Friday, June 29, 2012

Squash Fritters

Everyone I talk to is struggling to find a variety of ways to prepare the bounty of squash and zucchini being picked daily. Squash fritters are a great "bread" to be served with your meal. and could be prepared with either one.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fried Salmon Patties

I will have to admit...I'm not a huge fan of salmon patties. However, if Blair gobbles them up, there must be something wrong with me!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dreamy Coconut Pie

Coconut pies aren't just for holidays anymore! On a hot, humid day, if I can't have my Mother's lemon meringue pie; this coconut pie is a perfect substitute. That's because one of my favorite dessert ingredients is coconut. From coconut macaroons to eating it raw, I'll take it however I can get it. Don't put an open can of Coco Lopez in front of me...that's just as bad as a can of Eagle Brand sweet condensed milk...you  know  I'm drinking tasting it! And don't get me started on a Strawberry Nise (only the second perfect girlie adult beverage on a hot day). Or a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree "Pain Killer"! More on that later...we are discussing dessert, not adult beverages!

Be sure to STAND BY THE OVEN when you "brown" the meringue. It's really easy to end up with black tips!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 egg yokes
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3 tbs self rising flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 large pie shell
Combine flour and sugar. Add to beaten egg yokes. Bring milk to a boil and stir in egg mixture, butter and coconut. Blend well and cook until slightly thickened. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Top with meringue and coconut.

MERINGUE:

  • 3 egg whites beaten stiff
  • 6 tbs sugar
  • Beat egg whites while gradually adding sugar. 
  • Bake at 350 until golden brown.

IMPORTANT MERINGUE TIPS:
  1. Cool meringue at room temp. If you try to rush it by cooling it in the refrigerator, it will cause drops of water to form on the top. 
  2. You'll get better volume if you use eggs that are room temperature.
  3. The pie must be totally cooled before meringue is applied.
  4. Stiff peaks are what you look for. If you overbeat, the meringue may become dry.
  5. To keep the meringue from shrinking; spread it so that it touches the edge of the crust.




Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baked Stuffed Zucchini


Middle Tennessee is suffering from a severe lack of rain this summer. If we don't get some relief pretty soon, our beautiful garden will be in terrible shape. One of the water districts have requested water conservation before restrictions are put in place. All I can say is zucchini plants must have roots that go to China. Lack of water has not stopped these plants from producing. It is one vegetable that can be the size of a cigar one day and the length of your arm the next.

My Aunt Kay was telling me about how my cousins loved it when Grandma Albert fixed them baked zucchini. Why hadn't I thought of that before? This is the perfect way to use this quickly overgrown vegetable. Basically you will mix up an "Italian sausage meatloaf" and add whatever goodies to the mix to make it even better! Grandma poured tomato sauce over the zucchini but I opted to use two jars of canned crushed Roma tomatoes from the pantry.

Lay the zucchini on the counter to figure out which way to cut it in half so that it will lay flat. With a heavy duty serving spoon, scoop out all the seeds so that all you have left is the firm flesh.

Lay the zucchini on a baking sheet. (Salt and pepper to taste) I try to make this a little on the healthy side and leave out the additional salt, but Andy thinks the zucchini is too bland if you don't add additional seasonings.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl mix well:
  • 5 mild Italian sausages (casing removed)
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup colored peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
Stuff into the zucchini "boats"


Cover with your choice of sauce or two cans of crushed tomatoes. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for one hour.

Top each zucchini with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is nicely browned and melted, about 20 minutes.


If the zucchini is not tender enough, cover with aluminum foil so the cheese doesn't burn. The flesh of baked zucchini a lot firmer. Spoon extra tomato sauce over the top and serve with garlic bread.





Monday, June 25, 2012

Strawberry Nise

I'm so lucky to  have a husband who doesn't mind grocery shopping. As long as what I need is on the list, he takes care of it. We were getting ready for a weekend at the river and I wanted to carry some Orange Pineapple Sunny-D to mix with a little whipped cream Vodka. (I thought this would be a nice alternative to my Whipped Cream Vodka Creamsicle.) Well, orange pineapple was not available so he brought home a bottle of Orange Fused Strawberry flavored Sunny-D as a substitute. A new girlie weekend concoction was born!


In a blender mix:
  • 2 ozs. Burnett's Coconut Vodka
  • 6 oz. Orange Fused Strawberry Sunny-D 
  • Enough ice to make it slushy
  • Whipped cream (optional)
If you get tired of mixing or don't have a blender, it's just as good on the rocks!

Just Another Day in Paradise

We've had a CRAZY busy work week and weekend. Andy and I have been on the road every single night and have one more before we can get settled in. We have a great project going on river side!! When we returned from the river last night, I used some HUGE zucchini which I would normally toss, to make baked zucchini. My Grandmother Albert made this and it's super healthy and yummy! Hopefully I will have pics uploaded and posted by tomorrow. The pictures below show all the beautiful wildlife and sunsets we enjoy on the Elk River. We all need a way to recharge our batteries for this hectic thing we call life. Thank you for following me!!!



Momma Goose and her sweet babies.


One of the several mountain goats who has been navigating some of the steepest bluffs I've ever seen!




Mr. Raccoon's paw print on our outdoor fridge. Luckily he hasn't figured out how to open it yet. We see all kinds of evidence he's been around but not up close and personal. Friends who stayed there previously say he's huge!


This turtle heard we served up some pretty good food and was waiting
to be fed Sunday morning! 
He loved the fresh tomato from the garden
and made his way under the 
camper for a cool shady spot.




Momma's babies have grown so much in the past few weeks! They're no longer downy. 

Sunset...Beautiful Beyond Description!










