The Old Tin Recipe Box – Steak Pub Banana Nut Bread

Tin recipe box

 

As I go through my recipe file that I now keep on my computer, my memories are sometimes drawn back to the 1970’s where I would collect recipes in a tin recipe box like the one in the photo above. This is how my mother kept her most cherished recipes and I did it that way too. A housewife’s personal treasure chest.

In my tin box I would keep my handwritten recipe cards or clippings from the local paper or magazines that I was sure I would make. In time, it would eventually rust, pit and get scratched up but would continue to be displayed prominently on my kitchen counter. That old rusty box guarded my collection of delicious dishes like a steadfast soldier for years. Then…the home computer arrived and it became my modern recipe box relieving my old tin box of its duties.

When I had one of my first computers I would spend hours using my Mastercook program entering my recipes and browsing the hundreds of recipes they included in the program. Entering recipes could be a bit tedious back then but it gave me a sense of accomplishment.

These days I no longer use any particular recipe program. All I use now is MS Word where I can create lots of different category folders. I am not limited by a pre-designed program and my recipes can be in a free form of  notes and photos that I can store all in one place.

Though the old rusty tin recipe box is long gone and the newspaper clippings have yellowed with age; I still keep several of my most cherished cards from back then in a decorative photo box.

One of the recipes that I’ve saved over the years was originally taken from our local newspaper that was shared from a local steak pub restaurant chain that made the best Banana Bread. I’ve been making it for over 40 years. Although the restaurant is long gone it has always been one of those recipes people ask for after they taste it. Hope you enjoy it too!

Steakpub banana bread

Steak Pub Banana Nut Bread

Ingredients
1 c packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c corn oil
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange juice
1 c mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 c all-purpose flour
Instructions

In bowl, beat eggs and mix in brown sugar and oil until thoroughly
blended. Add sour cream, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, orange
juice. Add mashed banana to the mixture. Add walnuts and flour mixing well. Pour the batter into oiled 12″ x 4 1/2″ x 4″ loaf pan. Bake in 375 oven for 50-60 minutes. Test for doneness with a cake tester or a toothpick. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges and turn out to complete cooling on rack. Wrap in foil. Makes 12 Servings

Sometimes you need Breakfast for Dinner

How often do you really have the opportunity to have a hearty breakfast at home? Occasionally we will have a leisurely breakfast on a weekend but when life gets busy I don’t like to bother with things like making pancakes, waffles or French toast.

When I’m planning our weekly dinner menu and I have planned numerous chicken dishes several different ways, I know I need to throw in a night with something different. So when I’m trying to save money and avoid going out to the local diner or pancake house I’ll plan breakfast for dinner once in a while. Baked omelets, eggs and sausage or leftover ham or bacon with home fried potatoes, throw in some buttered toast from the loaf I made earlier in the week and I have a great meal. Other times I just want the French toast or pancakes with melted butter and lots of maple syrup because it has been a long time since we had them. I can then decide what I would like to serve on the side depending what in the refrigerator.

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Homemade pancakes aren’t hard to make, there are many recipes out there. They take a bit more time when made from scratch compared to the mix in a box but the taste is so much more satisfying. Here are some of my favorite recipes.

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Quick Fluffy Homemade Pancakes

Makes approx. 16 pancakes when using a level 1/4 cup measure

2 cups biscuit mix (you know the one in the yellow box)
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs

1. Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat or electric griddle to 375°F; grease with cooking spray, vegetable oil or shortening. (Surface is ready when a few drops of water sprinkled on it dance and disappear.)

2. Stir all ingredients until blended. Pour slightly less than a 1/4 cupful onto the hot griddle.

3. Cook until edges are dry and show bubbles. Flip over and cook until golden. To keep warm, place on a cookie sheet. Cover with aluminum foil, and place in 200°F oven up to 10 minutes while you are cooking the others.

