Monday, August 31, 2009

Paula Deen's Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan. Now that's something I haven't had in ages. We spent the morning cleaning and washing out the fridge, (try not to be envious of our madcap lifestyle, grins) and I had some sour cream and cheese that needed to be used up.

I remembered this old favorite and I did a little web search, looked at my cookbooks and decided on Paula Deen's version. She uses a lot of pantry items in this, but what decided me was the little bit of white wine and the curry.

I had some trepidation about the curry as I'm not spicy, but for my curry loving blogging friends I went with the full teaspoon. Ole Sweetie-Pi had already declared he wouldn't eat it because of the broccoli (I wouldn't even dare mention the curry to him as that would have been the kiss of death in trying to convince him to at least take a bite.) I told him to eat the chicken and leave the broccoli, which smoothed the way into his trying this.

Surprise of all surprises, Ole Sweetie-Pi and I both liked this. This dish is rich, a little goes a long way. The curry is subtle, the wine adds a nice note, as does the lemon. There's enough flavor going on that the broccoli 's presence is almost secondary to the other flavors. Ole Sweetie-Pi even ate his broccoli!

This is a once-in-a-while dish with all the canned soup and cheeses, (I think I must be into next weeks sodium allowance). It was good to revisit this. I'll sure we'll be seeing this again.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Red Flannel Hash

A while back I was telling a friend who resides on our West Coast that I made Red Flannel Hash for breakfast. Unbeknown to me, this dish is only well known regionally, and I thought I'd share this time honored favorite. My mother used to make this, usually after one of her New England boiled dinners when she would give new life to leftover vegetables and ham. A can of diced beets was added, giving this dish its traditional "red flannel" color.

This dish is more often associated with corned beef, I think, (which my family does not enjoy), so we've adapted the recipe to use either precooked hamburg or leftover ham. I think no matter what meat you use, this is a very hearty and filling breakfast. Roadside diners typically serve this with a poached egg on top and hearty slices of toast~waaay too much food for me now, though there was a time.....

Red Flannel Hash

1/2 cup hamburg, cooked and drained
1 can (14 oz) beets, drained, large dice
3 or 4 boiled, leftover potatoes, large dice (unpeeled red potatoes is nice here)
1 cup or so leftover vegetables from a boiled dinner (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
A couple of good splashes of cream or milk
Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

Combine all ingredients into a good sized bowl, except the butter; stir to combine. The beets will stain the potatoes red. That's good. That's what you want.

Find a fry pan that is large enough to hold all the ingredients that will make a layer of about an inch or so.

Heat butter in your fry pan and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add to ingredients in bowl. Stir until well combined. Add a little more butter (or oil) to the fry pan. Add mixed ingredients and pat firmly into pan, making a kind of "pancake. "

Now, if you're good and if you're patient, you'll cook this slowly over moderate heat and make a beautiful crust on the bottom. If you're good and if you're patient, you should be able to turn this over and cook this slowly enough to make a crust on the opposite side. I have never been able to do this. My mother could though. I stir it around several times while it's cooking, looking to brown as much of the potato as possible. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Truly a terrific breakfast for men who are going out and doing manly things.

Good for women, too!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pigs in a Blanket

Lately, it seems as if we've just been too busy to sit and enjoy a full meal, so meals been pretty hit or miss. Today has been overcast and suddenly cool, so we wanted something warm and fulling and we wanted it now!

A short while back I saw that our local grocery store had refrigerated crescent roll dough on sale; it's a product I rarely ever buy, but I couldn't resist the price. The minute I saw them I was reminded of these little rolls that my mother used to make when my brothers and I were growing up and so, for a quick dinner tonight, they were just handy and delicious. Warmed up a can of tomato soup in that famous red can, and in under 30 minutes we were eating a nice, satisfying little meal. We agree this is one that we look forward to enjoying again.

Pigs In a Blanket

Not a recipe really, more of a how to.

One roll of refrigerated crescent dough (such as Pillsbury Poppin' Fresh) (makes 6 crescents)
4-6 six slices cheese, your choice
6 hot dogs or slices of ham
Mustard, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Open up on the can of crescent dough and separate the crescents into individual crescents. You may want to slightly flatten them, though it's not really necessary.

Lay pieces of cheese on top edge (widest part) of the dough, leaving a small margin of dough all around as the cheese will melt out of the edges. Lay your hot dog or sliced, crosswise, ham over that. Add your mustard if you are using it.

Holding the dough at the two outer edges, roll the dough towards you, catching up the cheese as you roll. The short pointed end of the crescent should be the last part that is rolled up.

