Friday, November 29, 2013

. . .the Day After

Food hangovers, tight pants, piles of leftovers, and tons of trash.  Sound like your house?  Need an easy vintage breakfast idea without buying one single thing?  Mom's Fried Cakes.  A cross between a funnel cake, beignet and a donut.  Scrumptious.  Might as well forget starting that diet just yet.  If you have children in the house, as we do, you'll need to feed them SOMEthing, so why not these easy little treats?!
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1 cup flour
veggie oil for frying
powdered sugar for coating

Separate eggs and place yolks in medium size bowl.
Beat yolks with sugar using a wire whisk
until the sugar is well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients
with the milk and mix well.
Add to egg/sugar mixture and whisk together.
In a small bowl, using a hand held mixer,
beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites into other mixture to combine.

Pour veggie oil in a heavy skillet or frying pan
until it comes about 1/3 of the way up the sides.
Heat oil on medium heat and drop batter by
tablespoonfuls to fry.
Rotating cakes to brown on each side.

These cook pretty fast, so have a cooling rack
or plate lined with paper towels ready to go
before you start as well as the powdered sugar.
As soon as they have drained, place them
on a serving plate and sprinkle heavily with
powdered sugar (we use a sifter) while they are still hot.

After the plate is filed up with these little fried cakes,
it will be like the best powdered donuts
you've ever tasted!
Quite similar to a beignet and delicious all day long!

These would be great for a yummy sweet breakfast
or for afternoon coffee or tea time.
You could probably cover these with a
cinnamon sugar mixture in lieu of powdered sugar
but am unsure if it would coat as well.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Rudy Takes the Cake

    Once upon a time there were three daughters that lived in a house and wanted cake.  Wait, that's almost daily!  It seems like at least one of these girls has a craving for something almost everyday.
   A few weeks ago, Rudy, had an instant craving for lemon cake.  It didn't take very long until we were all on board with that same craving.  We were having a lazy weekend, so we searched to find that perfect recipe that would satisfy us.  It had to be super moist, not too heavy, sweet and tart, with a little drizzled glaze for the top.
  When I set out to find a new recipe, my first thought is always, ALWAYS, my hero. The Contessa.  You know, THE Contessa, Ina Garten. Ahhhh.  That's where we found our dream lemon cake that day, and she did NOT disappoint.  Tons and tons of lemons let me tell you, lots of butter, good vanilla and you've got your recipe for the best lemon cake you'll ever want to eat.  Similar to a lemon pound cake, but softer and fluffier and lemonier than any other lemon thing in the world.  It may be Fall around here, even cold and slushy outside, but this lemony piece of heaven will bring warmth and sun shiny brightness to the depths of your soul.  Stretching it a bit much???  Go grab a bag of lemons and let's get started.

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons- yes, I know)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla (we use Mexican vanilla)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (appx 8 1/2 x 4 1/2)

Cream the butter with 2 cups granulated sugar
in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs,
1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. 

In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the lemon juice,
the buttermilk, and vanilla. 

Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, 
beginning and ending with the flour.
Scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops,
and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour,

until a toothpick (or ice pick) comes out clean.

While the cake is baking,
you'll want to make the lemon syrup.

Combine the remaining granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
with the remaining lemon juice (1/2 cup) in a small saucepan.
Heat on low/medium until sugar is completely dissolved.
Set aside.

When the cakes are done, remove from the oven
and let cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes.
Remove cakes and place on a cooling rack
that's been placed over wax paper or a cookie sheet.
Drizzle the lemon syrup over the cakes slowly
using all of the syrup.  Let cool completely.

Now, prepare the lemon glaze.
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix the sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl

with a wire whisk until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the tops of the cakes
and allow it to dribble down the sides.
This my friends is deliciousness at it's finest.
We started eating ours right off the cooling rack.
For leftovers, you may cover yours with a tight fitting cake dome
 or place it in a good 
Tupperware container,
so as not to disturb that lovely glaze.
Now, I will mention we did indeed use a whole lotta lemons.
A whole bags worth, but you will be glad you did.

