Monday, January 23, 2017

Muffaletta Pasta Salad

The other night I fixed Classic Greek Chicken and wanted a cool pasta salad to go with it. Greek, in my opinion means olives must be in the mix. Muffaletta comes from the olive salad you find slathered on a yummy New Orleans classic muffaletta sandwich. I dug around the pantry and threw this together. The next time I fix this, you will see hard salami and deli bologna chopped up. This one is a work in progress as I'm thinking Feta cheese crumbles would have been awesome too.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups dry pasta (cook per directions and drain)
1-2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jar Muffaletta salad (olive salad)
Shaved Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl mix the pasta, onions and tomatoes. Strain the olive salad mixture and reserve all of the olive oil. Pour 2/3 of the reserved olive oil in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. The brand of olive salad I used was salty enough so I just added the pepper. Place in refrigerator for an hour or so before serving. If too dry, stir in reserved olive oil until it's to your liking. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pressure Cooker 🍝 Meatballs and Pasta 🍝

Have you heard me mention a few times how much I love, love, love my pressure cooker? Seriously, I can't wait to test a few more dishes and post them for you. There is nothing like coming home, dumping a few ingredients in a pot, taking 10-15 minutes for the pot to get to the correct pressure and having this dish cooked in 8 minutes. Yes, with frozen meatballs and uncooked pasta. And delicious? Flavor infused is no exaggeration. Pressure cooker pulled chicken on hoecakes and shredded taco chicken wrapped up in a tortilla are super quick and very, very tasty using this device. Should I mention cooking two whole partially frozen chickens in around 38 minutes with the meat falling off the bone again? I'm not one to buy every gadget out there (I just don't have the space nor like to spend the money) but this one was worth every penny.

This dish makes more than enough to feed a family. It's way too much for just two. Eventually I'll scale it back but I have enjoyed the leftovers at work!
Dump one bag (26 oz--1.5 lbs). of frozen Italian meatballs in the pressure cooker.
Dump 1 lb. of uncooked rigatoni pasta over the meatballs.
Pour one 45 oz. jar of your favorite Italian spaghetti sauce on top.
Fill the jar with water and fill just up to the line in the pot.
Turn the lid into position to lock it.
Close the valve.
Push the cook button and set the timer to 8 minutes. The zeros on the left will turn as the pressure is building. Once it's at the correct pressure, it'll start counting down.
When it counts down to zero and beeps, bump the switch to release.
A lot of steam will be released so be super careful you do not get a steam burn!!
The cooker will automatically go  to KEEP WARM mode.
Once the steam is released, you will be able to move the lid to the unlock position. Carefully open the lid away from your face!! The contents will be hot and you don't want to burn yourself!
It smells heavenly!! Using a big spoon, stir the contents of the pot.
Top with some Mozzarella and shaved or shredded Pamesan cheeses. Put the lid back on and lock it.
Give it time to let the cheeses melt. Serve with garlic toast and dig in!! Remember this will be HOT!

INGREDIENTS:
1-1/2 lbs. frozen meatballs
1 lb. pasta
45 oz. jar Italian spaghetti sauce
Mozarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
Garlic bread

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hamburger Soup aka Vegetable Beef Soup

Mr. Grisham reeled me in with this soup YEARS ago. When he uses my homegrown, canned tomatoes to make it, there's nothing better. It falls into the "hurt yourself from eating so much" category. In my opinion, this doesn't need anything else but eating, but Andy likes to make peanut butter or homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches to eat with it. At times I will bake up some cornbread, but the flavor is so rich I don't want anything taking away from the flavor.

As you see in the picture below, it should be thick enough that your spoon stands up in the pot. So there is your goal! If you can fix it the night before you're going to eat it...even better! This is a one pot dish so clean-up is super easy.

INGREDIENTS and DIRECTIONS:
1 lbs. ground beef
1 large sweet onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.
Saute beef and onions in the pot. Season. When meat is browned and onions are tender add the following ingredients and let simmer.

2 cans whole kernal corn, drained
1 cans green beans, drained
1 cans carrots, drained
1 cans baby peas, drained
1 jar (or can) of homegrown canned tomatoes (or store-bought)
1 can black-eyed peas, drained
1 can small lima beans, drained
1 can sliced potatoes, drained and diced smaller
1/2 of a 46 oz bottle of tomato juice
1 can tomato paste to thicken (if needed)



Saturday, January 7, 2017

Chicken, Mushroom and Artichoke Casserole

It's hard to believe five years has passed since I started the "Man, That Stuff is Good!" blog. When I scroll through the folders on my computer, I'm even more overwhelmed by how many recipes I haven't gotten around to posting. To say I've been in a transistional state for the past four years has been an understatement. It seems I woke up one day and my zing, energy, gusto, etc. flew out the door. In hindsight I realize how excessive stress can and will destroy your health. Add to that, as my husband tells me, "you do too much for everyone." He has accused me of putting other peoples needs (personal and work) in front of my own and worrying about the consequences of other's peoples actions and trying to fix it for them. Guilty as charged. I've been working on changing that to a positive. It's hard to say No when you are a people pleaser at heart. The last six months I quit doing so much for people who did so little for me. All I can say is I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner.

