Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cranberry Congealed Salad

2 small boxes red Gelatin Dessert (I use black cherry or raspberry.)
1 large can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 orange sliced or chunked (or a drained can of mandarin oranges)
1/2 cup (or more) chopped pecans

  • Prepare gelatin according to package directions by boiling two cups water and dissolving gelatin.
  • Mix pineapple (do not drain!) and cranberry sauce together.
  • Sprinkle pecans over top of pineapple/cranberry mixture.
  • Pour gelatin mixture into fruit mixture and stir well.
  • Refrigerate till gelatin is a jellied state and stir to blend pecans that have floated to top into the entire mix.
  • Refrigerate till set and serve cold.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pecan Pound Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
3 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 cup chopped pecans

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Mix cake mix and vanilla pudding mix together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add vegetable oil, water, and eggs and mix well.
  • Mix in pumpkin. 
  • Fold in pecans.
  • Spray bundt pan and pour mixture into pan.
  • Bake 45 minutes.
This tastes like a sweet bread.  You could top with a dollup of whipped cream cheese.  I got this recipe from a teacher-friend, Amanda Lemmons.  She makes it with bananas instead of pumpkin.  She says she has also used a chocolate cake mix with the bananas to make chocolate-banana cake.  I have added pureed strawberries before and glazed witha powdered sugar glaze.  I have also replaced the pumpkin with apples and glazed with a caramel glaze before.  It is a versatile recipe and a baked cake freezes well!
Fall Treat!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hot Pockets

My daughter-in-law, Jessica, was sharing a story about how her parents are surviving their house remodel/add-on with no kitchen and heating up foods like Hot Pockets for dinner.  Now, I know that there are times when we all wish we had no kitchen so we wouldn't have to cook or clean it and could just eat out or something like that.  However, in reality, I don't think any of us really, really wants to be without a kitchen at all.  Yet, her mention of Hot Pockets flung a craving on me today.  Rather than make a dash to the store, though, I decided to try to concoct one of my own.  Here is what I came up with:

1 package refrigerated Crescent Rolls - when you start with this as a base, what wouldn't be easy and good?
1 pound leftover pork loin - rubbed with a secret concoction of McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple and Mesquite seasonings and marinated overnight in a secret concoction of Johnny's Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce, and Lemon Juice

mushrooms - an ingredient that I think makes most any main dish wonderful and Mike says I add to everything and...maybe I do

grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese - You know I grew up on a dairy farm and how can you go wrong by adding cheese?

  • First, unroll the roll dough and butt two of the triangles together at the base end.
  • Top with some roasted pork loin that wouldn't slice when your husband tried to slice it for his birthday party company (various family members) and wound up just pulling apart like pulled pork bar-b-que. 
  • Add a layer of the mushrooms and sprinkle with some of the cheese.
  • Fold the pointy ends of the dough over the filling and bake in a 350 degrees oven for about ten minutes.
  • Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and serve up with some home-made pickles, some Goldfish crackers you steal from the stash for the grands, and a glass of cranberry juice.

P.S.  It also looks delish on a pretty blue-and-white plate gifted to you by said daughter-in-law's mother, Karen.  Thanks, Karen! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

1 package Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup creamy Peanut Butter
2 Eggs
1 package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 more Tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Pecans

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt 1/2 cup butter and creamy peanut butter together.
  • Add cake mix and blend till combined.
  • To form a crust, press 2/3 of mixture into 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.
  • Melt and stir together chocolate chips, 2 Tablespoons butter, and can of sweetened condensed milk.
  • Add vanilla and pecans and spread atop the pressed crust.
  • Crumble reserved cake mix/butter mixture atop the chocolate mixture.
  • Bake 20 minutes.
  • Cool completely before cutting into bars - if you can wait that long!
The original recipe came from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kosher-Style Dill Pickle Spears


10 pounds cucumbers
1/4 cup mixed pickling spices
2-3 bunches fresh or dried dill
1 1/2 cups canning salt
2 cups vinegar
2 gallons water
6 cloves garlic (optional)
Bay leaves
6-8 cloves of garlic
6-8 hot, red peppers
Mustard seed

