Monday, September 28, 2015

Cheddar Brats, September 28, 2015

I was going to make Persian meat & celery sauce over rice for dinner tonight, but Jeannene spotted cheddar brats on sale in the grocery the other day and developed a great hunger for them. So, tonight, we had those with my homemade stovetop mac & cheese and a green salad. I had a little leftover apple crisp for dessert, while Jeannene munched on a chocolate-covered Twinkie.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beef Vegetable Soup, September 27, 2015

My wife loves to make soup and she does it wonderfully! She can never replicate what she's done and she can never tell me so that I can tell you. So, all I can tell you is that I awoke this morning to the sound of Jeannene puttering around happily in the kitchen, getting our supper soup prepped. It was full of veggies, both fresh (carrot, zucchini, and yellow squash slices) and frozen, as well as hearty chunks of beef. She served it with slices of Health Nut bread, a big bowl of grapes, and lovely composed Caesar salads. My contribution was a bowlful of addictively delicious herbed sourdough pretzel pieces and my grandmommy & mom's apple crisp for dessert. I decided this year that apple crisp is always going to be our first night of fall dessert. I was in a hotel in Miami, unexpectedly, for the first night of fall this year, so tonight was apple crisp night. Pie's girlfriend loves all things apple and she was completely swooning over this. It's my favorite apple dessert, for sure. Humble and delicious!

Herbed Pretzels
1 bag (16 oz) hard pretzels, broken into pieces
1/2 c. garlic-infused olive oil (you can use less)
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss everything together and spread on a large baking sheet in an even layer. Bake about 25 minutes, stirring at 10 minutes and 20 minutes. Serve while still warm. 

My Grandmama's Apple Crisp
7 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (choose a variety of apples with good flavor---I used Honeycrisp, Gala, and Granny Smith tonight)
A little butter, if apples are not very juicy
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Layer apples in a 2-quart casserole. Dot with a little butter, if needed. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix the other ingredients together with a pastry blender or two forks. You'll want it to resemble coarse crumbs. Spread over the apples. Bake 30-40 minutes. Allow to settle for about 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8. 

Kielbasa & Kraut, September 26, 2015

I always make pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day, but I forget to make it the rest of the year. I love it so much, as does the wife, so I need to make it more often. Last night, we had kielbasa and kraut, with baked acorn squash on the side. A simple and scrumptious fall meal!

For the main attraction, I cut a couple links of kielbasa on the diagonal so I had thick, chunky slices. I coated a big skillet with cooking spray and browned the sausage pieces. Then, I stirred in a large can of well-drained sauerkraut and cooked it to heat it through and get the kraut a bit browned, as well.

The acorn squash, the orange variety, I sliced in half and scooped out the seeds and stringy part. Then, I mixed a couple tablespoons of room temperature butter, a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar (I favor the dark kind for most things), and a little salt and pepper. I filled the squash cavities with the mixture and rubbed it along the cut edges, too. Then, I popped it in a pre-heated oven, on a baking sheet covered with foil, and roasted it for about an hour. Jeannene's half got the bulk of the sweet, buttery filling---mine was still really deeeeeee-lish! It really doesn't need much at all to make it wonderful!

Banana Bread Oatmeal

I've been making a pot of soup for supper on the first rainy day of fall for the past few years. However, I decided I want to have something cool to do on the very first day of fall, whatever the weather. So, I decided that this year, I would begin a tradition of making oatmeal in the crockpot the night before, so we can have it for breakfast on the first day of fall. Things worked out so that I was with my father in the hospital in Miami on the actual first day of fall this year, so we celebrated this morning. All I had to do last night was coat the crockpot with cooking spray, mix everything together, and tip it into the pot. This morning, the house smelled heavenly and all we had to do for breakfast was scoop some from the pot into our bowls. Well, I stirred a little brown sugar into our bowls and topped the oats with banana slices and walnuts, but that hardly counts as work! My great-grandma Mil used to make banana bread and my grandmom used her recipe often. I loved arriving at her place & being offered a slice, so this kind of felt like a hug from my grandmom.

