Saturday, March 22, 2014

Easy Corned Beef, Cabbage & Potatoes - One Pot Meal




I really look forward to St. Patrick's Day because of one reason, pretty much.  I LOVE cabbage!  I grew up eating lots of cabbage.  It was a staple at our house.  My husband, however, does not like cabbage.  He can't even stand to smell it cooking!  Grrr... But he overlooks this aversion on St. Patrick's Day, being that he loves me so much. LOL.

This St. Patrick's Day I was all set to go to my parents' house for dinner.  My mom was making corned beef and cabbage.  I was so looking forward to it!  Well... wouldn't you know that I would get sick on St. Patrick's Day?  I could have went ahead and gone to my parents' for dinner but, I didn't want them to catch my cold.  It was miserable being so sick!

My sweet husband drove me around our small town trying to find a restaurant serving corned beef and cabbage, but we had no luck!  We ended up at our local A&W restaurant, ... which was good, ... but it wasn't corned beef & cabbage, and it was ST. PATRICK'S DAY (sigh)!

My husband loves to bowl and since he was bowling on this cold, Missouri Saturday night (in March-ugh), I took the opportunity to make myself some corned beef and cabbage.

I've made a real corned beef brisket, but I'm not a fan.  I actually like my corned beef and cabbage cooked with canned corned beef or deli corned beef.  I picked up a can of corned beef and a nice head of cabbage at Aldi.  I like to eat potatoes with my corned beef and cabbage so I added potatoes right into my cooking pot.  It was a feast!!  This isn't really a recipe. I'm going to just tell you how I made it.  I did discover one thing.  I don't have to have the corned beef.  The cabbage and potatoes would make a great meal all by itself. I think bowling night is going to involve lots of cabbage and potatoes for me LOL.  The only thing I was missing was a big hunk of Homemade Cornbread.  Ah well... there's always next bowling night!

Here's how I made Easy Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potatoes - One Pot Meal AT HOME MY WAY:

Corned Beef, Cabbage & Potatoes
One Pot Meal
 
  • One head of cabbage
  • 3 or 4 potatoes (brown or red skinned)
  • 1 Tablespoon (rounded) bacon grease or butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Water
  • 1 Can of corned beef (optional)
 
Instructions: 
 
Remove the very outer leaves of the cabbage and give it a good wash.  Chop the cabbage into a large pot in big hunks, avoiding the inner core of the cabbage.  Add about an inch of water to the pot (not any more than that).  Salt & pepper the cabbage.  Cut the potatoes into big cubes.  I left the peelings on my potatoes because I like them that way but you could peel them if you like.  Add the bacon grease/butter.
 
Cook on medium at a good simmer with a lid for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The cabbage will soften and shrink.  When the potatoes are soft (you can poke them with a fork), add hunks of the corned beef (or omit the corned beef, if you like).
 
 
Cook another 10 minutes or so without a lid so that the water cooks out a little bit.
 
 
That's it!  It's done! Get out the plates and the forks!
 
  
(I fried a little bit of ham steak to go with my meal.)  Corned beef, cabbage & Potatoes was such a delicious, southern, country supper!  Fill a big, canning jar with sweet tea and you too will feel "home" seeping into your bones!
 
 
Enjoy!
 
 

 
Gina
 
 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Pitter Patter of Little Feet - Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies (Baby Shower Food)


I wanted to share a couple of the food/book combinations that we used at my niece's baby shower.  I bought the baby a new bookshelf and we used books as the theme.  We all had a great time and the new mom welcomed a great assortment of children's books to add to her bookshelf. 

My niece is super smart and I credit some of that to the fact that her mom started reading to her as an tiny infant.  I remember Jill perched in her mom's cross-legged lap, staring intently at the pages of the books my sister-in-law read to her.  I think before she could even hold her own bottle, she tried turning the pages of the books.  My sister-in-law set a great example for me.  My girls were born after Jill and I knew immediately I wanted to start off reading lots of books.  My niece, herself, suggested that instead of cards at the shower, we all give her children's books (since they are about the same price these days!) but we also decided to decorate with books.  It was adorable!

