Monday, December 30, 2013

French Bread in a New French Bread Pan-Love it!



I got a new French-Bread pan for Christmas and used it Sunday to make two loaves of beautiful French Bread.  I also made a big pot of homemade Spaghetti Sauce.  What a feast!  (Like we need to be feasting AT ALL with all of the Christmas goodies we've been stuffing ourselves with lately LOL?)

I made this  dough the old fashioned way.  I usually make dough in my bread machine but decided to stick to the basics and kneaded it myself.  It was a little sticky to knead but I made it work and the bread itself was divine!

My new bread pan worked out great!  I have tried using foil logs, spraying them with cooking spray and baking loaves of French bread on a cookie sheet wedged between the foil logs, but that never worked out just perfectly.  This will work much better! I also love the little holes in the pan which crisps the bottom of the loaves.

We loved the thick slices, still slightly warm from the oven, buttered with our spaghetti!  Mmmmm.

I plan on spreading leftover slices with garlic butter, sprinkling with a little mozzarella, and freezing flat for toasting to serve with batches of soup, stews, and pasta dishes.  I learned all about that at the Hickery Holler Farm Blog also.  She has great ideas for putting real food on the table.

Here's the pan I used and which you can find on Amazon HERE:



 And here is how I made French Bread AT HOME MY WAY:


French Bread
 

(Makes two loaves.  Leftovers freeze beautifully.)

Dough:
  • 3 cups warm (hot but no hurt) water
  • 1 Tablespoon Active yeast (1 packet) (not quick rise)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Brush on unbaked loaves before final rise in the bread pan for golden crusts (optional):

1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk

Instructions:

Measure water.  Make sure it feels like very warm bath water (hot but no hurt).  Add the yeast and stir gently to dissolve.  Add sugar.  Stir gently to dissolve.  Set a timer for 5 minutes while you mix the dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl:

Measure 3 cups of flour.  Add the 2 teaspoons salt.  Mix well.

After the timer goes off, the yeast/water/sugar mixture should be frothy like rootbeer.  (If it is not, your yeast is not working.)  The water might be cloudy and swirling and not super frothy but you should see some action in there if you got it right.

Stir gently the water/yeast/sugar mixture again and add to the flour/salt.  Stir with a big spoon until mostly smooth.  Continue adding 3 more cups flour and stirring until you cannot stir any longer.  (Stir between adding each cup).

Add the remaining cup of flour and start working that in with your hands, kneading.  If the dough is super sticky, add small bits of flour and knead in the bowl, folding the dough and pressing it to knead.  Knead for 5 minutes.  (I even moistened my hands with a little olive oil because my dough was so sticky but adding flour can make the bread too dense so try not to add any more than you have to.)

Cover the bowl with a warm/wet/squeezed out kitchen towel and let the dough rise for an hour or so in a place free of cool drafts.  The dough should double in size.

Spray your pans with cooking spray, (gently) divide the dough in half and form into long loaves .

Brush the loaves with the milk/egg mixture (optional) for golden color.

Preheat the oven to 350 while the loaves are rising.  They should rise about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees (fully preheated) for approximately 30-35 minutes.  Let cool some before slicing.  Slice with electric knife for the best looking slices. 

Cool completely before bagging to avoid a build up of moisture in the bag.

Serve, eat or freeze for later use.

Ready for the oven!
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dried Beef Cheese Ball



For just about as long as we have been married, we have spent Christmas Eve with my husband's mom.  Sometimes she has lots of Christmas Eve guests and sometimes she has just a few.  This year she had a bumper crop.  The living room was full of laughing cousins, lots of stories, and even more good food.

My mother-in-law always makes wonderful little BBQ hotdogs on Christmas Eve.  My sister-in-law and I LOVE them!  I haven't posted that recipe but they are just a jar of grape jelly plus a jar of mustard and regular hotdogs cut into fourths.  She cooks them slowly in a little crock for hours until they are thick and yummy.

We are big on hot dogs apparently because the other favorite dish are regular old pigs in a blanket cut small and made with canned biscuits and hot dogs.  Those are always the first things to go.

This year, my daughter, Rachel, made a Dried Beef Cheese Ball.  We love all kinds of cheese balls but this is a particular favorite.  We decided that I definitely needed to post this recipe so that we can find it to make in the future.  We even served the leftovers of this cheese ball on Christmas morning and it was a great savory snack instead of sweets for breakfast.

