How I Ruined Thanksgiving

Every year I am in charge of making green bean casserole to take up to my mother-in-laws for Thanksgiving. It’s not a secret recipe or anything like that. I open 4 cans of french style green beans, drain them throw them in a glass baking dish. Then I open 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup add that to the beans throw in 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 super large can of French’s Fried Onions. Mix it all up and bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. No big deal!

This year I woke up on Thanksgiving grabbed a cup of coffee and threw the casserole together. BAM! I was done!

My youngest daughter woke up about an hour later walked into the kitchen and looked at the casserole and pouted! She looked at me and said, “You didn’t wait for me?” I said “No, I threw it together so I could get it done fast.” That’s when she broke my little heart, she said, “But we always make it together. It’s our Mother-Daughter Thanksgiving tradition!”

As the day went on she managed to forget about how I totally broke the tradition. We had Thanksgiving dinner and all went well. That was until dessert time! You see my youngest daughter is a little picky when it comes to food. Especially when it comes to pie! She does not like pie! Except for Chocolate Cream Pie! I had bought one especially for her and she was all excited about having her Chocolate Cream Pie for dessert.

We had all the pies, mince meat, apple, and pumpkin, sitting on the table along with the ice cream, whipped cream and pot of coffee. My youngest walks in, looks around the table and hangs her head down. Yep, you guessed it, not only did I break the Mother-Daughter Thanksgiving Casserole Tradition I left the freakin’ Chocolate Cream Pie in our freezer an hour away!

She settled for a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup but for the rest of the night she kept reminding me about how good her Chocolate Cream Pie would have been!

And that is how I ruined Thanksgiving, at least for my 11 year old!

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Something Old, Something New

Let me start by telling you about our grill. Our grill is about 6 years old and is on its last leg. Seriously! It lost 1 original wheel about 2 years ago and we replaced it with an old training wheel. The inside is falling apart and when you eat the meat that’s cooked on it you have to be careful not to eat metal!

The other night my husband was going to grill some fresh venison back strap stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeno and wrapped in bacon. YUM! My mouth was watering just putting these babies together.

My husband went outside, lit the grill and then moved it closer to the backdoor where the light is so he could see better since it was dark. That’s when I hear a BANG followed by an “Oh Shit!”

I was smart and stayed inside. My husband came back inside after about 10 minutes. He mumbled something about a piece of shit and then took the plate of meat and went back outside.  My youngest daughter ventured outside and came back in with the empty plate for me to clean and just started laughing and said something about another wheel breaking and wood. I didn’t even ask!

My husband comes inside and tells me to hold off on cooking the side dishes just yet because he has to switch out the gas tank, which he hates doing! He gets that done and relights the grill. About 10 minutes later I hear another BANG! followed by an “Oh Shit!” He comes in and tells me he lost one of the venison wraps inside the grill because the grill grate broke. No big deal it was an extra anyway.

We finally ate dinner and my husband declares that we are “Getting a new Gawd Damn grill no matter what!” Ok, no problem, that will be our Christmas present for this year.

This is why we needed a new grill!

 

Yesterday my husband went out and bought a new grill and we put it together this morning. It took us probably an hour and a half to assemble it and nobody was hurt or asked for a divorce!

I am going to like cooking on this baby!

Sometimes Love Hurts

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my daughters. Sometimes they help, sometimes they just watch and talk to me about what’s going on in their lives.

This weekend I had the insane idea of making caramel apples. Now, back when I was a kid we used to buy a kit that had these caramel wraps and all you did was wrap the apple and stick a tongue depressor into it! Man those were the good old days!

I managed to find a kit to make caramel apples but you had to use the stove! We mixed the package with milk and sugar and brought the mixture up to 242 degrees! My youngest stuck the tongue depressors into the apple while my oldest daughter and I were stirring and taking the temperature of the boiling goo on the stove.

Once it got hot enough we dipped the apples into the goo.  I of course told both my 10-year-old and my 17-year-old to, “Be Careful! It’s very hot! It WILL burn the crap out of you!” The listened very well and they both managed to dip their apples into the hot caramel goo and walk away unharmed.

