Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lots of pork
--Old South Pulled Pork on a Bun

Old South Pulled Pork on a Bun
The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes Copyright 2001

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1 cup tomato-based chili sauce
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke I used smoked paprika
1 boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, about 3 pounds
Kaiser or onion buns, halved and warmed

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic, chili powder, and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
2. Place pork in slow cooker stoneware and pour sauce over. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 to 12 hours or on HIGH for 6 hours, until pork is falling apart.
3. Transfer pork to a cutting board and pull the meat apart in shreds, using two forks. Return to sauce and keep warm. When ready to serve, spoon shredded pork and sauce over warm buns.

Serves 6 to 8.

I got a good deal on a big hunk of pork for about $5. I made enough pork for 3-4 meals with this recipe. We had this on buns and then a couple of weeks later I mixed the pork with cheese, added some ground chipotle chili and made pork quesadillas using multi-grain tortillas. I still have more in the freezer.

It was good but the sauce wasn't that thick, maybe because I had a larger piece of pork than the recipe called for. Often a recipe for pulled pork will call for adding more sauce after the pork is cooked and I might prefer it that way.

Blast From The Past: Barbecued-Pork Burritos with Chopped Salad from March 2006. I could use the rest of the pork in that recipe.

No Question of the Day. I have a headache and can't think of one. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More fun with hot dogs
--Frank-ly Fabulous Spaghetti

Frank-ly Fabulous Spaghetti
Best Recipes From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, 1982

1 lb. frankfurters, cut into 1-inch slices
½ cup chopped onion
¾ cup diced green pepper
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
½ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. ground cumin, if desired
1/3 cup sliced stuffed olives
8 oz. Mueller’s Thin Spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook frankfurters, onion and green pepper in butter until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes; stir occasionally. Add olives; heat. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti as directed on package; drain. Serve frankfurter sauce over spaghetti; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4-5 servings.

I still had one package of hot dogs left from August in my freezer so that was the inspiration for this. I really liked this but it was salty. I'd suggest using no-salt tomato sauce. You can control the fat by using lite hot dogs and you can even use smoked turkey sausage in this. You want something 'smokey'. Some hot dogs can be bland. I used Hebrew National frankfurters which have a lot of flavor.

I would definitely make this again. This only took a few minutes to put together and it was inexpensive too. Although I used Dreamfields pasta which is quite a bit more expensive than regular spaghetti but it's better for you.

Blast From The Past: Hawaiian Franks from last month. I thought I was going to make that recipe again but it was a bit too soon. It's delicious but it has so much sugar.

Question of the Day: Do you mostly use regular pasta, whole wheat pasta, Dreamfields, etc when it comes to pasta?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Could've been prettier
---Judi’s Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Cake

Judi’s Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Cake
Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts Copyright 2004

1 ½ cups plus ½ cup sugar
5 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In small bowl, mix ½ cup sugar, cocoa and cinnamon. Spray 9x13-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. In large bowl, blend butter and cream cheese. When well blended, cream in remaining 1 ½ cups sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and blend well. Mix in flour and baking powder. When well blended, mix in chocolate chips. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pour half the batter into pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour remaining batter into pan and spread evenly over first layer. (This is a huge pain since it's a thick batter but it doesn't have to be exact.) Sprinkle entire top of batter with remaining cinnamon/sugar. Bake 45 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Yield 12 to 14 servings.

I was looking for something to make with cake mix since my MIL gave me two boxes of it recently. Instead, I came upon this recipe and I happened to have everything to make it. I was hoping to make something to take to work but I didn't feel it was up to snuff.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. It tasted all right and even my son ate a piece (he prefers frosted cakes). I didn't care for the appearance more than anything else. Perhaps I should have used more of the cinnamon/sugar mixture in the middle and less on top. I felt there was enough in the middle but way too much on top. Cocoa and cinnamon just isn't that attractive - it's looks like dirt.

When I was reviewing this recipe in my mind, I remembered seeing a picture of a similar recipe that was actually frosted. Thanks to my fabulous recall (that's getting less fabulous as I get older), I traced that picture back to Dorie. It wasn't the same recipe but something similar. This is more of a coffee cake so a chocolate-cinnamon frosting might seem a bit out of place but I think it would make this a much more attractive cake, maybe even worthy of taking to work. But then again, maybe it would be way too sweet.

I think it's been quite obvious lately that blogging is just a hobby for me. I wish I could post more unique recipes but I'm afraid my main concerns these days are cutting back on waste and shaving money off my grocery bill.

Blast From the Past: Quiche Lorraine from May 2006. I miss cooking with eggs dishes the most. I don't think my son would have a problem but until I feel he's old enough for a food challenge to test his slight egg allergy, I avoid straight eggs dishes. I could make my son something else but now that he's older, I'd rather not make something he can't have.

