Monthly Archives: November 2012

Useful, Delicious Cheese Sauce

I have a recipe I want to share in the next post; it calls for my Cheese Sauce. I hesitated to add this recipe, as I very recently read that Martha Stewart makes a recipe close to this for her macaroni and cheese. I have never used this on macaroni, but I just might. However, let it be known that although Martha and I may have the same idea, I learned the basics at my mother’s elbow. Martha May have been making it before I was, I don’t know when she actually started to cook. She is a lot older than I am,(MEEE-OOOW!), but I learned the basics at my mother’s elbow.(My mother was old enough to be Martha’s as well; I’ll concede that).

First, you have to make a basic white sauce. It’s easier than you think.(Omit the onion, cheese and nutmeg and you have a basic ‘roux’,(pronounced “roo” or “rhoo”.) I will post recipes using it in the future.

Cheese Sauce
Take:
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 Tbsp. minced onion,(fresh, or use 2 teaspoonfuls of onion powder, or onion juice and add after the sauce is thickened)
1/3 cup of flour (all purpose)
2 cups of milk
dash of white pepper,(or paprika)
dash of nutmeg,(optional)
dash of pepper sauce,(optional)
1 ½- 2 cups grated medium-sharp cheddar cheeses; I like a mix of both.If you throw in a piece of Gouda or other yellow cheese,it’s wonderful ( You can also make this with Pepper Jack, at your own risk..and it is not as versatile)

Melt the butter, (some people prefer it browned; I do not advise it). Cook the onion until tender, (again, not browned).
Remove from heat and slowly stir in the flour until it is as smooth as it can get with the onion bits in it; no flour lumps. It will be a thick paste.
Slowly add the milk,(a whisk comes in handy). Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat ,(preferably with a wooden spoon), until it is quite thick. (If you need to leave it for any time, be sure the heat is very low and then whisk it strongly. Be sure to get the bottom of the pan and edges stirred throughout the entire cooking process).
Add the pepper or paprika, pepper sauce, nutmeg and /or onion options,(if using)
Lower the heat and add the cheese, stir until thoroughly melted and warmed through.
There you have it.

Now, serve it over any vegetable, baked fish, chicken, pork.

Pour over beef sliced thinly, piled on a bun thickly and make a delicious sandwich.

Serve over toast for a version of ‘Welsh Rabbit‘.

Mix with prepared rice or couscous for a side dish or as a complete non-meat protein,(rice/grain with dairy).Add cut green beans, peas or asparagus.

(Non-vegetarian: add grilled meat bits)

Pour over potato wedges, ‘Tater Tots’ or French fries for another tasty meatless protein; You can punch it up by topping it with meatless “Bacon Bits” or crispy-fried vegetable of your choice.

(Non-vegetarian: top with crumbled bacon).

Or, go ahead and pour it liberally over macaroni in a casserole dish. Top with extra cheese grated and bake until bubbly and browned..at least, that is what Martha would have you do. Make it with my blessing!

Placed in a sterilized jar and kept refrigerated, this will last for weeks;(do not freeze).

Kept chilled in a fancy jar or one with a fancy napkin or material square on the lid,this would also make a nice food gift.( You could add it to a basket of fresh vegetables, or pasta , couscous and/or fancy rice.)Just add a list of suggested uses and advice to keep it cold until use. Microwave or warm on stove on low,stirring often.

Caramel Whipped Cream…and More/Food Gift Idea

Serendipity: the discovery of something valuable by happenstance, unexpectedly, without searching for it.
That’s what happened this weekend. I hope all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great holiday, even if it was simply quiet peaceful for you.( I read that even a fellow blogger in Ireland got in on the spirit with a turkey and trimmings!)

 

 

My husband and I had a great Thanksgiving with my cousin who came in from out-of-state with her husband and two kids. We gathered at my sister’s with her two daughters, son-in-law, grandson; my brother, our two sons, a son’s girlfriend and our three grandkids. We missed our daughter-in-law, who had last her father a couple of weeks ago, and her sister had a baby a couple of days before, but we readily accepted that her family needed her presence.

The next day , my cousin & family and we with our grandson, went over to my sister’s to see her, her daughter and my brother; I took a buffet over to her place…(I won’t even attempt to go into the dynamics of why they just didn’t come to my place.)

I’ll be putting up more about the foods over the holiday, but two new and concurrent discoveries are dancing in my mind.