Preparation Steps:

I basically had two sized of cucumbers and for these pickles.  I used the larger ones.  I decided to quarter them, slicing them into spears.
  • Wash and drain the cucumbers.  Quarter them, slicing them into spears
  • Place half of pickling spices and a layer of dill into the bottom of a clean pickling container.  (I used a clean five-gallon bucket.)
  • Add cucumbers to within top of pickling container.
  • Combine, salt, vinegar, and water; ladle over cucumbers.
  • Place a layer of dill and remaining pickling spices over the top. 
  • Add garlic, if desired.
  • Weight cucumbers under the brine.
  • Store container in a cool place.
  • Let cucumbers ferment until well flavored with dill and clear throughout.  Pickles should be ready to can in about two to three weeks.
  • Remove pickles from brine and rinse.
  • Strain the brine; bring to a boil in a large saucepot.
  • Pack pickles into hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  • Add one bay leaf, one clove garlic, one piece hot red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed to each jar.
  • Get out your new plastic, collapsible funnel that you got on clearance at the grocery store and place it in one of the jars.  Ladle the hot brine into each jar leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  • Adjust two-piece caps.  (I'm not pleased that the brine in these jars is a little milky looking.  Wonder if that is how it is supposed to look?) 
  • Process fifteen minutes in a boiling water canner.
  • Allow to ferment in jars for two to three weeks.
  • Hope they turn out to be tasty!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Breaded Okra


fresh okra

corn meal and flour from your fancy labeled tubs


Steps to prepare:

  • Put some CDs into the stereo and turn it up really loud so you can dance around to the music and feel happy while you do this.  Today I picked from the sexy men singers category and listened to folks like Conway, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Trace Atkins, Marvin Gaye, Boys To Men and, of course, the most sexy - George Strait.   (Yes, I still use my old school stereo because I can turn it up really loud and not have to have those iPod ear buds hurting my ears and falling out when I dance around the kitchen.  Has anybody solved this problem with the iPod ear buds?)

  • With a sharp knife cut the ends off the okra and discard.  Then, cut the okra into bite-sized pieces.
  • Pour just enough buttermilk into bowl to coat the okra slices.  (I'm still amazed that I could do this and make a picture of it at the same time!)
  • Combine about one cup of cornmeal and three tablespoons of flour in a gallon plastic zipper bag.  (I usually sneak and add some salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning into the mix as well.)  I forgot to take a photo of this step so just envision this part.

  • Get out your favorite old spoon with slots (that came with the Fry Baby you used in college more than 20 more than 30 ahem... many years ago) and gently stir the okra to coat it thoroughly. 
  • Then, begin lifting and draining it and place it into the plastic bag holding a combination of flour and cornmeal.  (I usually shake this around a bit and then add spoonful after spoonful and shake a little between each addition.)
  • Close the zipper bag tightly (or you will have a dusty, gritty kitchen where the ceiling fan blows the cornmeal/flour mix around).  Shake bag vigorously like the little girl did in the Shake-n-Bake commercials and say, "And I hay-elped."  (Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about because it will make me feel depressed that I am so old and you are young and spry.)
  • Take out the grungy old cookie sheets that you almost threw away when you married and moved into your husband's house because they looked so terrible but he talked you into keeping them because they would be good for something.  Line these cookie sheets (that you are thankful you have) with a sheet of wax paper.
  • Wash your favorite, old, slotted spoon and dry it well because it is the only one like it that you have and it works perfectly for this step.  Use it to carefully lift the okra out of the bag and place on the wax paper in a single layer. 
I took two shots of this because somehow on my fancy inexpensive camera the settings got changed while I was trying to do all these things and take photos at the same time.  The one above is with a flash and the one below has no flash.  Which one do you think looks more appealing?
  • Or you could just use your hand and get your pretty wedding ring all gritty and grungy.

