Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's up Doc? - Orange Glazed Carrots

Glazed carrots have never had a good place in my mind. I don't know why. I don't know if it is from cafeteria days or what but I never really liked them. I typically like most things carrot and it is one veggie that my oldest son will eat without a fight. Glazed carrots are lovely and when given the right partners they can make for a killer side dish. I love them with pork dishes and with a good grilled chicken breast. These are simple and I always have the stuff on hand for them. Next time you are needing something beautiful and simple, cook up a batch of these. These would be the perfect side with a holiday ham.

Orange glazed carrots

1 2lb bag of petite baby carrots (you can easily peel and chop your own but we are going for quick and easy here!)

Place carrots in a heavy pan with a lid and cover with just enough water to submerge the carrots. Allow this to come to a boil, turn the heat down and cover. Allow them to gently boil for 10 minutes until fork tender. Drain.
In the same pot on medium low heat, to the drained carrots add the following:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup apricot jelly
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary

Toss the carrots in the mixture and allow them to gently cook for 10 more minutes. If they seem to be dry add a splash of water.

Enjoy Y'all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oatmeal Heaven - Baked Oatmeal

I didn't know that oatmeal could be that exciting. Really, I thought that oatmeal in the form of cookies with chocolate chips was about as good as it gets. I mean, it's oatmeal, right? But, have you had baked oatmeal? This, my friends, is heaven. When I was visiting my sister a few years back she hosted a brunch at her house. One of the girls brought this baked oatmeal and it took us all to a magical place, one where you forget that you have kids and dirty laundry and housework. This baked oatmeal is a must by a cozy warm fire in slippers with a big cup of coffee. It is delicious! You might be thinking, "get a hold of your self, it's just oatmeal". Well, no, it's not. It is heavenly oatmeal. This is like eating a giant bowl of oatmeal cookie fresh out of the oven. It is comfort food maxed out. Baked Oatmeal! The perfect start to a perfect day!

1/2 c. oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar - Can use white or brown. Brown will give you more of that traditional earthy oatmeal taste.
Mix these together then add:

3 c. rolled oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon (You can bump this up all the way to 1 1/2 tsp if you like it strong)
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together, pour into a lightly greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes.  You must serve this warm with a splash of cream (or half and half, but really!?) and fresh fruit like blueberries, strawberries, cinnamon apples. If you want to go there, you can add in up to 1/2 cup of your favorite nut, like pecans or walnuts and 1/2 cup of dried fruit like cranberries or raisins. But, I am a purest so I keep it to cream and fruit...but I could almost skip the fruit! :)

Enjoy Y'all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Best Pumpkin Ever - Mom's Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is the ultimate fall treat. One of my best friends is in love with the Panera pumpkin muffin and is sometimes caught drooling at them through the glass. I love pumpkin bread, muffins, whoopie pies, seeds, dip, really, you name it. I remember the first time I had pumpkin bread growing up, I know I am weird. It was so delicious and quickly became a family holiday favorite. We have had this recipe for many years but it is one of those that is too good not to share with all of you this time of year. I love it and if you like pumpkin then you will too. This recipe makes enough for two large loafs, 1 bundt, or 1 large and 4 mini. My favorite part about it is the browned butter glaze. That is something that my mom didn't have on it growing up but it is what sends this bread over the moon. I am telling you, you will be dreaming about this. Make a batch and take them to your neighbors....or bring it over for me to test with you. Thanks mom for this!

Mom's Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup cooking oil
1 can 16 oz pumpkin
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Glaze (you might need to double, depending on how generous you are)
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk

In a large bowl mix together your sugar, eggs, oil then pumpkin. Sift together the dry ingredients then add them into the wet stirring just until combined.
Pour into your pans that are lightly buttered and floured (you must or they will stick)
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 then continue to cook for 30 minutes. Allow the bread to cool before adding the glaze or it will just roll off the sides.

For the glaze: In a heavy saucepan on low heat brown the butter. You will know it is browned when it becomes an auburn color and has a nice nutty smell to it and the fat has separated in it. Whisk in the sugar and milk. If it too thick add a splash more milk. Drizzle over your bread and allow it to set before covering with saran wrap.

Enjoy Y'all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Birthday Brownie Pie!