My last doctor appointment showed that my TSH jumped in one year from 3.78 to 4.958 with 5 being the magic number that a traditional doctor will begin treating you for hypothyroidism. To me, that was like saying, "OK. I realize you stay fatigued, have brain fog, your skin is dry, hair is falling out, nails are breaking, face is puffy, you can't lose weight, muscles and joints ache and you can't sleep. However, we're gonna wait and check your blood again in a few months. Then, if you push five and over, we'll see about prescribing a synthetic hormone." After thinking about it a week, I opted to check into a holistic option. If it works, the proof will be in the next blood test. I will say, two weeks in and my energy has improved and I seem to be sleeping better. And the cause of that stress? Let's just say the sooner you get rid of it, the sooner your health can begin to improve.

Time to get off the soap box. I believe in the motto "Life is Good" and try to embrace that everyday!

Here is a simple casserole filled with two of my favorites: artichokes and mushrooms. The pictures show my old counter tops so it's been a while since I fixed it. I have my scratch pad sheet with my hand-written notes of what I put in the casserole dish. I don't know if I was making this with stuff in the fridge or what. I'm really surprised I don't have spinach in this dish. The next time I do it, it will.
 

INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (stewed and shredded)
16 oz. sliced, fresh Portabella mushrooms
2-3 cans quartered artichokes, drained (I used 3 cans, but I love artichokes)
Olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic salt to taste
1 tablespoon capers
5 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large casserole dish, layer artichokes and mushrooms.
Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Season to taste.
 Add chicken to casserole. Pour broth and lemon juice over meat and veggies.
Drizzle olive oil over the top.
Spread capers over all. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
 Bake until mushrooms are cooked and Parmesan cheese is melted.
Serve with steamed brocolli and carrots for a delicious, healthy meal.

Friday, January 6, 2017

🎉 5 YEARS 🎉 AND COUNTING!

It's hard to believe five years has "rolled" by. Man, That Stuff is Good has been a great online recipe book for Andy and myself. My hope is that you are able to use it the same way. With over 500 posts and counting, there is no reason to be stuck deciding what to fix for dinner.

It is snowing in Pulaski, Tennessee today, which isn't saying much, but schools, work and a good portion of the town has shut down. I was supposed to be on WKSR radio with Mr. Ed this morning to talk about what's going on this month at the Giles County Public Library but that has been rescheduled for Monday. I'm looking at big fluffy snowflakes falling while trying to make this a productive day.

For the most part, I don't know who checks in to read this blog unless you reach out to me personally. I do want to share a few analytics with you because when I do randomly look at demographics; what I see is very encouraging! Over one-third of my followers fall in the age 25-34 age group and with almost another one-third in the 18-24 range. Wow!! I find that very amazing and makes my heart beat loud and proud!!

One of my goals was to help beginning cooks learn to prepare easy to fix meals that taste good and don't break the bank!!

54% of people who visit are males. As the Mother of two boys and a husband who cooks as much or more than I do...super cool! My first cookbook was a guide for my boys when they moved out of the house for college.

This demographic at may explain why Homemade Venison Summer Sausage is ranking as most popular post this month. It is that time of year after all!

I was absolutely astounded to see that the Pickled Eggs, Summer Sausage and Wine-making links were among the most visited posts. That led me to believe the Redneck Food and Fun would be the hottest index page, but no, it was the Main Courses Page that was the most accessed.

So the young ladies were searching for daily dinner foods and the guys, being the "gatherers" were preparing the above ??? Maybe? Either way, I appreciate your visits and I love the comments. The most interesting one being the person who emailed me pictures of their wine-making experience. Specifically how they substituted the air-lock system with something that had similar properties to a balloon and that device going limp and then brought back to life. (Trying to keep this family friendly, so use your imagination) All I can say is necessity is the mother of invention. I'm not sure who that quoted should be attributed to, but it definitely applied here.

I look forward to the next milestone!