A few of the 900+ pelicans who made their home on the Elk River this past winter and spring.




Friday, June 22, 2012

Grits and Spinach Casserole


If there is one dish you've just got try...it's this one! Please, please, and double pretty please?  My sweetheart is just not crazy about grits (or so he says, yet he does like my Easy Scrambled Breakfast To Go!) However, he ate almost half the casserole dish before we sat down to eat (I have to admit, I did help a little!) I promise you, it's that good! Andy's overall comment was the smooth texture of the grits reminded him of mashed potatoes with some really good stuff thrown in. I use Quaker or Aunt Jemina  Quick 5 Minute Grits. NOT THE INSTANT! I can vouch for their nice texture. There's a lot of busy work in fixing this, but it's still really easy. The original recipe would have fixed an excessive amount for our family, so I halved the ingredients (and changed a few prep steps).

Don't let the spinach scare you off! I went to the garden to use home-grown spinach and couldn't get enough to fix it and had to make a grocery run for store-bought. Next year I will have a HUGE patch growing. I just couldn't see cooking the spinach in chicken broth and then squeezing the liquid out when...you know it...I had some hot bacon grease screaming for me to WILT that spinach in! How can you go wrong with anything that has a hint of bacon in it??

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 pieces of bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups of Quick 5 Minute Grits
  • 5 oz. container of baby spinach
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Colby and Monterey Jack cheese (plus a little extra to top with)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I use water and 3 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillion 
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large skillet cook your bacon. When done, drain almost all the grease into a glass dish to cool (and add to your bacon grease stash!)
  3. Crumble bacon and set aside. 
  4. Saute onion until it is carmelized. Add spinach by the handfuls and wilt. Once the whole package is wilted, set off heat.
  5. In a large pot combine half and half and 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stir in grits, bring back to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Stir, stir, stir! You can not walk away from grits!! They must be babied! Cook approximately 10-15 minutes. You want normal grits consistency. 
  6. Add butter, cheeses, and salt and pepper to grits. When butter is melted, stir in onions and spinach.
  7. Spray an 8x11 casserole dish. Top with crumbled bacon and a little extra cheese.
  8. Bake in oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.




Adapted from: Just A Pinch Recipe Club

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pork Shish Kabobs

Here's a great way to use up some of the squash and zucchini you may have coming in by the bushel-full. What I love about fixing Shish Kabobs is there is no right or wrong way to do them. Once peppers and tomatoes are ready to pick...they're on there! Meats? Alternate with chicken and beef and it's not the same old same old. Seasoning? Whatever moves you! We pretty much stick with Lawry's Garlic Salt with parsley and spraying them down in Good on Anything Sauce (or Dale's). With chicken, you can't go wrong with lemon-pepper.

Cut your meats and veggies so that they're a fairly consistent size.  Skewer your meats and veggies.

Place on a medium grill.

Spray down with your choice of seasoning sauce.

Sprinkle a little seasoning salt on top.

Turn and season side two. Cover and let cook for a few minutes. Turn frequently until meat is cooked and vegetables are the consistency you like.



How To Get Rid Of Gnats!

Gotcha!
The gnats are terrible this year! They are driving us crazy at work and I noticed a few flying around the house this weekend. We don't leave food or vegetables laying around, so I don't know what is drawing them. Here's a simple way to get rid of the annoying pests. 

In a jelly jar pour:
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon Dawn dish detergent

Cover with a small piece of aluminum foil. Place a ring or rubber band around the top to secure. Poke several holes in the top.


Nasty! Four or five gnats joined the party in no time!


We tried plastic wrap on top and the whole time it was on there, we never saw any gnats. For some reason, they are very attracted to the shiny foil.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Denise's Scrambled Breakfast to Go

My favorite meal of the day has to be breakfast...on the weekends. :-) I'm one of those people who have to be up and moving and have a few cups of coffee down before I can even think about eating.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

These Potatoes Are The Bomb!

Where's the bacon? After I began chowing down on this potato,
I realized I forgot to photograph it with the crumbled bacon!
 
Guy Fieri has mine and Andy's dream job....going around the country tasting every variety of food there is in hole in the wall dives. They may not be pretty, but the food tastes good! We have a couple of his books on the shelf but my favorite is the "Guy Fieri Food, Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It."  I have so many pages marked with sticky notes for recipes we will be fixing in very near future it's ridiculous! 
Guy's "The Bomb Bakers" was high on the list and got quickly moved to the top when Blair came in with some baking potatoes about the size of footballs. For a day or so we discussed how many hours it would take to bake these; they were so huge! The other night we were dealing with canning green beans, so I figured this would be the perfect night to fix them. 

These potatoes carry a safety warning!!!! Do not poke them with a knife, toothpick  or fork!! According to Guy, the internal steam can cause them to blow! 

That morning I got up and mixed one cup of Kosher salt in water and stirred the water until the salt dissolved. I added my potatoes and made sure they were covered. These soaked in the brine all day.  When I got home, I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees. I took them out and dried them with a paper towel and set them to the side.

On a paper plate, mix:
  •  1/4 cup Kosher salt 
2 tablespoons each: 
  • Lawry's garlic salt with parsley 
  • Lawry's seasoned salt 
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper. 
Rub your potatoes down in canola oil and roll in the seasonings.

Place them on a baking rack and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. (6 medium russet potatoes) These monsters took one hour ten minutes. If you can't poke them, how do you know they will be done? They'll be soft to the touch. Let them rest at least 5 minutes before you cut into them!

All I can say, is these were the best baked potatoes I've ever eaten in my life! We topped them with butter, sour cream, broccoli, shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.