Here's how Rachel made Dried Beef Cheese Ball AT HOME MY WAY:

Dried Beef Cheese Ball
 
  • 3 (8 ounce) blocks of cream cheese (we used 1 regular + 2 nonfat blocks of cream cheese)
  • 1 jar Armour brand Sliced Dried Beef (2.25 ounces)
  • 4 Tablespoons sliced green onions (approximately 3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Accent
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce 
  • Plastic Wrap to line a small bowl for forming the cheese ball, serving plate, and crackers.
Instructions:
 
Soften cream cheese in the microwave approximately 30 seconds in a micro safe mixing bowl until you can stir.
 
Chop the dried beef in small pieces - do not add yet.  Dried beef is found near the tuna in the grocery isle and looks like this:
 
 
Chop the green onion until you have approximately 4 Tablespoons - do not add yet.
 
Add the Accent and worcestershire sauce to the softened cream cheese.  Then, stir in the onion and chopped, dried beef.  Mix well.
 
Place a piece of plastic wrap in a small bowl (the size of your cheese ball).  Dump in the cheeseball mixture and using the plastic wrap to fold over, press the cheese ball into the bowl. 
 
Refrigerate for a few hours to harden.
 
To serve, open the plastic wrap and place the bowl upside down on a serving plate.  Remove the plastic wrap.
 
Serve with crackers of your choice.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sweet Potato Bake



I have made this recipe for Sweet Potato Bake for many years.  I originally found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine. 

I didn't grow up eating sweet potato casserole so this was new for me.  (When I was little in the south, we normally ate sweet potatoes that were baked and served split in half with butter - with the potato cut in hatch marks so that the butter would soak in). 

When Taste of Home first came out, I LIVED by every issue.  I loved pouring over the magazines and finding new recipes for comfort food to serve to my family.  This is one of the recipes that has survived many family dinners!  Believe it or not, every time I make Sweet Potato Bake, I drag out ALL of my magazines to find the recipe (I write my favorite recipes on the covers in permanent marker).  It's a huge process because I have so many magazines!   Thinking ahead, I am blogging this recipe so I can find it easier.  

I have tweaked the recipe a bit to fit my tastes.  I will link to the original recipe HERE.  I prefer a more dense amount of sweet potatoes so I use less eggs and since the sweet potatoes provide a delicious amount of sweetness on their own, I have also decreased the sugar.  You can make it according to the original recipe or according to my version here, but I can guaranty this will be a winner-winner at your next family dinner!

Here's how I make Sweet Potato Bake AT HOME MY WAY:

Sweet Potato Bake

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
TOPPING:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cold butter

Directions:

Bake sweet potatoes @ 350 degrees for 1 hour or until they start oozing goodness from the skins.  (Let cool completely before mixing.)  This means they are ready.  (Just place them whole, in a pan, uncovered, unwrapped, peeling still on - to bake.)  (You can do this ahead of time.)

Peel and/or scoop out all of the sweet potato into a mixing bowl, mash or mix with a mixer.  Add remaining ingredients (except topping ingredients) and blend with a mixer until smooth.  Place in a sprayed casserole dish.

Topping:  Cut cold butter into brown sugar and flour until crumbly, stir in pecans.  Sprinkle over the unbaked casserole.  You can double the topping if you like more of this nutty sweetness!

BAKE at 325 degrees (preheated oven) for 45 minutes. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce





This recipe for Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce is my very favorite spaghetti sauce.  My mom always called it "Quicky Sauce."  That's because it doesn't have to simmer for hours like some homemade spaghetti sauce recipes. 

Is it as quick as jarred sauce?  Well... if you are browning hamburger anyway, its only a matter of dumping in some cans and a few spices, so it's pretty close!  The taste will win you over!  It's delicious!

This sauce is deliciously heady with garlic, tomatoes and mushrooms, with a little bit of basil and sugar.  It comes out chunky but the sauce itself is thin.  With a big pot of buttery pasta, it doesn't get much better than this.

Here's how I make Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce AT HOME MY WAY:

 
Quicky (Chunky) Spaghetti Sauce
 
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of hamburger, cooked and drained
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  •  1 regular can diced tomatoes (do not drain)  (fresh tomatoes work great also)
  • 1 small can of mushrooms-drained (I use stems & pieces=cheap)
  • 8 ounces of water (use the tomato sauce can for this)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions:
 
Brown the hamburger in a tall skillet, drain.  Sprinkle with the onion powder.  Add the tomato sauce + 1 can of water, the diced tomatoes (not drained), the drained can of mushrooms and the spices.  Salt & pepper.  Cook/simmer (should be bubbling well) uncovered about 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
 
(I cook mine (bubbling hard -stirring) about 15 minutes and then start my pasta water.  By the time the pasta is done and drained, the whole thing is ready to go!)
 