I am having an affair. It is with a deep dish brownie pie topped with creamy peppermint ice cream. Shhhh, don't tell! I am in love! Well, it is my birthday after all so for my afternoon snack I made a yummy-lummy-licious brownie pie. I love brownies! In fact, if you have not tried my recipe for regular brownies then you are crazy! I especially love brownies when they are topped off with peppermint ice cream. Yum. Does it get any better than that? Since it is my birthday, I want you to be able to join in on the party, so I am going to share with you this recipe given to me by a dear family friend. She put together this wonderful binder for me when I got married of tried and true family recipes and stories of who they came from or memories of when she served the dish. I have treasured it every day since and it has now blown into a three part binder with a fourth part about to start. This recipe is one of her specialties that she can put together quickly for "the unexpected dinner guest". Well folks, pull out the confetti, light some candles and join with me in a celebration!

Judy's Deep Dish Brownie Pie
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 c good cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, blend together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time stirring after each addition then add vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk together to make sure they are thoroughly combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until blended.
Pour into a 9" greased pie plate or 8x8 pan. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes until set. Cool and cut into wedges. Serve with a big scoop of pink peppermint ice cream (Blue Bell, of course!) and some hot fudge sauce.

Enjoy Y'all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rockin' Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze

Oh, how I love red velvet cake. For some reason there are two things that I am always drawn too, blue candy and red velvet cake. Weird I know but if I was offered any cake flavor in the world I would pick red velvet. Red Velvet is a velvety smooth buttermilk chocolate cake batter with a bit of twang from the vinegar and food coloring. It is amazing how quickly red velvet can go wrong. Some recipes have too little coloring or chocolate in my opinion. I recently found a red velvet recipe that is amazing and I will ever be able to go back to my old one. I can't share it but you can just dream about it. Last year I made a red velvet cake with a layer of cheesecake in between and covered it with old school cream cheese frosting. One of the partakers said she had been having dreams about it. Well, today I am going to share with you a new take on red velvet......the Red Velvet Pancake. Oh my. They are heavenly. These would be perfect for Christmas morning or eve. They are a dense rich batter and are delicious paired with a cream cheese glaze. This will get even the grinchiest of grinches into the holiday mood.

Rockin' Red Velvet Pancakes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp good cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2 c sour cream
3 tsp red food coloring
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients (down to cocoa powder).
In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, stir, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to curdle. 
To the dry milk, whisk in the eggs, vinegar/milk, sour cream, food coloring and vanilla.
Let your griddle or frying pan get hot and melt some butter in your pan. Using an ice cream scoop (if you have one...I prefer the 1/4 c scoop. It works for everything!) ladle in your batter and immediately sprinkle some chocolate chips over the batter. Flip once there are little bubbles forming in the middle of the pancake.
This recipe yields around 20 pancakes.

Cream Cheese Glaze

Whisk 2 cups of powdered sugar, 6 Tbsp softened cream cheese (you need it pretty soft so you might microwave it for 20 seconds before mixing), 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla into a bowl. Add a bit more milk if your glaze is too thick.

Serve pancakes with a light drizzle of the cream cheese glaze and a dusting of powdered sugar. These are rich so make sure you have a big glass of milk or cup of black coffee close by.

Happy Holidays Y'all!

Next Level - Garlicky Sausage Balls

Tis' the season to make sausage balls. The good old stand by that seems to be present at every holiday gathering. My sister recently made these for breakfast and I loved that idea. I mean, we like sausage so why not? It has all of the breakfast staples in it, right? Well, I made some today with a bit of tweaking and am in love. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. They are perfect for a bit size pick me up!

1 package of Bisquick garlic cheese biscuit mix
1 lb jimmy dean mild sausage- uncooked
1 8oz container of cream cheese softened
4 oz of sharp cheddar freshly grated
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Line a cookie sheet with foil and preheat your oven to 400. Combine all in a is typically best to do this with your hands. Form little walnut size balls and place on the cookie sheet, about two inches apart. Bake for around 20 minutes until balls are lightly golden brown on top. Allow to cool (if you can wait!) before eating.