Rudy learned how to zest a bunch of lemons,
as well as, how to get the juice out of them.
We had a lemony lesson and learned lots and lots.

It is crazy the amount of zesting and juicing
that took place for this slice of sunshine,
but I don't believe it could get any better.

Impress your friends, impress your neighbors,
or just stuff your family's face.  Yum.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Dump, Stir and Bake

It's officially feeling like fall around here.  The trees showing off their rich beautiful colors and the smell of neighborhood fireplaces in action. Cool temps are not my favorite but, the beauty of the countryside makes it tolerable.

This week's Free Recipe Friday just screams fall.  Pumpkin Bread has been a staple in our family since I was a child.  Mom used to make hers in clean empty coffee cans.  Round bread!  It was the coolest.  My mom was very nifty and was great at using what she had.  There was never a year that went by that we didn't have this around Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Please feel free to make round bread, square bread, big muffins, little muffins, using whatever you have.  This recipe cannot be any easier.  Just gather the ingredients, dump them in a bowl, whisk them together, pour them in a sprayed baking dish of some sort and bake away.  There's none of this keeping dry ingredients separate, etc etc.  Just gather, dump, stir, bake.  And YUMMY!  Enjoy it now or enjoy it later.

1 can prepared pumpkin
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray 2 loaf pans, several mini loaf pans,
small or large muffin tins, etc. with non stick spray.
In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients.
Mix together using a whisk until
well combined. Divide batter among baking dishes
until all batter has been evenly dispersed.

Bake for appx 20 minutes.
Small muffins require a little less time,
loaf pans require a little more.
Adjust accordingly.
Remove from the oven when bread
does not jiggle in the middle or
a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Try not to over bake.

Once removed from the oven,
let rest in the pan for 3-4 minutes.
Remove bread from pans and set to cool on a paper towel.
I wrap mine while still quite warm
in a large storage baggie - this keeps them nice and moist.
These store well in the freezer,
so make ahead and have them ready for
early morning Thanksgiving Day Parade watching
or as you open gifts on Christmas morning!

We devour our pumpkin bread by toasting a slice or two,
top with a little butter, and spread with a little cream cheese.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Shells and Cheese

Do you ever look back and remember meals your mom made??? Do you ever wonder how she fed the whole entire family with one small roast? I know portion sizes have gotten larger but, goodness - were our quantities THAT much smaller???

Even more strange, I remember certain meals being made and served in certain pots, bowls and platters.  We never ate buffet style from the stove as we often do in our house these days.  It didn't matter to my mom if it was a weeknight or Sunday lunch, dinner was always served at the table and NOT in the dishes it was prepared in. Oh, heavens no.  

Do you remember what it was like to come in from after school activities and you saw a certain pot or dish out? I do, and immediately knew what we were having for dinner!  Somehow I don’t think it’s that way anymore.  Do we have too many dishes these days or do we just cook a bigger variety?

One of my favorite memories is homemade mac and cheese.  Made in a specific brown round ceramic dish with it's own matching lid.  My mom made that faithfully and Every. Single. Time. It was made in that same dish.  Mac 'n cheese in our house was always a side dish to meatloaf or salmon croquettes.  I was always so happy when it accompanied meatloaf, because I wasn't the biggest fan of that, so having a good side kept me from going hungry!  I bet that dish was probably only 8 or 9 inches in diameter. How in the world did she feed 5 people with that?!  It was homemade macaroni and cheese for goodness sake!

Okay, enough ranting - let's get to the yummy stuff - modern day crazy out of this world good, homemade Mac 'n Cheese.  You'll die. 

This is definitely not yo mama's homemade mac 'n cheese.  

Making homemade mac 'n cheese, no matter what 'flavors' you want,
is basically all the same.
Boil the noodles to al dente, drain
and place in a butter lined casserole dish.
Add in a few cups (globs) of cheese,
my mom used velveeta,
 we use assorted cheeses, some butter and some milk,
salt and pepper.  Mom would top hers
with some shredded cheddar and then bake.
We made an outright cheese sauce and poured it in,
stirred and then baked.
Mom's would make it's own sauce
during the baking process.
Our baking process was much shorter
and we topped ours with bacon. Win.
Are you thoroughly confused yet???