Banana Bread Oatmeal
2 c. steel-cut oats
6 c. water
12 oz. evaporated milk (I used the nonfat sort)
3 bananas, mashed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Brown sugar
Banana slices
Your favorite nuts

Grease your slow cooker. If you have one with a timer, so much the better. My new one has one and it really helps prevent the blackened, rock-hard edges I got all last winter with our crockpot oatmeal. Mix everything but the brown sugar, banana slices, and nuts together. Put in the crockpot, cover, and cook on low 6-8 hours. Mix in some brown sugar (it's really yummy without it, too, though). Top with banana slices and nuts. Serves 6-8. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cheesy Tuna & Shells, September 17, 2015

After making Jeannene sick with an overly spicy, overly greasy burger the other night, I was glad she liked last night's tuna casserole! I thought it was really yummy, too. I served it with a Caesar salad and apples.

Cheesy Tuna & Shells
1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1/4 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 can cheddar cheese soup (I use Healthy Request)
1/2 c. drained diced tomatoes from a can (or fresh, if you have them)
7 oz. tuna, well-drained 
2 c. cooked shell pasta

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter or heat olive oil in pan. Add peppers and onions and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the rest and mix well. Bake in a casserole dish about half an hour. Serves 4. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Corn Chowder, September 13, 2015

Last night was the inaugural gathering of the women's Red Tent Temple I am starting in Rochester, Michigan, and I made a pot of corn chowder to share with the women who came. I also brought some lovely apples, a loaf of wheat bread, a couple different kinds of gluten-free crackers, a bag of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and a batch of from-scratch gluten-y chocolate chip cookies. Sue brought red velvet brownies with white chocolate buttercream. Ooh-la-la!

Corn Chowder
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 white onions, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
12 small red potatoes, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 cans white corn (or yellow or corn cut from 9 ears)
6 c. low sodium vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth, if you have no vegetarians eating)
6 c. 1% milk (you could use whatever kind of milk you like, or even half and half)
4 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional, but nice for added umami flavor)
6 or 7 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Sauté onion & garlic until onion is softened and translucent. Add potato, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Add corn & broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and add milk. Cook on low until potatoes are tender. Add yeast and adjust seasonings. Cook another 10 minutes or so. Serve with scallions for garnish. Serves 12-14. 

Perfectly Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz. chocolate chips (the better the quality, the better the cookie)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the baking soda into the flour. Beat the butter and sugars together until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat well. Add flour, in 2 or 3 increments, mixing between additions. Add chocolate chips. Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool a couple minutes before removing from the baking sheets. Makes 2 and a half to 3 dozen. 

Pumpkin Apple Bagels, September 6, 2015

While I was readying the crockpot pulled pork after church the other week, I also fixed us some pumpkin apple bagels for lunch. We were headed out to a festival, but I thought it was a good idea to get something in our bellies beforehand so we wouldn't get hangry. These fit the bill, but they are very filling, so I really could have done with half. 

Pumpkin Apple Bagels
1/4 c. apricot jam (I love Kissell's Apricot Rosemary Spiced Jam more than I can say)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
A dash of cinnamon
2 smallish apples, sliced
2 bagels (you could also do the same thing with toast or English muffins)
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. canned pumpkin
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
A handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped

Heat jam with lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon, stirring occasionally, until bubbly. Cool, then toss with apples. Toast bagels. Beat cream cheese with pumpkin, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Spread on bagels. Top with apples and nuts. Serves 2-4. 