I however should have listened to my own advice! I dipped my apple into the boiling caramel goo, pulled it out, rolled it around and tried to let the excess goo drip back into the pan. Well guess what, it dripped right on my finger! I dropped my apple back into the goo and screamed! That crap sticks to anything it touches! Especially the flesh on your fingers!

I screamed to my oldest daughter to turn off the stove, remove the apple and get me some burn ointment as I held my poor index finger under cold water.

My oldest daughter managed to save my apple and my youngest daughter just laughed her ass off! I kid you not she was rolling on the floor in tears! I’m so glad I can be a source of humor for that child! Did I mention that she will probably not make it to eleven at her rate of laughing at me! 

The apples turned out yummy, my finger will be fine in a few days and I provided, however painful to me, a good memory for my kids!

Artichoke Tomato Salad

Artichoke Tomato Salad

8 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds) cut into wedges
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 jar marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 can sliced ripe olives, drained
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

Arrange tomatoe wedges on a large serving platter; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon over tomatoes. Refrigerate the leftovers.

Nutritional Facts
Per serving: 3/4 cup
Calories: 74
Fat: 5 g (1 g sat)
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 241 mg
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 1 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 1 vegetables, 1 fat
Serving Size: 8

Question Of The Week

Question of the week: What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

chefgadget.jpg image by fimk

I will openly admit that I have things in my kitchen that I have never, ever used! In my defense most of these unused kitchen gadgets I did not buy myself. I have a cappuccino machine (never used), a bread machine (used very rarely),  vacuum food sealer (used only when we process meat), the list could go on and on!

My favorite kitchen gadget is a cast iron reversible grill griddle that I paid $20 for. It is a little bit of a pain to clean but other than that I love it!

 

 

My most used kitchen gadget is what I call a Lazy Husband.

Potato Salad

3 to 4 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed
3 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles or dill pickle relish
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip)
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Cover; refrigerate until serving time. (I like to make mine a day ahead of time.)

Shrimp Veggie Pasta Salad

Shrimp Veggie Pasta Salad

Veggie Pasta Salad Recipe

8 ounces cooked tricolor spiral pasta, rinsed
1 pound small shrimp, boiled, peeled and deveined
3 small tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped 
1 cup carrots, chopped 
1 small can of black olives, rinsed
1 small bottle of your favorite Italian Dressing
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
  
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. (I like to make this a day ahead of time)

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: Low 8 hours

Yield: 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil          

1 medium onion, chopped                                   

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning     

2 cans (14.5 ounces) Italian flavored tomatoes      

1 cup finely diced carrots           

1 cup finely diced celery 

1 cup finely diced zucchini         

1 can cut green beans

1 cup peeled and finely diced potatoes

1 tablespoon salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 cups water

1 can (19 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed under cold water

1 1/2 cups uncooked ditalini (small, tube-shaped pasta)

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese            

                          

1Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with vegetable oil cooking spray.

2Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.

3 Place the cooked vegetable mixture in the slow cooker. Add the string beans, cabbage, potatoes, salt, pepper, and water. Stir to combine.

4 Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Add the kidney beans and pasta 20 minutes before serving. Cook until the pasta is tender.

5 Stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

 

Per serving: Calories 297 (From Fat 27); Fat 10g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 4mg; Sodium 1770mg; Carbohydrate 42g (Dietary Fiber 9g); Protein 12g.

*I add cooked pork chunk and kielbasa sausage to this and it came out great. Next time I make it I plan on adding some canned minced clams to it instead.

In Hog Heaven

We hit the mother lode yesterday afternoon. One of my husband’s friends called and asked if we wanted some wild hog that they killed over the weekend. I, being the one who does all the grocery shopping, of course said yes.
We got the meat yesterday. Luckily it was quartered out for us. I don’t think I could have handled looking at the face or anything like that. Obviously I am not a hunter! We cut the meat up this morning in about 3 hours. I think I have 25 meals worth in my freezer now. Most of it is chunk meat for soups, casseroles, stir-frying. We did get 2 meals of tenderloins and 4 meals of boneless chops.

Now I need to go find some pork recipes so the kids don’t complain about eating the same thing over and over again!