Our middle daughter, Shelby,
 introduced us to this fancy mac
that we've named, "Shells and Cheese."
We don't eat it too often but, she's been the maker of it
every time.  For us,
we add a side salad and it's a complete meal
it's that rich (and good).

recipe fills a 9x13 dish and feeds 12-15 - perfect for the holidays!
this can easily be halved for a 9x9 dish and feed 6 or so

1 lb box of penne pasta - cooked al dente
1 cup bacon - diced
1/2 cup onion - diced
5 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon mustard - dijon

3 cups whole milk
1 cup cream (or sub with whole milk)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (use more if fresh)

1 bay leaf - crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded monterey jack
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar - we used Cabot
(and a bit more for topping)

 1/2 cup blue cheese - crumbled
1/2 cup parmesan (and a bit more for topping)

After boiling pasta in salted water until al dente,
drain and place in a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
Set aside.
Cook diced bacon until crispy, remove and set aside.
Keeping bacon grease in the same pan, saute onions until clear.
Add in the butter and stir until combined.
Using a whisk sprinkle in flour and stir constantly
making a roux.  Whisk in the mustard.
Gradually add in milk/cream stirring well.

Add onions and bacon grease into reserved pasta.
(You can certainly omit extra grease if need be)
Next, add in spices and salt and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Strain out any bits of bay leaf and quickly stir in cheeses.
Stir until melted and add mixture into reserved pasta and stir well.
Top with a little extra shredded cheese and parmesan.
Bake in a preheated 450 oven for about 15 minutes
or until golden and bubbly.

Before serving, top with reserved bacon crumbles and chopped parsley.
This is a richer than normal version of mac 'n cheese.
For an old fashioned traditional version
substitute the cheeses with about 3 cups of cubed velveeta,
omit the onion, mustard, thyme and bay leaves
and top pasta with shredded cheddar
before baking.
The old fashioned version is pretty close 

to what my mom used to make
(in that little brown dish - quite similar to the one below)  
Vintage Hall Stoneware Casserole. Lidded Baking Dish. Rust. Brown. Cream 
If you've never tried homemade mac 'n cheese,
I hope you will soon
it will be your new favorite comfort food!

A big thanks to middle daughter Shel (Shelby)
for introducing us to this
and expanding our horizons.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Fungus and Cow Flesh

This crisp night air reminds me of many different foods, but today I will focus on pot pies.  The lovely, the delicious, pot pie.  In my high school years pot pies were those little frozen things in the cute little pie tins.  Fresh out of the oven they'd be lava hot for about an hour before you could safely eat one.  Fall reminds me of these because of Friday nights. Friday's were a bit crazy.  Dad always coached, and us kids were always involved in various Friday night activities.  My mom was an amazing cook but in those days she turned Friday nights into frozen meal nights.  A frozen dinner, a pot pie, etc.  We loved it.  She was smart like that because we were all going in a million different directions and she got to have the 'night off.'  She made it easy on herself and as teenagers we LOVED processed food!  It was a win for everybody.

These days, you couldn't MAKE me eat a Tyson's frozen pot pie.  Marie Callender's, MAYBE.  But I'm here to tell you there is something much better out there and still pretty dog gone easy.  This week's Free Recipe Friday star of the show is Beef and Mushroom Pie.  You'll die it's so good.  It may indeed become your new modern day comfort food.  Our family is split down the middle on our love of mushrooms, so if you do not like mushrooms I feel your pain.  You can easily omit them if you'd like.  This recipe made six large servings using 6 oz ramekins, you could make one large pot pie if you'd like, but I don't like to share my crust.  Cut the puff pastry crust into whatever shape will cover your dish and you've got a winner of a meal! Deeelish.