Question of the Day: Do you think this cake would be too sweet with frosting?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Too deer-y
--Venison Stroganoff

Venison Stroganoff
301 Venison Recipes The Ultimate Deer Hunter’s Cookbook Copyright 1992

2 pounds of venison roast
4 tablespoons of margarine
1 small can sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup I used the low-fat version
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
4 cups hot cooked noodles

Dice onion and sauté with can of drained mushrooms in 2 tablespoons margarine. Remove from pan. Slice venison into ½-inch by 2-inch strips. Add the rest of the margarine to the pan with the venison strips and brown. Remove venison from pan. To the pan add the flour, beef broth, cream of mushroom soup, Worcestershire sauce, and teriyaki sauce. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Return to the pan the onions, mushrooms and venison and let simmer for about 1 ½ hours, or until the venison is tender. Stir in the sour cream just before serving. Pour over hot noodles and stir.

Although I soaked this meat all day, usually I soak it overnight. It was still a tad bit gamey. It helped that I made this the night before we ate it. It mellowed out but I still had it in my head that it tasted too strong. My son asked for seconds and thirds and my husband liked it so I think it was more of a mental thing with me. The sauce was great. You could easily do this with beef or pork.

I was actually starting to worry that I might never go back to Costco. I know, a strange thing to worry about but as much as I enjoy it, I need to be able to justify the expense. However, after this week's grocery shopping I'm ready to hit Costco again. The grocery store circular looked so promising, with such low prices on the loss leaders in the meat department. But the pork that was on sale was so fatty that the price didn't seem too good afterall. And once again, they had cube steaks and beef cubes on sale and the cube steaks I saw weren't on sale and there were no beef cubes at all. At least I know when I go to Costco, everything is at a decent price and it's really good quality and I don't have to spend 15 minutes searching for items that are supposed to be on sale but aren't even there (and yes, I could get a raincheck but that doesn't help me when I already have a menu planned with that meat).

I noticed another price increase this week. The lunch meat I usually buy if nothing better is on sale went from $2.99 to $3.49. A 50 cent jump. A 17% increase. Yikes.

I did make an impulse buy - reduced fat pumpkin spice egg nog. It's like drinking pumpkin pie! Totally worth it.

Blast From The Past: The New York Reuben from May 2007. I've been craving a Reuben or a Rachael.

Question of the Day: Do you like egg nog?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good but too expensive
--Red Cabbage With Apples

Red Cabbage With Apples
Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook Copyright 1989

2 tart red apples, sliced I peeled them
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 medium head red cabbage, coarsely shredded (about 8 cups)
¼ cup water
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Cook and stir apples in margarine in Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until cabbage is tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

6 servings.

This was a nice side dish I served with pork. It was very mild - not to sweet, not too sour. It was something different that just a steamed veggie. I don't think it was the ultimate red cabbage recipe but it was a start.

Unfortunately I didn't go to the auction last week and I ended up having to buy two $1.69 bags of red cabbage to make this. That made it an expensive side dish.

Okay, my connection is awful so I'm going to have to make this short. Sorry.

What could be easier?
--Parisian Pork Medallions

Parisian Pork Medallions
Mr. Food Every Day’s a Holiday Diabetic Cookbook Copyright 2002

One 1-lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch thick slices
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Place the pork slices between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten to ¼-inch thickness. Season with the salt and pepper.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until browned.
3. Reduce heat to low and add the half-and-half and mustard, stirring until well combined. Serve the pork topped with the sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

I really love pork tenderloin. Cut into medallions or strips, it cooks so quickly and it's so tender. It's just as versatile as chicken. Yes, it can be a bit expensive but I stock up at Costco and the local grocery store runs a buy one get one free quite often. I do enjoy pork loin but it's not as versatile since it can be tough if not cooked just so. The tenderloin is rather forgiving.

This was just so simple and tasty. Not 'crazy good' but it sure hit the spot.

I checked this cookbook out of the library and it has plenty of good recipes in it. Mr. Food is successful for a reason - his recipes are simple and they're usually delicious. He does use some convenience products but not too many, not in this cookbook anyway.

Blast From The Past: Easy Spicy Apple Sauce Muffins from April 2006. Those muffins were good! Perfect for this time of year.

Question of the Day: Have you made anything particulary 'autumn-ish' lately?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pennies a serving
--Potatoes Lyonnaise

Potatoes Lyonnaise
Greatest Ever Potato Copyright 2002

2 lbs 12 oz potatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 onions, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley to taste

1. Slice the potatoes into ¼-inch slices. Put in a large pan of lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently for about 10-12 minutes, until just tender. Avoid boiling too rapidly or the potatoes will break up and lose their shape. When cooked, drain well.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil and butter in a very large skillet. Add the onions and garlic, if using, and fry over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened.
3. Add the cooked potato slices to the skillet and cook with the onions and garlic, carefully stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes, until the potatoes are well browned all over.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley to serve.

Serves six.

