Friday, June 29, 2012

Fried Pickle Friday

Hello everyone.  Welcome back to Free Recipe Friday.  I don't know if you are a fan of dill pickles or not, but this week my friend, it's all about some fried sourness.  Thinking back through the years, I believe I have always loved pickles.  Sweet, sour, bread and butter, they are all so yummy.  I have often taken a swig of pickle juice right from the jar.  (Shhh)  One of my most fav's is the pickle in it's rawest state. . . . a cucumber, fresh from the garden, sliced and placed in a lovely bath of vinegar and sliced onions.  Mmmmm.  Of course all of the above are all the more better when they have been grown and canned by someone you know and love.  Those are the absolute best pickles.  The best NON-homemade sliced pickle is the Best Maid brand - hamburger dill slices. THE best, hands down.  So good, even the Dallas Cowboy Organization endorse them.  So there you have it.  
If you are a pickle lover, you may have tried Fried Pickles at your local eatery.  I have tried fried pickles from several establishments and have found only one or two that are worthy to eat.  I will however, give a shout out to The Fork in Gladewater, Tx for having some amazing fried pickles.  So good in fact, that it set me on a mission to recreate them at home once again.  After several failed attempts, I had given up.  This fantastic recipe comes from the queen of the south herself, Paula Deen. 
The fry mixture makes a bunch, you'll have plenty of dredge mix left for several more batches of fried pickles.  The original title of the dredge mix is Uncle Bubba's Fry Mix (of course it is).  Make up a batch and fry anything you want with it.  Today we're frying pickles. 

The Basics: Uncle Bubba's Fry Mix
6 cups self-rising flour (see below)
1 cup self-rising white cornmeal (see below)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.
That's it.  Remember, it makes about 7 cups,
so store it in a large resealable plastic bag
and keep it in the freezer
until you need to fry something.
Helpful hints:
- - - If you can’t find self-rising flour,
use 6 cups all-purpose flour
plus 3 tablespoons baking powder
and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
- - - If you can’t find self-rising cornmeal,
use 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons white cornmeal,
1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Now.........on to the pickles.

1 32-oz jar Hamburger Dill Slices (Best Maid)
or 1 24 oz jar Dill Spears (Best Maid)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Louisiana hot sauce
(we use the Louisiana brand, not Tabasco -
you could use Texas Pete's as well)
1/2 cup buttermilk
vegetable oil to fry with
2 cups Uncle Bubba's Fry Mix


Drain the juice from the pickle jar
(and either A:save it for me to drink or
B: pour it up into ice cube trays and freeze...
yes, pickle juice popsicles - they SELL these, ya know)
Next, refill the jar with the garlic powder,
hot sauce, and buttermilk.
Marinate the pickles for at least 30 minutes.
Place a heavy skillet or frying pan
filled about halfway up with veggie oil
and heat over medium-high heat
until the oil is about 350 degrees F.
(To tell if the oil is hot enough to begin frying,
place the handle end of a wooden spoon
down into the bottom of the frying pan.
Hold it straight up - if bubbles
rise up the wooden spoon, your oil is ready)

While your oil is heating up,
drain the pickles from their marinade.
Put the fry mix in a large mixing bowl,
and toss the pickles to coat thoroughly.
Shake off the excess mix
by tossing lightly in a strainer
or by hand and deep fry the pickles
in batches for 3 to 5 minutes.
When golden brown, remove the pickles from the oil
and place on paper towels to drain off any excess.

These are incredible.  And since this is Texas,
they are even better dipped in ranch dressing.
Enjoy the goodness!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grilled Gooey Goodness

One of the best food memories I have growing up is eating a Grilled Cheese sandwich.  Wow, what a comfort food!  However, the older I have gotten, I've become less and less a fan of American Cheese.  Really not a fan.  At all.  Really.  I'm oh so glad the new trends of grilled sandwiches and panini's are upon us...where almost any and everything is being put on a sandwich and then turned into heavenly goodness.  If I had a bazillion dollars, I would open a Meltdown restaurant here and serve this everyday!  Today's Free Recipe Friday is a great example of this trend and is just out of this world goodness.  If you love Spinach Artichoke Dip, you will flip over this recipe.  Our first attempt was a bit of trial and error.  We had no clue how much filling this recipe would make, so we just kept slicing bread until we used up all of the filling.  We used an oblong loaf of sourdough, which made huge sandwiches, we cut them in half...and just ate half of a sandwich (with soup)!  Or did we?!?  The following recipe made about 6 whole sandwiches. (FYI, they were great as leftovers too, mmm)