Despite the fact that we had homemade pumpkin, pecan and apple pies at my sister’s house, made by my former restaurant/bakery partner,(my niece Jennifer), along with her incredible cherry-nut bread and biscotti-to-die-for, my sister had made two kinds of pound cake and a small batch of cookies. I had Banana Bread, Corn Muffins, Chocolate Chip Muffins, Blueberry Muffins and Pineapple-Coconut mini Cakes. I also had Greek Yogurt Cake, Greek Apple Cake,(no,I’m not Greek; those recipes, more and the story of them will be future posts), but I caught my cousin eating a store-brand chocolate chip cookie from the stash I bought to keep the grandkids happy while I painted the walls before the guest arrived. I knew I had Lemon-Pecan Shortbread cookies in the freezer,(which can stand alone), and I also had some of my Basic Cut-Out Cookies there, uniced, but out they came.

I had mentioned around the thanksgiving table that I had seen a fantastic idea in another blog; Cookie Dip. At Kitchen Addiction they made a Ginger Cookie and a Pumpkin Dip; you could go as basic or as sweet as you’d like. What a wonderful idea! [See it here: http://www.a-kitchen-addiction.com/soft-baked-ginger-cookies-with-pumpkin-pie-dip/%5D

Since I did not have the time to hunt-down the recipe,(it is one a zillion I have bookmarked), and did not know if I had the time or the ingredients, I decided to quickly whip cream with a little caramel sauce.( I almost always have a jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel in my fridge.) It was delicious and everyone loved the dip the cookies.

Caramel Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon thick caramel or butterscotch topping
Place in a bowl and whip.

Could it be easier?

Instead of caramel, you could use honey, or a little sugar, with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg or a small amount (1/2 tsp.) vanilla, almond or other extract of your choice.

Now, for the serendipitous part:

With all the talking and visiting and food on the buffet, I lost track of the whipped cream dip. If you are only used to using whipped cream in a can, well-whipped cream will last for a couple of days in your refrigerator. [No one is allowed to use the words Cool Whip to me when speaking of food, especially in a recipe. It has no business in anyone’s life and I will not tolerate it…do you hear me????!!! Ok,I’m cool now.]
If whipped cream starts to loosen in texture, it can be re-whipped quickly. I actually have a little hand-held plunger device that ‘whips ‘ and serves cream, but I had forgotten all about it. The cream stores in it and you can re-plunge it if it starts to separate. I am glad I not remembered it because…you’ll see.

When I started to close things down, I saw that the whip cream had started to ‘weep'(separate),I felt the bottom of the bowl and it was still cool, but not cold. I put the cream into a jar and being groggy from excitement, work and too much food, I shook it, thinking it would likely get into a whipped-like state again.

Are you ahead of me? Do you know what happens to cream that is shaken? It churns.
I found myself with a solid lump, surrounded by thin milk. I had caramel butter and buttermilk…and they were delicious.

I have made flavored butters by softening sticks of butter and adding roasted peppers and/or spices; when my sister made broccoli that was very doused in butter ,I made a stick of broccoli butter as a joke,(she used it). But I may try my hand at more flavors using this method. The texture of this was out-of-this-world!

Caramel Butter:
Same as for Caramel Whipped Cream, but let stand until the chill is off and whip or shake vigorously in a wide-mouthed jar until you have a solid lump.(If you put it in a narrow-mouthed jar, you won’t be able to get it out.)
Pour off the milk,( add to regular milk or put it in your coffee; you’ll thank me.)

Take a clean kitchen towel and press all the remaining liquid from the butter.
I considered pressing the butter into a mold;(most of our ancestors had butter molds and the antique ones are quite collectible). I was going to use a silicone candy mold, a seashell or even a small, deep cookie cutter but I didn’t. I kept the small amount I had accidentally made from the left-over whipped cream and made it into a flattened ball and chilled it.

And, after letting it sit at room temperature to spreading consistency, the flavor really came out and it was wonderful with a cup of tea, a Cornbread Muffin and Whole wheat crackers:

Caramel Butter is easy, delicious and makes a lovely gift.

This would make an excellent homemade gift for those with little confidence in their abilities. (Keep reading here, People; I’m here to help.) Team it with a batch of muffins, an assortment of nice crackers, (with tea, in a basket would be lovely; with a nice teacup, even better); or even a package of good-quality muffin mix and you there you have something nice to give.

Feel free to freeze the butter before giving, if you think it will not become immediately refrigerated, or if you are traveling with the gift.

Let me know if you give this a try. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised. I sure was!

