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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cheese Sauce

This is a basic creamy cheese sauce. I made my mom some soft pretzels for her birthday, and cheese sauce is great for dipping. (To do pretzels, follow the directions in "Turkey Stuffed Soft Pretzel Rolls" but leave out the meat and form into a pretzel shape.)

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard (optional)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a pan, then wisk in the flour. Let this cook for 5 minutes, wisking frequently.

Gradually wisk in the milk. It may look clumpy at first...just keep wisking.

Mix in seasonings (don't add the cheese yet) and let this simmer for 10 minutes. Wisking frequently of course. After 10 minutes, it should look like this:

Turn off heat and wisk in cheese. Cheese sauce! Put it on potatoes, broccoli, nachos, pasta, anything you want.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Funnel Cake

...Funnel cake! Makes 2 big cakes, or 4 small ones.

1 cup flour
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for topping

Heat oil (2-3 inches deep) over medium heat. While oil is heating, stir flour, egg, milk, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl until smooth and well combined. Pour batter into a ziplock bag; do not seal. Snip the corner off of the bag and pipe the batter into the hot oil, forming a spiraled coil from the inside out. Once bottom is browned, flip cake *CAREFULLY* with a spatula. When both sides are nice and brown, remove and drain on a paper towel draped over a wire rack. Coat with plenty of powdered sugar and enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Homemade Mayonnaise

Still lots o' lunchmeat! I love a simple chicken or turkey sandwich with some mayo. Problem is, I'm picky about my mayo, if it's from a store it's gotta be Hellman's. Hubby gets store brand, and while I almost never snub store brand, I can't do the mayonnaise. No more! Making your own delicious mayonnaise is easy and tastes amazing. It will keep in the fridge for one week.

1 tsp mustard*
2 Tbsp vinegar*
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups oil*

*You can use white vinegar and vegetable oil to stay on the cheap, or have fun with olive oil, canola oil, tarragon vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown mustard, dijon mustard, etc... I used white vinegar, dijon mustard,  and olive oil.

Combine the mustard, vinegar, salt, and eggs in a mixing bowl. For the mixing, an electric hand mixer is best, but you can also use a food processor or a wisk if you work quickly. While mixing constantly, drizzle the oil in very, very slowly. If you're unsure, check out a Youtube video on homemade mayo, there are several. With patience and a steady hand, voila! Try mixing with minced jalapenos or chipotle sauce just for fun.

Iced Tea

I know, it's not really cooking, it's not really even a recipe. But, my homemade iced teat tastes a lot better than it used to thanks to various tips I've picked up along the way. It's fast and refreshing, and very inexpensive. This makes 1/2 gallon.

8 cups of water
8 regular sized tea bags
Sugar to taste (1/4 cup is mild, 1 cup is Kool-aid sweet, more than that is bonafide Southern)
1/4 tsp baking soda

Boil 1 cup of water in the microwave. Stir in sugar and baking soda. Add tea bags and steep for 5 minutes, then remove bags. Add concentrate to remaining 7 cups of water, and it's ready to be served over ice.
Why baking soda? It prevents bitter taste and cloudiness! You won't taste it.
Have fun with different flavors, and of course you can omit the sugar or use artificial sweetener.

*Note: If you use lemon juice, add it last to the cold water. I made a rookie mistake and added it to the concentrate, then when I added the baking soda it exploded. LOL. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Potato Skins with Ham

I still have lots of lunchmeat! So, tonight we're having fun with ham. With a little love, you can make it act like bacon; and with bacon running as high as $7 a pound it comes in handy!

4 potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped lunchmeat ham
1 tsp liquid smoke*
Salt and pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

*(Don't have it? Use a splash of Worchestershire sauce or soy sauce.)

Bake the potatoes and scoop out the innards. Save them for another meal, of course.
Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the onions until they start to turn clear. Add the ham and liquid smoke, cook until the ham starts to get brown and crispy around the edges. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Load the potato skins up with cheese, then top with the ham and onion mixture. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve with sour cream, or my personal favorite, ranch dressing.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Turkey Stuffed Soft Pretzel Rolls

My husband went to the store for butter and baking powder. He returned with 10 9oz packages of lunchmeat which were marked down because the expiration date is drawing very near. I froze all but 2 packages, and tried to think of something to do with it. I had originally planned to make pretzel dogs today, so I thought, why not do the same thing but with lunchmeat? So, I did. :)

1 1/2 cups water, 100-110 degrees F
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp melted butter
15 to 20oz lunchmeat
6 cups water*
1/2 cup baking soda*
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Coarse salt

*This ratio gave me enough depth to dip one at a time in my saucepan. If you have a bigger pot, double the water/soda if you like.

Stir sugar and yeast into warm water and let bloom until nice and frothy, about 5 minutes. If it doesn't look like a headdy beer, throw it out and start over. Combine proofed yeast with flour, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and knead, baby, knead. After 7-8 minutes, you should have a nice smooth elastic dough ball. Place it in a well oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place (oven turned off with door shut) for an hour or until doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, divide it into 8 pieces. Split up your lunchmeat into 8 portions, rolled up to about hot dog thickness. Take a piece of dough and roll it into a nice long snake. Wrap it around the meat thustly, being sure to tuck the ends in:
Preheat the oven to 425.
Now, combine the water and baking soda in a large pot and bring it to a boil. One at a time, place roll into water and boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large spatula and place on a greased cookie sheet.
Once all the rolls have been boiled in the soda solution, brush to coat with the egg/water mix. Top with coarse salt, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Crisco

Happy Father's Day!
When Mom reminded me that Dad loves chocolate chip cookies, I thought, great! Then I realized, I don't have any butter! But, I have Crisco. After a little research, I did my own tweaking to the standard recipe. I figured the rule is this: If you must use Crisco instead of butter, use plenty of salt and use more brown sugar than white.