 Bread - your fav, sliced
(we used an artisan sourdough type)

Fresh Spinach, roughly chopped
with bigger stems removed
(one bag/container of fresh leaves)

Artichoke Hearts - 1 can, drained and chopped

Sour Cream - about 3 tablespoons

Cheese - sliced or shredded
Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack or Provolone
or a combination of any/all

Kosher Salt, a few pinches
Garlic, 2-3 cloves, minced

Olive Oil, 1-2 tablespoons

Butter to spread on bread

Using a saute pan, heat your olive oil
and saute the garlic just until you begin to smell it,
about 30 seconds.

Add your spinach to the pan and a pinch of kosher salt.
Saute just until limp.  Add the artichokes
and saute for a minute or so until heated through.
Remove from heat and drain any liquid in the pan.
Stir in sour cream and another pinch of kosher salt.
Set aside while you prepare to grill these little jewels up.

Butter one side of each slice of bread.
Heat your favorite grilling pan - a clean saute pan,
griddle, panini press or iron skillet.
Place bread in pan, butter side down.
Quickly lay a slice of cheese or a handful
of shredded cheese onto the bread
then a few spoonfuls of the spinach mixture.
Add a bit more cheese on top of that
before placing the other slice
of buttered bread on top - buttered side up.

Cook as you would a traditional grilled cheese,
low and slow.  Carefully flip to brown
the other side when needed.
(unless you are using a panini press)

Let each sandwich cool just a little
before slicing - things will stay in place
much better this way. :)

These sandwiches are my new favorite thing.
Great for you vegetarians out there as well!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Cabbage Lovers UNITE!

   Welcome back to Free Recipe Friday.  Today's post is for the population, however big or small, that love cabbage.  I'm not scared to say it.  However stinky it may be, it is delicious and I like it a lot!  I will also say that when I was half the age that I am now, I did not like half of the food that I like now (cabbage included).  So, if you are young and don't like most of what us old people like, give it time.  I used to always tell my girls, if you don't like something on your plate that is perfectly fine, BUT you have to at least try it.  That goes for us adults too, and you should KEEP trying things throughout your life.  Don't think just because you didn't like something years ago that you still don't like it today.  
   After 27 years of marriage, and the 10 plus years before that, my husband refused to eat Tuna Casserole (which the girls and I love).  All because of that one little casserole incident from that one little church pot-luck luncheon years and years ago.  But this year. . .he finally tried it.  It wasn't NEAR like he thought it would be.  He actually kind of liked it.  SO, keep trying new things.  (I actually even tried some Eel a few weeks ago.  On some sushi.  Who knew?!?)
This week's recipe has got to be one of the easiest EVER.  And so stinkin' cheap!  I SO hope you will try it.

1 head of green cabbage

Several teaspoons of minced Garlic

Kosher Salt/Pepper

Olive Oil

Baking Sheet

Preheat your oven to 375-400 degrees.
Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
Wash the cabbage and remove a few layers of those icky outer leaves.
Using a very large knife (like you might use
when slicing a watermelon),
slice the cabbage in half, as best you can,
without losing a finger.
Now the slicing gets a lot easier.
Lay the cabbage flat side down
(hopefully you are using a cutting board)
and slice into 1 inch thick slices.

Carefully place each slice onto your baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil onto each slice of cabbage and sprinkle
generously with garlic, kosher salt and pepper.

That is it people!
Place your baking sheet into an 375-400 oven.
Roast these babies until they've wilted a bit
and the edges are golden. 
It really depends on how crunchy or soft
you like your cabbage.
I'd say bake for 20-30 minutes.

They are delicious!!!!!!!
I bet you could even add some sliced link sausage
onto the baking sheet to cook along with the cabbage
and you would hit a home run!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

La Yummy. . .Classic Tomato Soup

I'm so excited about this week's
Free Recipe Friday
I just don't know where to start!
Might I just mention the very name,
La Madeleine's for a hint???

Nothing signifies the start of summer
more than veggies from a garden.
Specifically, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Our focus for this week is tomatoes.
I cannot say enough how much I love them.
I mean, I really really love them.
Grape, plum, cherry,
heirloom, any homegrown
varieties will work nicely, thank you.
Add some salt/pepper and eat 'em up.
If I'm needing more of a meal,
(instead of a snack or side dish)
I make a Tomato Sandwich.
THE best of summer!