I know, you don't really need a recipe for fried potatoes but often seeing a recipe reminds me to make something I wouldn't think of off the top of my head. I wouldn't want to eat these too often but they were a nice treat. Potatoes are very good for you so this is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-day Tuesdays. This recipe uses the potato skins which contain a lot of the nutrients.

This cookbook is called the Greatest Ever Potato (I think they mean Greatest Ever Potato 'cookbook'). I'm not sure about that but there are a lot of good recipes in there. With food prices creeping up, I figured it might come in handy. Potatoes are still inexpensive. Pretty soon maybe we'll be eating potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I have been spending less on groceries but it's still more than I would like to be spending. But hey, if I spend $10 less per week that $520/year I'd be saving. I'm saving more than that. And stretching out my Costco visits will save me hundreds of dollars. There are really only a few items that I save substantial money on at Costco (honey, yeast, vanilla). And I save money buying their frozen chicken because it's easier to portion out and it contains less added solution than the grocery store version. Otherwise, I spend a lot on 'luxuries' from Costco.

Blast From The Past: Grilled Potatoes with Olive Oil and Thyme from January 2006. That's a healthier version of fried potatoes.

Question of the Day: Do you belong to Costo, Sam's Club or one of the other bulk-buying clubs?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good but still disappointing
--Cranberry Grilled Chicken

Cranberry Grilled Chicken
Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter’s Cookbook Copyright 2003

½ teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skinned
½ of a 10-ounce container frozen cranberry-orange sauce, thawed (1/2 cup)I used one off the shelf
¼ cup bottled barbecue sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
Lettuce leaves (optional)
1 medium orange, sectioned (optional)

1. In a small bowl stir together orange peel and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over chicken; rub in with your fingers. Place chicken on the grill rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 25 minutes, turning occasionally.
2. In a small saucepan stir together cranberry-orange sauce, barbecue sauce, and mustard. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove from heat. (Mixture with be thick.)
3. Brush cranberry mixture onto chicken. Grill for 10 to 20 minutes more or until tender and no longer pink (180 degrees F), turning and brushing occasionally with the cranberry mixture. Discard any remaining cranberry mixture. If desired, serve with lettuce leaves and orange.

The picture in the cookbook looked so good, I kept coming back to this recipe. However, I've never seen frozen, cranberry-orange sauce. I bought a version off the shelf (it came in a tub). I'm not sure if that was the right move. This stuff was very jelly-like and it was sort of hard to brush on the chicken.

To make matters worse, the grill died when I was making this. I'm not sure if the tank sprung a leak or what happened. After using that tank for at least a year, it registered close to full when we put the indicator on in August. Then a month later, it was empty? Very strange. I had to finish this chicken in the oven.

The flavor wasn't bad, it just didn't live up to my expectations which were pretty high. At least I finally got rid of that cranberry-orange sauce which had been sitting on a shelf in my cupboard for months. I don't know why I waited so long to make this. Maybe deep down, I knew this recipe wasn't going to work as well as I had hoped.

Oh, another factor could have been the barbecue sauce - it was a bit overpowering. There are so many different varieties - maybe I picked the wrong one.

I made this a few weeks ago and I still don't have any gas for my grill. Hunting season gets in the way of a lot of things around here. We've been having perfect grilling weather too. Autumn sneaks in here and there but it doesn't seem to want to commit.

I missed auction this week due to heavy rain and I didn't like paying grocery store prices for my produce.

Blast From The Past: Chicken with Vegetable Sauce from June 2007. I almost forgot about that recipe. That was also from this cookbook which is one of my favorite cookbooks.

Question of the Day: Do you like cranberry sauce? Do you like the jellied version or the whole cranberry sauce?

Friday, October 19, 2007

--Venison Au Jus

Venison Au Jus
Venison Cookbook 1993

2 pounds thinly sliced venison
2 strips bacon I used turkey bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced I used 8 ounces
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon in a skillet. Remove it and crumble the strips. Brown the meat, onions and mushrooms in the bacon drippings. Add the red wine vinegar, crumbled bacon, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 or 40 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add a little beef stock or water if necessary.

This was the first taste of my husband's latest deer. I was worried that I wouldn't like it. I don't think we had any venison last year. But, fortunately, this was fine, albeit a little bit chewy. I can't bring myself to leave venison a little rare and I didn't cook it long enough to soften the meat fibers. There were no leftovers though so my husband didn't seem to mind.

The deer wasn't huge but it will supplement my grocery budget nicely. I'm sort of torn about a trip to Costco this weekend. I could stretch it out a little bit longer but I usually get my Halloween goodies there. I'm sure I could find something good to hand out in Wal-Mart. I'd actually like to skip it but my son enjoys seeing the costumes.

This is cookbook number 200! I've sampled almost 550 recipes from 200 cookbooks. That would have covered my entire collection when I started this blog but, um, my collection is a bit larger now.

Blast From The Past: Hunter’s Favorite Chili from December 2005. I might try this again and leave out the beans.