 
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina



Monday, November 4, 2013

Homemade Egg Rolls



I have been on a serious Chinese buffet "roll" lately!  My favorite hometown restaurant is called "Happy China" and the staff at Happy China and I are now on a first name basis LOL.  The food is consistently delicious and I can get a buffet one-trip to go, which makes me one happy girl!  However, this isn't such a good thing on the old budget.  I find that my Happy China buffets are adding up and I need to find something just as good that I can eat at home and leave eating Happy China as an occasional treat.

I decided this weekend to make my hubby one of his favorite meals ever, Hawaiian Chicken.  Hawaiian Chicken is one of those things that I like to eat, but I never think to make it.  I decided this was pretty close to the chicken I get at my favorite Happy China restaurant.  I decided to make Homemade Egg Rolls to go with our meal.  I figured the crispy egg roll wrapper would fill my need for dipping yumminess (I love to dip in the sauce/rice... YUMMO!) although I typically eat crab rangoon when I eat Chinese buffet.

My Homemade Egg Rolls turned out delicious!  I have made homemade baked egg rolls and they are great.  I love them, but this time I was looking for those crispy, blistered looking rolls of sweet shredded cabbage and spices.  Personally, I'm never very fond of the meat in egg rolls so I made mine without meat but you could chop up a little cooked meat and include in your filling if you want.

My Homemade Egg Rolls were not hard.  They didn't take very long at all to make.  I got them ready earlier in the day and then fried them as I was making dinner.  I used bagged coleslaw mix so I didn't even have any chopping to do. 

Here's how I made Homemade Egg Rolls AT HOME MY WAY:

Homemade Egg Rolls
 
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers (I found these near the produce section of the grocery store)
  • 1 bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons stir fry sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Oil for frying
Instructions:
 
Filling
 
In a skillet, drizzle the oil around in the skillet.  Add the soy sauce and stir fry sauce.  Turn the skillet on and stir these to combine.  When the skillet is hot, add the water (it will sizzle) and the minced onion and the garlic powder.  Stir. Add the coleslaw mix and cook, stirring often until partially cooked.  I just kept stirring from bottom to top until the cabbage was stir fried but not cooked all of the way.  This doesn't take very long.
 
Egg rolls:
 
Open the egg roll wrappers and place them one at a time on a small plate for assembly.  Turn so the points are at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock.  Wet the edges with fingers dipped in water.  Place a scoop of the cooked cabbage across the center.  Fold the bottom point up and over the filling, then fold the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock points over the filling, then finish wrapping (like you would for a burrito).  Place these egg rolls on a plate or cookie sheet until frying.
 
Frying:
 
Place about 3/4 inch of oil in a skillet.  Once it is hot (I drop a drip of water in and once it sizzles, it's ready), gently place the egg rolls in the oil.  Turn to flip once they are brown on the bottom.
 
Drain on a paper towel or cooling rack.
 
I froze my leftovers once they were cool in a gallon baggy for rewarming in the oven the next time I make Hawaiian Chicken.  Sorry Happy China, but I might be getting my fix at home these days!
 

 
 
I shared this recipe at Carole's Chatter
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken (Baked Chicken)




This is another no-brainer recipe.  But, I decided to post it in case either of my kids (or someone else) wants to know how I do it. 

Baking a whole chicken in the crockpot is one of the easiest things to make.  It takes literally seconds to prepare in the morning.  The only thing you would need to remember is that you do need a THAWED chicken to do this.  You could not use a frozen chicken.  I usually make this as a Monday meal and take my chicken out of the freezer on Sunday, leaving it on a plate to thaw.  I place it in the fridge overnight and Monday morning, I'm ready to get dinner started.

Monday mornings are painful.  I want to stay in bed or stay home or do anything but go to work... but duty calls and so does the bank account.  I can make Rotisserie-Baked Chicken and have several meal options for the week.

We usually have it the first time with some sort of potato or fries. 

