Saturday, March 31, 2012

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

The other night Andy and I had our evening planned to work in the garden, so Blair was head chef for the night. She decided on King Ranch Chicken Casserole with a salad on the side. It was quick, easy and very delicious. She used her recipe which included (small flour) tortilla shells. The version I've used for over 20 years calls for tortilla chips. Either way, you can't go wrong.

  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can green chilies, chopped
  • 1 pack tortilla shells (or tortilla chips)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 pack boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs stewed and shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix soups, broth, tomatoes and chilies until well blended. (I like to add a pack of taco seasoning to this mixture for even more flavor!) Stir in chopped onion and shredded chicken.

Spray the bottom and sides of a large casserole dish. Layer half of: the tortillas, chicken and soup mixture and cheese. Repeat a second layer.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Easy Biscuits

I like to fix these mini biscuits to eat along with fried tenderloin, country ham end slices or sausage. They're the perfect size for brunches or other occasions when you need finger foods. It is a little messy to make them, but they're so cute, light and tasty, they're worth it!

In a medium bowl sift:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

Make a little well in the flour

  • Add 1/3 cup Crisco
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk 

Mix all ingredients with your hands until well blended. 
Dust your counter with flour. Knead mixture several times.
Pat out dough to about 1/2" thick.

With the small side of your biscuit cutter (2" across), cut out biscuits.

Grease a baking pan and space biscuits out a little.
Bake in a 450 degree preheated oven. Check the bottoms after 10 minutes. If they are sufficiently browned, remove from oven. Do not over bake.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

When the weather is like it has been the past few weeks, I'm literally pulled to the outdoors. Working in an office with no windows to the outside world makes for a long day. The minute I walk out the front door, I can't wait to get home and have some time outside with Andy. Whether it's fooling with the garden or trimming shrubs...I don't care...I'm loving some fresh air!

As the days get nicer, I like fixing food that is quick, easy or can be working for me while I'm working. Between browsing Pinterest, emails and general comments between friends about food, Crock Pot French dip Philly cheese steak sandwiches have been the rave. A couple of weeks ago, I zero'd in on one emailed from the Just A Pinch Recipe Club and I thought I'd give it a try when Momma came over last night. I was a little disappointed that the recipe had absolutely no measurements for the spices. It would have helped to have a starting point so I could decide which way to go. I also don't keep Emeril's Essentials on hand and since there wasn't a measurement, I let it go. I thought it turned out very well. Momma loved it. Andy loved it. They both literally ate twice what they normally would there you go!

Before I left for work, I started a nice beef roast in the crock pot. 
I added: 
  • 1-16 oz. beer
  • 96 oz. beef broth 
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup
This cooked on low from 6 am until 5 pm when I came home.

Remove the beef from the stock (au jus) and let it cool off.

Slice 1-2 sweet onions. In a medium skillet, at 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 pat of butter and onions. Season with a little salt, pepper and sugar. Cook until they just start to soften a little.

Add one sliced colored pepper to the onions and saute until they slightly carmelize. 

Shred beef with a fork.

WMart has these light as air 6 count packs of wheat bolillios that are perfect to build your sandwich with. Since the bread isn't super dense, you actually get to enjoy tasting what you eat instead of just bread.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Split the rolls. Layer beef on one side and onions and peppers on the other. Top the meat with Swiss cheese. Place in oven until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasted.

Serve up au jus in individual dipping bowls to soak your sandwich with.

Source: Just A Pinch Recipe Club

Monday, March 26, 2012

First Signs of Life

But if each man could have his own house, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings - then, I thought, there will be for them a better opportunity of a happy family life.

George Cadbury

First asparagus!  Last year we watched it grow, fern out and seed. This year we may have enough to eat.

Planting potatoes. Can't wait until summer arrives and we have our first shrimp boil!

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.
Alfred Austin

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baked Onion

Last night we decided on eating hamburger steaks, baked potatoes and a salad on the side. When I was getting my potatoes out, I noticed the onions, so I swapped the salad for a baked onion. The first time I ate one was probably 35 years ago. They were a specialty of my best friends Paula and Sheila's Daddy, Otis. He'd fix steak, baked potatoes which we would smother in "that stuff" (which was actually home-made Ranch dressing, but they were doing it way before anyone I ever heard of doing it) and baked onions. Dot would fix a lettuce and tomato salad that I always loved. I never was sure what she used to dress it with, but I loved it. I'll have to ask her the next time I talk to her. It was white, so it was probably mayonnaise and salt and pepper, but whatever it was, it was so good!