a 3 or 3 1/2 lb chuck roast, cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
about 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms, sliced (opt)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp paprika (smoked if possible)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary (we used fresh)
1 tsp dried oregano (we omitted this)
2 bay leaves
2 cups good beef broth
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons milk
salt/pepper to taste
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and kept cold until ready to use
 (found on the frozen aisle)
1 egg

Spray a medium size heavy pot with non stick spray
and place on medium heat.  Brown the beef on all sides and set aside.
In the same pot, saute onions, carrots and celery
until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes more
then add paprika and other herbs.
Pour in the beef broth and place the cooked beef back into the pot.
Stir to combine everything and reduce heat.
Cover the pot and simmer gently for 1-1 1/2 hours.
(For an easy dinner, do this step ahead of time
or simmer the meat in a crock pot or in the oven).

In a small bowl combine the flour and milk with a fork
until all lumps are gone, set aside.
When the meat is really tender and about to fall apart,
turn the heat back up and pour in the flour mixture.
Allow the sauce the simmer and thicken,
stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.
Divide the beef and mushroom mixture evenly
among your dishes and remove the bay leaves
when you find them ;)
Cut the puff pastry into big enough pieces to cover each dish.
For a perfect fit, you can place an empty dish on top of the puff pastry
as a pattern and cut with a sharp knife.
Place each puff pastry on top of the filled dishes.
Our large mouth dishes required 2 sheets of puff pastry.
Cut 2 slits in the top of the puff pastry to allow
that good ol' steam to escape.
(We covered the scraps with cinnamon and sugar
and baked them right up for little snackies!)

Quickly brush the top of each puff pastry
with the beaten egg to give them
a golden shine and lay all dishes on a baking sheet
to protect your oven,
they will most certainly spill over a bit.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let them rest a bit
 before serving - your taste buds will thank you.

Serve these with a side salad or your favorite veggies,
they are such a comfort food.
It's like the comforts of roast and gravy
along with pot pie rolled into one.

Enjoy making this pot pie your new family favorite!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Eat Your Broccoli!

Don't know what you're hungry for?  Want something easy but, still looks swanky?  How about crepes???  Sweet or savory, crepes can be your best friend.  They are easy to whip up ahead of time and fill with anything from chicken (fresh, grilled, leftover, or a rotisserie) and veggies, to nutella and strawberries, or strawberries and cream.  How's that for some Friday fun?!  The batter can be easily whisked together or thrown in a food processor, and you'll be spitting out crepes left and right.  Stack them in between wax paper and store them in a large ziploc bag and you will be ready for a quick supper or dessert any day of the week.

These tried and true chicken and broccoli crepes are treasures from The Tuttle House, a little tea room my parents owned years ago.  Crepes were a daily special and you could go the savory chicken route or finish off your meal with a couple of strawberry crepes for dessert.  Either way, you can't go wrong.  

Back in those tea room days, we actually made a crepe batter using Bisquick.  Easy peazy but, now we use a more authentic recipe.  Thinner crepe equals more traditional.  Our pastor traveled to Paris a few years ago and he came back raving about how large the crepes were.  Spread with nutella and filled with strawberries.  So large they would fold them in half and then in half again to eat them.  Doesn't that sound scrumptious???  Give it a go one day when you feel like making see through pancakes, which is what they remind me of, and you can day dream that you are in Paris!!!

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
butter, for coating the the pan

In a food processor (or with a whisk),
combine all ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds.
Place crepe batter in the fridge for 1 hour.
This will allow the bubbles to subside so the crepes
will be less likely to tear during cooking.
The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan on medium low heat.
  Add butter (or non-stick spray) to coat.
Pour 1 ounce of batter (appx an 1/8 of a cup) into the center of the  pan
and swirl to spread evenly.
Cook for 30 seconds and flip. 
Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a cooling rack.
Sometimes that first crepe is just not pretty,
don't feel bad - just toss it and keep on goin'!
Now, lay them flat to cool and continue until all batter is gone.
Layer them in between wax paper and store in a large ziploc bag.
Fill them with your favorite things!
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons Worchestershire
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups shredded cheddar
1 16oz container sour cream
appx. 3 cups shredded chicken
1 pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
salt/pepper to taste

In a saucepan on medium heat,
melt the butter until it just starts to sizzle.
Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two.
Add in Worchestershire and chicken broth.
Stir to combine.
When mixture starts to thicken (stir often)
add in shredded cheddar and stir until melted.
Remove from heat and add sour cream.
Keep on super low heat, as you do not want to curdle the sour cream.

