Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quesadilla Starter!!!

This weeks appetizer is a Cheese Quesadilla!! You will love this. Once you make this quesadilla, you will realize how easy it is to make up your own combinations, and all of the sudden you are a recipe creator! Trust me~it's easy. You know what you like in the way of good food combos. That's what this is. I mean, everything tastes good in a tortilla!! You are gonna love this!!

This is what you need:
Flour tortillas
Roma Tomatoes
Yellow Onions
Cowboy Beans 
(leftover from last week)
Kraft Mexican 4 Cheese w/a Touch of Philly
Sour Cream
Avocado
Cilantro

Monday, May 30, 2011

This Weeks Menu and Grocery List!

This weeks menu is fun and light. It's the perfect menu to start off the first official week of summer.

Appetizer~Cheese Quesadilla
Soup or Salad~Mini Caprese Skewers
Entree~Filet Mignon Steak Sandwiches served on Semi-Homemade Rolls
Side~Pasta Salad
Dessert~S'mores Bars

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do I Really Need That?

Today we are discussing a very simple gadget type item. The Evendough Bands. They ensure that your rolled cookies, or dough of any kind is all the same level. Do you need these? Maybe not. There are several ways to make sure that your dough is even. I have seen, but never used, a bar type system, where you roll your rolling pin over the dough, but the edge of your pin sits on the two parallel bars, so your rolling pin can not go deeper than the bars height. I think the evendough bands are easier to use, and more precise. We are going to make some sugar cookies, and you will see below how the bands work. The package comes with 4 different colors of bands, 2 of each. We will use the green bands. This means that our dough will be 1/4" thick after we roll it.
Lets make sugar cookies!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake-This Weeks Dessert!

I love strawberry shortcake!! I don't think I have ever met anyone who doesn't.  Really! To me it is the quintessential summertime dessert. So, I made a pound cake, and tried to dress it up a little. I think it tastes great. I hope you like it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cole Slaw & Cowboy Beans-Quite a Pair!

We are making 2 side dishes this week! Yeh!!! In my neck of the woods, if you serve beans, you serve cole slaw, and if you have slaw, you have beans. Ya know, it's like, cookies & milk, burgers & fries, iced tea & lemon.
So,we are having slaw & beans!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Entree~Roasted Chicken

Today we are making Roasted Chicken as our entree. This chicken recipe can be served hot from the oven for dinner, or cold on a picnic. This recipe is not difficult to make, and could easily become a standard for your Sunday meal. Enjoy!

Here's your recipe:                            
4 to 5 pound Roasting Chicken
2 teaspoons Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Black Pepper
1/2 large Onion, quartered
2 ribs Celery, cut into 1" lengths
2 Carrots, cut into 1" lengths
1/4 cup unsalted Butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 teaspoon dried Sage
1/2 to 1 cup Chicken Broth

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Southern Cornbread

Today we are making the soup or salad portion of our meal. So, lets make cornbread!. I don't know why I keep calling it soup or salad. I am going to have to change the name, but for today, let's go with it. I am trying to think of what to call this part of the meal~maybe side #1? OK! I will give it more thought, and get back to you by Sunday, when I post the recipe for next week. No pressure here!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Red, White & Blue Crudite' w/ Dried Herb Ranch Dip

Today's appetizer has a holiday flair. I used the blue nacho chips, and the white dip, so I wanted red vegetables. Simple? Right? No!! I had a hard time finding the right red veggies. I know!!! I thought it would be easy. But I did find grape tomatoes, radishes, and red peppers; and I think they worked just find.
Here is what you need:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Goin' to the Grocery!

This week we will be making a meal that is in celebration of the Memorial Day weekend. You can serve this meal if you are celebrating at home, or take all or part of the meal with you to celebrate at a friend or family's house. This is a fun meal!  Have a fun weekend!

HERE'S YOUR MENU

Crudite' w/ Dried Herb Ranch Dip
Southern Cornbread
Roasted Chicken
Cowboy Beans & Cole Slaw
Strawberry Shortcake

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do I Really Need That?

