using bread to mop up the olive oil and tomato juices.
July 19, 2010
What do I do with all this zucchini and summer squash?
I have asked myself this question many times. Especially when I’ve missed one day of harvesting squash and I’ve arrived in my garden to find a zucchini as long as my arm. I am on the lookout for recipes other than zucchini bread, stuffed zucchini and grilling them. I have also sauteed them with onion.
Recently, I found a new recipe on how to prepare squash in an inventive way. This recipe was inspired by an article I read in delicious living magazine, Pizza on the grill, written by Leather Storrs. I adapted the recipe to fit my needs because I didn’t have all the ingredients that were suggested.
This is a nice change from traditional pizza toppings. The squash has a light, moist flavor which absorbs the flavor of spices nicely. You wouldn’t know you were eating squash except for the color.
Squash Pizza Topping
5 cups grated zucchini summer squash( 5-6 medium squash)
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh, ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
Combine squash and spices in a large bowl. Mix well. Allow squash mixture to marinate approximately two hours at room temperature. Stir every thirty minutes. After two hours, pour squash mixture in to a colander and squeeze out excess liquid. Use as a topping for your favorite pizza crust.
Become friends with your local growers and fisherman, so you can keep in touch about what’s just been picked or caught~Martha Stewart
July 6, 2010
Texas sheet cake a.k.a. Cocoa sheet cake a.k.a Easy Chocolate sheet cake is a recipe that has been around for generations. It has been passed around at church socials and reprinted multiple times for church fundraising recipe booklets. This is a testament to the ease and simplicity of this recipe. A fudgey, moist crowd pleaser.
This is my go to recipe for summer potlucks. Total time from start to finish; 45 minutes.
Texas Sheet Cake/Easy Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter (1 & 1/2 sticks)
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, set aside. Heat butter and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until boiling. Pour over the dry ingredients. Beat buttermilk, eggs and vanilla into the cake mixture. The batter will be thin. Pour into a greased 15x 10 inch pan. (You can use a 13×9 inch pan. Cake will be thicker.) Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
1 lb.(box) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nuts (optional)
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until boiling. Turn off heat, pour in box of powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts. Mix until smooth. Spread on warm cake.
Can be served warm or cold.
June 18, 2010
I feel good when I am eating an avocado because I know I am doing something healthy for my body. Some people will tell you that avocados are bad for you because of the high fat content. This is not true. They are high in fat, but it is the heart healthy kind that lowers cholesterol. They are loaded with nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid. Now you can enjoy that guacamole, guilt free.
Avocados have an interesting history. They originated in Mexico and were brought to the U.S. 1871. The word avocado is a blending of the Spanish word aguacate and the Aztec word ahuacati. There are 7 varieties of avocado grown in California, with the most popular being the Hass.
Ideas on how to use avocados:
- Mashed up on toast.
- Baby food: Blend with a small amount of juice or water for a smooth consistency.
- In salads, on sandwiches, in tacos, on burgers, sliced thin on crackers.
When avocados are ripe they should give gently when squeezed. Make sure they are not too soft or squishy. To keep sliced avocados from browning sprinkle with lime or lemon juice.
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder & 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup salsa (I like Trader Joes Salsa Autentica or Embassa Tomato Salsa)
Mash avocados in a medium bowl using a fork or potato masher. (I use a fork because I like a chunky consistency.) Stir in lime juice, garlic powder, salt and salsa.
Get some chips and dig in.
June 11, 2010
Have you ever noticed how inedible some fruits and vegetables look? I can’t help but think, what possessed that first human to want to try and eat those strange looking items. Who was the first person to try an avocado? What was it about the shiny, bumpy skin or the green, squishy insides that made someone take a chance and put it in their mouth, chew and swallow? I don’t know who that person was but I’m glad they took that chance. The avocado, for it’s strange appearance and texture is delectable, loaded with nutrients and has a fascinating history.
The inside of an avocado has a buttery like texture. One of the ways I eat an avocado is to mash it up in a bowl with a fork, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and spread it on my toasted english muffin. The flavor of an avocado is delicate and creamy with an undertone of nuttiness. They can be used in multiple dishes such as soup, as a sandwich spread and even frosting.
In Brazil, avocados are added to ice cream and the Philippines, they are even blended with milk and sugar for an avocado smoothy. Another name for the avocado is Alligator Pear.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my article on avocados.
June 8, 2010
When my kids were little they ate everything, broccoli, carrots, peas and the like. Now that they are older they have opinions about the type of vegetables that we eat. I have become a little more creative in preparing the same old veggies. I am constantly on the look out for new vegetable recipes to try. My kids are certainly more interested when I make something new but not everything I have tried has been a success.
One recipe that has been successful has been spaghetti sauce. What’s great about this recipe is that the kids can’t taste the vegetables. My daughter hates carrots but she loves spaghetti sauce. I not only use this sauce for spaghetti I use it for lasagna as well. When I make it I double the recipe and freeze what I don’t use. I always have a quick meal ready in the freezer.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1 pound hamburger, ground turkey, italian sausage or a mixture
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans 28 oz. whole tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup milk right before serving
In a large pot heat oil over medium high heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Add onion and cook until soft. Add the celery and carrot and cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.(lower heat to keep vegetables from browning) Add ground meat to vegetable mixture and cook until meat browns and is no longer pink.
Turn heat to high and add the wine. Continue to cook until wine evaporates slightly. Add beef broth and undrained tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Bring sauce to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally.
Finally, mix in oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add milk to cut acidity. Serve.
Cool and freeze any leftover.
May 27, 2010
In my Easter dinner post I said I would post the photos of the dessert that I was making and taking to my sister’s house. As you can see from the photos below there were a few steps involved. This is not the type of recipe I would recommend for a beginner cook but the process can be simplified. See below.
Just because I made everything from scratch doesn’t mean you have to. This could be prepared quickly with a few prepared, store bought ingredients.
Start with a prepared pound cake, a large box of instant vanilla pudding, your favorite berry jam, fresh berries and a pint of heavy whipping cream.
Whip together pint of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Increase speed until soft peaks form when beaters are removed.
Prepare the pudding as directed on the box.
While the pudding is refrigerating, slice the pound cake and spread one side of each slice with favorite jam. Begin assembly by laying 3-4 slices of pound cake at the bottom of a large bowl. Next, spoon over pudding and whipped cream followed by a layer of berries. Repeat until you have completed four layers. Top with remaining whipped cream and berries. Serve.
This is the perfect dessert for warm weather because you don’t have to use the oven. It also showcases the sweet berries of Spring and Summer.
April 12, 2010