Since my family is a little small these days, I usually have leftovers.  You could make chicken salad for lunches, top green salads with chicken for a heartier option there, make quickie burritos or tacos.  Usually, for me after eating dinner with the chicken, I let it cool and remove the crockpot insert and place that the in the fridge.  Always store the leftovers in the fridge! Sometime in the next day or two, I remove any meat, cover the remaining carcass (sorry... I know that sounds gross but there's no other way to say it) with water, cook on low all day, and have a great, rich broth.  With that, I add the meat I removed and make Homemade Chicken & Dumplings, Chicken Noodle Soup, or even a Homemade Pot Pie.  Really, the options are endless and are a super frugal way to stretch a buck.  I usually spend less than $5 on a whole chicken and I can normally get four or 5 meals from that one chicken.  Don't forget to freeze any leftover broth/chicken stock if you don't use it all up.

Here's how I make Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken (Baked Chicken) AT HOME MY WAY:

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken
(Baked Chicken)

  • 1 whole chicken (rinsed well)
  • 1 crockpot with a lid big enough for the whole chicken
  • Various spices.  (I use garlic powder, paprika, lemon pepper, salt, regular pepper.)

Instructions:

1.  Rinse the chicken well and place it in the crockpot.     
     (Remember to wash your hands well with soap.) 

2.  Sprinkle with spices of your choice. 

3.  Cover with the lid to the crockpot and turn the crockpot
     on LOW and cook 8-10 hours. 

 Sprinkled with spices and ready to go!



Don't forget the lid and to plug in - and turn on (LOW) the crockpot!
 


This chicken will be SUPER TENDER and you might have to use a big spatula to try to lift it out of the crockpot.  The meat will be juicy, tender, and just delicious!  Usually we serve ours straight out of the crockpot because it is so tender and falls apart.

Enjoy!
 
Gina


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alphabet Soup - Homemade



I have been having some yucky lunches lately.  I'm so lazy before work sometimes that just throwing stuff in my bag to make when I get there even seems like work.  The tightwad in me won't usually let me eat out and I end up eating something incredibly unsatisfying like graham crackers and peanut butter, or cottage cheese.  Ugh.

I am signed up for some wonderful thrifty-living, work-at home mom blogs and those ladies know how to put it on the table!  They know how to use what they have to make great, frugal, and nutritious meals  One of my favorites is the Prudent Homemaker.  She and her husband stock up and fill their pantry when they have money and then eat from it for long periods of time when they don't.  She bakes her own bread, makes her own soups, and pretty much makes everything from scratch that is possible.   She cooks, sews, gardens, cans, and bakes. She has beautiful pictures on her blog and is always an inspiration to me.

I found her blog post about making homemade Alphabet Soup.  She says that her family is too large for buying canned soups and when I saw the recipe for her Alphabet Soup, I knew I would love it.  I actually had never had homemade vegetable soup without meat but the famous name-brand canned soup that we all grew up eating ... has no meat in it!  Duh....  Soup sounded so good for lunch!  I decided to make some!

I woke up early this morning (old age is heck), threw all of the ingredients (all cans so no prep) into a pot to simmer and hit the shower.  I also grabbed some dough for Crusty Bread (5 Minute a Day bread dough) out of the fridge and baked that while I was cooking the soup, because WHO can have homemade soup without some delicious homemade bread, right?  Let's just say that I can't WAIT FOR LUNCH!  Wouldn't the Prudent Homemaker be proud of ME!

This soup is super delicious.  It puts canned Alphabet Soup to shame!  You will notice that I didn't use alphabet pasta.  I couldn't find it at either Walmart or a local grocery, but I did find little star pasta which is just as cute. 



You will notice that this soup doesn't have potatoes.  You could add some.  I just don't like the texture of leftover potatoes and since Brandy's recipe didn't use potatoes, I knew it would be a winner for my lunches.

Here's how I made Homemade Alphabet Soup AT HOME MY WAY:

Alphabet Soup - Homemade

  • 1 can of green beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water-micro)
  • 2 teaspoons dried/minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 carrots, diced (I used a few carrot coins left in my fridge - canned carrots would work fine also)
  • salt/pepper to taste (you won't need much salt)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup alphabet pasta (or even spaghetti broken in tiny pieces)
Instructions:

Place all ingredients except the pasta in a pot.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until carrots are done  (taste to make sure they ARE done).  Add the pasta, stir well a few times while cooking and cook until pasta is done (approximately 10 minutes).

It's ready!!