Take a Bite; Be Back in a Bit

I know I have been very negligent, but please bear with me.I haven’t posted much here or answered many of your posts because I am SWAMPED with painting and redecoration and getting ready for Thanksgiving fun with food, friends and family.
I can’t wait for my cousins to get here, but I have let myself get behind. Now, the fun with food prep starts.
The family will be here from Wednesday through most of the weekend, so you may not see me.I will have to forgo the blogs and emails, but I’m thinking of you and hope you are all doing well and having fun , if not for Thanksgiving in your part of the world, at least finding peace.
I will be back and trying to play catch-up with you as much as humanly possible.I have so many new friends online through this blog;it is one of the things for which I am truly thankful for this year.

In the meantime,I leave you with this quick side dish or nosh; inspired by a blog-pal ‘The Perky Poppy’, to whom I give credit.
[http://theperkypoppy.com/2012/10/12/roasted-okra-bites/]

You need to try it; if you like this recipe,please let her know.

I think these would be great on a buffet for a sports party.How often do you see any vegetables there,(except maybe a dish of broccoli and a dip of Ranch)?

I did not have fresh okra available, so I tried a number of veggies.There would be more in the picture, but I ‘sampled’ them quite a bit!{And I can’t wait to get my hands on fresh okra!)
It couldn’t be easier:

Crispy Veggies

Toss whatever vegetable you have sliced in a light coating of extra virgin olive oil and dust it with sea salt, (or regular). Spread the vegetables out in a single layer and cook in a hot oven,(depending on the thickness of your vegetables;Perky Poppy said 500F for diagonally sliced okra;I lowered it to 400F for the thinner vegetables. Watch that they do not burn.)

I made,(pictured below):

Leeks,French green beans, Parsnips, Green Pepper, Baby corn-on-the-cob, Baby carrots.

I sliced the leaks and fanned them out, I kept the French beans whole;I made fingers out of the parsnips, and sliced the Green pepper and the Baby carrots.I used canned, whole Baby corn-on-the-cob.I drained them, blotted them on paper towels and sliced them in half. Don’t let the look of them turn you off as they are very good. (I will admit, however,that they might be good on the table for a gross-out Halloween meal,frankly, they look like caterpillars!)

These can  all be made beforehand and then quickly  re-crisped in a hot oven.

So , thanks Perky Poppy!

I will be back when I can.
Please keep coming by! I will ‘see’ all of you very soon,and can’t wait for what new posts you have to share!

They taste better than they look!

Liebster Award!

My first Blogging Award!Well, who knew? Cass @ “foodmyfriend.com” has nominated me for the Liebster Award. It is an award given to blogs which have less than 200 followers, to encourage them and to spark interest. I have found that bloggers have been very helpful and encouraging to me, and I like to try to help others…which is pretty much what my food blog is all about.( I do share a blog with 4 other writers,
fourfoxesonehound@wordpress.com
I am the “Friday Fox”.)
 
So anyway, here goes! I understand that I need to nominate 11 other under-appreciated blogs and ask you to please check them out, because I think they are noteworthy.(Forgive me if I overlooked any of you who truly deserve recognition; I am in the middle of painting walls before the Cousins  to stay at my place  Thanksgiving next week, not to mention all the daily grind and the cooking which is essential! Please come in and we’ll promote you as well as we can!)
Then, I am to give 11 facts about myself, answer 11 questions sent to me and make up 11 questions for the next group.
So, Here goes, “Dearest”(Which is what Liebster means in German, in this case.)
 
Thank you, Cass!
 
 Random Facts About Me:
#1. Next month my husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.
#2.  I  grew up in the Washington, DC area.
#3 . I have lived in Idaho, Colorado and now live in Kentucky.
#4. I have , however, never been out of the country.
#5. I have a very varied sense of taste in literature, music and movies but
#6. I am still considered by most people as pretty ‘square’
#7. I am a devoted Grandma
#8. I am a published poet, I’ve written song lyrics, a play and short stories, (and not      working hard enough on getting those published)
#9. I have a real soft spot for animals
#10.I am determined to cut back on the clutter!
#11. I love to take nice pictures.(I need to post those, too)
 
The Questions Sent to Me:

    1. If you were stuck on a desert island, what food would you request? COLA!
  • Dark, milk or white chocolate? Milk,(I make  pretty good candy, btw)
  • Would you rather cuddle or eat a bunny? Cuddle!
  • What is your ‘go to’ quick dinner recipe? Herb –seared chicken breasts with cream sauce(remind me to post that)
  • Are you a team player or a lone ranger? I’m a bit of a Lone Ranger, but not by my choice
  • Where are you traveling to next? I hope to visit relatives in Pennsylvania; it’s been a very , very long time.
  • What are you doing for Christmas? The usual, baking away, decorating my heart out and being with family
  • Have you ever won anything? Not a lot, but I took a pretty prestigious songwriting award many moons ago
  • What is your ideal night out? Night out?LOL! I think I’ve forgotten!
  • If you won $1,000,000, what would you do? Buy houses and cars for family members and help  others as I could
  • What is your favourite charity? Humane Societies(Animal) and the  homeless