“th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

Christmas Tradition

A long time ago when I was in the 8th grade I took Home Economics as one of my electives. We learned how to make a recipe called Cream Cheese Braids. They are similar to a Cream Cheese Breakfast Danish. That year I made them as Christmas presents for friends and family. Little did I know 20 plus years later it would be a family tradition.

Every year we make them and give them to family, friends, neighbors, and teachers. I took a count yesterday and we are making 3 batches this year which will give us 12 loaves.

Since I can not make them for everyone that stops in and takes the time to read my blog I will post the recipe. My Christmas present to all of you. 🙂

braided_bread

 Cream Cheese Braids

 

1 cup sour cream                                       2 pkg. dry yeast

½ cup sugar                                              ½ cup warm water

1 tsp. salt                                                   2 eggs

½ cup melted butter                                   4 cups flour

 

Heat sour cream over low heat, stir in sugar and butter.

Dissolve yeast in warm water (NOT HOT).

Combine sour cream and yeast; add eggs, salt and flour.

Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

 

The next day, divide dough into 4 equal parts.

Roll out each on well-floured board into 12” x 8” rectangles.

Spread ¼ of the filling on each rectangle.

Roll jellyroll style, beginning on a long side.

Pinch edges together and fold ends under slightly.

Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet.

Slit each roll at 2” intervals about 2/3 of the way through to resemble a braid.

Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

Spread with glaze while warm.

 

Filling: Mix all ingredients together

 

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg beaten

2 tsp. vanilla

 

Glaze: Mix all ingredients together

 

2 cups powdered sugar

4 tbsp. milk

2 tsp. vanilla

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

This is what we are having for dinner tonight. Due to the fact that my husband acquired some hog meat I am using cubed pork instead of the beef.

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup
1 large onion, minced
1/2 lb very lean beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 lb small white mushrooms, stems trimmed, quarted
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, quarted
1 bay leaf
3 tbs minced Italian flat-leafed parsley
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 can (48 ounces) chicken broth
2 cups water
  1. Lightly spray a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker with vegetable oil cooking spray.
  2. Place the meat, onion, carrots, celery, white & shiitake mushrooms, bay leaf, parsley, barley, salt, and pepper in the slow cooker. Pour the broth and water over all and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours, or until the meat, vegetables, and barley are tender. Add salt to taste.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 281 (from fat 70)
Fat: 8g (Saturated 2.5g)
Cholesterol: 24mg
Sodium: 969mg
Carbohydrate: 38g (Dietary Fiber 8g)
Protein: 17g

Question Of The Week

Question of the week: Do you make or buy birthday cakes?

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When I was growing up my mom used to make all of our birthday cakes. Her cakes looked so good! One year she made a Holly Hobbie cake for me and a train cake for my brother. Apparently this talent did not make it to me. My kids have grown up with store bought birthday cakes. Hopefully this has not traumatized them for life!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Don’t toss those pumpkin seeds! Toast or roast pumpkin seeds in your oven in no time at all. They can be salted or spiced to suit your palate. The shells are edible and are a good source of fiber. Use this method with other seeds such as acorn squash and butternut squash.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ingredients:
Pumpkin seeds
Cooking spray, olive oil, or butter
Optional: Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, or other seasoning of choice
Preparation:

Rinse pumpkin seeds. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp. Drain pumpkin seeds and discard pulp. Spread out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.pumpkin seeds in olive oil, butter, or spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat.pumpkin seeds before eating. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months or refrigerate up to 1 year.pumpkin seeds extra-salty, soak overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt to 2 cups of water. Dry an additional day, then proceed as above. 

Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.

Toss

Bake about 1 hour, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool

If you like your toasted

Pepper Shrimp Scampi

Pepper Shrimp Scampi Recipe

Pepper Shrimp Scampi

6 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 small sweet red pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, cubed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a largenonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the zucchini, onion, peppers and garlic until tender. Add the shrimp; cook and
stir for 2-4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in the butter, oregano and basil. Drain pasta; add to skillet and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 6 servings.  

 Nutrition Facts

  • One serving: 1-1/3 cups
  • Calories: 258
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Cholesterol: 183 mg
  • Sodium: 275 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 27 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Diabetic Exchange: 3 very lean meat, 1-1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat. 