For THIS week's Free Recipe Friday
you can use up some of those
homegrown tomatoes that are covering
your window sills and countertops
you can use canned whole ones.
This classic Tomato Soup will
hardly know the difference and
STILL be amaaaaazing!

We used to make a pretty close version
of this soup back in The Tuttle House days.
In fact, it was almost exactly the same
minus that stick of butter
and the chicken stock.
Those two ingredients really give it a
richness that is so in keeping with
the rest of La Madeleine's menu!
The recipe below is the official
copy cat recipe of
La Madeleine's Tomato Basil Soup.
Oh. My. Word. I love that place.
Everything they offer is so yummy.
Try making this at home.
It's so easy and scrumptious
you'll never eat it out of a can again.


- 4 cups fresh tomatoes (about 8-10) 

cored, peeled, and chopped
or canned whole tomatoes
- 4 cups tomato juice (from the canned tomatoes)
(or half tomato/half chicken stock)
- 12-14 fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 lb sweet unsalted butter (1 stick)
- salt to taste (this will depend on your chicken stock)
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Combine tomatoes, juice/and or stock in saucepan.
Simmer 30 minutes.

In the meantime, roll up your basil leaves
and give them a good chopping.
Puree, your simmered tomatoes
along with the basil leaves,
in small batches, in blender, processor
(or better yet, a hand-held food blender,
right in the pan - amazing).

Return all to the saucepan and
add cream and butter,
while stirring over low heat.

Garnish with basil leaves and
serve with your favorite bread,
salad, crackers or some Fried Goat Cheese!

I hope you'll try this 'taste of summer.'
It is so incredibly fresh and yummy,
easy and impressive.
You can easily buy fresh basil
in the produce section of your grocery store
and you probably have a few cans of tomatoes
in your cabinet already - so no excuses!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Nutella. . .Cheesecake?!!

This week's Free Recipe Friday
involves Nutella. . .
which for deep East Texas anyway,
is a relatively new product.
Nutella is a hazelnut spread and
is made with a combination of
roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and cocoa,
with no artificial colors or preservatives.
It's yummy-ness can be spread on
toast, crepes, pancakes, fruit, you name it!
But first, a history lesson.

Nutella was created in 1940 by a pastry maker,
Pietro Ferrero, in northwestern Italy.
At the time, there was very little chocolate
because cocoa was in short supply
due to World War II rationing.

Would we even know HOW
to ration these days?!? Yikes.

So, because of the rationing,
Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts,
which were plentiful in his area
to help extend the chocolate supply.
The original version (pasta gianduja)
a paste made into loaves
and sold in tin foil.
You could then slice it and place it
between two slices of bread.
It was later made into a softer spread
(supercrema gianduja) and eventually got
the final name change to Nutella.
At the time, the spread was
1/6 of the cost of chocolate!

From it's start, it was well received.
European families enjoyed this product
for more than 40 years before it was imported
to the northeastern U.S. around 1983.
Then of course, it took many more years
for it to reach the southern states.
Though originally a breakfast spread,
these days, thanks to
cable tv and the world wide web,
it's become so much more!

SO, for this week's Free Recipe Friday,
we are going to share a recipe
that is certainly as good it sounds!
Even though the pics aren't so great!

(thanks to!)
Easy AND delicious!

12 Oreo Cookies, crushed into bits
3 tablespoons butter, melted
 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 oz) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
 whipped topping, chocolate shavings,
toasted chopped hazelnuts,
and/or cocoa powder
are all optional for garnishing
Crush your Oreo Cookies, filling and all,
into crumbs via a food processor
or by using a ziploc bag and rolling pin.
In a medium size bowl,
mix the crumbs well with the
melted butter.  Divide this mixture evenly,
press into small glass/plastic cups,
wine glasses or jars and set aside.
(We doubled this recipe and did not have
enough clear cups for serving, thus the
small plastic container for ours-
clear cups are solely for looks).

In a separate medium size bowl,
beat together the softened cream cheese
and Nutella until smooth.
Add vanilla and whipped topping
and mix until well combined.
Spoon the mixture equally
amongst your serving dishes.
Cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Before serving you can
dollop a bit of whipped cream on top
along with some toasted chopped hazelnuts
and a chocolate curl or two. . .
OR sprinkle with cocoa powder
as we did in our pics.

This easy schmeezy cheesecake
is so yummy
and NO BAKING required!
It's a WIN WIN!