Enjoy Y'all!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chi-Town Christmas! - Grandma's Italian Beef Sandwiches

I think it is still funny that I married a Yankee. I don't know why but when I planned out my life map I never imagined I would marry someone who didn't wear cowboy boots and that we would name our first born after a baseball stadium not in the Lone Star State. I had many names picked out for my kids prior to having kids, like Tex and Dallas but never Wrigley. With his family came many new traditions. Besides bleeding Cubs blue they also have many foods that they are passionate about like pizza and sweet potatoes but especially Italian Beef. I had never had Italian beef in my life prior to my first year at his grandma's house. I like beef, I am a beef eater and I immediately fell in love with the dish. I cook mine slightly different then grandma does but they taste fairly similar. She has a lovely pot that she got when she was married many, many years ago that has cooked this family staple in on more Christmas Eve's then I can count. Italian Beef is sort of a northern twist on the southern pot roast, although you serve it between crusty Italian bread and dip it in it's own "gravy" or Au jus as the fancy pants call it. It is delicious. I love it and I have carried on this tradition around this neck of the woods for every Christmas eve since. This one's for you Grandma. I hope our grand kids enjoy this dish around our table one day as we gather to celebrate this wonderful season!

1 3-5 lbs eye of round roast
3 cups water
3 beef bullion cubes
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup red cooking wine
1 large sliced onion
2 green bell peppers sliced
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasonings
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes

Place all ingredients into either a crock pot or a dutch oven. If cooking in the crock pot, set it to low for 6-8 hours. If cooking on the stove top, turn it to medium low and simmer. After 2-3 hours on the stove top and after 4-5 hours in the crock pot, take out the meat and thinly slice it. You can use a meat slicer or a good sharp knife, then return the meat to the pot and allow it to continue cooking, either 2-3 hours more on the stove top or 3-4 hours in the crock pot.
To serve you will need 8-12 Italian rolls
16-20 slices of provolone cheese

Split the rolls and place the cheese between the bread then layer in your meat and onions. Ladle some of the meat juice in little bowls to dip individual sandwiches in. I like to spread on some horseradish sauce on my sandwich but that is going against everything Grandma teaches.

Enjoy Y'all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I owe you this one - Caper Dill Remoulade

I feel kind of bad that I have left you all hanging on a few recipes. I know I owe you a cheesecake recipe and I am sure there are more but today I am going to give you my caper remoulade recipe. I use this in place of tarter sauce. It makes everything taste better! I had a similar sauce at a local restaurant with a fish and chips order and it was all I could do not to just stick my spoon in the little ramekin and eat it up! It was so delicious. So, I came home and played around with things a bit and came up with my own. I love it and it is perfect with the marinated shrimp cocktail, fish sticks, baked salmon, crab cakes, anything! It is so much better than the creamy flavorless white stuff you buy. I love the salty dill taste and the bit of heat.

1 cup of good mayonnaise (I prefer Duke's)
2 Tbsp capers chopped
8 dill pickle hamburger chip slices minced  plus 1 Tsp pickle juice
1/2 Tbsp dried dill (or fresh)
4 dashes of Louisiana or Texas Pete hot sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Stir all together in a bowl. If time permits, allow it to sit overnight in the fridge for the flavors to marry. This will keep up to 5 days in the fridge.

Enjoy Y'all!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Magical Morning - Christmas Morning Casserole

I don't know if there is another morning that is as magical as Christmas morning! The house always smells more like fairy dust and glitter that day and the anticipation of goodies left by the big man puts everyone on edge with excitement! I love Christmas morning! It has changed a lot since having kids. Last year my oldest got a scooter and managed to get out of bed, crawl over grandpa, open three doors and walk past one uncle and got to his presents before anyone was awake! I could not believe it! We all woke up to hearing him ride the scooter through the house and yelling about all of the goodies Santa had left. My youngest rolled out of bed, walked in to find his new red bubble car and just parked his little booty inside the car until he was fully awake. Tradition in our house on this morning has always been breakfast casserole. We love it. I can make it the night or two before and just bake it that morning. It is hearty and keeps us full until we are ready to sit and eat a big meal in the afternoon. I usually have monkey bread and fruit with's Christmas after all!

Christmas Morning Casserole

8 slices of bread torn in pieces
1 lbs of mild pork sausage cooked and drained (use a potato masher when cooking any ground meat, it gives the meat a more even texture when cooking and doesn't leave you with huge chunks!)
2 cups frozen cubed hasbrowns
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
7 eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Grease a 9x13 and line with bread. Next, layer sausage, hasbrowns and cheese. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients and whisk to make sure everything is really combined. You don't want to bite down into a lump of mustard or full egg yoke. Pour mixture over the layers and allow it to sit for 30 minutes to overnight to soak in. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and a knife comes out clean when inserted.