NOTES:  I think I will save little dabbles of corn and green beans from our meals (we use those most often as they are favorites) and keep in separate bowls in my freezer for adding to this soup to make it even cheaper by using leftovers instead of buying cans of corn/green beans.


Enjoy!
 
Gina


For more inspiration, the Prudent Homemaker's soup recipes page is

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries



This post is pretty much a no brainer but since it is the first time I have made them ... and since they were so easy and GOOD, I thought they were worth posting.

Last night my husband asked me to make sweet potato fries for dinner.  What!!!!  I couldn't believe it!  My husband is the pickiest of picky eaters and I can assure you that he has never eaten a sweet potato in his life (and yes,... he's old LOL!). 

We went to a friend's house for a fish fry Saturday night.  In addition to fish, chicken, and regular fried potatoes, our friend fried sweet potatoes.  He had told us he was doing them but I just assumed he was using bagged, frozen sweet potato fries.  My hubby was the #2 frier so in addition to frying, he was doing lots of munching and tasting.  I think cooking and munching and tasting is the best way to try new things.  You can't help but be hungry when you are smelling all of that good stuff. 

To my surprise, our friend had sliced regular (peeled) sweet potatoes for his sweet potato fries and my husband loved them!  What a treat!  Doug actually called me over to make sure I tried one. 

I wasn't letting this one get too far back in the dredges of his memory so I made some with our supper last night.  They were easy, fast, and cheap.  Gotta love that!  Doug decided last night that he wanted to try regular sweet potatoes with butter sometime soon.  Who woulda thunk it??

Here's how I made sweet potato fries AT HOME MY WAY:

Sweet Potato Fries
 
  • Sweet potato(s) (peeled and either chopped into fries or slices)
  • Oil
 
Instructions:
 
 
Peel the potatoes (We only needed one for just the two of us.).  Slice into thin slices.  You could also chop as for regular fries but since my hubby is new to sweet potatoes, I made them thin and crisp.
 
Place about 3/4 inch of oil in a skillet and heat until hot.  When you drop a drip of water into the oil, it will sizzle.
 
I placed mine around in the oil so that they were free floating (for crispier fries).
 
 
Fry until browning, flip, and fry until golden brown.
 
Drain on a paper towel or a dish cloth in a plate.
 
 
Sliced and ready to fry.
 
 
 

 

Fry baby, fry.
 
 
 
 
Flipped and frying.
 
 
 
I served them with Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken & corn.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

















Monday, October 21, 2013

Chocolate Pie - A Family Favorite


One of our family's ultimate favorite desserts is this Chocolate Pie!  I have to take it to just about every family function.  Both of my girls like it, the old man likes it, and I LOVE it!  Various other interluders in our family (once married into the family or boyfriends and now exes also love it LOL!).  I always  bring home a completely empty pie plate when I make this.

I referenced this Chocolate Pie in my post about this Lemon Meringue Pie:


I got this recipe from a beloved friend at the first law office I worked at.  Jamilee lives on as I remember her each and every time I make one of her pies.  Jamilee's meringue would have stretched high to the heavens but I haven't quite mastered the art of a tall meringue. 

I personally LOVE meringue but the other members of my family do not so I make my chocolate pies usually without meringue.  Once in a great while I will do my best to put meringue on it.  I highly recommend putting meringue on Chocolate Pie if you like it as it makes this pie completely over the top and gives it that old timey feeling!  YUM!

Here's how I make Chocolate Pie AT HOME MY WAY:

Chocolate Pie
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks (no whites)
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla  (I sit the bottle of vanilla in my baked pie crust so that I don't forget to add it.)
  • Prebaked pie crust
Instructions:

(With the burner OFF), in a med/small saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt.  Stir well.

In a measuring cup, measure the 2 cups cold milk.  Add the 2 egg yolks (no whites!).  Blend to stir to fully incorporate the egg yolks.

Dump the milk/egg mixture in the pot with the dry ingredients.  Stir with a whisk to blend as well as you can.

Turn the burner on medium.  Stir often (almost continuously until it starts to bubble/simmer).  I use a whisk the entire time.  The pudding will try to stick so keep stirring!

Once it starts to bubble, set a timer for 2 minutes.  You may have to turn the burner down so that it doesn't simmer too hard.  Stir continuously and vigorously back and forth with the whisk.

After 2 minutes, remove from the burner.  Stir well and add the vanilla.  Stir well until all vanilla is incorporated and the pudding is smooth.