Fluffy from Scratch Pancakes

Ingredients
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tbsp granulated sugar
• 2 cups buttermilk
• 2 large eggs lightly beaten
• 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
Instructions
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl or, as I frequently do, a large glass measuring cup.
2. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract just until combined. Some small lumps are okay.
3. Let pancake batter rest for 10 minutes.
4. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.
5. Spray with non-stick cooking spray OR brush with butter or oil.
6. Ladle (1/4-1/3 for regular stack size – 1/2 cup for large pancakes) batter onto the griddle for each pancake.
7. Flip the pancakes over when small bubbles appear on the surface and continue cooking on the opposite side until golden brown.
8. Serve with butter and syrup.

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French Toast

6 thick slices of your favorite bread
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Salt to taste

Beat together egg, milk, salt, desired spices and vanilla.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle of skillet over medium-high flame.
Dunk each slice of bread in egg mixture, soaking both sides. Place in pan,
And cook on both sides until golden. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Fluffy Waffles  (I can’t seem to find the photo on this one)

• 1 1/3 cups flour
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 2 eggs, separated
• 1/2 cup butter, melted
• 1 3/4 cups milk
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
2. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl.
3. Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.
4. Add milk and melted butter to dry ingredient mixture and blend.
5. Fold stiff egg whites into mixture.
6. Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake.

 

IMG_1839(1)  Leftover sliced ham and French toast made from home baked bread.

Heart Healthy Valentine’s Dinner – Skillet Chicken, Sweet Potato & Asparagus

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Show your loved ones how much your love them by serving a healthy meal this Valentine’s Day. For those who are budget conscious or would rather avoid the restaurant crowds this is an affordable, healthy and flavorful, meal that is easy to prepare.

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Skillet Chicken with Sweet Potato & Asparagus

A delicious, healthy, and easy to make dinner and it take less than 40 minutes from start to finish and perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

2 boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and ground fresh black pepper

3 garlic cloves — minced or 3 teaspoons pre-chopped jar garlic

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (Optional)

1 medium to large sweet potato — peeled and diced

1/2-3/4 cup chicken broth (Better than Bullion works perfect for this dish) Amount of broth depends on the size of the sweet potato used.

1/2 lb Fresh Asparagus spears, cut on a diagonal in 1 and 2 inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cut the chicken into small cubes and season with a bit of salt and pepper.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, minced garlic, crushed red pepper and chicken. (Make sure the burned is not too hot as you don’t want to burn the garlic and red pepper)
  3. Sauté the chicken for about 8-10 minutes or until it is cooked through. When cooked set the chicken aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the diced sweet potato and chicken broth.
  5. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through.
  6. Add asparagus pieces and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  7. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste more or less if desired.

 

After dinner dessert – Something Sweet

While this bakes in the oven you can prepare the Skillet Chicken dish on top of the stove.

For an easy after dinner dessert  why not give this easy recipe a try.  It is a long time favorite (since the about the 1960’s) that I learned to make years ago. Serve topped with ice cream or whipped cream. Any fruit pie filling works, apple, peach, blueberry or cherry. I have made them all.

crazycrustapplepie

 

 

 

 

Game Day and an Awesome Chili Bar

Today is Game Day or for some Super Bowl LIII.  There will be folks gathering for a day of fun, friends or family with lots of good eats and drinks while watching the big game. But there are many of us who are just not followers of football. Yes, as un-American as that may sound, there are many of us who are just not into “the game”. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a great day of fun, food and gather around the TV or game table.

In years past our Sunday would start in the afternoon where we may watch the Kitten Bowl as I start to prepare the good eats of the day. Later in the afternoon we tune in to our favorite, The Puppy Bowl. We are animal lovers at our house. Have you ever watched those adorable pups frolicking around the stadium? Too darn cute. Then at the end I would often get teary eyed as the pups are adopted and go to their Fur-Ever homes. Silly I know, but we love it.

