So..dear readers..who enjoy my stories about bugs. .and things that make me cuss loud enough to wake the dead..have some popcorn. .cause I can’t make this shit up. Well. .most of it.I’m sittin here in my porch swing. .havin my McDs sweet tea..of course im in my black polka dot night gown..with my matchin black polka dot sunglasses..cause im Audrey Hepburn like that. Oh. .and no bra..cause its MY porch and MY swing so screw you and thats why…and this IS Kentucky. .in a few years when im missing a few teeth and maybe a finger ima fit right in..anyway. .I digress. Im chillin on my porch, tea, book, night gown and kick ass sunglasses when I feel a feather light kiss on the back of my hand. .I glance over and HOLY SHIT. ..BIGGEST EFFIN SPIDER EVER CREATED…and it was ON ME!!My hand instantaneously, in that one split second grew its own brain..no shit. .I see it sproutin roots and all..so said hand and its new brain matter decides the quickest and MOST sure method of killing the spider that is STILL FREAKIN ON ME, would be for it to fly up from its prone position and to smack my head in my FACE.Luckily..my face, immediately after my hand starts to come say howdy, ALSO grows ITS own brain and it decides, OH HELL NO..that bitch ain’t effin up MY matchin sunglasses with SPIDER JUICE! (Keep in mind..my body is now a medical miracle. .one body. .three brains. .this is the smartest I’ve ever been) so my face decides it better haul ass outta the way, cause Back of Hand is comin in pretty quick to say “whassup bitches?” By a heroic show of strength Face sacrifices itself by moving Head (yes..MY head, at this pont all these body parts are their OWN ENTIITIES!) out of the way so that Back of Hand, and, THE BIGGEST SPIDER EVER CREATED! instead meets Happy Yellow Siding. It was meant to be. .pre ordained even. .that Back of Hand and THE BIGGEST SPIDER EVER! Come together and meet. So..let me sum up so far for yall..to make sure all ya’ll (thats a double plural or some such bullshit for my Yankee friends ALL YALL..go forth. .and use it with everybody all yall know) are on the same page as me. Me, nightgown, matchin cool ass shades, no bra, Back of Hand,THE BIGGEST SPIDER EVER!, Face, Happy Yellow Siding..got all that? Groovy..cause I aint NEAR done with this shit. .it gets better. Back of Hand crashes into Happy Yellow Siding, effectively smooshing THE BIGGEST SPIDER EVER! into some mush..YAY pics to follow! So at this point all I can think is Holy Shit! I got spider juice ON ME! ON ME! SPIDER JUICE IS EFFIN ON ME!! GET IT OFF WIPE IT ON THAT UGLY ASS NIGHT GOWN! THEN BURN IT! So..as most all yall (see how I used that again? ) know that when a bug..not to mention THE BIGGEST SPIDER EVER! gets on me..that I think I may be sayin spider juice get it off me..in a single litany inside my head that. .no..no. .im actually screaming it.Im frantically wiping off the remains of TBSE! On the ugly ass night gown..and planning ahead, the best course of action to take to eradicate not only my night gown and TBSE!, but because I am all about equality and shit, EVERY ARACHNID AND BUG EVER CREATED from the face of the earth, that I glance over and notice a young lady in a snappy business suit and…flip flops (?! Wtf..did I finally lose it? Did TBSE! Make me just spaz the hell out cause. .who wears a business suit and flip flops? ) said young lady. .keeps approaching me..even tho at this point im sure I look like that dude from one of those Shakespeare plays I half assed listened to in school…Hamlet? Cthulu? Chewbacca? Buffalo (it rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again) Bill? Mr.Ed?! Fuck it! I dunno. .one of em. .so she walks up and says something to me..which equated into how the teacher sounds on Charlie Brown. So I did what any nice southern lady does when a woman in a business suit and flip flops stops by unexpectedly. .I shoved my cool ass polka dotted shades up on my head, still mumbling “out! OUT DAMN SPOT!” Yea..ok its probably me sayin over and over “it was on me…omg omg omg it was ON ME!”, and glared at her until she either asked me for some directions. .a phone maybe? Fashion advice? Who knows!I continue to glare at her glancing from her. .to her feet. .