Question of the Day: What do you give out on Halloween?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meat free
--Pierogi Casserole

Pierogi Casserole
The Potato Cookbook Copyright 1987

15 lasagne noodles
2 cups cottage cheese
1 large egg
¼ tsp. onion salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups mashed potato
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion salt
1 cup butter of margarine I used light butter and much less than 1 cup
1 cup chopped onion

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain. Spread 5 noodles on the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. In a medium-sized bowl combine cottage cheese, egg and onion salt. Spread over noodles. Cover with 5 more noodles. Combine cheddar cheese, potatoes, salt, pepper and onion salt. Spread over noodles. Cover with remaining noodles. Melt butter in frying pan. Sauté onions slowly until clear and limp. Pour over noodles. Cover. Bake 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with sour cream.

Serves 8.

We like pierogi so I thought this would be a nice meatless meal for us. I used Dreamfield lasagna, 2% cheese, lowfat cottage cheese and light butter to lighten it up a bit. It was pretty good but I thought the cottage cheese layer was a bit bland and little bit too liquidy. I would drain it next time and add salt and pepper.

I'm finally having a lot of luck finding meatless entrees. I avoid (straight) eggs and beans due to my son's allergies (he is not definitely allergic to either of those things but they are maybes so we avoid). That limits us a bit.

Blast From The Past: Caramelized Pork Slices from May 2007. I may make this next week. It's easier to repeat recipes when I get down to the dregs of my freezer stash.

Question of the Day: Do you have any suggestions for meatless entrees that don't feature eggs or beans?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What am I going to do with all of this stuff???
--Quick Red Onion Marmalade

Quick Red Onion Marmalade
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving Copyright 2006

1 ½ cups thinly sliced halved red onion
½ cup finely chopped dried cranberries
¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp grated orange zest
3 cups unsweetened apple juice
1 package (1.75 oz) regular powdered fruit pectin
4 cups granulated sugar

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
2. In a skillet, over medium heat, combine red onion, cranberries, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook, stirring, until onion is transparent, about 10 minutes.
3. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine cooked onion mixture, orange zest and apple juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
4. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot marmalade. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
5. Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Makes about 5 8-oz. jars

It was after I made this that I realized I needed to stop canning stuff since I had absolutely no idea what to do with this. I ended up using it with pork. I make medallions out of a tenderloin, seasoned them with salt and pepper, browned them, and removed them from the pan. I made a sauce/glaze out of this marmalade, some white wine, some white wine vinegar and salt and pepper. I added back the pork and pan juices. It was actually really good. I would make this again, although I have a few jars of this stuff, I need to think of other things to do with it. It's not quite 'gift' material since if I can't think of what to do with it, what will the recipient do with it?

I have enjoyed canning but there's a learning process, just like with everything else. It's just that every time you try a canning recipe, you're left with at least a few jars of whatever it is you've canned. That makes it a slower process (unless you don't mind buying a lot of jars and you have a lot of shelf space) but I'm glad I finally got started after just thinking about it for a long time.

Blast From The Past: Carmelized Onion Chicken from January 2007. I thought the pork and red onion marmalade I made tasted similar to that recipe so I could probably try it with chicken.

Question of the Day: What cooking-related challenge have you been putting off?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Comfort food slightly lightened up
--Ham and Macaroni Au Gratin

Ham and Macaroni Au Gratin
Holiday Inn International Cook Book Copyright 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1972

Blend 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour. Add 2 cups milk gradually and stir until smooth and thick. Add 2 cups cooked macaroni and 1 cup cooked cubed ham. Season to taste. Add ½ cup grated cheese and simmer a few minutes. Place in buttered casserole and sprinkle with ½ cup grated cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven until brown and bubbly.

Serves 6.

I picked up some cubed ham marked down to under $2. Whenever I find a good deal these days it's usually some form of pork. I wonder why.

I tried to lighten this up a bit and used reduced fat milk, 2% cheese and Dreamfield macaroni. I doubled the recipe and used the entire box of macaroni. There was plenty leftover but I stuck a few servings in the freezer for those weekend evenings when I don't feel like cooking.

This isn't really very different that my basic mac and cheese recipe with ham added. Definitely comfort food.

Blast From The Past: Skillet Chicken Parmigiana from May 2007. My mom made a version of chicken parmigiana this weekend. That's one dish that always hits the spot.

Question of the Day: Do you like to add anything extra to macaroni and cheese?

Monday, October 15, 2007

More canning
--Habanero Gold

Habanero Gold
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving Copyright 2006

1/3 cup finely sliced dried apricots
¾ cup white vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped seeded habanero peppers
3 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch (3oz) liquid pectin

1. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine apricots and vinegar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
3. Add red onion, red pepper and habanero peppers to apricots. Stir in sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
4. Quickly pour hot jelly into jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
5. Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars, cool and store.