I had a great time buying the books.  I have favorites (which I used to read with great expression as my kids would laughingly tell you) and I tried to incorporate those books into the shower.  I purchased most of my girls' books through Scholastic or Firefly since my daycare provider could get free books through that program.  The books were reasonable and classics.  I bought Jill's books for the shower mostly through Amazon as they have great prices and I could find the paperbacks that are a little less expensive. I chose my favorite of all time book to give to Jill:

 
You can find it at Amazon HERE.
 
OK... on with the food.
 
I made a favorite recipe for Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies cut in the shapes of little feet.  I sprinkled with pastel sugars.  This is the recipe I will share with you today.  Beside the plate of cookies, I displayed the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  My family really loves this recipe for sugar cookies.  My daughter, Rebecca, was so excited when she saw them.  We've been making lots of other recipes for sugar cookies lately so taking a bite of these cookies brought back lots of memories for her.  These cookies have hints of cream cheese and almond flavoring.  A great combination for cookies!
 
I'm posting more picture of food/book combinations below the cookie recipe and I'll post more of the recipes for these dishes later on this week.
 
Here's how I made Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies AT HOME MY WAY:
 
 
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
 
  • 1/2 cup real butter (soft, but not melted)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese (soft)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Colored sugars for sprinkling
 
Instructions:
 
Cream soft butter with soft cream cheese (I used a wooden spoon).  Add in sugar and egg, cream well.  Add in baking powder, vanilla, almond extract.  Cream well. Stir in the flour until smooth.  Form into a cohesive ball in the bowl.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least an hour.
 
Preheat oven to 350.
 
Remove dough from the fridge and roll on lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.  Maybe a little thicker.
 
Cut with cookie cutters.  Place on sprayed or parchment covered cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugars. 
 
Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes.
 
Let cool slightly and then remove to a cooling rack.
 
 
Here are more pictures of the books and food. My niece was so excited and we all had a great time looking through the books.  Talk about memories!  For us old moms, that's the best part (other than buying BABY things) about baby showers.
 
 
 
Pickle Roll Ups and Deviled Eggs with the
book, Green Eggs and Ham
 
 

 
 
Pigs in a Blanket (just hotdogs wrapped in halves of
canned biscuits) with the book, Three Little Pigs.
 
 
I also made a fruit baby. He turned out so cute!
 
We also served:
 
Baked Beans with the book, Jack and the Bean Stalk;
Moon Pies with the book, Goodbye Moon
 
 
 
BBQ Meatballs made with Easy Peasy Meatballs
with the book, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs;
 
My sister-in-law also brought a pan of lasagna
so we displayed the book, More Spaghetti, I say;
which isn't exactly the same, but almost LOL.
 
Oh!  Here's the cake:
 
 
 
And OF COURSE I insisted on having the typical shower food (for me anyway...) of PUNCH:
 
 
 
(Punch recipe coming soon this week...)
 
and of course, the
 
 
 
The Cream Cheese Mints and nuts.
 
There are lots of fun combinations for food and books.  I think this would be a great little kid birthday party theme as well as a baby shower theme.  Everyone loves new books and what a great way to provide a great resource for new parents.
 
Hope you enjoy the inspiration and the food!
 

 
Gina





Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cream Cheese Mints



Seems like these days (in my area anyway), some of the greatest treats at showers and weddings are being forgotten.  What happened to the MINTS AND NUTS?

I would say 100% of the recent weddings and showers I've been to lately don't serve mints, nuts, OR punch?  What's up with that?  I get the peanut allergies are causing a problem for mixed nuts, but what about the MINTS?  And bring back the PUNCH!

When I got married (I know... way back in the dark ages), we didn't serve everyone a full meal.  We got married and at the reception, everyone enjoyed and looked forward to lusciously huge slices of delicious, beautifully decorated wedding cake as well as pastel butter mints, and frothy punch.  These days, these simple pleasures seem to be amiss at weddings and showers.

So being the complete traditionalist that I am, when I hosted the baby shower for my niece last week I knew for sure that I was serving mints and punch.  My nephew is allergic to nuts so I kept those sealed in the can in the pantry until I was sure he wouldn't be at the party.

I love all kinds of pastel mints.  I love butter mints, and even the little cheapies you get at dollar stores but I decided to make some homemade mints for our party.  These Cream Cheese Mints are really yummy!  Even the people who don't care for mints usually gobble these down.  They are easy enough to make and worth every bit of the little extra work they require.  They are great to serve at showers, weddings, birthday parties.  They even make great Christmas candies.

