Friday, October 26, 2012

Pigs, Elephants and Donkeys!

When pondering what to post this week
for Free Recipe Friday,
it was a toss up between a breakfast post
and a snacky post.
I went back and forth and back and forth.
Then I realized BOTH of my contenders
contained bacon (go figure).
So in honor of the giver of this recipe,
Uncle Brandon, and his upcoming birthday,
 the snack post won out.  
Here's to you Brandon!

With the holidays on the horizon
these little piggy treats need to go in the
keeper pile.
We made these during the last presidential debate.
James and I ate half of them during the debate
and the other half for breakfast. 
We. Are. Pigs.
Brandon, my brother in law,
made these for us one year when we piled in on them
at Christmas.  But that's a whole other story.
They'd be so great for game night, movie night,
or 'I can't get enough of bacon and sausage' night.

Sliced Bacon - a 12 ounce pkg, not maple
(use the cheap, thin stuff)
Lit'l Smokies - a 14 ounce pkg
(not the the cheesy kind)
Brown Sugar - 1 lb. (half of a 2 lb bag)
Water - 1 to 2 tablespoons
9x9 Baking Dish
Non Stick Spray

Preheat oven to 350.
Coat baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
Set aside.
Slice bacon slices in half.
(I use kitchen shears and cut the whole
stack in half - much easier than using a knife).
Grab a halved bacon slice and wrap firmly
around a lil' sausage.  Lay each in dish.
Continue wrapping sausages with bacon slices
until the bacon is used up. 
You will most likely have a few sausages leftover-
save them for an omelet or some scrambled eggs.
Next, cover the 'pork overload' with brown sugar.
Don't be shy here - you want to cover completely.
Drizzle a little water over the sugar,
maybe a tablespoon or two.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake.
After 30-40 minutes,
remove the foil and continue baking
for probably 30 more minutes.

disclaimer: I seriously lost track of time here -
we were watching the debate and
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah -
so if you happen to overcook
your little porkies - I do apologize -
but you should be perfectly fine.

You can certainly bake these a little less
or a little more depending on your taste.
We happen to like our bacon
on the crispy side instead of the floppy side.
But you can do what you want.
However, please oh please
DO NOT eat these until they have cooled a bit.
Even after the sugar bubbles have calmed down,
 resist the urge.  Hot, melted sugar = certain death.
 After they've cooled a bit - you will enter heaven on earth.


Friday, October 19, 2012

A Full Meal Deal

Once upon a time, long long ago
when our girls were in their preschool days
(at 'Sank Luke's' Mother's Day Out),
I had a very special friend who was an amazing cook.
I'm quite sure she is still an amazing cook...
 she is also a fab wife, mom and violin player!!!
She introduced me to sooo many great recipes,
including her no egg tuna fish. 
Stay tuned for THAT blog one day.
This 'Full Meal Deal' recipe is now
all over Pinterest.  So funny actually.
One of the easiest and simplest recipes ever
and more importantly, scrumptious.
The original recipe given to me over 15 years ago
was simply chicken, potatoes, corn, green beans
sprinkled with a packet of Good Seasons
Italian Dressing Mix.  In these 'modern times,'
I omitted the corn and used frozen whole green beans
and all was well with the world.
Now we use homemade Italian Dressing Mix, whoop!

-- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
-- 1 bag frozen/thawed fresh green beans
(the original recipe called for 1 can green beans
and 1 can whole kernel corn - either is fine)
-- 4-5 medium size baking potatoes
(more if you use red potatoes)
-- 1 (or 2) packets Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix
(Zesty Italian is great as well)
-- Butter - we went a little crazy

Begin by preheating the oven to 350.
Spray a 13x9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
Lay the ingredients listed in 3 rows or sections
of the pan (4 if using corn).
Sprinkle all liberally with the dressing mix
and dot all with butter.
Bake covered for appx 45 minutes or more
if your pan is extra crowded.
This recipe can be increased quite easily
when you have an extra mouth or two to feed.
Measurements do not have to be exact here.
Remove covering and let bake a few more minutes.
Mmmm enjoy your super easy meal.
Throw in some yummy yeast rolls and you have
a Full Meal Deal!


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Birthday Boy

German Chocolate Cake has been a staple
in my husband's family for longer than I've known him.
Even though he has German roots,
this cake didn't originate in Germany at all.
This cake was named for the creator of
a chocolate bar for the Baker Chocolate Company.
Samuel German was his name,
and his 46% cacao chocolate
became the star ingredient for the original cake
back in 1957.  The mild chocolate bar
gives this cake it's mild chocolate flavor.
Recipes for German Chocolate Cake
using 'German' Chocolate are still very popular,
however, my recipe is a bit simpler
and calls only for cocoa - which is usually
right in the pantry.
Easy schmeazy.