I canned a few things earlier in the summer and then I took a break for a while. I enjoyed it but it's pretty easy to get carried away with canning. I'm only comfortable with canning things in a water bath and there are only so many pickles and preserves we can eat so after a few pickles and jams, I decided to cool it.

But (there's always a 'but') I had heard a lot about this recipe in canning circles so when I came across some habanero peppers, I had to make this even though I had several jars of hot pepper jelly on the shelf already. I'm glad I did since this was definitely deserving of the hype and it wasn't really as hot as I thought it would be. The apricots added nice flavor - much better than just sugar and peppers.

I didn't do any cooking this weekend. I didn't miss it either. I need a break every once and a while. I managed to catch up the recipe archives. I was falling way behind. Dial-up sucks! I'm going to upgrade to something faster.

My cookbook guy was back at the auction. Yay! I wasn't going to give up on him until his stand was empty but he still had merchandise sitting there even though he was MIA 3 or 4 weeks in a row. He said he had vehicle trouble. He warned me that next week he won't be there - he'll be going to a prison to do ministry work. He laughed and said 'I'll be in prison' and I said that I thought maybe that's where he's been the past few weeks lol.

Blast From The Past: Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly from July 2007. That was equally as good as today's recipe, I thought. And with using a whole jalapeno, seeds and all, it had the same kick as the habaneros which I seeded. I don't think I could chose one over the other.

Question of the Day: Any ideas on what I can do with all of this hot pepper jelly?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Like Mom used to make
--Beef and Cheese Roll

Beef and Cheese Roll
The New York Times Menu Cook Book Copyright 1966

3 slices bread, crusts removed
1 ½ pounds chopped beef
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground thyme
2 tablespoons grated onion
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
½ pound mozzarella or Swiss cheese, thinly sliced I used mozzarella
2 tablespoons butter, melted I omitted this
1 ½ cups tomato sauce or brown sauce

1. Preheat oven to moderate (375 degrees).
2. Wet the bread, press out excess moisture, and add bread to meat.
3. Add eggs, salt, mustard, pepper, thyme, onion and parsley. Mix with the fingers until well blended.
4. On a piece of wax paper press the meat into a thin rectangle. Spread cheese over meat and roll, beginning at a narrow end, using the paper to lift the meat and aid in the rolling.
5. Carefully place the roll in a shallow baking pan with the joined edges of the meat carefully under the roll. Brush with the melted butter. Bake for about forty-five minutes. Serve with tomato sauce or brown sauce to which pan drippings have been added. I baked some tomato sauce on at the end.

Growing up my mother would make 'pinwheel meat loaf' which was very similar to this recipe but her's was better. I've decided that there's something about thyme that bothers me. It's not exactly that I don't like it, it's just very overpowering. Otherwise this was pretty good. My husband didn't leave me any leftovers for lunch the next day.

Another thing we ate a lot while I was growing up was cubed steak. We would eat it fried on toast. It was a bit chewy but I loved it. I saw a recipe using cubed steak and I made a mental to buy some next time I saw a good deal on it. Then I happened to see yellow markdown tickets on packages of cubed steak in my secondary grocery store and I thought 'jackpot!' but geez, it was still over $3/pound - even marked down for quick sale!

So this week I saw in the circular that it was on sale for $2.99/lb for larger packages in my main grocery store. They didn't have any of the larger packages and the smaller packages were $5.89/lb. Outrageous! It's just round steak and it's cubed because it's not that tender. Why it is so expensive? Believe me, my mother wouldn't have bought it so often when I was growing up if it was expensive back then.

I got a raincheck. I will get my cubed steak and at a decent price.

Blast From The Past: Venison Paprika from February 2006. I'm working venison back into the rotation next week. I hope I can eat it.

Question of the Day: Do you ask for rainchecks when the store doesn't have a sale item?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nothing fancy
--Cool Corn Salad

Cool Corn Salad
Best Recipes From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, 1982

¼ cup commercial sour cream
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. prepared mustard
2 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 17-oz. can Stokely’s Finest Whole Kernel Golden Corn, drained I used two of the store brand cans that are around 15 oz. each
1 2-oz. jar Stokely’s Finest Sliced Pimientos, drained and diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
½ diced onion

In medium-size bowl, make dressing by combining sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

I really liked this. It was like a pasta salad but corn has more flavor than pasta. It's always a plus if I can make something practically out of the pantry. I feel very pressured when there's fresh produce breathing down my neck. This is a salad that can wait patiently for you to make it and it's faster to put together than pasta salad. You could toss whatever you'd like in there. I thought it could use a touch of green, maybe some green bell pepper.

I'm really trying to work myself down to the end of my food 'stock' this time. I want to see bare shelves, just for fun. I usually give up long before I clear things out. Saturday I made cabbage and noodles with half a box of Dreamfield lasagna I had languishing in the cupboard and some cabbage I had leftover from making cole slaw. It turned out to be dinner (I can't often get away with a meatless meal but I've been sneaking one in here and there). I get a little rush everytime I use something that's been hanging around for some time.