The kitchen gadget under scrutiny today is the Kitchen Aid Counter Top Mixer. I have one. I love it. When I moved recently I made sure it was in the car with us so I knew where it was at all times. Crazy, huh? I know! But this thing is probably the best thing in my kitchen! It does everything. I don't even use it to it's capacity. I don't think I even know how to use it to it's capacity.
The one I have pictured here is the Professional 600. I also have an older one, a white one that is a little smaller. I wish I had a picture to show you, but it is still not unpacked from the trailer, from when we moved. No more moving!!!  Anyway! Do you need this mixer? No. A smaller, handheld mixer will do the job for most cooks. A handheld can make potatoes, cookies, and even mix bread dough. They are making them bigger and better.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Our Dessert~Chocolate Pots De Creme

This weeks dessert is chocolate pots de creme. Chocolate?! Is there any question? It's chocolate! So delicious and creamy. You will love it. Easy to make also!!
Here is your recipe: (adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Green Beans Almondine!

I love fresh green beans. They are versatile, and pretty much a go-with-the-flow kinda vegetable. They can be used so many different ways, they are a chameleon among fellow veggies! I thought they would be the perfect veggie to partner with our homemade Meatloaf, and they were! Here's the recipe:

1/2 pound Fresh Green Beans
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds
3 tablespoons Butter

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lets Make Meatloaf!!

Today we are baking our entree~Homemade Meatloaf! There are probably a thousand different meatloaf renditions at there. This one is pretty basic and very deliciously moist. Here's the recipe:

1.5 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 cup Crushed Saltines
1 Egg
Ketchup
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
The first thing you need to do is chop your onion. The correct way to chop
an onion is to first cut off both ends. Peel the skin off. Then cut 
the onion in half thru both axis.
Put the onion on its side, cut side down, so the rounded 
half is on top. Cut slices starting at the front.
Take a small stack of slices, and begin cutting down 
the slices. This is going in the direction of the onion
and makes the cutting easier. Now the onion should be in small 
chopped pieces. You will probably have to cut a few pieces that
didn't cut the first time. 
Place the ground beef, the chopped onion, the egg,
garlic powder, and salt & pepper (just a sprinkle of each),
in a bowl.
Place about 1/2 of a sleeve of the saltines into a plastic zip lock.
Let the air out, and zip the bag.
Roll a rolling pin over the bag of saltines until they are 
crushed into fine crumbs. 
Add the saltines into the bowl.
Mix Well.
 Spray with a loaf pan, and place meatloaf mix into it.
Squirt ketchup like above. Bake in oven at 350 degrees
for about 30 minutes.
It will look like this when it is done
When the meatloaf is done, let it set and "rest" for about 10 minutes. 
To rest the meat means to give the meat 10 minutes to
let the juices in the meat redistribute itself, so they do 
not all flow out when the meat is cut. If the juices are 
not kept in the meat, the meat will be dry with no flavor.
Enjoy your meatloaf. Doesn't that look good?

There are many variations of meatloaf. You could add mushrooms,
or green or red peppers just to name a few. You could even add jalapenos!
Or, how about cheese!!

Thanks for joining me today!
See you tomorrow. We will be making fresh green bean almondine.

I hope you are following me, having fun, and learning something!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy!

Today, instead of making a salad, or cooking soup, I thought we would make some mashed potatoes. Pretty much the ultimate comfort food. You can make potatoes with the skin on or the skin off. I made these with the skin off. Mashed potatoes are one of my husbands favorite dishes, and he likes potatoes with the skin off. 
Here's what we need to make mashed potatoes:
Potatoes
Boiling Water
Butter
Beef Base
Flour
Cold water
Boiling Water (again)
I don't know why I put the sour cream in the pic(!!???!!)

There are many different varieties of potatoes to choose from. I chose a russet potato grown right here in Nevada. I like the texture. I thought about buying the Yukon Golds. I have used them in several restaurants in the past. The skins are thin and delicious and they have a natural buttery flavor. But I decided on the russet because it is grown locally, and russets have a high starch content, which help them bake well and yields a light and fluffy mashed.
 