Once Puppy Bowl was over we would sometimes get together and play World of Warcraft or some other RPG (role-playing game) on our computers. Another time we would have a movie marathon. Nothing like a binge watch of classic Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. But, no matter what we choose the “game is on” (but not the game) and so is the food. Have fun and enjoy the day no matter how you celebrate it! Any one for Rummikub and pigs in a blanket?

Beef and/or Bean Chili and a great Chili Bar

Items you need:

Your favorite chili recipe (I’ll add mine below)

Bowls of the following:

Sour Cream

Diced Onion, white or yellow

Sliced Jalapeno or your favorite hot peppers

Shredded Cheese, Cheddar, Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack are usually favorites

Chips of your choice:  Doritos’s, Frito’s or taco

Diced Avocado

Sliced Green Onion

Corn bread or corn muffins (I’ll add my recipe below)

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Instant Pot Beef and Bean Chili

Made for a 6 qt. Instant Pot.

(Easily made in any electric pressure cooker or converts to the Slow Cooker as well)

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped

5 stalks celery, chopped

1 package Chili Seasoning or homemade (See homemade chili seasoning)

1 cup Beef Broth (I use Better than Bullion Beef)

1 15 oz can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Ro-Tel Original Tomatoes

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Set your Instant Pot to Sauté and vegetable oil and minced garlic to the pot.

Once the pot is hot and oil is simmering, add ground beef.

Once browned, add chopped onion, bell pepper and celery to the beef.

Cook until onion is starting to become translucent, then add McCormick’s Chili Seasoning.

Turn the Instant Pot “off” of Sauté.

Mix well and add beef broth.

Scrape up any browned bits that have adhered to the bottom of the pot.

Add both beans to the pot and stir.

Then add Ro-Tel tomatoes, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce on topdo not stir in.

Put on your Instant Pot lid, make sure vent is set to seal and set your IP to 10 minutes at high pressure.

Once time is up, let your Instant Pot naturally release.

Once released, open your Instant Pot, stir and enjoy your chili!

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp approximately freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Store in an air-tight container, away from heat and moisture for up to six months.

Recipe Notes: Makes enough for one pot of chili (about 6 servings).

 

creamed corn-muffins

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CREAMED CORN MUFFINS

1 1/4 cups Flour
1 cup Yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
2 Eggs — lightly beaten
1 can Creamed corn — (16 oz can)

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly coat 16 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray or use paper muffin cups.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar in large mixing bowl.

Stir in milk, oil, and eggs, mixing just until all ingredients are moistened. Stir in creamed corn.

Pour the batter into muffin tins, filling to the brim. Bake for 25 minutes.

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My Maestro

 

A Chicken in my Sunday Pot and several ways to enjoy it!

With the rising cost of groceries these day chicken still seems to be a good bargain and when preparing a whole chicken you can get the most for your money.

So on a Sunday I sometimes will put up a pot of chicken soup to start. If the chicken is plump enough I can get two or three nice size meals depending what I make.

basic chicken stock

Basic Chicken Stock Recipe

1 Large chicken (about 4 lbs)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 medium stalks of celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 sprigs parsley
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse chicken under cold water and add the chicken to a large heavy stockpot. Add cold water to cover chicken. Bring the water slowly to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer. There should be very few gentle bubbles bursting on the surface of the water. Skim the surface of the stock to get rid of the impurities (foam).

Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns to the pot. Continue to simmer the stock for 3 hours, skimming occasionally.

Carefully remove the whole chicken. Strain the stock through a paper towel or cheesecloth lined colander into a large bowl. Carefully discard the hot solids. Let cool. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours to allow fat to rise to the top. Skim fat off and discard. Divide between freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months if it lasts that long!

Yields 2 quarts

Once you have make the chicken stock there are lots of meal options that can be made: Once the chicken has cooled remove the chicken from the bones and divide. Separate and shred the breast and wing meat into two portions. Then remove the leg thigh meat making a third portion of chicken. Each portion should yield about 2 cups of meat enough for three meals. After a long day at work it’s nice to have one of these meals easy to prepare.