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes!

Blast From The Past: Green Bean Salad from December 2005. That's another salad you can make out of the pantry.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite side dish?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Couldn't be simpler
--Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms
The Simpler The Better Sensational Italian Meals Copyright 2005

½ pound cremini or white button mushrooms
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, 7 ounces each
4 tablespoons butter
Flour for dredging
2/3 cup dry Marsala

1. Thinly slice mushrooms. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally. Dry on paper towels. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with pan juices.
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Dip in flour and pat off excess, Using same skillet, and doing in 2 batches, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium to medium-high heat. When butter froths, cook first batch, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides but not quite cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes total. Reduce heat at any time if butter starts to darken. Transfer batches to platter in one layer.
3. Increase heat to high and add Marsala. Boil down to syrupy consistencym 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and return chicken, mushrooms, and any platter juices to pan. Turn in sauce to coat and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Lay chicken on plates and top with mushrooms and any juices left in pan. Serve hot.

I've made other chicken marsala recipes but this one is probably the simplest and it was as good as the most complicated version that I've made. I'm really loving this cookbook. I think just about anyone could use a cookbook like this - one filled with delicious yet simple recipes.

Well I have to cut this short. I have to decorate my own birthday cupcakes! No Question of the Day - just wish me a happy birthday if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Almost a disaster
--Swiss Steak in Foil

Swiss Steak in Foil
Our Favorite Meats Favorites From Home Economic Teachers Copyright MCMLXVI

1 c. catsup
¼ cup flour
2 lb round steak, 1-in. thich
1 large onion, sliced
2 tbsp. lemon juice or 1 lemon, thinly sliced (opt.)

Combine catsup and flour; spoon one-half of mixture into center of a large piece of aluminum foil. Place steak over mixture; season with salt and pepper. Cover meat with onion slices and remaining catsup mixture; sprinkle with lemon juice or top with lemon slices. Fold foil over top; seal edges securely. Place in shallow baking pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until meat is tender. Remove foil; cut steak into pieces.

Yield: 5-6 servings

Often, it only takes one thing to ruin a recipe, or come close to ruining it, and in this case it was the cooking temperature. My gut told me it was too high and I did turn the oven down to 400 degrees after a while but I think that was still too high. The bottom of the meat was quite brown and the meat was getting dry. If I cooked it less, it wouldn't have been tender enough. It definitely needed a lower temperature.

The flavor was good and the meat wasn't browned enough to ruin the meal but had I cooked this at 450 degrees the entire time, I might have been looking for something else for dinner.

I'm burned out already this week. I had four days off and tried to catch up around the house and I did a lot of cooking, mostly to use things up around here, not really 'fun' cooking.

Blast From The Past: Chocolate Buttermilk Pie from November 2006. I really wish I had a piece of this pie right now.

Question of the Day: What was your last cooking disaster (something that never made it to the table)?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Another practice run
--Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies
Best Recipes From The Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, 1982

1 cup Land O Lakes Sweet Cream Butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla or almond or lemon flavoring I used vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In 3-quart mixer bowl combine butter, sugar, egg and flavoring. Beat at medium speed, scraping sides of bowl often, until light and fluffy. Reduce to low speed (or by hand); stir in flour and salt until well combined. Dough can be divided and tinted if desired. If dough is too soft, chill for easier handling. Force dough through a cookie press onto ungreased baking sheet. Decorate with colored sugar or cinnamon candies, etc. Bake near center of 400 degree F oven for 8 to 14 minutes or until cookies are light golden around the edges.

Makes 6 dozen cookies.

I've tried using a cookie press before and it was a disaster. It was a cheap one from Ollie's so I wasn't surprised (it was very cheap). Spritz cookies are lovely on a cookie tray but I could never bring myself to invest in a more expensive cookie press. Then I saw this Wilton press at Ollie's for only $4.99 ($2 or $3 more than the last one I bought) and they had it on display. It looked sturdy and easy to use so I went out of a limb and bought it. It was easy to use although I had to squeeze twice for each cookie. That may have been my fault though. I messed up the dough and added too much flour so then I added more butter to compensate. I was feeling impatient by that point so I didn't chill the dough.

This was a test run for Christmas and I think they were a success, even with me screw-up. I got fewer cookies by double pumping them but they were still a good size. They had that buttery taste you would expect from a spritz cookie. Nothing that knocks my socks off but very tasty. Their job is to dress up a cookie tray and I think this recipe will work. I don't want to experiment too much because I don't know how many batches of dough this cheap press has in it! I just hope this recipe works when I don't mess it up.

*edited 12/2011 to add picture of the Christmas trees.

Blast From The Past: Ricotta Cookies from December 2005, another pretty Christmas cookie. I'm thinking about Christmas cookies early this year, which is weird considering that summer won't go away.