(girlfriend needed a Pedi in the WORST damn way..did I mention. .business suit..flip FLOPS?!)Finally after looking at her feet for about the 5th time and me realizing that the flip flops were actually pretty cute, she hands me a business card…AHA! This explains it! Integrity Insurance Plus, where we treat you like family!!Which obviously was a lie..cause if they did some damn body woulda told her to put some Corn Away, on that thing growin off the side of her pinky toe, which looked like,it too, could possibly have its own brain as well (ugh).At this point ive still not actually heard a word shes mumbled. .so again. .I glance down at her cardIntegrity Insurance Minus!, Where we treat you like family! (Again, LIE, her. .pinky toe, corn. .somebody bring the sander and none of that extra fine grit bullshit for pussies! That thing needs some work..by god ima treat her like family! )What the HELL is my new relatives name? Oh yea..business card..it should be on there. So I look down once more and I FINALLY see her name. Internal Struggle Not to Laugh! Cause we Treat Yall like Cousins n Shit! Licensed Agent and Corn Husker! Unita Lightbown270-555-5555.At this point she has what little of my attention and sanity thats left, which isnt much on a GOOD day..let alone no sleep, polka dot night gown, cool shades, Back of Hand, TBSE!, Face and Happy Yellow Siding..oh and no bra for me..and for her that tax deduction thats growin off the side of her toe (did it sprout a hair? I better put the dog up..it looks like it may want to mate with something).When I realize her name. .her NAME!. .at which point. .I begin to giggle. .probably with a touch of insanity, cause Lorne the Toe Corn split into a grin and joined in! Because at that moment..I realized her name ..ill say using hooked on Phonics for all ya’ll (see how I did that? Again? )Unita Lightbown. .say it with me usin phonics!UneedA LightBone? At this point im sure she thinks im deranged…(I dont care..me and Lorne Corn are gonna run off together, soon as I get my BY GOD EXTRA HARD GRIT SANDPAPER so that I can SAVE HIM!)So when I looked at her and didn’t blink..or anything and said “how’d you know? But id prefer a heavier one!” Well..she made off with Lorne Corn, (the cheating BASTARD!) AND didn’t even say bye or NOTHIN! Evidently she dont KNOW bout family round here. I called her and told her supper was on at 6..lights out at 7:30..she needs to rest cause tomorrow ima treat her ass like FAMILY! And file seperation paper work for her and Lorne. I hate when young, love goes awry! Hopefully there wont be children between her and that bastard Lorne. .everybody knows when Lorne Corn and Unita Lightbown (or better yet a heavy one!) Hook up all your gonna get is one lousy call from the podiatrist and those pesky ass kids, Jyna Warts!Ok..so yall all know (see that one was reversed!) Ive had no sleep and im giddy and loopy as hell. I shared this (mostly true) experience with three of ya’ll a bit ago. .two by text, one by phone. Everything I told ya’ll was true..the rest…well. .im loopy, with no look of sleep coming soon. .so ya’ll all have good afternoon! Enjoy whats left of TBSE! Heres his new profile pic!
Here in the south there is nothing we love better than dessert. In my cookbook I broke it down in to sections: Salads and Breads, Soups, Main Courses, and Dessert. Now, my cook book has aproximately 150-175 pages. I would guess that at least 75 of those pages are nothing but dessert!
Th only thing we like better or as well as dessert? Bacon. We eat bacon at every chance we get. If not using bacon, well then, we are frying something up in bacon grease. We keep a crock of it on our stove at all times. After fryig your bacon just pour the drippings right in there and use it later to fry something tasty up. Or you can pour the hot drippings of salad greens with a little apple cider vinegar. Heaven! But I am now totally off topic. Back to bacon and dessert. What a great combo!
Pralines are already delicious. So the addtion of bacon only makes them better. Give these a try. They are very easy to make, and take no time at all. Let me know what you think about these little beauties! Also, HUGE props to Martha Hall Foose’s and her cook book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. This recipe comes from her and like I mentioned above. DELICIOUS!
Buttermilk Bacon Pralines.