Dump into the baked pie crust.  (Hint:  Sometimes I don't want to heat up my oven for this pie.  If you place your crust in a micro-proof (glass) pie plate, you can bake it in the microwave by cooking on high 3-5 minutes or until is it done. I check every minute or so.)  Remember to prick your unbaked crust with lots of holes with a fork so that it has room to expand as it bakes.)

My pie crusts aren't pretty but they are delicious and are usually homemade. 


Recipe for Meringue (optional):

  • 2-3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4-6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Instructions:
 
Beat room temp egg whites (two from the pie or use three for a bigger meringue) until foamy and soft peaks will form.  
 
Add 2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar per egg white.  (If you are using two egg whites, use four Tablespoons of sugar; if you are using three egg whites, use six Tablespoons of sugar).  
 
Continue beating with electric mixer on high.  Add the sugar a little at a time - not all at once. I use three egg whites for a nicer, taller meringue.  (I'm not a pro at meringue by the way....)  Beat until stiff peaks form.  
 
Slowly fold in vanilla.  Pour over hot pie filling in crust. Spread to touch edges of crust.  Fluff it with the back of a spoon to create nice peaks in the meringue.

Place in preheated oven 350 for approximately 10 minutes or until meringue starts to get tan on the peaks.


Enjoy!
 
Gina


Come see my link for this recipe
along with a bunch of other great cooks at:


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sunken Apple Cake -



The other night when I made the Chili Mac, I also whipped up this Sunken Apple Cake.

I found the recipe at a favorite blog - Chickens in the Road.  Suzanne posted this recipe and said that she even made this little cake after arriving home from a long trip.  Heck, if she has the energy to mix this up after driving from Texas, surely I can mix it up after a long day of visiting at home LOL!  Here is Suzanne's terrific post about this recipe.

I loved everything about this little cake.  It's a small, snack-size cake, made from scratch with items I usually keep in my pantry.  Suzanne used apples and I had two apples left on my little apple tree so I used those.  But, you could use most any fresh or even drained, canned fruit.  It would be great served as a coffee cake for a breakfast treat or when friends stop by to chat and you want a little something to serve.

Sometimes my husband's mom and his aunts all gather together for coffee at his mom's house to catch up and I'm certain I will be making this soon to share with them.  It was delicious although not overly sweet. Another keeper!

Here's how I made Sunken Apple AT HOME MY WAY:

Sunken Apple Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (regular, white, granulated)
  • 2 teaspoons baking POWDER
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted) (I used 1/4 cup oil - worked FINE)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (I used VANILLA)
  • 3 cups sliced/chopped apples
Ingredients for the topping:

1/4 cup sliced/slivered almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar


Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the cake.  Mix well (I just stirred/whipped really well and didn't use a mixer although Suzanne recommends using a mixer).  Pour batter into a sprayed or prepared 8" square pan or pie plate (I used a pie plate).  Place apples on top, evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until it a knife inserted comes back clean.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and almonds.

Sprinkle over hot cake and return to the oven and broil on high for a few minutes, watching CAREFULLY so as not to burn the topping.

Enjoy!
Gina
 Before it went into the oven.


Mixing up the topping in a little bowl with a fork.  Easy!


Sprinkled hot cake with topping.


In the words of the Fonz.... "Perfectamundo!"


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chili Mac - Quicky



My daughter and her boyfriend were in for the weekend.  It was so great to see them!  We toured a great old home in our area on Saturday.  It was built in the mid 1800's and is just humongous.  It is filled with fancy old furnishings, antiques, portraits of the family members, and possibly a few spirits LOL!

My daughter and her dad always have a standing date at Pizza Hut on Saturday afternoons when she's home (not my thing exactly, but my daughter, her boyfriend, and Doug really love it .. so what can I say??).  I joined them for lunch so I wasn't very hungry all afternoon.  In fact, I was so full that I just couldn't think of anything to take out of the freezer to make for supper.

By about 6PM, I was getting a little hungry.  I had a small amount of hamburger in my freezer which could be thawed quickly in the microwave.  It was about the size of my fist.  What on earth could I make with that little dabble of hamburger?  I decided to try my hand at Chili Mac.  You know... kind of along the same idea as Hamburger Helper but using chili type ingredients.  (I didn't have the amount of cheese that I needed for Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni and it was kind of rainy weather.  Perfect for chili.  I just also didn't have the amount of hamburger that you would need to make a whole pot of chili.  So, Chili Mac it WAS and it turned out delicious!  I served it with some baby carrots and dip and we loved it!