1 generous cup of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.
Personally, I like to mix the dough together by hand; that way I can feel if there are any clumps of brown sugar and squish them out. Fold the chips in last.
When you form these, make them tall. (wish I had remembered to take pictures during the process!) Make the dough about the size and shape of your thumb and stand them up on an ungreased cookie sheet. Just remember thumbs up and these will be thumbs up cookies. :)
Bake 12-15 minutes, until edges are just browning.

P.S. I learned a little more about photographing today. Don't use flash, brighten it in a photo editor!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mock Lasagna

I'll make this quick (like the recipe): I wanted lasagna, I didn't feel like doing any work. The following proved to be a great substitute. Serves 2 hungry people.

3 handfuls of dry egg noodles
1 can of mushrooms, drained
1 cup spaghetti sauce
3/4 cup Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella)
Italian seasoning
Garlic salt
Olive oil or cooking spray

Cook the egg noodles until they're almost done, they will soften more in the oven. Mix sauce with mushrooms and season to taste. Grease a square baking dish and layer thustly: Sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles, cheese. Top with more seasoning if desired, and drizzle with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Cook covered at 375 for 20 minutes, remove cover and cook for 15 more minutes. Enjoy.

*As always, have your own fun with fillings. Try different meats, veggies, sauces, and cheeses.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Cake

This is a recipe I adapted from my favorite chocolate cake recipe and my favorite frosting. I used crunchy for the cake and creamy for the frosting, feel free to experiment with textures. This recipe is for 1 cake pan, so double it for 2 pans.

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup hot water

Combine all ingredients except water in a bowl and mix well. Add hot water. The batter should be very thin.

Pour into a greased and floured cake pan and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

For the peanut butter frosting:

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/8 cup shortening
2 Tbsp water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
1 cup powdered sugar

Combine these ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until creamy and fluffy.

And we have...Cake!

Breakfast Home Fries

My husband loves these. They take about 20 minutes to make, and they're low maintenance enough that you can make your eggs and toast while the little potato cubes are frying.

1 small potato per person
Olive oil and butter
Seasoning salt

You don't have to peel the potatoes, but I do. Dice the potatoes, then heat enough equal parts olive oil and butter to give you 1/4 inch's worth in a skillet. Add potatoes, and pan fry for about 5 minutes until they just start to brown, tossing (or stirring) occasionally.

When the edges are barely brown, add the chopped onion, 1/4-1/2 cup depending on how much you like. Cook the potatoes and onions for another 10 minutes, continuing to flip/stir.

The potatoes have now been cooking for 15 minutes, and they're browning nicely. Add seasoned salt and thyme to taste, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Once they are nice and brown...

Serve as part of a complete breakfast. :)

Note: I am using an Orgreenics ceramic pan. I swear by it. I got two medium sized skillets for $20 from the Telebrands website. It is IMPOSSIBLE to damage it, also the best nonstick surface I've ever encountered,  without all the chemicals!
You can use any manner of spices and vegetables you like; if you have bell pepper, use it! If you like jalapenos, have fun with them! This is merely a template for time and method. <3 Grayce

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Easy Burgers and Fries

Today we'll be doing basic easy burgers and fries. We'll start with the oven fries. Preheat the oven to 450, and grease a cookie sheet. I always line with foil.
All you need is olive oil, salt, pepper, and potatoes.

Cut the potatoes into wedges, quartering lengthwise and halving the quarters. Toss the wedges in olive oil to coat, then season with salt and pepper. For really fuss-free potatoes, leave the skins on and lay them on their backs. If you do this, you can go ahead and cook them for 25-35 minutes without turning.

While the fries are baking, make the burgers. I like to season the ground beef, depending on the flavor I want, I try to stick to 5 ingredients or less. For a basic burger flavor, I'm using salt, pepper, minced garlic, Worchestershire sauce, and liquid smoke.

Mix the meat and seasoning by hand, being careful not to squish the meat. Be gentle! Once the ingredients are combined, roll the meat into balls. 1lb = 4 quarter pound balls. If you're working on the stove, get a sturdy pan good and hot; I prefer a grill pan. Flatten the meat balls with your palms, and make a dent in the center with your thumb to ensure even cooking. Cook the burgers 4-5 minutes on each side. After you pull the fries out, you can toast buns in the oven on the same pan. When they're good and toasty, pull them out and butter the top bun. This adds flavor and keeps the bun from getting soggy with condiments.

There you have it, quick and easy burgers and fries. Enjoy!

Hello, all you normals!

This is for average home cooks, no expensive ingredients or machines. Just good simple food from someone who's learning every day. My instructions are aimed at people who already have a basic working knowledge of a kitchen. However, if you need me to explain anything further don't be afraid to ask in the comments!