Makes 24 small pralines
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- In a heavy-bottomed, deep saucepan, combine the sugars, buttermilk, corn syrup, baking soda and salt over medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, pecans, orange zest and bacon. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
- Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a silicone mat or buttered parchment paper. Let stand 30 minutes, or until cool. Store in an airtight container.
Give these jewels a try and enjoy!!
Here is something I experienced about a year after I had weight loss surgery. Posting yesterday reminded me of this and I wanted to share it with you. As well as one of my brownie recipes for you to try.
I want to share a experience with you, dear reader, that totally blew me away today. As many of you know I had Gastric Bypass Surgery on Feb 28, 2006. It is soon coming up on my one year anniversary and so far I have lost 132 pounds. Gastric bypass is basically a procedure that shrinks your stomach from the size of a football, to the size of a medicine cup. Why did I do this? To be able to fit into a size 10 again, of course. Actually I had it to be healthy….OK OK….size tens but healthy is a good side benefit, right? I mean, I have had size 10 blue jeans in my closet that have not been close to my ass in 16 years, so I figure they were getting lonely in there. I’m not quite there yet but ALMOST! At any rate, I regress.
One of the things you have to do 2 days prior to surgery is go on a liquid diet. This is to make 100% sure there is no food in your stomach etc. I started mine on a Sunday, and was going to take that Monday off, however, I found out I had clients coming in, so off to work I went. Now, I done OK on Sunday with my liquid diet, but on Monday I was RAVENOUS. I can remember thinking that if I did not get something to eat soon, I was going to throw a client on my desk and start to nibble on their extremeties.
So we skip to the next day, and off to surgery I went. Skip foward to today. I was in my surgeons office for some routine check ups. Now, this bariatric surgeons office is quite busy, with people coming in to talk about the weight loss surgery. 90% of us there have been or were overweight in that office today. There were about…oh…12 people in the waiting room. At about the same moment there were 3 of us who suddenly got the whiff of something delightful. As we sniffed again the thought hit me! BROWNIES! MMMMMMMMM. Now, it has been 13 months since I have had a brownie. I certainly have NOT forgotten the smell! Where was this olfactory delight coming from? Certainly no one in the waiting room would have brought in brownies! As I continued my investigation by covertly peering around the room trying to figure out who was trying to sneak brownies into their weight loss surgery appointment, I hear the bell to the door ring, and then open.
The smell of all that wonderful, warm chocolate almost knocked me out of my chair. Immediately my mouth started watering, my pupils shrank to pin points as I narrowed in on the culprit. In sashayed a young, blonde, size 6 phrmaceutical rep. She waltzed right in with her short black skirt, tall leather boots, and cropped leather coat on. Hair perfectly coiffed. 24 sets of eyes and 12 noses zeroed in on the bag she was carrying. She started speaking to the receptionist about just how much she LOVED one of the doctors there and she wanted to do something nice for him so she had went home and baked him some brownies, and brought them right over so they would be hot when he and the staff could eat them.
The receptionist, bless her, told the young blonde Wolfgang Puck that the Dr. was over at the hospital and would be delayed. The entire time her eyes were darting from the bag, to us in the waiting room. All of us glaring at Blondie with chocolate lust in our eyes.Blondie did not grasp the levity of the situation in which she found herself. Blondie proceeded to remove the brownies from the bag and place them on the counter. Layer by layer the tin foil (thats reynolds wrap for you yankees) came off the small morsels that held us all in rapture. I heard one man compare it to “Almost being like going to the nudie bar after a year in the joint.” I could not disagree, even though I have not been in the “joint” nor do I make it a habit to frequent nudie bars.
Finally the tin foil was free from the plate and the full scent of the wonderful brownies hit us smack in the nostrils! If only you could have seen us, dear reader! Nostrils flaring, like a pack of rabid wolves scenting its prey! One woman gasped in obvious pleasure as the wonderful smell smacked her in the nose like a wet glove! Blondie then commmited her crime. In the middle of a weight loss surgeons office, she picked up a warm, wonderfully chocolate brownie and took a bite. You could see how gooey it was on the inside. The gooey chocolate sticking to her perfectly white teeth, her eyes closed in obvious bliss at her culinary creation. From the corner of my eye I seen one man rise from his seat, hand outstretched, reaching for the forbidden fruit. As if in slow motion the woman next to him reached out to him…”noooooooo” she said to him!