Place filled crescent, pointed side down, on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tender Buttermilk Waffles

During the workweek, I arise at 4 a.m. I stumble about, first feeding the cats, then becoming their doorman for the first 30 minutes or so, while I rummage and clang about making coffee and uncovering something palatable for a quick breakfast. Usually it's just toast, fruit, yogurt, and coffee; sometimes it's leftovers from the previous night's dinner (grins), depending on what we had.

I don't mind what some would seem as an ungodly hour. The evening stars still shine, but then I see the first light of day peeking over the hills before me. The occasional car speeds by (who else must get up so early, I wonder), tires ripping along the pavement, breaking into dawn's misty silence. Ole Sweetie-Pi slumbers through it all. By the time he arises my workday is half over; I am ready for lunch and now it is his turn to forage bleary-eyed in the fridge and pantry.

But the weekends are ours. Sharing breakfast has become an occasion. We can relax, share our morning thoughts, perhaps dreams we had, make plans for the few unbroken hours ahead that we can our own.

I am up early anyway, even on the weekends, as is my wont, reveling in the solitude of my thoughts, growing hungry, waiting in anticipation for the crack of the first egg.

When asked one morning what he wanted for breakfast, Ole Sweetie-Pi answered without hesitation, "Waffles." I didn't have time to make Coleen's sourdough waffles so I was sent scurrying to my cookbooks and I found this keeper recipe from the good folks at King Arthur's Flour in their 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I cut the recipe in half as there's only the two of us, and it still made 5 huge Belgium waffle sized waffles. The addition of buttermilk makes these tender and light. A good addition to the waffle repertoire!

Buttermilk Waffles
(from King Arthur Flour's 200th Anniversary Cookbook)
(this is their full recipe version; I reduced by half for the two of us)

4 cups flour
2-4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1 quart (4 cups) buttermilk
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted, or vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

In a second bowl, beat the eggs and buttermilk together until light and fluffy. Add the melted butter or oil. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together for about 20 seconds. Take care not to overstir or the waffles will become tough.

Preheat your waffle iron, lightly greasing with a pastry brush. Using a scoop or a measuring cup (1/4 measuring cup seemed to be perfect for mine), pour batter into middle of the bottom plate and close the top. The batter should squeeze out to the edges, but sometimes I take the back of a spoon and "help" it. Wait 2 to 4 minutes and once the batter has stopped steaming, lift the lid to see if its brown enough to your liking. If the top doesn't raise easily, the waffle probably needs more cooking as the waffle should release when it's done. Try letting it go for another minute or two before checking it again. If it still doesn't release, gently pry apart, exercising caution not to become burned or damage your waffle iron.

Eat while hot with your favorite topping.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chicken Teriyaki

it's "sticking" My brother asked me the other day if I had any idea of how our mother made chicken teriyaki, one of our favorite meals when we were growing up. I have a general idea of how she did it based on what I remember she usually had in the pantry: soy sauce, molasses, brown sugar, ground ginger. What I don't know is the proportions. I've fiddled with the ingredients over the years and haven't come up with anything that tastes anywhere near as good as I remember her making. I've tried asking her, and as Grant can attest, she mysteriously, as if suddenly afflicted, doesn't speak English and will muffle and mumble her words and finally shrug and wave me away. She has so few vanities and knowing that she makes the best chicken teriyaki or Japanese pickles or curried rice is one that she savors (no pun intended), grins. So, we are left on our own to find a suitable replacement.

Hence, this recipe. I was out at my favorite antiques barn and spied a little promotional cookbook for Karo corn syrup, printed in 1981. It's rather dingy but in scanning the recipes, many of them seemed appealing and timeless, and when I saw this little recipe, I knew that I must try this.

It's not as good as Mom's (my mother's chicken teriyaki had a much deeper brown color and flavor), but it's quite satisfactory and will be my go-to recipe.

Chicken Teriyaki

1/4 cup dark Karo corn syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup green onions, chopped (optional, but nice if you have it)
2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

In a shallow dish or sealable plastic bag combine corn syrup, soy sauce, white wine, ginger, garlic and green onions (if using). Add chicken. Allow to marinate several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove chicken from marinade and place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake until done, probably 45-60 minutes, basting with marinade several times during cooking. Turn chicken part way through to ensure even cooking on both sides.

This would be very nice cut into nice cubes and threaded on a skewer and broiled or grilled.

Marinade is also very good for a pound or so of flank steak.