In the meantime, have your chicken handy and warm.
Cook the broccoli either in the microwave or on the stove top
to warm up and to remove excess water, season.

When everything is ready to go, fill and roll up each crepe
with a few spoonfuls of broccoli and chicken.
Drizzle some yummy cheesy sauce down the middle
and roll up.  To serve, spoon a little sauce on top.
(for a family of 5, we most certainly double the sauce recipe)
Serve with a side salad and you've just knocked one out of the park.
These are so light and yummy, it's like a french enchilada!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Grab a Torch!

Fall is so close we can almost taste it.  We long for it around here but, it just seems to tease us over and over until Halloween or even later.  Now that we are actually in the month of October, we do like to pretend it's fall and decorate as such.  We imagine the leaves are falling off the trees due to the season, instead of stress from the heat and lack of rain. Even though it was still a whopping 85+ degrees yesterday, we made our first pot of chili but, we did crank the a/c down a bit and pretended it was cool outside.  The chili was great just the same :)

This week's Free Recipe Friday is a little something to get you going, to inspire you, to make your mouth water for those yummy fall recipes - and after all, it's glorified Creme Brulee for cryin' out loud.  I mean, come on!!!
Grab a torch and read along, you'll actually need it. 
Creme Brulee is NOT as froofy as you thought it was -
and we even brought a little redneck into it, so can you. 
You could make it tonight! :)

   6 - 6 oz ramekins
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
5 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. good quality vanilla
Pinch of salt
6 Tbs. pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (more for the topping)
1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

YIELD: 6 servings
Preheat oven to 300.  Fill a kettle with water and heat to boiling.
In the meantime, pour cream into a small saucepan and whisk in the cinnamon,
allspice, ginger and nutmeg. Set over medium-low heat and warm the mixture
until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and steam begins to rise
from the surface, about 3 minutes. Watch carefully. 
Remove from the heat and let sit to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, salt,
pumpkin puree, and both sugars until smooth and blended.
Slowly pour in the cream mixture, stirring until blended.
Divide the mixture among the ramekins and place in a large baking pan(s). 
Add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake
until the custards are just set around the edges, about 30 minutes. 
Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let them cool to room temperature. 

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. 
Just before serving, remove the little jewels from the refrigerator
and discard the saran wrap.   
Set each on a sturdy, fire resistant surface and sprinkle 1-2 tbsp.
granulated sugar evenly over the surface of each custard.
Shake from side to side to spread sugar out evenly. 
Using a kitchen torch according to the manufacturer's instructions,
move the flame continuously in small circles over the surface
until the sugar melts and lightly browns evenly,
OR, place dishes on a baking sheet and place on
the closest rack to your broiler and watch carefully
until they have reached an even golden color.  Be patient. 
Just when you think nothing is happening,
the sugar will begin to melt and things start happening very fast. 
Remember, it is melted sugar - the equivalent to molten lava. 
Handle with care. The melted sugar on top will remain wet looking,
however it quickly cools and hardens ever so wonderfully. 
Serve immediately!
To see the full article click HERE
for the online issue of
The Wedded Bliss.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Easy Peazy Japanezy

Are you obsessed with those little fried, origami looking, cream cheese filled, chunks of heaven called Crab Rangoon??? Three for a dollar at Panda Express.  Yes, I will take twelve please.  Of course, they are on every Chinese buffet table I've ever been to.  We've made them several times at home and let me just say, you really have to love the ones you are cooking for, because they take some time.  As fast as our family eats them, well, let's just say it's gotta be love.  