Blondie turned to see what the ruckus was and froze. Like a rabbit she moved not a muscle. She did not chew, her eyes were wide, and her mouth was open enough to see a bit of pulverized brownie inside, waiting to be swallowed and sent on its way to her stomach (And staright to her ass, I secretly hoped!). Everyone in the office froze as well. Blondie stared back at us in apparent shock. Finally realizing the peril in which she found herself! She gave a muffled squeak and quickly dropped the brownies in front of the receptionist. Brownies, sweet warm brownies, went on the floor and fell into the garbage can behind the desk, where thankfully none of us could get to! Very slowly the man sat down. Blondie reached over and picked up her purse and very slowly backed out of the Doctors waiting room. At the door she gave us all a small timid smile, trying to make nice. I noticed she had gooey chocolate covering one of her teeth entirely. I could not help snorting out a laugh at her appalachian grin.
After she was gone, her relief apparent at not being mauled, the man and I looked at each other and shared a momeht of total psychic connectivity. He gave a small grin and I a tiny shake of my head, and a small grin myself. The nerve of some people! How dare they bring things like that into a weight loss surgeons office. One thing is for sure though. No matter what we face in life, us bypass patients never have to worry about having chocolate black our teeth out when we grin. If we do..you can bet you will never know about it.
Now look below for one of my brownie recipes. I have a slew of them and love them all. Let me know when you try and what you think!
Chocolate raspberry brownies.
3/4 cup butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
5 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups nuts, optional for topping
2 pints fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil and grease the foil.
Place the chocolate and butter in a microwaveable bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each session until the mixture is combined and smooth. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat the mixture on high speed until it thickens and becomes pale in color and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface (4 to 5 minutes).
Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but gently with the rubber spatula so the air that’s been incorporated into the eggs does not deflate.
Pour the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. If you are using nuts, sprinkle them across the batter. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
You can sub almost any fruit you like. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries etc. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
Coming from a small town everyone knows everyone else. So I am always honored when people start talking about cooking or recipes or what have you, and my name pops up. In a town with only 2500 people I would guess names pop up quite a bit. But thats OK, because I love being known for what I know how to cook. I have never been one to brag, however, I am a damn fine cook. Lots of folks have asked me what got me interested in cooking. Well, honestly, until 6 or 7 years ago I really wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I liked to cook to an extent, but it wasn’t a passion for me like is now.
Seven years ago I had gastric bypass surgery (GBS). Thats when I learned I would much rather have a little bit of something delicious more than a lot of something that is medicore. This far out from surgery I am able to eat pretty much anything I want to, aside from a lot of sugar. I can eat about 2-3 cups of food at a meal. I also eat something about every 2 hours. Every person who has this surgery is different. Some can only eat a couple times a day. Others, like me, have to eat every few hours. Some can’t eat any sugar at all. Others can’t tolerate a lot of carbs. I feel fortunate that I am able to eat what I like, but moderation is key. I learned quick to NOT deprive myself. If I want pie, then I cut a small slice of pie, have a few bites, and I am satisfied.
Don’t get me wrong though. Sweets were not my downfall. I was never one who always wanted cakes, pie, cookies, candy bars or ice cream. I simply loved FOOD. REAL food. Like most kids I was always told to clean my plate. It was never a problem for me. Especially if I was at my grannys house. I would MUCH rather have chicken and dumpling, stuffing, cream corn, green beans, and biscuits than sweets. When I became pregnant with my one and only child, I gained 100 pounds even. After I had him, I continued to gain. Diet after diet failed. I felt as if I had failed.( Let me pause here and add: If your thinking that GBS is the easy way out, which I have been told many times, then THINK AGAIN) The decision to have surgery did not come to me easily. It is NOT the easy way out. It is not cheating. Its a life saving surgery. The decision to have GBS surgery is not one to be taken lightly. I agonized over it for months, until I finally sat down and had a heart to heart with my doctor. Even though the decision was difficult to make, it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
To answer your next question, I lost 156 pounds. I was a size 28 the day I went in for surgery and now I am a size 10 or 12, depending on the clothes and how they are made. So the restriction on how much I can eat helped me to make some changes. I started cooking more and more at home. I no longer wasw content going to burger king for supper. I wanted food that was QUALITY. So I taught myself to cook quality food. I am lucky that my grandmother as well as my GREAT grandmother were both in my life. Unfortunately my Great Granny passed away in January. I was blessed to have many years listening to her talk about cooking and baking for her 9 children. I was always welcome in the kitchen at my grannys house to sit on the stool and watch, or help, depending on what I was in the mood for.