Here's how I made Chili Mac AT HOME MY WAY:

Chili Mac
  • 1 pound of hamburger (or less)
  • 1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (diced would work also)
    1 can of kidney or pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (my family doesn't like onions)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon of chili powder (or less if you like less spicy)
  • salt & pepper to your liking
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup of UNCOOKED elbow macaraoni
Instructions:
Brown the hamburger in a decent sized skillet or dutch oven.  Drain if needed.  Add the onion powder and some salt/pepper.  Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, drained kidney/pinto beans, water, chili powder.  Stir well.  Cook on medium heat with a lid (stirring occasionally) about 15 minutes (until all the tastes have time to blend together).
Add the UNCOOKED macaroni to the pot.  Stir well.  Heat and stir often because the macaroni will try to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Continue cooking with a lid, stirring occasionally until the macaroni is done.  This took about 10-12 minutes.
*If your Chili Mac looks pretty dry and your macaroni isn't done, feel free to add a little drizzle of water, stir and continue cooking until the macaroni is done. 
Looks great, doesn't it?  The college kids loved it!


 This is mine before the macaroni had time to cook and swell up.  This will thicken a lot as the macaroni cooks:



Enjoy!

Gina


Monday, September 23, 2013

Biscuit Donuts - Homemade - Look Mom, No Cans!



When my brother and I were little, our mom often made canned biscuit donuts.  You know... the ones that you make by frying canned biscuits.  My mom says that when she was younger, they would sometimes get these for lunch.  Gotta love that!   My brother and I loved when we got to have these.  We each either had the job of pressing out the dough and cutting holes OR shaking them in the bag of powdered sugar.  We loved both jobs.  I never remember having a preference.

We always had these with powdered sugar but cinnamon sugar (regular granulated sugar mixed with a little cinnamon) would also be great.  You sometimes find these type of donuts on Chinese buffet restaurants although they aren't shaped like donuts. Not an incredibly healthy choice for breakfast, I know, but frugal and DELICIOUS!  And FUN!

I don't particularly like buying canned biscuits.  I'm always a fan of making it at home instead of using some over -processed item that you find at the store.  It occurred to me the other day that since I make Homemade Biscuits, I should be able to recreate these donuts with a homemade version.  I used the same "technique" my mom did (by pressing them out on a sheet of tin foil and cutting the holes).  No rolling! The only difference is that I mixed up my own batch of homemade biscuit dough instead of using a can of biscuits.

This recipe is basically half of my Homemade Biscuit recipe.  It made about 8 donuts and 8 holes.  Perfect for Saturday mornings!

Here's how I made Biscuit Donuts -  Homemade AT HOME MY WAY:


Biscuit Donuts - Homemade

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons shortening/margarine
1/2 cup milk
powdered sugar (approximately 1 cup or a little more)
A little extra flour for handling the dough - initially
Foil
oil for frying (I fried mine in about 1 inch of oil in a pan)

Ingredients for the Dough:

Mix the flour, baking powder & salt in a small mixing bowl. Cut in the margarine/shortening/butter (whichever you use). I cut mine in with a fork until crumbly.  Dump in the milk and stir until well combined.  Sprinkle with a little flour just so you can pinch off smaller balls of dough (the doughnuts).

Mine looked like this:


I pulled off a sheet of foil and sprayed it with cooking spray (you could also butter the foil if you don't have cooking spray).

Pinch the dough into balls about the size of ping pong balls:


Pat them out on the sprayed/buttered foil (about the size of a fat cookie):


Cut holes using around item.  I used the top from a spice bottle:



Using a deep skillet or large saucepan, put 1 inch of oil in the bottom.  Bring to medium heat.  If you drop a single drip of water in and it sizzles, it's ready.  Fry until you see browning at the edges.  (You might move them around a little to make sure they don't sink and stick when you first put them in the pan.)  Then flip:



Remove from frying oil and drain for a few seconds:




Now, put about a cup of powdered sugar in a small plastic or paper bag.  Shake the donuts until covered to your liking.

  
They're ready!  Perfect. Not too sweet and no rolling needed, AND... no trips out or to the store! My kind of donuts!




Enjoy!

Gina


I shared this recipe at:
WEEKEND POTLUCK #86

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