Here's how I made Cream Cheese Mints AT HOME MY WAY:

Cream Cheese Mints 
 
  • 3 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 drop food coloring
  • Sugar for rolling the mints (like you would sprinkle on cookies)
 
Instructions:

Place cream cheese (completely softened) in a small mixing bowl and with a mixer, cream until soft.  Add one drop of food color and the peppermint extract.  Add the powdered sugar slowly and keep mixing with the mixer until all creamy.  Knead in up to 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until the mint mixture is no longer sticky.  Place in fridge for at least an hour.

Make small balls using teaspoons for the mints, roll in granulated sugar and flatten with a fork until the mints are fat little discs.  (Instead of lifting the fork off the mint, slide it sideways until the tines of the fork slide off - that works best.)

Place in the fridge until firm.  You can make these days or even months early.  Just bag up and keep in the freezer to get a head start on your party.

Enjoy!
 
 

 
 Gina


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Easy Meatballs



We hosted a baby shower at our house last weekend to welcome the birth of a new great-nephew.  I'll post later on about the wonderful theme we used (books) as well as all of the wonderful food that we served to match the book titles.  It was a blast!

One of the things I served was BBQ meatballs.  When I saw the price of a bag of frozen meatballs, I knew I would be making them homemade.  What I didn't know was how easy and inexpensive they were to make!  I turned to a favorite blog (Lynn's Kitchen Adventures) for a meatball recipe that I could depend on to be delicious and easy.  The link to Lynn's recipe is HERE.  Lynn's recipe for the meatballs is perfect!  Most recipes I've seen for homemade meatballs use lots of ingredients and spices.  Lynn's recipe is very simple - ground beef, egg, and oats.  It can't get much easier than that!  Lynn uses bottled barbecue sauce on her BBQ meatballs.  Since I've made BBQ sauce lots of times (such as in my Crockpot Pulled Pork with Tangy BBQ Sauce), I knew mixing up BBQ sauce would be easy peasy.  I found a basic recipe for sweet BBQ sauce and then combined it with my own tangy BBQ sauce recipe.  The end result was marvelous!

I decided to bake my meatballs on my broiler pan.  The grease drains away leaving perfect meatballs!

I made my meatballs the day before the party, mixed up the BBQ sauce, placed the whole kit and caboodle in the crockpot insert and put it in the fridge.  The day of the party, I put the insert in the crockpot, plugged it in, and was ready for company!

The meatballs themselves (without any sauce) can be baked and then frozen, or placed on a cookie sheet unbaked, frozen, and then bagged.  I made mine fresh and served the next day but I will be certainly using this recipe to make ahead lots of meatballs.  They will be great added to spaghetti sauce  as "spaghetti and meatballs" or serving as meatball sandwiches; also for making with stroganoff, adding to soups or as the sweet little BBQ meatballs that we  all love to eat at parties!  Hey, some frozen meatballs and even bottled, purchased BBQ sauce would make a fast snack or meal when you have nothing planned.  What a great thing to have on hand!

Here's how I made Easy Meatballs with BBQ sauce at home my way:

Easy Meatballs
(and Sweet BBQ Sauce Recipe)
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oats (quick or regular
  • Spices (optional) (I just used a little salt & pepper.)
 
Instructions:
 
Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl.  You can add some seasoning if you like.  I added a little salt and pepper.  I mashed together using a potato masher but you can just squish it all together with CLEAN hands.
 
 
Make meatballs by using a rounded Tablespoon of meat, and forming into balls.  Place on a sprayed cookie sheet or broiler pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
 
Cool completely before freezing (if freezing).
 
 
 
Sweet BBQ Sauce for Meatballs
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup (not packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Spicy Mustard
 
Instructions:
 
Mix in a small bowl until all combined and smooth.
 
Pour over baked/fully cooked meatballs and warm in a little crockpot or in the oven in a casserole dish until ready to serve.
 
 
 
A few pics of the meatball making process:
 
 
 
Place the thawed meat, egg, oats, and any spices
in a mixing bowl.
 
 

 
Mix well until all incorporated.
 
 
I made each ball of meat from a rounded Tablespoon.
 
 

 
Place rounded meatballs on a sprayed pan.
I used a broiler pan.
 
 
 
Bake them 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
 
 
Not a pretty picture but they were MIGHTY TASTY!
 
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 
Gina
 
 

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