Enjoy Y'all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fancy Shmancy - Marinated Shrimp Cocktail

I have said it before but I grew up a preacher's kid. We were on a very limited budget so there are things like steak and seafood and cokes that we didn't have much of growing up. I remember the day my mom finally allowed me to order a Dr. Pepper out in public and thinking that I had moved up in the world by ordering a big girl drink. So, growing up you can imagine that when someone would have seafood at an event I would thought that they were loaded. I mean, who serves seafood to their friends, right? I love seafood and don't get to eat it as much as I would like since it brings out some crazy reactions in my house. I usually buy one fillet at a time so I don't have a bunch of waste but I hate only cooking for one! I have had some yummy seafood in my life, everything from fresh caught halibut by a halibut fisherman in Alaska to gulf coast shrimp fresh off the dock in Galveston to wild caught Maine lobster right out of the crate. I love it all! Shrimp cocktail is one of the few seafood items, and I mean few, that my husband will eat. We don't have it much unless I get a crazy good deal on shrimp since we are now the poor ones. Seafood cocktail is great but usually the shrimp has a bland taste, as if it is begging for some spicy friends to join in the cocktail party. I came up with a quick fix that will liven up shrimp cocktail in a jiffy! You must have really good, really good, cocktail sauce to go with shrimp cocktail, first rule. Second, you must also have a good tarter sauce for those that want to live a little. I make a yummy caper remoulade that I will share one day, but today is not that day. Third, you will need a lot of sliced lemons to have on the side for those who want an extra splash. Forth, you must marindae the shrimp prior to serving. The shrimp need some love. I am telling you, once you make this shrimp cocktail recipe once you will never go back to the boring shrimp ring. Those are the rules, now get busy. Really, your friends will be begging you to throw all of the parties and serve this (especially if you are footing the bill for the food!) But, you must also partner this shrimp with Yellow Rose Cafe: I owe you this one - Caper Dill Remoulade. Promise, they were made for each other.

Marinated Shrimp Cocktail
2 lbs 31-40 count jumbo shrimp pealed and deveined (the count is how many there are per pound. This is enough for a large party for approx 25 guests)
3 lemons thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp old bay seasoning
2 tsp Louisiana hot sauce (more if you like it hot!)
Pour all of this and the rinsed shrimp into a large ziplock bag. Shake it around and allow it to sit in the fridge overnight. Serve with fresh lemon wedges, tarter and cocktail sauce.
I know, it looks almost so simple that you shouldn't bother with it but it makes a world of difference!!

Enjoy Y'all!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

King Ranch - Homemade Ranch Dip

Ranch dressing might possibly be the most delightful friend that a veggie has ever had. I don't know why but I always feel so healthy when I am sitting down to a big bowl of carrots and ranch. I remember my mom buying huge bottles of Hidden Valley growing up and how it made everything taste better! I love Ranch. I don't know if that is just the Texas girl in me or just America in general but I love it! But, I don't like to pay 2-3.00 dollars for a little bitty two cup container of dip every time I am in the mood from some classic Lay's or carrots. I am way too cheap for that. So, I came up with a homemade ranch-like dip that I am in love with. I LOVE dill and this recipe has a ton of it. You can lay off of the dill a bit but you might be very sorry you did!! Hopefully, you will never buy another overpriced tub of love again!

1 cup good mayonnaise (I know, I sound like a snob. I am about some things and this is one of them. Don't go cheap!)
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 Tbsp dried dill weed (fresh is best but I rarely have it on hand)
3 Tbsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all in a bowl. It is best if it can be made the night before to allow the flavors to fall in love with each other. This is great with veggies, chips, crackers, cheese, grilled chicken, taco topping...anything you can find to dip!

Enjoy Y'all!

Tassie Lassie - Perfect Pecan Tassie

Tassies are totally a Southern thing. I had never heard of one growing up and have since had to explain what a tassie is when I have made them for parties. Tassies are a genius idea. I love bite size things and tassies are the perfect little bit size pies. I really love pecan tassies. I am not a huge fan of pecan pie, typically I am good with one little sliver to last me through the whole holiday season. I found a recipe for some tassies and although they looked great I could tell I would have a total overflow of filling  to the amount of crust. So, I modified the recipe a wee bit and it turned out great. These are a perfect pick up treat to add with your desserts. These would also be lovely topped off with some cinnamon whipped cream...but then again, what wouldn't be? 