My first choice for onions is to use Vidalia. We can't get them here yet, but I'm counting the days! If you can't get the best, be sure you get a SWEET onion. I'm not saying a plain old white or yellow can't be used, I'm saying there is a difference period. From when you smell them baking to your first bite; you will think you are in heaven! The combination of sweet onion, that little bit of carmelization and the melted butter....mmm, mmm, mmm!

Quarter your onions, but don't cut all the way through. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Top with two pats of unsalted butter and season with salt & pepper.

Bring up the sides of the aluminum foil and twist at the top. Be sure it's sealed well so the juices don't run out. Place on a baking sheet with the potatoes you will be baking.

In a preheated 425 degree oven, bake for 1 hour*.

The idea is for the onion to be tender but not mush. Check after 30 minutes or when you can smell the onion. As always, the size of the onion may cause the baking time to vary.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Sometimes we're in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs but I don't have time to fix the meatballs homemade. When that happens, I just put together a simple meat sauce that takes a fraction of the time and tastes just as good. I can only imagine you're sitting there thinking..."why not frozen meatballs and a can of already made sauce?" Well, once you find the right combination of spices you'll swear it's just as easy to fix homemade plus it tastes better! There is a bottle of pasta and pizza Sicilian style seasoning in my cabinet that is my go-to Italian blend. It's in a grinder bottle, so it smells heavenly when I'm seasoning my sauce. Every bite gives you a hint of multiple spices you just can't get out of a can of store-bought sauce.

Technically I should call this a meat and veggie sauce. Ya'll know how I go on about vacuum sealing veggies and meats. Well, remember those beautiful red and yellow peppers we bought a bunch of? You know they're getting chopped up and thrown in the sauce! 

  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce (use tomato paste if you want a thick sauce!)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown hamburger meat and onions together in a large, deep skillet. Season with salt and pepper. After draining excess grease, add garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and sauce and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Before serving, add grated Parmesan cheese and stir in well. 

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice with garlic bread.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cowboy Beans

  • 2 big cans of pork and beans
  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • 1 small onion, finely, diced
  • 1 can of Manwich Sloppy Joe mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, add hamburger meat and diced onions. Cook until the meat is browned. Drain any excess grease. 

In a 9x13 casserole dish (aluminum pan if you don't want to have to scrub this off anything you keep!) mix beans and sloppy joe mix. 

Bake until bubbly. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beer Bread

It doesn't get any easier than this! Well, with the exception of greasing up your bread pan. Put down the spray can and break out the Crisco and flour and do this pan up right so your bread pops out nicely.

  • 3 c self rising flour
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 – 12 oz. can of beer

Mix flour and sugar. Add beer and stir well. Pour into a greased and floured pan (loaf). Melt about ½ stick butter. Pour over loaf before baking. 

Bake in oven 375 degrees for one hour.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pistachio Nut Cake

St. Patrick's Day was this past Saturday and I was feeling something different and green for dessert to celebrate. Andy and I both love to munch on pistachios and I thought a Pistachio Nut Cake would be perfect! I tried to use "light" or sugar free when available and it still turned out really good. Andy told me next to a Pina Colada cake, this was his favorite. It's not rich, but it is moist and since you keep it refrigerated; it's perfect after a hot day.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 small boxes pistachio instant pudding
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 8 oz. whipped topping (use the 12 oz. container if you like a thick layer of icing)

Shell 1/2 cup pistachios.

Chop pistachios. 

In a large mixing bowl, blend cake mix and 1 box of the instant pudding.

Stir in eggs, vegetable oil and club soda (which will foam up). Mix in chopped pistachios. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Evenly pour batter in pan.

In a 350 degree preheated oven, bake the cake until it springs back when you touch it. (My oven took 50 minutes.) Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before you remove it!

Move cake to wire rack to cool.

Let it cool completely. 

The cake needs to be sliced in 2 layers. I placed toothpicks every 3 or so inches, as evenly as possible, for a guide to cut by.

With a long serrated knife, I cut the cake in half, turning the rack as needed until I cut it completely through.
What better way to serve a St. Patrick's Day cake than on a pretty green cake plate?

I placed the bottom on the cake plate and the top on the wire rack. It was still slightly warm in the center, so I let it cool a little more.

In a medium bowl, fold the second box of pistachio pudding mix into the whipped topping. Spread a layer of icing on the bottom half of the cake.

Place the top layer of the cake on top of the icing. If your cake was cut slightly uneven, be sure to reline it up as close as possible.

Cover the rest of the cake with the whipped topping icing. Keep refrigerated.