Those I Nominate:
 
 
The Perky Poppy Seed
Enchanted Seashells
The Healthy Flavor
Inspire and Indulge
Customs of Christmas
petit4chocolatier
albertocook
wishesanddishes
Tamara\LeighTheKitchenNovelist
Write By Bethany
eclecticlamb
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Where is the farthest you have even been from where you were born?
Do you live now where your family lived?

  • Do you like to live in the city or the country?
  •  Do you prefer to visit the city or the country?
  • In what ways do you consider yourself the most creative?(Name as many ways as you’d like.)
  • What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
  • What would you like to try that you have not done before?
  • Is there any place in particular that you have never seen that you would like to visit ?
  • What would you change about the world if you had one quick wish?
  • Rank these(1,2,3,4):books, music, sports, movies
  • What are your 3 favorite holidays?(Whatever you celebrate)

OK! I will be looking for everyone’s posts and please EVERYONE, let me know what you think.

 

Cranberry Chicken

A quick post here today; I am pleased to share a new recipe that I am pleased with myself for inventing…
I am also very pleased that my quick explanation of the first Thanksgiving went over so well with those to whom it was unfamiliar. Glad to help and I always enjoy hearing from all of you!

After many years of making my Cranberry Relish,

, and eating it as it is, as a side dish or with cereals, I got a sudden inspiration yesterday morning and ran with it. I present to you:

Cranberry Chicken

It is simple, you can use up left-over relish and left-over cranberry sauce. It makes an impressive presentation. It would also be a nice alternative on a Thanksgiving buffet, or a nice dinner the day or weekend after Thanksgiving…and if you are somewhere where you do not celebrate Thanksgiving…here you go! It is something a little fancier, but not any harder, than many recipes.

Give it a try; I think you’ll be pleased!

Cranberry Chicken (for two; feel free to easily multiply the ingredients for more)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3/4 cup recipe Cranberry Relish(prior post)

2 Tbsp. oil {corn, peanut, canola or olive,[not extra virgin]

4 Tbsp. canned jellied cranberry sauce

1 Tbsp liquid { orange juice, water or brandy, which I used (alcohol will cook off with heat)

1  cup prepared rice

Preheat oven to 375F

Baste the bottom and sides of a deep baking dish with the oil.

Cut carefully into the chicken breasts to make a pocket, cutting in the middle, but not in half. Fill the cavities with ¼ cup (each) of the Cranberry Relish; place in baking dish.(There should be some relish left over; set aside).

Mix the jellied cranberry sauce with the liquid to as smooth a thick liquid as possible. Baste the chicken breast with the mixture,(reserve some).

Cover the chicken and bake for about 25 minutes or until just cooked through.(Check for doneness; do not over or under cook). Remove the chicken from the oven and move to a shallow pan.

Add rice to the pan drippings.

Place the left-over relish on the top of each breast and spoon the remaining cranberry glaze mixture over the relish and exposed meat. Place under the oven broiler for about two minutes, watching that it does not burn or dry out.

Serve with the rice,(which is now infused with the cranberry baste  and chicken flavors), and vegetables of your choice.

Thanksgiving/Cranberry Relish

Easy, beautiful and delicious!

Thanksgiving is coming here in the United States; Canada has already celebrated theirs.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the holiday, I will run through it quickly.
In 1620 a small but rigorous sect of Christians, the Puritans, set out from England to settle in what was the English colonies in Virginia in that is now the United States of America. A storm blew them very far off-course and they landed in what is now Massachusetts, hundreds of miles to the north of Virginia.
The people were ill-equipped to survive on their own. The weather was much harsher than they had expected, the local plants were unfamiliar, the ground was poor for growing and their muskets put shot into the game they did find and ruined most of the meat. They had little fishing skills.
They lost many of their numbers and the rest were ill after the first winter. Local Indians,(especially by the urging of Squanto, who had had some contact with Europeans),took pity on the Puritans. They taught them to hunt with bows and arrows to keep the meat free of shot. They showed them the local safe plants. They showed them how to enrich the soil with fish and, believe it or not, lobsters, which they never ate.
The following Autumn the Puritans had such a bounty of harvest they decided to have a feast to thank God and invited many of their Indian friends. The Indians brought game and surprise to the party; popcorn! They continued the tradition and eventually it has spread across the country and Canada.
Today nearly everyone, regardless of race, creed or religion observes Thanksgiving. It is a day of food, friends and family! Turkey is the traditional meat, sometimes served and eaten by people on Thanksgiving and no other day of the year. Many people eat pumpkin only in pie and only on or around Thanksgiving. Pity. Another food was, until recently, were cranberries.