Question of the Day: Are you having unseasonably warm (or cold) weather in your area?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Gosh those home ec teachers were good
--Sweet-Sour Pork on Rice

Sweet-Sour Pork on Rice
Our Favorite Meats Favorites From Home Economics Teachers Copyright MCMLXVI

1 ½ lbs. pork cubes
1 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
¼ c. flour
2 tbsp. oil
½ c. water
¼ c. vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 c. apricot preserves I used about 3/4 cups
1 green pepper, cut into strips

Toss pork cubes with seasoned flour; brown in oil. Stir in water, vinegar and soy sauce; cover and simmer to 45 minutes. Add preserves and green pepper; cook for 15 minutes. Serve on hot cooked rice.

Yield: 6 servings

This book has coughed up another surprise hit. I originally chose this recipe to use up some peach preserves but then I realized I had apricot preserves in the fridge that needed to be used up. I only had about 3/4 cup but that was enough. I thought this might be overly sweet but it really wasn't. It was a mild sweet and sour sauce (probably because of the water) but nicely balanced.

I'm really enjoying this cookbook. I'm almost sorry I didn't pick up the other copy I came across. It would have made a nice giveaway. I can't be the only one who likes old cookbooks.

The recipes tend to be more economical too. I really stuck to the basics again at the grocery store again this week and I spent only 48 cents more than I did last week. I'm not really shooting for a specific amount, I'm just buying only what we need so it was funny to come so close to last week's total.

Blast From The Past: Meat Puffs from June 2007, also from this cookbook. That recipe was a hit here too.

Question of the Day: I just can't think of one today. Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cleaning out the pantry
--Easy Meat Sauce

Easy Meat Sauce
Best Recipes From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979, 1981, 1982
1 lb. ground beef
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
¼ tsp. oregano
1 28-oz. can tomato puree
1 cup water

In large saucepan, brown ground beef with garlic; stir in Lipton Onion Soup mix, oregano, tomato puree and water. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Serve over hot noodles, spaghetti or rice.

Makes about 5 cups sauce.

This week was all about using stuff up. I had a packet of onion soup mix in the cupboard so that's why this recipe caught my eye.

This was fine, nothing special. The flavor wasn't very robust. I added a bit of sugar because it was a bit too acidic for my tastes but that really depends on your tomatoes. I served the sauce over cheese ravioli which worked out better than over plain pasta, in my opinion.

I'm getting down to the dregs of my freezer which makes it more difficult to plan meals. At least that means that a trip to Costco is in my future. I haven't been there since August.

Blast From The Past: Zippy Beef Tips from July 2007. That's where the other packet of soup mix went.

Question of the Day: Do you waste a lot, an average amount, or very little food in your kitchen?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A good deal
--Grilled Racks of Baby Backs, Kansas City Style

Grilled Racks of Baby Backs, Kansas City Style
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining Copyright 2006

Four 1 ¾ to 2 pounds slabs pork baby back ribs

Smoky Rib Rub:
1/ 4 cup smoked paprika
2 tablespoons smoked salt or coarse salt I used kosher salt
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar I used the brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried chipotle chilies or, for a milder rub, additional smoked paprika I used the dried chipotle
1 tablespoon chili powder

At least 2 cups sweet tomato-based barbecue sauce

( I only made two racks so I halved everything.)

Strip off the thin membrane on the ribs’ lower side. Preheat the oven or covered grill to 275 degrees F. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the rub. Coat the ribs liberally on all sides with the remaining spice mixture.

Wrap the ribs tightly in 2 layers of foil, place on baking sheets, and bake for 2 hours. The meat should be beginning to shrink away from the ends of the bones, exposing them a bit, and if you tug a rib, it should pull apart with little resistance.

(You can cool and refrigerate the ribs at this point. Bring them out about 30 minutes before grilling which is what I did.)

Heat the grill to medium. Sprinkle the top side of the racks of ribs evenly with the remaining rub. Grill the ribs uncovered over medium heat for a total of about 20 minutes (7 minutes on each side, then coat with sauce and cook for 6 minutes).

I don't usually paraphrase recipes but the authors of this cookbook must have been paid by the word. I just didn't have it in me to transcribe the several paragraphs this recipes consisted of so I just gave you a shortened version.

I picked up some baby back ribs for about $1.69/lb a few weeks ago. My original plan was to put my smoker together and use that but I decided to be realistic (putting the smoker together is way down on my to-do list) and I made these in the oven and on the grill. I made two racks, not knowing how much meat would really be on these ribs after cooking, figuring I could freeze the leftovers.

The rack we ended up eating was perfect. Perfect. The rack held together but the meat pulled clean away from the bone with slight tugging. I decided to just try a bit of the second rack and it wasn't as perfect. The meat needed a bit more cooking to come cleanly off the bone which is good I guess, since I can reheat them in the crockpot after freezing them and they won't be overcooked. It was just blind luck that we ate the better rack first.