  • Place the pan of breaded okra in the freezer for at least 24 hours until it freezes through.  Then, put the frozen okra into freezer bags and label them so you will know exactly what it is and when you froze it and won't have to stand there wondering in a couple of months which bags are the older ones that you should cook first.

  • When the weather gets cold and you want to be reminded of these sweltering, stifling, arid days of summer, simply open a bag of this delicacy and (get your hubby to) drop the delicious nuggets into his deep fryer.  You also could fill a skillet with vegetable oil and heat it to very hot and fry it till it is golden brown.  Then, using your favorite, multi-purpose, slotted spoon lift the okra out and place it into a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the excess grease.  Serve hot and enjoy this southern treat!
P.S. If you have some squash that is a bit too mature and you tried to tell your husband to throw it away but he said it would be good battered and fried, you could slice up the smaller parts of it and bread it and freeze it the same way and it will be delicious prepared just like the okra!

sliced squash pieces
buttermilk coated squash

squash layered on wax paper/cookie sheet ready to freeze

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pasta Salad

2 bags of four cheese tortellini
1 bag of bowtie pasta
1 can of niblet corn
1 can sliced black olives
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 jar of artichoke hearts, drained
1 can of asparagus, drained and chopped
1 jar of roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
Italian salad dressing

  • Boil, rinse, and drain pastas.
  • Add other ingredients except for dressing and toss gently to mix.
  • Pour enough salad dressing to suit your taste and toss gently.  I use about a cup of the dressing.
  • Chill for an hour or so and serve cold.

This recipe is one I got from my sister, Brenda and her daughters, Megan, Rebecca, and Madalyn.  I don't know who of them first prepared this for one of our family gatherings but I can tell you that I absolutely love it and have had hoards of complements every time I have taken it to a pot luck.  Mike's son and daughter-in-law always have a bash celebrating The Fourth.  Since it has been beyond sultry and closer to hot-as-Hades this week, I mixed this up to take to the bash.  It makes quite a big large huge gigantor quantity, so you will want to make it when you know there will be a crowd!

Note:  I have left out ingredients at times when the cupboard was not fully stocked by the household grocery shopper (me) and in the salad pictured I had no olives or asparagus.  So, this salad wasn't quite as yummy as it could have been but it was gobbled up and ooohs and aahhs abounded just the same!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sweet Pickle Relish

This is a recipe I found in the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving.  My copy looks like this:

It is full of wonderful recipes and you could get your own copy HERE.  Someday maybe I can try out and sample all the recipes I want!

1 quart chopped cucumbers (about 4 medium)
2 cups chopped onions (about 2 medium)
1 cup chopped sweet, green pepper (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped sweet, red pepper (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup salt
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 cups cider vinegar

  • First, wash and sort your cucumbers.  I saved the larger of the two sizes I had to make Kosher Dill Pickles.  (That recipe will follow when I have finished that project up!)

  • Next, wash peppers and onions.

  • Chop cucumbers.  I used my Pampered Chef food chopper but next time I'll probably use a food processor because I will double the recipe and that is a LOT of hand chopping.

  •  Chop peppers and onions.

  • Combine chopped cucumbers, onions, and peppers in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water.  Let stand 2 hours.

  • The mix will bubble and start to stink emit a strong smell become quite fragrant.
  • After 2 hours, drain.  Rinse and drain thoroughly.  (I put the chopped stuff into an old, thin, clean pillow case and squeezed all the liquid out to drain this thoroughly.)
Celery Seed
Mustard Seed
Just wanted to show off my pretty new measuring spoons I got for Mother's Day.
Thanks Corey, Bridgette, Lillie, and Lydia!
  • Combine sugar, spices, and vinegar in a large sauce pan.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add drained vegetables and simmer 10 minutes.

  • Pack relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Remove air bubbles by sliding a wooden or plastic spoon down the side of the jar.
  • Attach two-piece caps.
  • Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
The Ball Blue Book suggests that one allow pickled foods to sit in jars for a couple of weeks to fully ferment.  I'm not sure I can wait that long!