Pulled Pork, September 6, 2015

On a busy Sunday, it's nice to be able just to stick something in the crockpot and be assured you'll have a yummy dinner that night. This is especially true if you have people coming to dinner, as we do nearly every Sunday. Sunday dinner ended up being cancelled on the 6th, but dinner sure wasn't. We had leftover mashed potatoes and corn with this, so it practically a no-effort meal. I was too tired to take the extra step of making the cooking juices into serving sauce and waiting 20 minutes, so I just opened a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce to serve with our pulled pork. However, I am including instructions, should you wish to make your own. By the way, this is also great the next day for lunch on hamburger buns. You could also toss it on nachos.

Crockpot Pulled Pork
3 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato soup (I use Healthy Request)
2-3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 pinch salt
2 tbsp. flour (if making sauce)
1/4 c. water (if making sauce)

Place pork in crockpot and toss in the onions and garlic. Mix everything but the flour & water and pour over the roast. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Remove from crockpot and tent with foil. Mix the flour and water. Whisk the mixture into the cooking juices. Cook on low 20 minutes. Shred pork, once it's cooled a bit, using either 2 forks or your hands. Serve with sauce. Serves 6-8. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pecan Waffles, September 10, 2015

I do breakfast for dinner every so often, but it's very seldom anything like waffles or pancakes. I like them quite a bit, but I almost always require a savory breakfast. However, Jeannene adores the sweeter breakfast possibilities and I figured the bacon would help make up for the sweet. I served some honeydew with the pecan waffles I made last night, as well.

I don't make waffles often at all and haven't over the years. My pancakes are okay but not amazing and I never made really crisp waffles until last night. I think I never let the batter rest properly before or something. I also hadn't heard the trick of not stacking the cooked waffles while keeping them warm, but I ran across that somewhere and remembered to try it this time. With the finished waffles kept warm on a pizza pan, instead of stacked on a plate, in a 200 degree oven, they were wondrously crisp when we were ready to eat! Huzzah! I like to eat my waffles with Grade B maple syrup that's been warmed. They are, however, also great with fresh fruit.

Pecan Waffles
1 1/4 tsp. yeast 
1/8 c. warm water
1 tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. sugar
3 eggs
1 pint buttermilk
1/6 c. oil
Heaping 1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
A handful or two of pecans, broken into pieces

Mix yeast, water, and 1/2 tsp. sugar. Let stand until it get foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and oil. Mix the flour, soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add the eggs, then the yeast, and mix well. Add pecans. Let stand at least 1/2 hour (you can do this the night before, if you're actually having them for breakfast. Just bring the batter to room temperature before cooking). Preheat waffle iron (I like to use my Belgian waffle iron when I'm making them for Jeannene, because that's her favorite, but I also have a wonderful regular waffle iron that makes heart-shaped waffles---use what you like best) and oven (to 200 degrees). Grease iron (I just use cooking spray). For a Belgian waffle iron, I use about half a cup of batter for each waffle. Otherwise, 1/4 c. to 1/3 c. seems to work best. When each waffle's done, place it on a baking sheet to keep warm. Serves 3. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Chicken Noodle Soup, September 1, 2015

Since I had what was left of the chicken I roasted last week, I figured I might as well make chicken noodle soup for supper last night. I just threw the chicken and veggies I'd bagged up into a pot, covered them with water, threw in some carrot rounds (3 carrots) & celery slices (2 stalks), and cooked them on medium to medium-low for quite awhile (you can just do about 45 minutes, though, and you get a pretty decent broth). About 10 minutes before serving, I removed the chicken (you have to be careful that you don't accidentally leave bone bits or other yucky parts in the pot) & let it cool while I tossed some "dumpling" noodles into the pot of soup and cooked them for about 7 minutes. Then, I picked the remaining chicken off the carcass and threw it back into the pot. I adjusted the seasonings with some salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Then, I served it piping hot with some Pugliese bread and applesauce.

Dessert was scrumptious chocolate banana bread with dark chocolate chips. This is really gooey and cake-like and unruly when still warm. The cooler it gets, the more tidy and bread-like it becomes. It's still quite good when completely cool---and looks more like you expect bread to look, you know, holding its shape and everything. I sent a loaf to work with Jeannene and we kept one at home. The recipe makes one loaf.