These ended up being much simpler to cook that I imagined they would be. I baked them off on a Sunday evening and did the grilling after work on Monday. They weren't smoked but they got their smokiness from the smoked paprika and dried chipolte powder. I used cheap, cheap barbecue sauce (Kraft) but you know it was as good as anything I've had in a chain restaurant which is really the only other place I've had baby back ribs.

So a success although they're a bit too heavy and normally a bit too expensive to make very often.

Blast From The Past: Creamy Cole Slaw from October 2005. I've been making a loose version of this cole slaw and my son LOVES it. He wasn't big on these ribs but he ate two servings of cole slaw.

Question of the Day: Do you like baby back ribs?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

--Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls (Rinderrouladen)

Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls (Rinderrouladen)
Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook Copyright 1989

2 pound beef boneless round steak, ½-inch thick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon prepared mustard I used a spicy brown mustard
3 slices bacon, cut into halves
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup snipped parsley
3 dill pickles, cut into halves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Pound beef until ¼-inch thick. Cut into pieces, about 7x4 inches. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread each piece with 1 teaspoon mustard. Place ½ strip bacon down center of each piece. Sprinkle with onion and snipped parsley. Place pickle on narrow end of each; roll up. Fasten with wooden picks.

Heat oil in 10-inch skillet until hot. Cook rolls over medium heat until brown. Add 1 ¼ cups water, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.

Remove roll to warm platter; keep warm. Add enough water to liquid in skillet if necessary to measure 1 cup. Shake 2 tablespoons water and the flour in a tightly covered container; stir gradually into cooking liquid. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute (add water if necessary). Serve gravy with rolls.

6 servings.

I came across some German recipes, on a blog I think, celebrating Oktoberfest and I thought, that's a great idea. I'll make a German recipe. Well, duh! I had just made these beef rolls a few days earlier.

I can't vouch for how authentic this recipe is but it was delicious. The gravy was a bit tangy from the dill pickles. I chose this recipe in order to use up some of the dill pickles halves that I canned earlier this summer. The pickles were a bit overprocessed but they held together through the braising process. The pickles and the mustard really gave these a different flavor from most stuffed beef rolls.

I really like this cookbook. It's Betty Crocker so the recipes are very doable. They may not be authentically international but they sound good to me and I've bookmarked quite a few of them.

Blast From The Past: Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Roll-Ups from May 2006. Those were good beef rolls too.

Question of the Day: How many different kinds of mustard do you have on hand right now?

Monday, October 01, 2007

A great recipe
--Raspberry (Peach) Kisses

Raspberry (Peach) Kisses
Cookies 1,001 Mouthwatering Recipes From Around the World

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons raspberry preserves I used peach preserves
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, to dust I didn't bother with this

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter two cookie sheets. (I lined them with parchment and sprayed them very lightly with spray oil.) Sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy. Add the eggs, beating just until blended. Mix in the dry ingredients. Drop teaspoons of the dough 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. (I used my smallest scoop which was too big.) Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the sheets halfway through for even baking. Transfer to a rack to cool. Stick the cookies together in pairs with the preserves. Dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.

Makes 15 cookies. (I made one dozen 'sandwiches' and there was one orphan.)

I was looking for a recipe to use up some preserves. I wasn't expecting much but I think I'm going to be adding this recipe to my Christmas baking this year. I loved the texture of the cookies. There were so light and delicate, they just melted in my mouth. They were delicious too of course. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

The only downside was the size of my cookies. My smallest scoop was actually three times too big (one tablespoon). These were almost the size of whoopie pies. I'm hoping I can find a smaller scoop for these so I can get more cookies out of this recipe.

My first recipe from this book, Toffee-Oat Bars, was just okay. They weren't a disaster but when the first recipe I try from a cookbook isn't great, I sometimes resist making another recipe from that book, which I think is what happened here. I don't think I'm biased against this cookbook any longer after this recipe.

I think I'm going to stop going to auction (the farmer's market) on Fridays. The produce is still pretty good but my cookbook guy has been missing for 2-3 weeks and the stand where I buy a Patrick Star cookie for my son has been empty for two weeks. It's not worth the drive just for fall produce. I was going to try out a different market on Saturday but we drove over there (my son and I) and I thought it was creepy looking so we left without going in. Auction would look creepy without any people too but there's always a crowd there - this other place looked empty. Of course, I've been saying that I was going to give up auction for a few weeks now but I keep going back. I'm addicted.

Oh yes, I guess I have to find more venison recipes. My husband got a deer on the first day of archery season. He hasn't brought up the freezer that I promised him yet but I have no idea where we're going to put the meat if we don't get another freezer. I want to see if the meat is any good first, to be honest. Not every deer taste good.

Blast From The Past: Big Game Baked Round Steak from December 2005. I was really getting into venison until the freezer died and we had to give all of the meat away.

Question of the Day: Do you have a favorite cookie recipe?