What to make now? Here are a few ideas.

Chicken Soup – your choice, you have two quarts of broth you can add vegetables, rice or noodles and one portion of the chicken or follow your favorite recipe.

chicken & biscuit dumplings

Chicken Pot Pie with 2 Crusts or Biscuits

This is old-fashioned, from scratch, comfort food. This has been a family favorite for years.

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 prepared pie crusts (1 top crust and 1 bottom crust)

Heat butter over low heat until melted.

Blend in flour, onion, salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk.

Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute.

Stir in chicken and veggies. (Add in 1 – 2 diced cooked potatoes if you like!).

Reserve.

Line pie plate with prepared bottom crust.

Pour in filling.

Top with top crust. Cut slits in center to vent. Flute edges.

Cook uncovered in 425°F oven until crust is brown; approximately 30-35 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have any pie crust available add the filling to a greased 9″ x 13″ casserole and top with your favorite biscuits and bake for 20 minutes.

 

chicken ala king

Chicken ala King

This old fashion meal is total comfort food on a cold winter evening and when you have two cups of chicken available it’s so easy to prepare. Have you ever read about the history of Chicken ala King? Seems there are at least 5 different possibilities of where the recipe originated going as far back as the late 1800’s and it was served in some very prestigious restaurants and hotels. Who would have thought, right?

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

2 tablespoons diced pimientos or small diced red cherry pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, onion and celery in butter until crisp-tender. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add chicken and pimientos; heat through. Serve over toast points, or biscuits or in puff pastry patty shells if you want something fancier.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Named after a famous Italian singer, Tetrazzini is an American dish made with diced poultry or seafood and mushroom in a butter/cream and Parmesan sauce flavored with wine or sherry. It is served hot over linguine, spaghetti, or some similarly thin pasta, garnished with parsley, and sometimes topped with  Parmesan cheese. Tetrazzini can be prepared as a baked noodle casserole, sometimes with steps taken to give it a browned crust.

chicken tetrazzini1

Ingredients:

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked thin spaghetti (not Angel Hair) or pasta of choice

1/2 cup butter & 2 Tb

2 TB Olive Oil

Add any of these items to taste – I have no exact measurements

Onions

Garlic

Mushrooms

1 10 oz. box of Frozen Peas or Peas & Carrots (optional)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth & 2 cups milk

1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

Handful of chopped parsley

Season to taste, herbs etc.

Butter bread crumbs to top the casserole if you like.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and place in the prepared baking dish.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

At this point I sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms. Remove from pan and set on the side.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in same pan over medium heat.

Stir in flour, pan cook so flour cooks but is not brown

Mix in chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat.

Add onion, garlic mushroom mix to the sauce and fold in. Add chopped chicken, parsley or any frozen vegetable you are using

Mix chicken sauce mixture with cooked spaghetti and put into a greased 9 x 13 casserole.

chicken croquettes my

Chicken Croquettes

Easy-to-make chicken croquettes. These croquettes freeze well. This one needs a bit of pre-planning as the croquette mixture needs time to chill in the refrigerator.

Cone shape is traditional for croquettes, but I have made patty shaped ones that are just as wonderful. Try adding some chopped mushrooms too

Ingredients

2 cups roasted chicken, shredded

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup or cream of celery

1/4 cup milk

1 (6 ounce) box chicken stuffing mix

1 large egg, slightly beaten

½ of a small onion, chopped fine

1 stalk of celery, chopped fine

breadcrumbs, for dredging

1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying (may need more or less)

Sauce

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

Directions

Mix well the chicken, soup, stuffing mix, egg, onion, and celery. Refrigerate for 3 hours minimum.

Create a ‘log’ shape from about 3/4 cup of mixture. Gently drop onto the counter to flatten the bottom to form a traditional ‘cone’ shape. (about 3″ high, 2″ in diameter), or form patties for a simpler method.