Don’t get me wrong. There are days that nothing beats a nice greasy cheeseburger or a hot fresh order of McDonalds french fries (crack fries!), but the fall back is all in moderation. I would much rather be able to cook a delicious, high quality, dinner and be able to eat off of it a few days than to run out and grab something.
So thats my story of why and how I started to cook. If anyone is thinking about GBS feel free to contact me. I will answer what questions I can. If you have any questions about cooking, send me those as well. I will try to answer those too!
So in closing I am posting a delicious quality recipe. Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Yes FOURTY cloves. It sounds like too much, but the garlic roasts up so sweet and yummy. Give it a try. Let me know what you think! Also, it calls for cognac. I never add that cognac. But do use the wine. Remember when cooking with wine, always use a wine you would drink. If its not good enough to drink then its not good enough to cook with! This comes from Ina Garten. She is one of my favorite cooks!
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.
- 3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
- 2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don’t want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.
Tomorrow is going to be Italian day in the house! I plan on making a HUGE batch of my home made spaghetti and meatballs, a big ole loaf of home made bread and a batch of home made ricotta cheese. Yes, you heard me. I’m makin’ cheese ya’ll!
Its so simple. So delicious. So worth it. You can use this in other dishes, but I like to have it while it is still warm smeared all over a slice of my home made bread. I’ve been using this recipe for a couple years now, and seen one very similar yesterday on the Food Network. She liked to eat hers warm as well. She knows what’s up! So give this a try and let me know what you think about it!
6 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, vinegar and salt. Place the pan over a medium heat and slowly bring the milk mixture to a simmer. Simmer the milk mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, you will see curds begin to form.
Line a mesh strainer with several layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the curds and whey through into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze some of the excess liquid from the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a serving dish and serve on some tasty crusty bread.
Do you ever have those days where your just super down in the dumps, whether you have been sick, or just have felt BLECK? Yea, I have had quite a few weeks of that and am getting over a surgery that has had me feeling like that for a few days now. I knew there was something I could do to make myself feel better I just wasnt sure what it was. I had wrung all the fun I could by delegating out all the household chores to the husband and the kid. Including the cooking. As much fun as I had watching them struggle with loading the washer and the dishwasher, they were also cooking for me. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated every meal they made, however, a 19 year olds idea of supper is a bit different from mine. I had about all the potato skins, cheese sticks, and sliders I could handle.
I knew I needed something MORE. Something to make me feel better. So while I was thumbing through some old magazines, I came across one of my FAVORITE recipes EVER. It sounds fancy, but it’s so easy to make and absolutely delicious. So I have plans on making this tomorrow for supper. I KNOW it will make me feel better. I just hope I can still con the kid and hubs into continuing with the laundry and dishes!
- 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 lb), cut up
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 4 medium carrots, halved diagonally
- 1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling)
- 1 1/2 lb small (2-inch) red potatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
- Fresh lemon juice to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
- Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate.
- Meanwhile, wash leeks and pat dry.
- Pour off fat from pot, then cook leeks, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate, carrots, and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover pot and braise chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
- While chicken braises, peel potatoes, then generously cover with cold water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to saucepan. Add parsley and shake to coat.
- Stir crème fraîche into chicken mixture and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then add potatoes.
Give this recipe a try. It really is delicious. I usually serve it with a wedge salad and nice crusty frech bread to sop up all that creamy goodness. Also, I almost ALWAYS add more heavy cream than called for. Bon Apetit, ya’ll!