We have, thanks to the wonderful and magical Pinterest, found this week's Free Recipe Friday - Crab Rangoon DIP.  It is really a no brainer.  You take the filling of a crab rangoon, put it in a baking dish and bake.  But seriously, why oh why haven't we thought of this sooner!!!??!?  You then slice the lovely wonton/egg roll wrappers and fry them up into whatever size you like.  Voila.  It takes a bit of time to fry those things up because you really only need to fry six or eight at a time.  They are very thin but, the good news is they cook very, very quickly and it's easy peazy.  The filling gets baked and after it's removed from the oven, needs to rest for several minutes to come out of that lava hot stage.  In the mean time, fry up the wonton chips while the mixture bakes or even the day before.  My family seriously thinks these wonton chips should be sold on every chip aisle - big bags, snack size bags - you get the idea.  They are so light and crispy and the flavor is so great with all kinds of dips (even hot sauce) but, until manufacturers get on this, we will have to keep fryin' up our own!

8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1 6 oz. can crab meat, drained
5 green onions, diced (optional)
1 tsp honey (optional)
1 tsp soy sauce (we used a bit more)
1 tsp worchestershire (we used a bit more)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

You can tell by all of the 'optional' items above
this is a foolproof recipe, really.
Just keep tasting and tweaking it to your liking.

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl
and mix until well blended and smooth.
Spray a 9x9 baking dish or a pie plate
with non stick spray.  Pour mixture in baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven when the edges are a bit golden
and the center is bubbly.
Cool a bit before diving in for the welfare of your mouth.

Fry up your sliced wontons in a large pot with 2-3 inches of veggie oil.
Gently drop a few wonton wrappers in and watch closely
toss and turn a bit and they will be done.
Drain on a wire rack and/or paper towels.
To serve, pour them up in a large basket and get ready for love.
If you won't eat them immediately,
let them completely cool and store in large freezer size baggies.
Ours got a little toastier than I would have liked,
but they tasted just fine! Mmm.
 This is how our family attacks this stuff.  Sooo good.
Serve it up with some homemade Chinese food
or make it just for snacking - either way
you'll have them begging for more!

Fortune cookie anyone???


Friday, September 20, 2013


   Today's post is all about the greatest thing ever, pizza.  Now I know it's very easy to call in a pizza and go by and pick it up - and by all means I am NOT discouraging THAT.  We definitely treat ourselves to that quite often (we love our Pizza Boy).  However, from time to time, when we have a 'stay at home allll day' kind of day (those are the BEST) where no makeup or real clothes are required, we like to make a homemade pizza.  This pizza is Chicago style, thick crust, and once you've devoured some, will crave it from time to time.  That being said, I am opening up the archives to share this top secret recipe with you, my nearest and dearest :) but, seriously. . .this guy. . .I love cooking for him!

   Now back in the late 80's, Jeff Smith, my all time fav channel 13 cooking hero (before The Food Network even existed), revealed this amazing pizza recipe.  He even stated in his book, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, "Chicago has more pizza joints per capita than any other city in the world.  There are two thousand pizza parlors within the city limits of Chicago alone." So, what is the big deal about Chicago pizza???  Bear with me for a little history lesson.

    The Frug tells this story, "Following World War II, a local Chicago soldier returned to his city and to a job in a popular bar.  The owner wanted something new saying, "We have to feed these people to keep them coming in!"  The soldier, who had just returned from Italy, suggested pizza.  "It's bread with tomato on it and they give it away in Italy."  He began to experiment, and Chicago deep-dish pizzas were born.  Don't be confused by the fact that you can't buy this in Italy.  You never could.  This is a Chicago invention, and the bar where it was invented is called Pizzeria Uno."   