Roll croquettes in bread crumbs. (At this point, you can freeze them for up to two months or cover them and place them in the fridge overnight to serve the following day. Just bring them to room temperature when ready to use if frying them).

Fry in about 1/4″ of oil in skillet over medium heat turning occasionally till golden brown on all sides and bottom, about 10-15 minutes. For a healthier version, they can be baked at 350F for about 25-30 min (from the freezer, bake 45-50 minutes).

MAKE THE SAUCE: In a small saucepan, stir the remaining can of soup with milk, stirring until warmed and creamy.

Stretching a Dollar – Porcupine Meatballs

Fast food seems to be the way of life with young families these days. I grew up with parents who lived through the Great Depression where food and supplies were scarce in those day so you had to make every penny count, and if you had many mouths to feed it was a challenge for many families.

I would watch the many ways my mother could alter meals to feed us when money was tight while growing up. One of the ways she would stretch a meal was by adding rice to ground beef and Porcupine Meatballs was born in our home.

This budget friendly dish still gets passed down through families and is enjoyed today. Now there are many ways to prepare Porcupine Meatballs, every family had their own version they preferred to make. I grew up with the version that used Campbell’s Tomato Soup, the web has several different versions of it.

Here are two of my favorite versions that I like to make, neither uses canned tomato soup. One recipe is for the stove top the other made in the oven. So whether you are a growing family trying to make ends meet or a retired couple on a fixed income this maybe a dish you would occasionally like to make.

porcupine meatballs

 

   Skillet Porcupine Meatballs

1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 pound ground beef*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce or your own homemade works fine

1 cup water

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Add beef and mix well.Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. In a large skillet, brown meatballs in oil; drain. Combine tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; pour over meatballs. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Oven Porcupine Meatballs

1 pound ground beef*

1 cup uncooked white rice (regular rice)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon pepper

15 ounces tomato sauce, 1 large can

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix meat, rice, 1/2 cup water, the onion, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonful’s into balls. Place meatballs into 8 x 8″ baking dish. Stir together remaining ingredients; pour over meatballs. Cover. Bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

*Note: Either of these recipes can be easily doubled.  You can substitute ground turkey for the beef.

Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

Memories of a home town bakery & Apple Fritters

Have you noticed that many of the long standing old school family bakeries are slowly vanishing? Several that have been open for well over 40 years are now gone here. Where I grew up there was a bakery in almost every shopping center close to our home. That memorable aroma when you first walked in of baked cake and bread is slowly disappearing here in suburbia. The bakery sections in the local grocery stores and super centers may have replaced them, but they will never really duplicate them.

I used to love when we stopped for fresh rolls and buns after Sunday Mass. The glass cases would be filled with butter cookies, pastry and the most beautifully decorated special occasion cakes with colorful flowers and leaves. They had assorted pies, chocolate cakes, crumb cakes and one of our favorites, apple fritters. Those large doughy pastries filled with chopped apple bits topped with a sugary glaze. They were amazing with a cold glass of milk.

Over the years I tried different recipes for apple fritters. The recipes were good but didn’t come anywhere near the ones from the bakery until I found this recipe several years ago. I think this is the best recipe for apple fritters anyone can make at home. Many times I was asked if they came from a bakery, that they hadn’t had apple fritter like these in years. What a great compliment!

This recipe is adapted from the Cook’s Country recipe book. They are easy to make and and I know you will love them.

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Apple Fritters

Ingredients
For the Fritters – Recipe make 10-12 fritters depending on size.
2 granny apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I have also used Gala and Honey Crisp apples when I had them from an orchard we stop at)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon (Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon works so well in this recipe)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup apple cider (Please use apple cider not apple juice)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Glaze
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup apple cider (Please use apple cider not apple juice)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon works so well in this recipe)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions
Add all dry ingredients (flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in apples.
Next add wet ingredients (cider, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract) to a separate bowl and whisk together then pour mixture into dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
Heat 3 cups of vegetable oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat to about 350 degrees. Use 1/3-cup measure to transfer 5 heaping portions of batter into the hot oil. Press batter lightly with the back of spoon to flatten somewhat. Fry until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes each side). Once all fritters are fried, remove fritters and transfer fritters to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or to a paper towel to dry. Bring oil back to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining batter. Let fritters cool 5 minutes.
Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl until smooth. Spoon over fritters and let set for 10 minutes then serve.