Ribs To Die For…

I found this recipe over at The Kitchen Sink. The ribs came out awesome! I will admit that being a bit lazy, I did not make the Bourbon Glaze but I instead used a really good BBQ sauce. The key is to cooking the ribs in the pineapple juice! My youngest daughter doesn’t like BBQ sauce so we left hers plain and she ate every last piece!

Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Bon Appetit

5 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plum sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 2 1/4- to 2 1/2-pound racks baby back pork ribs
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

Whisk first 11 ingredients in small bowl.

Do ahead: Glaze can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place long sheet of heavy-duty foil on each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle rib racks on all sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 rib rack on each foil sheet. Fold up sides of each foil sheet around rib rack to form boat-like shape. Pour 1/2 cup pineapple juice over each rib rack. Fold up foil to seal packets. Bake until ribs are tender, about 2 hours.* Remove ribs from foil packets. Transfer to roasting pan; pour any juices from foil over and cool.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Cut each rib rack in half. Grill until browned, brushing frequently with glaze and turning often, about 10 minutes. Cut racks between bones into ribs.

* The original recipe calls for baking the ribs for 1 hour, but Epicurious commenters suggested 2 hours.

Baked Chicken & Mushrooms

I am going to try this recipe next week. I will be omitting the cheese from this recipe to reduce the fat and cholesterol.  

Baked Chicken and Mushrooms
From Light & Tasty
INGREDIENTS
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
1/2 cup sherry or chicken broth
3 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
DIRECTIONS    
     Arrange chicken in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 15 minutes.
    Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, saute mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes. Add the sherry or broth, green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Pour over chicken. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until chicken juices run clear. Top with cheese. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. 
Yield: 6 servings.
Nutrition Facts
One serving: (1 chicken breast half)
Calories: 198
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 79 mg
Sodium: 361 mg
Carbohydrate: 3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 31 g
Diabetic Exch: 4 lean meat.  

Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes

I love this recipe, it’s a family favorite! If you have any leftover chicken it is great on a salad the next day.

Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes Recipe

 

8 plum tomatoes, divided
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)

Cut four tomatoes into quarters and place in a food processor. Add the vinegar, basil, oil, garlic and salt; cover and process until blended. Pour 1/2 cup dressing into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving. Pour remaining dressing into a large resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Cut remaining tomatoes in half; grill for 2-3 minutes on each side or until tender. Serve with chicken and reserved dressing.

Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts

  • One serving: 1 chicken breast half with 1 tomato and 2 tablespoons dressing
  • Calories: 174
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 63 mg
  • Sodium: 179 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 7 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Diabetic Exchange: 3 very lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

Kielbasa & Cabbage Soup

Kielbasa and Cabbage Soup

1 Tbs (15 ml) vegetable oil
1/2 lb (225 g) kielbasa or other smoked, cooked sausage, diced
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups (1.5 L) beef or chicken stock
1 Tbs (15 ml) red wine vinegar
1/2 medium cabbage, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 Tbs (45 ml) finely chopped fresh dill
1 bay (laurel) leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over moderate heat and saute the kielbasa until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Baked Tilapia

Baked Tilapia

Go easy on the capers, they can over power the fish if you use too many.

4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Place tilapia in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt; pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with capers, oregano and paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Yield: 4 servings.

Makeover Swiss Chicken Supreme

Makeover Swiss Chicken Supreme

This is a great recipe that does not dry the chicken out!! To make this recipe even lighter I omit the Swiss cheese and the sour cream. I also use spray butter instead of the melted butter. I use cream of mushroom soup instead of the cream of chicken soup. We have tried cream of celery soup as well which works pretty good. Just depends on your taste buds.
 

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 slices (3/4 ounce each) reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup crushed reduced-fat butter-flavored crackers (about 8 crackers)
1 teaspoon butter, melted.

Place the chicken in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Sprinkle with minced onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Top each with a slice of
cheese. In a small bowl, combine the soup, sour cream and milk; pour over chicken.
Toss the cracker crumbs and butter; sprinkle over chicken.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until chicken juices run clear and crumbs are golden.Yield: 4 servings.