Monday, January 2, 2017

🐸 Bullfrog 🐸 Cocktails

I don't know about y'all, but there is something about near 70 degree weather on the second day of the new year that gets me thinking about summer. Once I get to thinking about summer or warm weather, I start thinking about the river. Now that I'm on that path, I think about enjoying an ice cold toddy on the dock watching the boats go by. The drink I'm going to talk about earned my son Dale the nickname "Cricket". Someone (not me, or was it?) got the bright idea to mix up some Bullfrog since everyone was coming down for the weekend and nobody would be driving home. We enjoyed brutal rounds of UNO, lots of laughing and cutting up and numerous bottles of Bullfrog as the sun started to set. About once a year someone asks me how to mix them up. Every year I swear it's on the blog and it isn't. Now it is. This one is about as easy as it gets and cheap.

I grew up drinking Kool-Aid as a kid. You got that or milk. I really don't remember drinking soft drinks until we moved to the South. I'm always surprised when summer rolls around, the flavor options at our WMart get pretty slim on the pickings. If you want to keep it green, like a frog, go with lemon-lime or the "invisible". Good luck finding that one. Kiwi-lime is good and so is strawberry-kiwi. There is such a thing as a Pink Red Eye Tree Frog, so there you go! However, after mixing a few two liters of the strawberry-kiwi, someone started chirping like a cricket.
INGREDIENTS:
2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew (or diet)
2 packs of lemon-lime Kool-Aid
Vodka

Read the directions before you pour anything out!

Pour out enough Mountain Dew so that the bottle is full to the top of the label. Fill the bottle back up with vodka so it is again full as pictured. Add the two packs of Kool-Aid. Gently roll the bottle back and forth, side to side, to mix.

Remember, if you shake it up like you're mixing a martini, you'll be wearing it. Along with your floor, cabinets, etc. Carefully open it to serve.

Go ahead and mix a few bottles up as people tend to knock out the first one rather quickly.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

🎊 Happy New Year 2017! 🎉

Here's the key to a successful year! Happy New Year!! May everything you wish for come your way.
Andy and I wish all of you the best in 2017!
This post will help you remember why we eat each of a traditional Southern New Year's Dinner.
2017 I have hog jowl, collard greens, (instead of turnip greens), black eyed peas and cornbread (instead of hoe cakes) on the menu.

REPOST FROM 2015


If you live in the South, you know come New Year's Day you better have a pot of black-eyed peas, hog jowl, turnip greens or cabbage and corn bread. Otherwise, you are staring the new year down and asking for bad luck, no blessings and a lack of money to come your way. The hog jowl comes from the cheek of the pig. It's pretty fatty and the rind is tough as nails. I personally cut that off, but Andy leaves it on when he's fixing it. The taste is very similar to bacon, but just short of as good.

One of our vendors gifted all of us with a bag of dried black-eyed peas and a chunk of hog jowl to cook in the peas. I can guarantee that I will be cooking that up for all who come to eat with us on Wednesday. Mike shared that his understanding of the tradition dates back to the civil war. He said the South was so poor that the only things they had to sustain themselves through the hard times were dried peas and the scraps off the pig.

There's an old belief that the bigger the pig you eat on New Year's Day, the fatter your wallet will be. Who am I to tempt fate? In the poor South, it was believed that a pig represented health and wealth. One pig could sustain a family through the hard winter months. Another fact is that a pig cannot turn his head around without turning his whole body around...so the pig is forward looking, possibly looking forward to a prosperous year.

During the war, black-eyed peas were considered animal food and not worthy of the Union troops. Therefore there was plenty of it. It is said that eating such a humble food on New Year's day will lead to being blessed.

The cabbage, collards or turnip greens represent your "green or folding money." It is said each bite of greens represents $1000 towards the upcoming year. Again, who am I to tempt fate?

Cornbread represents your pocket money because of the gold color of the bread.

About a week before the New Year, Andy hits the store and starts buying up several pounds of hog jowl. We always have it for breakfast at least once before the big day. We limit it because we know our blood pressure probably shoots sky high.

Hog jowl will curl up like crazy in the pan. Make little slits all down the "rind" side to make it easier to fry. I like to trim off the rind as there is no way to chew that up.
Fry up just like you would prepare bacon. I like to cook this on a medium-low temperature. Just look at the fat content and you can imagine how much grease is created. I also believe the grease from hog jowl is hotter and pops more than bacon. Fact or fiction? I don't know, just don't get "popped!"
Turn until both sides are cooked well. I like mine to be a little on the browner side. If the fat is undercooked, it's just too rubbery for me to eat. Let the hog jowl drain well on a paper towel lined plate.

This batch was served up with biscuits, fried eggs and molasses. On New Year's Day, we will be serving it with black-eyed peas, cabbage and cornbread.