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Homemade Pizza

my crispino pizza

A few weekends ago a dear long time friend we hadn’t seen for a very long time was stopping by for coffee and some of my homemade cheesecake. As it turned out, our guest arrived several hours late because of an issue at there job. We chatted for several hours and I put out cheese and crackers to start. We had lots to catch up on and before you knew it, it was well past dinner time.

Being this dinner with a guest was unexpected we decided to order Pizza. I don’t know about how you all feel about pizza but being from New York pizza needs to meet certain criteria. My husband an I have been seeing changes in several of the local pizzerias in our area. Tough crust, minimal toppings and too little sauce to the point where the pizza was dry.  As a girl born and raised in Brooklyn, NY I can tell you Brooklyn has some of the best pizza in NY. Growing up I watched my mom make pizza at home from the usual cheese pizza with red sauce to the White pizza topped with spinach and cheese. I remembered those days and learned to make pizza myself not so much on the fly but when I would work it into one of my weekly menus.

Needless to say the pizza we ordered for our guest was marginal and disappointing. Tough crust, very little sauce on one of the pies. So our hunt goes on for a better local pizzeria, but until then I think I will go back to making my own pizza once again like when the kids were growing up.

As a home cook I am the first to admit my pizza’s aren’t the most beautiful pies you have ever seen but they are pretty tasty. Here are a few of my favorite recipes I like to use.

My favorite recipe for making homemade pizza crust is adapted from the cookbook Laura in the Kitchen by Laura Vitale.

This recipe will make two 10 inch pizza pies or one large size Sicilian Pie. 

For the Dough:
3 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour or Italian 00 flour if you can find it.
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/3 cups of Warm Water, 110 degrees (check with a thermometer if you have one , if your water is too hot it will kill the yeast)
1 Envelope of Yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons if you buy your yeast in a bulk package like I do)

Preparation
To make the dough:
1) Add the yeast to warm water and set it aside for about 3 minutes.
2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a dough attachment, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil. Stir the yeast in the water to make sure it’s all dissolved and add it to the flour mixture.
3) With the speed on medium, mix until everything is combined. Reduce the speed to low and mix for 10 minutes.
4) Oil 2 bowls with olive oil and set aside. Divide the dough in two pieces and roll into a ball. Place each ball of dough into the oiled bowls, seam side down and brush the tops of the dough with a little oil to stop them from drying out.
Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until it doubles about 1 1/2 hours.
6) To make the pizzas, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it for 20 minutes. (if you don’t have a pizza stone you can use a large baking sheet just place it in the oven upside down so there are no edges)
7) Sprinkle some flour onto your counter, take 1 ball of dough and dredge it in the flour on all sides. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10 inch circle.
8) Using a pizza peel (or a baking sheet upside down so that there are no edges) place the rolled out pizza dough on it and start topping it.

To make a red sauce pizza: Use a ladle and add your favorite pizza sauce then using the back of the ladle swirl it all over the top of the dough spreading out the sauce, not too much but not too little.
Top it with the shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese and any preferred toppings you like mushrooms, cooked sausage, veggies etc. using the pizza peel slide it onto the pizza stone.
Cook for 20 minutes, rotating half way through to insure even cooking.

A cooking Tip – If you think the dough will not slide easily off the peel because the toppings are too heavy you can do one of two things. 1) lightly dust the peel with cornmeal. or 2) what I usually do is put a piece of parchment paper between the peel and the dough when I first set the dough on the peel this way it will easily slide onto the pizza stone. Cook it right on the parchment paper and it will still be a crispy crust.