Perfect Pecan Tassie
1 pkg of refrigerated pie crust (there will be two per package)
1 cup of pecans
 1/2 stick of butter + 1 Tbsp
1/2 c corn syrup
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Using a mason jar lid, or a 2.5 " cookie cutter, cut out circles from your pie crusts and gently push them down into a heavily greased mini muffin pan, this recipe should yield 36 of those beauties. You can use the end of a rolling pen to help you get the crust all the way to the bottom of your pan.
In a heavy saucepan, place 1 Tbs of butter in with your pecans and turn the heat to medium low. You are going to saute your pecans for around 8-10 minute, stirring occasionally, until they get all nice and toasty. Then, take a little spoon and divide them into the bottom of your crust lined muffin cups and set aside.
In the same heavy saucepan that you cooked your pecan throw in your stick of butter and turn your head to a medium until it has melted. Once it has melted, turn the temp down slightly and allow your butter to brown. You will know it has browned properly when it is a nice amber color, it smells heavenly, I mean, toasty, and little fat particles are sitting around the top. Watch it closely so it does not burn on you. That is gross. Once the butter has browned, allow it to cool slightly then pour it into a large mixing bowl.
To the bowl, at the remaining ingredients and whisk well to make sure you don't have any large pieces of egg white. You don't want it to look like scrabbled egg pecan pies. I like to take this mixture then pour it into a measuring cup with a handle to help me pour it better, but if you have a small pitcher that works well. Pour about 3 tsp of filling into each cup until you run out of filling. Bake the tassies at 350 for 14-17 minutes until bubbly and set. If they have a slight wiggle to them, they will set up more firm once they are cooled. Allow them to cool before removing them.

Enjoy Y'all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spoonful of love - Chocolate Caramel Bread Pudding

If you have been with me all along you know that I am pretty honest about what I love and don't love. There are thing in my life that I don't love, even after telling myself that they are good or good for me I still can't do it. Like fresh tomatoes, I only like them thinly sliced on BLT's but I can't rock them otherwise. I remember the day I suddenly liked mustard and craved it on a burger and I remember the first time I bit into a mushroom and didn't mind that it squeaked a bit. This dish is one of those that I have grown to love. Bread pudding. I think you either fall into two categories, love or hate. There is no middle ground. I didn't have bread pudding growing up, at least I don't remember having it. I remember seeing it and kind of being grossed out by it but then I started thinking of things that I love that contain the same elements like breakfast casserole or french toast. Same idea, different outcome. I had a bread pudding at a local restaurant several years ago and remember being struck at how lovely it was, how it didn't gross me out but yet, how it had me begging for more. I then made a butterscotch bread pudding last year with a warm white chocolate sauce that that sealed the deal...I love it. I don't like raisins at all and I think that is a lot of why I have never cared for bread pudding. But, bread pudding in a pure form is so lovely to me. And, when you add in chocolate and put a warm caramel sauce on top....HEAVEN! SO, I made up this beauty today. I am hosting a girls group tonight at the house for a dessert only gather (which always stresses me out!) and I decided to try out a new recipe. I know, that goes against everything Ina preaches but a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. I had a lovely loaf of french bread begging to be smothered in cream and chocolate and jar of caramel sauce hanging out so I combined the two and they have become instant best friends. I present to you chocolate bread pudding with warm caramel sauce. Delicious!

Chocolate Bread Pudding
6 cups stale french bread torn in chunks
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 light brown sugar
2 cups milk
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup cold coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup bittersweet cocoa chips
1 bottle of caramel ice cream topping warmed up

Toss the bread in a bowl with the cocoa powder, and sugars. In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients the pour over the bread and toss to coat. Be gentle as to not break up the bread and form a mush. Pour into a greased casserole pan, preferably one that is round with high sides, not a 9x13. Bake for approx 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool briefly. Serve into individual bowls and spoon over a heavy drizzle of warm caramel sauce. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you want to be added to the naughty list.

Enjoy Y'all!