    Nobody in town can quite beat that basic recipe, though many other companies now are great competitors of Pizzeria Uno. Jeff Smith also says, "I have tried to figure out how it's done at Pizzeria Uno and I think that I'm very close.  I ran this recipe by Mama, a gorgeous black woman who has been cooking pizzas there for thirty years, she smiled and nodded.  I think it was a yes!"
     It is not layered as the pizzas purchased around here are - I'm thinking this is why we crave it.  Try out this dough when you have the time, you will love it.  The Frugal Gourmet says you should get up right now and make it!  But, if you don't have the time or are already in bed, purchase some frozen dough at the grocery store very soon or even from a pizza shop (yes, you can do that).  The point is, try layering your next homemade pizza this way - cheese on bottom instead of the top, and go for a thick crust sometime - you'll be glad you did. :)  This recipe is easy, you don't even have to really roll it out.  You just push it into place in the pan.  On a side note, Wilton cake pans are best for baking deep-dish pizza.

2 pkgs quick rise yeast
2 cups tepid water (too warm and it will kill the yeast)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
5 1/2 cups flour

1/2 lb (or more) sliced or shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 cups canned tomatoes, drained and squished
(we used petite diced - you can use sliced fresh as well)
1 teaspoon basil (we sometimes omit this)
1 teaspoon oregano (we don't care for it, we don't use)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (for topping)
3 tablespoons olive oil

sliced pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers,
onions and/or olives - oh yes, olives!
And more, so much more...

In the bowl of your electric mixer - KitchenAid is easiest for this -
dissolve the yeast in water.
Add the oils, cornmeal, and 3 cups of the flour.
Beat for 10 minutes in the mixer (this is why a good mixer works best).
After mixing for 10 minutes, change to a dough hook
and mix in the remaining flour.  Knead in the machine
for several more minutes.  It's a bit tricky to do this by hand,
as the dough is rich and moist.

Pour out the dough on a clean countertop and cover with
a very large bowl.  Allow to rise until it has doubled.
Punch down and allow to rise again.
The second rising is usually much quicker.
And sometimes THIS happens.

In the mean time, prepare your toppings and pans.
Oil several round cake pans.
Put a bit of dough in each and push it out to the edges,
using your fingers.  Put in enough dough so that you can
run the crust right up the side of the pan,
making it about 1/8-1/4 inch thick throughout the pan.

Once the dough is smooshed into the pans,
place the cheese in tile like layers (if sliced)
or spread evenly (if shredded) right on top of the dough.
Next, put in the squished tomatoes on the cheese evenly.
Sprinkle with salt/pepper, garlic and herbs.
If you want to use any toppings place them on now.
Pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, etc.
When you're ready to bake, sprinkle on the parmesan cheese
and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake the pizza pie in a 450 degree oven until the top is golden
and the crust is a light golden - about 30 minutes.
This may take a little longer if you have several pans
in the oven at one time.
This pizza is so fantabulous I hope you will try it soon.
This is what happens when we make it.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Night Munch Time

Friday night madness has begun along with Monday night football, college football, Sunday games. . .oh where does it end???  If you want to whip up one of the easiest snacks around (other than dipping carrots in ranch dip - or are we the only fam that does that?!), you'll need to jot this Free Recipe Friday down!  Three ingredients.  That's all you'll need for this yummalicious snack food with a little bit of kick but, mild enough to eat the leftovers for breakfast (or are we the only fam that does THAT?!)  The pics aren't the greatest but, please give these a try.

6 whole eggs (we use large)
1/2 - 1 cup sliced pickled jalapenos (the ones in the jar)
2 cups grated cheddar (we use sharp)
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
Grab a 9x9 or 8x8 baking dish, either is fine.
Spray it with non stick spray and set aside.
Dice enough pickled jalapenos to cover the bottom of your dish.
You can make that layer thicker than mine and all will be well.
Cover the peppers with your shredded cheddar.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and a pinch or two of salt/pepper.
Pour over cheese and using a fork,
wiggle the eggs around making sure they get thru that layer of cheese.
This recipe is very, VERY forgiving. 
You can easily add an extra egg or two if you want to stretch it. 
Don't you just love forgiving recipes???
Now, bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool just a bit before serving
(although they are great warm or cold)
and cut into small squares.

For something so delicious, it could not be more simple.
These are super great for game time snacks, parties and get-togethers
or just late night munchies!  Quick and easy and just as good the next day.

Whether you'll be enjoying concession stand goodness
or snack time at home,