For a quick No cook Pizza Sauce:

1 1/2 cups of Tomato Puree or use and immersion blender and crush a can of San Marzano tomatoes and use 1 1/2 cups of that.

Dried Oregano, to taste

Dried Basil, to taste

Granulated Garlic, to taste

Granulated Onion, to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pinch of Sugar

To make the sauce simply mix together all of the sauce ingredients and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Set aside. No need to cook the sauce a head of time as the tomatoes are already cooked and the sauce will heat through while baking.

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A Good Luck Meal for the New Year – Kahlua Piggie & Macaroni Salad

New-Year-2012-HeaderThere are many foods people like to eat to ensure good luck for the coming new year. My family always serves herring as the first food after the midnight toast. Some other traditional foods often served are Ham with Black-eyed Peas or Hoppin’ John, Pork, Cabbage, New Year’s cake that has a coin inside and who ever get the coin is ensured good luck, Lentils, grapes and the salted brine fish or herring to name just a few.

I know there are so many folks who got Instant Pots for this holiday season. I got mine several months back  and I am really loving it. I will use it to make our New Years day meal of pork and cabbage that I affectionately call Kalua Piggie. There are lots of version you can find on the web; what I am sharing here is my adaptation of several of those recipes.  I won’t be using the Hawaiian Red Salt that many traditional versions call for. I try to keep to a budget and I really don’t have any other use for a two-pound bag of red salt that you order online, but trust me it will still be a delicious meal.

So remember your favorite good luck food this New Year’s Day.

Wishing you a Happy New Year with the hope that you will have many blessings in the year to come.

 

My 6 Qt Duo

Instant Pot Kahlua Piggie

I make this in my 6 Qt Instant Pot Duo

Serves 8

3 slices of Bacon

4-5 lb Pork Shoulder roast (I cut the pork off the bone and the meat into about 4 pieces)

4-5 Garlic cloves peeled and sliced into quarters

1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt

1 Cup Water

1 Tablespoon of Liquid Smoke

1 Small-Medium head of Cabbage, cored, and cut into 8 wedges

 

1. Put the bacon in the Instant Pot. Press Sauté.

2. While the bacon is cooking (turning it with tongs occasionally), cut the pork roast into about 4 nice size pieces so they will nicely fit into the pot. Slice the garlic cloves into quarters then cut slits in the roast and press the garlic pieces into the slits. Sprinkle half of the salt over the pork pieces and rub it in a bit. Turn the pork pieces over and sprinkle the rest of the salt on the pork rubbing it in.

3. By this time the bacon should be nicely browned. Put the pork on top of the bacon slices. Stop the Sauté function by pressing the Cancel button.

4. Add the Liquid Smoke to the 1 cup of water, stir, then pour to the pot, put the lid on and lock it in place. Make sure the pressure release knob is in the seal position.

5. Select Pressure/Cook. Press the “+” button until it shows 90 minutes. It will come up to pressure and the pressure pin will rise up. In a few minutes the time will begin to decrease. 90 minutes is the time it cooks once it’s under pressure.

6. When the 90 minutes is up, press the Cancel button to turn it off. Let the pressure release naturally, this will take about 20 minutes. The pressure pin will drop down when the pressure is completely released and you can open the pot.

7. Remove the pork from the pot and put the cabbage wedges in the cooking liquid into the pot. Put on the lid, press Pressure/Cook and press the “-“ to change the time to 3 minutes. While the cabbage is cooking, shred the pork with two forks.

9. When the cabbage is done, do a Quick Release. Push the pressure knob over with tongs or oven mitt to protect your hand. The steam will release immediately.

10. When the pressure has released and the pressure pin has dropped, open the pot. Put the cabbage on a large platter and top with the shredded pork.

11. You can pour some of the cooking liquid into the pork if you want it a juicier.

Serve with your favorite rice whether plain white rice or a flavored yellow rice. I also like to serve it with some chilled diced Pineapple on the side or a chilled fruit cocktail.