Someone asked me earlier on facebook if I had a spaghetti recipe I could share. This is the one I use and it is pretty forgiving as long as you stay pretty true to the base, you can add or subtract ingredients to suit your own families tastes! So give this a try and let me know what you think. Hopefully I will be feeling more up to par tomorrow and can share a few stories and recipes I picked up while in Indianapolis last week!
1 lbs Italian sausage, casings removed (mild or hot) 1 lb ground beef 1 small onion, chopped (optional) 3 -4 garlic cloves, minced, I use a ENTIRE head. But use what you like. 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce 2 cups chicken broth for a long period of simmering for flavors to meld. If you don’t want to simmer it as long, add less. I never simmer this for less than 3-4 hours. 3 teaspoons basil 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar , depending on tomatoes you may have to use more. Just add to taste after wine and other ingredients have been added. 1 teaspoon salt 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper 1/4 cup, or to taste red wine (a good Cabernet!) 1 lb thin spaghetti parmesan cheese remember, NEVER use a wine that you wouldn’t drink!
In large, heavy stockpot, brown Italian sausage, breaking up as you stir. Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until onions are softened. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water. Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Stir well and barely bring to a boil. Stir in red wine. Simmer on low, stirring frequently for at least an hour. A longer simmer makes for a better sauce, just be careful not to let it burn! Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Some of my very favorite memories are of being at my granny and papaws house as a child. My papaw drove a school bus so I always looked forward to Fridays so I could just ride his bus home with him. Not sure why I thought this was such a treat when I loved all of 2 blocks away from him. Regardless, I knew on Fridays that good food and fun would be in store. I will be the first to admit, I was spoiled rotten. I was the first born grandchild and was doted on. I was the ONLY grandchild until I was 7. Then my competition came along. My weekends generally went something like this. Fridays I would ride home with my papaw after school. We would lay around a bit, have a snack and try to decide what to hav for supper, which almost ALWAYS turned out to be pizza on Fridays. For ome reason it just went with the Disney Friday Night Movie. My favorite of which was Race to Witch Mountain. I was almost grown before I figured out that my papaw and granny did not really like pizza. At all. When I figured this out they were very happy when I started suggestion other foods for our Friday night food fest.
On Saturday mornings, there was NEVER any discussion as to what would be for breakfast. It was the same thing every Saturday, which suited me fine. Fried Eggs, smooshed up with a little mustard (YES YES I love MUSTARD on my eggs. Don’t judge me) sausage, bacon, biscuits, gravy, grits, and oatmeal. My granny makes the BEST gravy. To this day I could drink it with a straw. Best. Gravy. EVER. My papaw and I actually called it Grannys Groovy Gravy. I have tried many times to replicate GGG to no success. After breakfast we would half heartedly do some chores, to which my papaw declared I was the BEST helper and deserved a reward. So he would load me up in his brown station wagon, which we called The Bologna Wagon (not sure why) and we would take off to Roses, where he would purchase for me the newest barbie, barbie furniture, barbie hairstyling head, etc etc…whichever I picked. We would then head home and stop at Slo’s (those of you in Junction KNOW Slo’s yum) and get a milkshake. I would always spend 30 minutes trying to decide if I wanted chocolate or strawberry. I would always get chocolate, papaw always got strawberry. We would each drink around half of our shakes and then switch. Best of both worlds.
Saturday evening always varied for supper. Sometimes we would get to go to town and go to McDonalds. If it was in the fall or winter, sometimes papaw would make spaghetti or chili. He made the BEST spaghetti and chili ever. Sometimes it was nothing more than a bologna sandwich and a can of soup. Which was fine..why? I knew Sunday was coming! Sunday was the day we cooked up a storm and all the family came. My granny and papaw had five children, yes, those of you from Junction City know them ALL, I am sure :)
So Sunday…best day of the week if you ask me. Granny would get up and go to church, I would always try to weasle out of it and stay with papaw with the excuse that he needed me to help him with Sunday dinner preparation. Some Sundays it was roast, carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, green beans and corn bread. Other Sundays it would be pinto beans, fried potatoes, cabbage and corn bread. When this was the menu you REALLY didn’t want to be in the house on that Sunday.