Cooks Note: Because I elected to cook my chicken breast whole, I slightly flattened it to make it the roughly the same thickness to ensure that the chicken cooked evenly.

I think the next time I use this sauce, I am going to heat it in a sauce pan until it slightly thickens. What I found is that the sauce that was caramelized to the foil actually had a lot of flavor, and when brushed onto the chicken, really added to the visual appeal because of it's deeper, richer color as well as "sticking" quality.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lemon Pudding Cake

I was talking to my youngest brother, Grant, on the phone the other night and he surprised the dickens out of me by saying he follows my blog. Just when I think he is the most exhausting and exasperating tease on the planet, he switches it all around and leaves me dumbfounded with his interest and awareness of FFAHS.

He told me that the recipes that caught his eye were the couple I had posted that our beloved grandmother made for us when we were kids. That started a whole stream of food memories and we spent a good long time reminiscing. One that we both fondly remember and one of the very first desserts I ever learned how to make was one that she taught me, called cottage pudding, a simple, single layer (dry!) vanilla cake with a lemon hard sauce poured over (to give it some moisture and flavor, I'm sure). I made her recipe a short while back; loved the lemon sauce but the cake was definitely Sahara Desert material LOL.

So, for Grant and for my grandmother, I wanted a lemony cake that had the quality of being cake and at the same time having a sauce. I found this on This is a self-saucing pudding cake that bursts with lemon flavor and then sweetness, both flavors separately and deliciously identifiable upon the tongue. It was a good find and one that I would make again.

Grant, dear, you surprise me and you make me smile. Out of any of us, you are the keeper and the archivist of the family memories. For you, I shall, (one of these days), post Grammy's cottage pudding because you want your children's grandchildren to know what their great- (however many times removed) great grandmother made and to have a connection with their past. What better way than to share food?

Lemon Pudding Cake

4 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Have read an 8 x 8 baking pan or casserole and a separate baking dish large enough to hold it because you're going to use a water bath. Have ready hot water for the water bath.

In a medium bowl, combine and beat together egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon rind, and butter or margarine until thick and lemon colored.

Onto a piece of waxed paper or another bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to the yolk mixture, beating well after each addition.

Making sure that there is no trace of fat in the egg whites, beat egg whites until stiff peaks are formed when you raise the beater. Blend egg whites into batter on low speed of electric mixer. Pour baking dish.

Place a pan of hot water in the oven, with only enough water to come halfway up the side of the baking dish. Set the baking dish into the pan being careful to avoid being splashed and burned by the hot water. (Or you could put the pan and the baking dish in the oven and carefully add the hot water around the edge of the baking dish, being careful not to spill it into the pudding or to burn yourself on the oven door!)

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

My notes: I used a lemon zester to peel the lemon and used the entire peel of one lemon, so I probably had a little more than a teaspoon of lemon, which is fine with me. I love lemon. I added it to my sugar and whizzed it about in my Magic Bullet to make a lemon flavored caster sugar. Caster sugar is a little finer than regular table sugar but not as fine as confectioners' sugar; it gives a little better texture to baked goods. It's an extra step, totally not necessary.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rosy Rock Cookies

Can you guess the unusual ingredient in these moist, rosy rock cookies?

I had a single can of tomato soup in the pantry, grabbed it, and half-heartedly decided to make a tomato soup cake. I like it, it's a cake my mother my occasionally made, but then returned the can to the shelf as I wasn't really in the mood for cake. It's interesting, like a spice cake but different. Anyway, back to these cookies. I wasn't in the mood for cake, but I wanted a little treat. I went through my cookie cookbooks and everything seemed to be either chocolate or caramel. I like those flavors, but only once in a while, and we've had quite a bit of chocolate lately it seems to me. So now what? Oatmeal cookies are among my favorite, but I'm on a quest to find the perfect oatmeal cookie. (My absolute favorite is one that comes from a grocery store bakery, believe it or not.) I've tried the ones on the back on the Quaker oatmeal box, very good, but not exactly what I was looking for. I've tried a couple out of my cookbooks, same results.
So, I do what I always do, I search the Internet, hoping to find something interesting, and different.

And that's when I happened upon these rosy rock cookies. Well, I wanted different and this was certainly different, grins. What caught my eye was the generous use of spices. What intrigued me was the tomato soup.

The batter worked up quickly and easily. I omitted the nuts because Ole Sweetie-Pi has a nut sensitivity but next time I missed the nuts and next time will divide the batter and add nuts to one of the halves.