This year I am in a bit of a rush; I am blogging on my two blogs ,posting on other blogs, writing, housework , de-cluttering and painting the walls in the main part of the house which I have put off for far to long. I need to do it THIS WEEK, so I can cook and prepare for Thanksgiving and relatives.

Today, however, I am participating inSupport for Sandy, Food Bloggers raising awareness of the continuing need for help in Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path. We have posted comfort foods on our blogs, ones we would like to take to victims of disasters.
[Please see my previous post]

I am also participating in a Thanksgiving-themed post on the blog :

https://www.facebook.com/MyCrazyKitchen
I hope you join us on both, and enjoy!
Here is the recipe I am sharing: Cranberry Relish. It is beautiful; pictures do not do it justice!

Cranberry Relish:
1 lb. fresh, firm cranberries, washed and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup coarsely chopped Red Delicious (or other sweet apple)
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup peeled, chopped orange flesh (preferably Navel Orange)
1 Tbsp. fresh orange zest, finely chopped
2 Tbsp .granulated sugar (approximate)

(For all of the above I use a food processor. You may chop or grate).

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly but gently.(Adjust sugar ; the amount needed will depend on individual taste and the tartness of your apples and oranges)

This is delicious as a side dish, with plain hot or cold cereals. It can be used as a topping for custard or a holiday cheesecake.

I hope you try this and enjoy!

Today I am adding a link to Food Bloggers’ ‘Support For Sandy. We are joining together to offer support by posting comfort foods we’d share with people in crisis, and to raise awareness for the continuing need for those who were in Sandy’s destructive path.

I have chosen to re-post my Savory Bread Roll-ups, which can be made quickly, frozen and thawed when needed.They are good warm or can be eaten cold, and are good for anytime from breakfast to midnight snack.
I have posted pictures of three, two with meat and one vegan version.

Savory Bread Roll-ups

If bread making is your thing, make basic dough. If you have a bread machine, pull it out. If not, use frozen bread dough, (thawed, of course).

Roll into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick on a floured surface. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Spread fillings (recipes to follow), to within two inches from all sides. Fold in the short sides; roll up from one long side to another, Pinch ends and press to close. Place on a cookie or baking sheet, which has been brushed with butter or margarine,(or lined with parchment paper); curve bread roll if necessary. Slice or snip slits through top layer about 3-4 inches apart. Cover with clean kitchen towel , waxed paper or foil; let rise to double in size in a warm spot. Uncover and brush with melted butter or margarine. Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until the bread is thoroughly browned.(Do not cook at a higher temperature; the middle will not bake).

Meat Filling Suggestions:

Chopped roast beef, or shredded roast beef lunch meat with shredded medium–to sharp cheddar cheese; (a little prepared horseradish sauce optional).

Shredded ham with mild cheddar cheese

Shredded turkey (or turkey lunch meat) with pepper jack cheese

Pepperoni or salami with mozzarella or provolone cheese

Cheese Filling Suggestions:

Any cheese, preferably with sautéed onions

Soft cheeses, (cream cheese, Neufchatel, mascarpone) with herbs and or dried vegetables:

[ Italian blend, or basil, parsley and marjoram;

Southwest blend or any favorite chili powder, (chipotle, mesquite, etc), cumin,for example]

Mixed with red or green salsa

Seeded,(poppy, pumpkin, caraway, sesame)

Mixed with red hot sauce

Mixed with sautéed vegetables; [onions, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, carmelized            zuccini

Any favorite cheese spread, (pimento cheese, onion dip, avocado)

Vegetable Filling Suggestions:

Sautéed or caramelized onions

Hummus,( regular or vegetable, or mixed with seeds)

Sautéed vegetable combinations, (mix & match): onions, tomatoes, peppers, artichoke hearts, asparagus,caramelized zucchini,black olives

Dehydrated vegetable flakes, (available often mixed in supermarkets or separate, (tomatoes, peppers), usually in specialty markets

Drained, mashed white beans (canned or homemade) with onions or garlic; chives, parsley, white pepper; dehydrated vegetable

Savory Bread Rolls: Turkey and Cheese/Vegetable/Pepperoni and Cheese