Chocolate Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips
4 bananas, very ripe
1/3 c. brown sugar
A hearty shaking of lemon zest (I had dried on hand)
1 stick butter, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
A heaping tsp. baking powder
1 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa
6 oz. chocolate chips (I had dark on hand, but you could use whatever you like---even PB or cinnamon or butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Mix in brown sugar, lemon zest, butter, vanilla, and eggs. Stir salt, baking powder, flour, & cocoa together. Add to banana mix, along with chocolate chips, and mix well. Pour into a lightly greased loaf pan and bake 1-1 & 1/2 hours. It's done when it feels springy in the center. Cool at least 5 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

What I'm Cooking in September 2015


-Chicken noodle soup, Pugliese bread, fruit
-Cowboy steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, cinnamon peaches with sugar biscuits
-Chicken allegre, dilled pea salad, smoked gouda macaroni
-Veggie cheese pie, salad, fruit, Latin Lover cocktails
-BBQ pork roast, baked potatoes, sweet corn, mocha chocolate chip cake
-Mexican casserole, chips & guacamole, salad, fruit, spice cookies
-Pecan waffles, bacon, fruit
-Thai chicken & green beans, rice, fruit
-Summer corn soup, bread/rolls, chocolate chip cookies
-Kibbeh, roasted cauliflower & hazelnut salad, hummus & pita
-Fried catfish, tomato pie, cheese grits
-Chili dog bacon cheeseburgers, veggies & dip. spicy fries, chocolate peanut butter cake
-Spinach & artichoke melts, curried rice salad, marinated veggies
-Ham loaf, garlic & herb mashed potatoes, lima beans, white sangria
-Seashell tuna casserole, salad, fruit, herbed pretzels
-Cheese ravioli with brown butter & sage, roasted cauliflower, salad with Green Goddess dressing
-Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, apple crisp
-BBQ pork chops, cheddar-colby macaroni, green salad, caramel apple salad
-Savory pancakes, sausage, fruit
-Persian beef & celery sauce over rice, artichokes, fruit
-Ribeyes, baked potatoes, broccoli, cranberry applesauce

-Sweet & sour meatballs
-Hot chocolate supreme
-Frost on the Pumpkin Pie
-Cheddar cheese ball
-Creamy orange dip
-Apple bagel sandwich
-Tunisian chicken salad
-Olive cheese puffs
-Mini raspberry swirls

First Rainy Day of Fall Soup:
Cuban Cabbage Stew

Bucatini Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli, August 31, 2015

In the car on the way home from visiting our son on Sunday, we were playing various games to keep ourselves entertained. Jeannene came up with the game of, "My Ideal Meal" and we each had to come up with what our ideal meal would be. Jeannene started with her ideal dinner: caprese crostinis to start the meal, then bucatini Alfredo with chicken and broccoli, a Caesar salad, Pugliese bread, and a Bumpy Cake. I said, "Not my flourless chocolate cake?" She responded that Bumpy Cake is easier, but yes, my flourless chocolate cake. But Bumpy Cake is one of her very favorites, so that would be good, too.

Well, I was picking up chicken & pitas for lemon cumin chicken last night when I decided that, since I was buying chicken anyway, I might as well make her dream dinner for her. She was having an inordinately rough day at work. I figured it would be a nice end to the day. Luckily, we'd picked up some bucatini on our drive home because our local groceries don't seem to carry it.

Bucatini Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli
8 oz. bucatini (or your favorite kind of pasta), cooked and still hot
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces
1 c. whole milk 
1 c. grated, good quality parmesan
Salt & pepper
Some chicken, cooked and cubed
Some broccoli florets, cooked (and not overcooked!)

Stir the butter and milk into the pasta on medium-low heat until the butter melts. Stir in the cheese until it melts. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in chicken and broccoli.