One of my favorite side dishes is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Goes great with Kahlua Pork or any Pulled Pork or BBQ Ribs.

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Hawaiian Macaroni Salad Recipe

 Ingredients

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups Hellman’s Mayonnaise ONLY! Do not use Kraft Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

1 cup whole milk or can also use 2% but not 1% milk

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and grated

1/2 cup celery. chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring approximately 4 quarts of water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook through, you don’t want al dente.
  2. Drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Add the 1/4 cup vinegar and stir until the macaroni is well coated. Let cool.
  3. While the macaroni is cooling, combine the mayo, milk and brown sugar. Mix well. Add any desired salt and pepper.
  4. Pour this mixture over the cooled macaroni and mix until well blended.
  5. After mixing, add in the green onions, carrots and celery. Remember to save a little to add as a garnish on top.
  6. This salad is best if chilled for 2-4 hours before serving.

Seafood on Christmas Eve – Muscles & Clams

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We are a small family so our holiday traditions are a bit limited. Some years my menu is little more traditional and other years we tend to mix it up with a theme of some sort.

Even though I am part Italian I was never raised with the traditional Seven Fishes tradition for Christmas Eve but we would often have some sort of seafood. My mother would usually make a shrimp dish of some sort, maybe fried scallops or a breaded and fried flounder along with the other array of assorted dishes and desserts. Mom wasn’t a seafood lover so the selection was pretty limited.

My husband and I on the other hand have been enjoying seafood dishes we learned to make for over 40 years. One year we might do shrimp another year steak and lobster.

Here are several easy to prepare seafood dishes we enjoy with our family not just on a holiday but anytime throughout the year.

Homemade tagliatelle with muscles in garlic butter sauce

Muscles Over Linguine with a White Wine Garlic Sauce

Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 20 mins, Total Time: 35 mins Yield: 4-6

2-3 pounds mussels, rinsed

1 pound linguine

¾ to 1 cup white wine (I usually use something like a Pinot Grigio , Riesling or Chardonnay whatever white wine we happen to have in the house)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse the mussels and remove beards if necessary, discard any that do not fully close when rinsing (these are dead).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt to the boiling water, and cook linguine until al dente.

Meanwhile, with linguine still boiling, combine all remaining ingredients (except for the cream and Parmesan cheese) in a large covered sauce pan on medium-high heat.

Cover and simmer mussels in the white wine sauce until fully cooked and shells open up, about 5-10 minutes. Stir sauce and mussels to coat in the sauce.

When linguine is finished, strain and stir into the mussels and white wine sauce. Now add cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5-7 minutes while covered, stirring occasionally until the sauce slightly thickens.

Serve topped with a pinch of fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. (Yes, it’s perfectly safe to have cheese with seafood if you enjoy it, LOL!)

For those who would prefer a red sauce with Muscles here is a red sauce version.

Mussels Marinara

2 lbs Mussels

1 cup white wine (use what you like to drink)

1 small onion

3-4 garlic cloves

1 quart your favorite marinara sauce

4 tbsp olive oil

Preparation:

Scrape mussels clean – Toss any that are not closed

Mince onion and garlic

Cooking:

In a tall pot, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until they are translucent (don’t burn the garlic).

Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, cover pot and cook until the  mussels are fully opened (toss unopened mussels).

In a separate pot bring the marinara sauce to a boil, then pour it over the mussels.

Turn heat off and serve over linguine or you favorite pasta.

Serve with garlic bread and some more of that white wine. Heaven!.

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Linguine with Clams

1 pound dried linguine

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds little neck clams, scrubbed clean and sand purged

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2-1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.

Add linguine, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking together.

Cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent,

about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until the clams have opened.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water – this will remove the pasta’s natural starches.

Pour linguine into large serving bowl- arrange clams over linguine and pour sauce over all

Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

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