Wash and then dry your potatoes.
Peel your potatoes.
Chop them into bite size pieces. The smaller the pieces,
the quicker they cook!
Boil your potatoes for about 12-15 minutes. Check to see if
they are done by poking a couple pieces with a fork. If the fork
goes thru the piece, your potatoes are done.
Drain your potatoes.
Heat about 1/2 cup of milk to 150 degrees.
Pour some of the milk onto the potatoes, and begin to mash
with a potato masher. Add more milk if needed.

They should look like this. (I wish this was a clearer picture!)
 Maybe a little better.?!

Now lets make the gravy. Here is what you need:

Beef Base
 flour
I followed the directions to make the pint of gravy.
I used:
2 1/2 teaspoons Beef Base
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
1 1/2 cup Boiling Water
Put the base and the flour into the pan, and mix together.
Boil water.
While you are waiting for the water to boil
add your cold water.Your base and flour should look like this
after the cold water is mixed in.
Add the boiling water, and stir until smooth.
Bring gravy to a low boil.
Add seasoning. I only added pepper. The base is really
salty already.
Enjoy the mashed potatoes & gravy!

I hope you liked the mashed potatoes and gravy today. We could have done a few things differently if we were so inclined! We could have baked the potatoes instead of boiling them. Baking them, before mashing them, results in a totally different flavor. We could have boiled the potatoes in milk instead of water. The potatoes would have been much richer as a result. If we didn't want to make the gravy, we could have added
garlic or grated cheese to the potatoes.

I usually like to make my gravy to include drippings from the meat instead of using the beef base, but with a dish like meatloaf, there are no drippings that are usable. The juice from the ground beef is too greasy to turn into gravy, and therefore the beef base makes a really good substitute. I used the Tone's brand that I purchased at Sam's Club. It is less than $4.00 for the 1 pound container,and a little goes a long way. I have used beef base in kitchens for years, and it is amazing how many times you will reach for it once you get used to having it around.

Tomorrow we will make our entree~Meatloaf!!!
Join us!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deep Fried Mac & Cheese Balls!!

Our appetizer today is quickly becoming a restaurant favorite. It is a new twist on an old classic, and I thought it might go great with our traditional meatloaf meal. Here is what you need:

1/2 pound Elbow Macaroni
8 oz Four Cheese Shredded Cheese
1 cup Milk
1 Egg
 Italian Style Bread Crumbs
Flour
2 tablespoons Butter
Salt & Pepper
Oil
Boil water and cook your macaroni.
 Drain Macaroni & set aside
Melt your butter
Add a tablespoon of flour to your butter & mix 
it together. You are making a roux. This is
 the thickener for your cheese sauce.
It should look like this as you are mixing.
Put your milk in a saucepan, heat it on medium low, and add the roux.


Add your cheese & mix until smooth.
It should look like this. If your cheese sauce is stringy,
add a squeeze of lemon juice, or some other acidic food
like orange juice. Just a small squeeze.
Add the cheese sauce to your macaroni. Mix well.
It should look like this. Let it cool down.
 I used this mini muffin pan to size my mac & cheese balls.
Fill them like above, or about this size. After your
cheese balls are formed place the pan in the refridgerater
While your cheese balls are chilling, heat up the oil in a 
saucepan until it reaches a temperature of 325 degrees.
That is the probe from my thermometer in the pan.
This is the other end of the thermometer. This thermometer is the one
I posted about this past Saturday. It is such a great item to have.
Pour some of the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Put one egg in a bowl and add a little water. You are 
making an egg wash. Beat the egg mix.
Take the cheese balls out of the fridge, and form into balls.
Dip the balls into the egg wash, (sorry, no pics) and then roll the balls 
into the breadcrumbs.
When your oil is to temperature, drop your cheese balls
in to the oil, and begin to cook. Make sure to move 
them around in the oil, so they cook evenly. When they 
are brown, they are done.
Drain the cheese balls on paper towels.
Serve with ketchup.
Enjoy!

There are several different ways to make these cheese balls. You could add onion, or chopped bacon to the macaroni when you add the cheese. You could use a different type of cheese such as cheddar, or even a spicy
pepperjack. That would be good! You could also use a different dip. I used ketchup, but ranch, or salsa, or even marinara would taste great.

Thank you for joining me today. Tomorrow we will make the mashed potatoes & gravy for our
meatloaf meal.

See you tomorrow!
What would you like to make?