Now and again i got REALLY lucky on Sundays and my granny would make my favorite meal. Come to think of it, it is STILL my favorite meal. A nice plump roasted chicken, home made corn bread dressing balls, mashed potatoes, green beans (she makes the BEST green beans ever) buttery corn, cranbery sauce, and bowl after bowl of giblet gravy. And the coupe` de grace…dumplings. A big ole pot of buttery dumplings. Cooked to perfection. Tender on the outside but firm inside, surrounded by a broth of perfect consistency. Not too thin and certainly not too thick. Bits of shredded chicken swirling in around the little dough pillows. It was,and still is, absolutely heavenly. I would get my plate and get a scoop of everything. My perfect bite though? A bit of chicken, with a little dressing and a small piece of dumpling along with a little cranberry sauce. Absolutely PERFECT. Also, a quick note: Dressing and stuffing..NOT the same thing. Stuffing, is stuffed inside the cavity of the bird. Dressing, is something made most often here in the south. It is baked along side the bird in a seperate dish. It is made with left over bread and corn bread and moistened with the juice or gravy from the bird. The choice bits of dressing seems to be from along the edges of the dish where it gets crunchy. Ergo, my granny makes dressing balls, so that it is ALL crunchy and delicious and perfect for soaking up giblet gravy and the yummy broth from the dumplings. Now that we have cleared that up about stuffing and dressing lets move on. If there was room for dessert it as a selection of one of three. We had Ice Box Pie (WONDERFUL), My grannys home made sour cream coconut cake, or jam cake with caramel frosting. I could eat my weight in any of these cakes. Is there anything better than authentic jam cake, or sour cream cake? I think not.
Take a look at one of my favorite childhood recipes below for Jam Cake with Caramel Icing. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Share some of your childhood favorites with me. I would love to try them.Ingredients
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 8 eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups seedless blackberry jam
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup chopped black walnuts (optional)
- 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease three 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is blended in. Dissolve the baking soda in the water; stir into the batter along with the blackberry jam. Combine the flour, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt; stir into the batter by hand, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the black walnuts and raisins if using. Divide the batter equally between the three pans, and spread in an even layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched, about 35 minutes. Cool in the pans until cool enough to handle, then invert the cakes over a wire rack and remove pans to cool completely.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Place the butter and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over low-medium heat; cook and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils. Stir in the cream, return to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.
I love chicken pot pie. It is one of my very favorite things EVER! For some reason it is so comforting to me on a cold day, or when I’m not feeling well, or when I just want to feel better in general. Marksbury Farm Market makes a FABULOUS Chicken Pie. If you ever get a chance you should pick one up and give it a try. In the meantime, try this one. The veggies can be whatever you like! Try this and let me know what you think!Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered, if you dont like mushrooms omit them
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 (250 g) tub PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
- 1 refrigerated ready-to-use pie crust
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Melt margarine in large saucepan on medium heat. Add onions; cook and stir 5 min. Stir in mushrooms; cook 10 to 12 min. or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 min. or until done. Stir in cream cheese spread and broth; cook 3 min. or until cream cheese is completely melted. Stir in vegetables.
- Spoon into 9-inch round 1.4-L casserole sprayed with cooking spray. Brush top of chicken mixture and inside of dish with egg. Cover with pie crust; gently press edge of crust onto side of dish to seal. Brush crust with remaining egg. Cut slits in crust to permit steam to escape.
- Bake 25 to 30 min. or until crust is golden brown.
Some notes, I will also chop up a couple stalks of celery and sautee with the onion. If you do not want Mushrooms feel free to add some chopped potatoes. Give this a try and let me know what you think!
Fall is finally here! Don’t know about you guys but fall and winter are my favorite seasons to cook in. Soups, stews, casseroles..the list could go on endlessly! One of my favorie things to make and eat on a fall day is stew. The recipe below is the one I use, from Ina Garten. It looks like a lot of work, but its really not that bad. Even if it was it is SO worth it! You can use any veggies you like. The ones I use are potatoes, carrots, peas, and mushrooms and the sundried tomatoes. Give it a try, i PROMISE you will love it, and let me know what you think!
PS remember when cooking with wine, if its not a wine you would drink, then do NOT cook with it.
- 2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
- 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Good olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
- 1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
- 1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you’ll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.
Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.