I can still remember the very first time
I had this cake at my mother in laws house.
At the time, it seemed like it was the first I'd ever had.
The reality is, maybe it's because once I realized
there was coconut involved in all the others,
I probably opted out.  But not that day.
Funny how things change as you grow up
and as you begin dating the one you'll soon marry.
That "first bite" of German Chocolate Cake that day
was the most delicious I had ever tasted.
It could have been because of my maturing taste buds
or just the simple fact that everything
was better when I was with the one I love.
Simple and classic, with that mellow chocolatey taste-
the world would be a much happier place
if everyone had a slice of this goodness every now and then!

2 cups sugar
1 cup veg. oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
(or combine 1 tablespoon vinegar
with a scant cup of milk to substitute)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup boiling water

In a small saucepan (or in the microwave)
bring a few cups of water to boil.
Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a small size bowl
along with 1/2 cup cocoa.

In a separate medium size bowl,
mix together the remaining wet ingredients
followed by all of the dry ingredients.
Lastly, add in the cocoa/water mixture.
Mix well and pour into greased and floured
baking pans.  (Three, 8 inch rounds or a 9x13)
Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes.
Test by inserting a toothpick into the center
and if it comes out clean
(and not with wet batter) they're done.

Remove cake(s) from the oven
and cover with a sheet of wax paper (my special trick)
to cool a bit and keep the moisture in.
If you plan to flip out your cake, let the cake(s)
sit in the pans for several minutes.
Lay cooling rack on top of cake pan
keeping wax paper in between,
and flip cake over and cover bottom of cake
with another sheet of wax paper.
Let cakes cool before icing.
*Remove wax paper before icing -
did I really just say that?!?

2 cups milk
2 cups granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
(freeze the whites for another day -  
meringue maybe?!)
2 sticks butter
2 tsp vanilla

Coconut (appx. 2 cups)
Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (appx 2 cups)

In a medium size heavy sauce-pot,
bring all ingredients
(excluding coconut and nuts)
to a boil on medium heat.
Stir constantly for about 10 minutes.
It will be a light tan color.
Remove from heat and add
a couple of good handfuls of coconut
along with your preferred choice of nuts.
(We actually only added nuts to half of our cake.)
Add as much or as little as you'd like -
that's the bonus of making it yourself!
Let the icing cool a bit before icing the cake -
however, we usually bake this in a 9x13
so we poke a few holes in the cake
and pour the warm icing right over it.
It's really hard to wait for everything to cool!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Pick a Side, any Side

Fancy desserts, main courses, those are fairly easy.
The hard stuff for me often times are the sides.
Trying to be creative and avoid repetitiveness.
If you grew up like me, sides were pretty standard.
Delicious, but standard-ish.
Mashed potatoes, rice, green beans, peas...
you get the idea.

From time to time my mother would
serve sliced carrots that she had cooked
with a little butter and brown sugar.
Anyone cooking carrots that way?
I tried really hard to like them.  I did.
And I guess I really shouldn't bawk about them,
because I didn't really care for many veggies at all
growing up.  So I don't mean to diss the carrots.
I will say that carrots and potatoes cooked together
with a roast was one way I could eat up some carrots.

Finding this week's recipe was like finding a treasure.
Roasted carrots are so yummy!
Roasting almost any veggie is my newest favorite thing.
We roast cabbage, fresh green beans,
asparagus, butternut squash, zucchini,
brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli -
it is so easy to do and the taste is always amazing.

Roasting baby carrots are awesome
and cannot be any easier.
They are SO simple, nutritious and delicious.
I hope you will try.
This recipe fed our family of 6.

2 lbs baby carrots
smidgen of garlic powder
appx. 4 tablespoons olive oil
appx. 3 tablespoons honey
appx. 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
(we used triple that)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray baking sheet with non stick spray.
Scatter carrots, right out of the bag
onto baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil
as well as garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for appx. 20 minutes.
Remove and stir well, then drizzle with
2 tablespoons olive oil, the honey and balsamic vinegar.
Stir well and pop them back into the oven
for about 5 minutes and they are ready to serve.

These carrots are still a little bit crunchy,
are roasted to perfection and are absolutely scrumptious.

I hope you'll make them soon!