Rosy rock cookies are a simple, homey cookie, not the least gourmet, but they are good. The flavor of the baked cookie is unusual in that the expectation is that the cookie is going to taste like an oatmeal cookie, and in some ways it does, but there is something different leaves you wondering. While you're sampling to figure out what that something is, have these with a tall glass of cold milk. Delightful! These cookies stayed wonderfully moist for several days, stored in an air tight container, with waxed paper between the layers. Without the waxed paper in between, it became a cookie glop!

Rosy Rock Cookies

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed tomato soup
2 1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup seedless raisins (I use dried currants)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheet(s) or use parchment paper or a silplat and set aside.

In large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and allspice. Add butter, egg and soup. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, constantly scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in oats, raisins and walnuts.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe says this makes 7 dozen cookies; I probably ended up with 4 dozen.

How does that happen?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chili Beef Burgers with Mustard Butter

Ole Sweetie-Pi watched me while I was taking a picture of these burgers. He wrinkled his nose in disdain and asked, "Getting desperate, Dearie? You're now taking pictures of hamburgers?!"

Really, timing is everything. I'm standing there with the camera in my hand, contorting my body to get the best possible light and angle. I was becoming more and more frustrated because I can see the green cast being shed from the platter onto my food, and he says he says something infuriating. So, I do as I always do, I "uh huh" him and then pretend not to hear anything more.

I'm not a real big fan of beef, but every now and again I absolutely crave a really good, thick and juicy, genuine beef, hamburger. Most of the time, I like my burgers about as plain as you can get them, just minced beef and a little salt and pepper. And they have to be cooked all the way through. No thrills, no frills. I only want ketchup. No cheese, no lettuce, no secret sauce, no mayonnaise, no pickles, no onions, no tomatoes. I'm talking bare bones here. I don't even want seeds on my buns. Yes, sirree, they are plain and boring. Little did Ole Sweetie-Pi realized that when he quipped his witty observation that these weren't just my normal Plain Jane burgers.

His expression markedly changed after his first bite of these Chili Beef Burgers with Mustard Butter. The surprised look of approval and smile said it all.

Barbecued Chili Beef Burgers with Mustard Butter
(adapted from Favorite Meat Recipes by the Confident Cooking Promise of Success)

1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1-3 teaspoons dried oregano

Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and using your impeccably clean hands or a sturdy spoon, combine well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 2 hours.

When ready, take bowl from refrigerator and shape the mixture into burger sized patties. Place the patties on lightly oiled grill or cast iron grill plate or heavy duty fry pan. Cook about four minutes each side, until nicely browned and cooked through. Serve with mustard butter.

Mustard Butter

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mustard

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and beat until combined. Set aside for a half hour or so to allow the flavors to meld and ripen.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chocolate Crepes with Strawberry and Cream Cheese Filling

Strawberries and cream cheese wrapped in a thin, sweet crepe of chocolaty goodness! Who could resist? Certainly not Ole Sweetie-Pi as he's the chocolate lover in this house.

It took half a dozen tries to get the "feel" of making these crepes, knowing how much batter to use, how hot should the pan be, how much oil to use, how to tell when they're done, and lastly how to turn them without tearing them. While these crepes have similar characteristics to the others that I've made here, I think the sugar content in these made them a little more challenging (a more elevated word than trying!). I'm glad I persevered and now I would definitely make these again. Thinking about the sugar, these were very sweet, even for my very sweet sweet tooth. I think I would reduce the sugar in the cream filing by at least half, and maybe switch the chocolate from semi-sweet to bitter-sweet.

Chocolate Crepes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

Begin one hour ahead:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips and butter together, stirring gently to prevent scorching. Take the pan off the heat just before all the chips are thoroughly melted, continuing to stir, allowing the residual heat to melt any remaining chips. Let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, water, vanilla and chocolate. Beat until well combined. Sift together the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt and then add to the liquid ingredients. Beat until smooth.

Cover and place in refrigerator for one hour.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

2 cups strawberries,, washed, hulled, and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries and sugar and set aside. In a separate, medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Gently fold in one cup of strawberries into the cream cheese. Spoon down center of crepe and then roll crepe up. Use remaining strawberries over top of crepes and serve. You should have enough filling for about six crepes.

You're going to have more batter than filling, but the nice thing about crepes is that they freeze well (layer them with waxed paper in between) . You can fill with canned cherry pie filling, or use grated orange peel and a splash of orange juice in the cream cheese mixture. Doesn't bananas sound good in this as well? Or how about as nice curd?