Monday, December 28, 2009

Egg Nog French Toast

This isn't my post or my recipe, but I'm passing it on because of a conversation my partner and I had Christmas Eve. He was making the traditional-for him and his kids and spouses-Christmas morning breakfast. Bacon, sausage, a strata, pancakes, and french toast, some kind of store-bought pancake syrup. Strawberries. I asked, "so, how do you make french toast?" He answered, "the way my mother did, mix eggs and milk together, dip the bread in it and fry it." Now I promise, I did not roll my eyes, snarl, curl my upper lip in disgust, or in any way dishonor his late mother. I said nothing (hey, it's his family tradition, I wouldn't mess with it).

Ron is a wonderful, rudimentary cook; meat and potatoes, rice and (god help him) Campbell's cream of something soup (about which I do roll my eyes, snarl, etc.), BUT-I point this out-he does cook, and adheres to (my) rule that the one who doesn't cook cleans up. And he endures endless taste tests of the recipes I'm experimenting with. Who could ask for more? Except perhaps for a more interesting french toast, in this circumstance.

About a half hour later , he asked me "so, how do you make french toast?" I told him I make a batter of egg, milk, flour, powdered sugar, vanilla, dip the bread in and fry it. He had heard of using vanilla, but I suppose he made it his traditional way Christmas morning. We had so much other food, I didn't try the pancakes (if someone has a great pancake recipe to share, let me know-I just don't like the things-I mix chocolate chips in with waffles to tolerate them) or french toast.

So thanks, Paula, these look and sound delicious, and I hope to try them soon. Thanks for the post: Egg Nog French Toast

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things I wish I'd thought of

I got this in an email:

This was in Pennsylvania:

"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But several things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents 'cuz they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder and almost killed herself putting it against my house! She didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that.

Lastly, my yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard in an effort to "help".

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Travel Channel Travel Bug Sweepstakes

Corn Pudding

I was looking for a simple corn pudding recipe for a holiday potluck, which I found on all I made some changes, used one less egg, added chopped veggies for color and flavor, and I have a somewhat slow oven, so inserted a knife at one hour and cooked it 20 minutes more. But I wanted to give credit for the basic recipe to the original cook :)

4 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn
1 14.75 ounce cans cream-style corn
1/4 cup chopped scallion (which I hadn't used before and found more potent than a regular onion)
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno (seeds and veins removed it you want less heat)
1/4 cup chopped roasted sweet bell pepper strips

Preheat the oven to 400 and oil a 2 quart casserole dish.

Whisk the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl, add melted butter, sugar, milk. Mix in cornstarch, whole kernel and cream-style corn. Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Pour into prepared casserole.

Check for doneness by inserting a knife in the center. It should come out clean, otherwise continue baking and check until it does. Voila!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sausage, Feta & Sage Pasties

My grandmother made pasties, a pasta with mashed potato and cheese filling that, as most Grandma's cooking is, a warm memory from my childhood. She made it look easy to make them, as she did everything she cooked. She really did! I wish I'd bothered to write down more of her recipes when she was alive, because I can't duplicate many of them now, even with the Internet as a resource. I got to thinking lately that these pasties can be filled with other things, so I cooked up these-sausage and sage pasties, because I grow sage and love both sausage and sage. The pasta, though, is the recipe I got from Grandma

2 cups flour
2 tsp minced fresh sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs + 1 for brushing pasties
2 T olive oil
Water as needed to make dough workable

1 pound Jimmy Dean or other sage sausage
3/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Olive oil
Roughly chopped fresh sage
Pepper, optional

Combine dry ingredients; flour minced sage, salt, and baking powder. Lightly beat 3 eggs. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add eggs and 1 tablespoon olive oil. With your hands, or a fork, combine all ingredients until soft dough forms.

Put dough on flour covered cloth and knead until all ingredients are well blended. Brush with the remaining olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let set for 30 minutes. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil to cook pasties in.

While the dough rests, brown 1 pound of sausage, remove from heat, stir in feta cheese and chopped green onions and set aside.

If you have a pasta machine, run pasta through it until it's very thin, 1/8 inch. Otherwise, roll out on flour covered cloth until it's 1/8 inch thick. Using biscuit cutter, cut 3-inch circles. Brush with the remaining beaten egg. Put about 1 tablespoon of the sausage-feta-onion mixture in the center, fold over and press edges with a fork to seal.

Drop pasties into the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on roughly chopped sage, add freshly ground pepper to taste if you wish. Eat while hot.

Browning the sausage while the pasta rests saves time. I read online that this makes the gluten relax, but learned by trial that if you skip this step and try to roll out the dough, it springs right back and so, is much harder to shape.

You could probably use any other kind of cheese, I love feta, and it goes so well with these ingredients.

I also use this pasta to make wide egg noodles, which in our family is the only thing you can use in Turkey Noodle soup after Thanksgiving. My brother once used store noodles and nobody would eat it. We sat and stared at it like he was feeding us dog food.

Sage is a great plant. I can still pick it even though it's November and we've had some freezes. The leaves, either fresh or dried, I use in dishes year-round. My cockatiel, Bruno (a female, but we didn't know that until she laid eggs) loves sage, too:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Fall Comfort Food - Corn Fritters

My Mom made these when I was growing up, and they are the only thing I can think of that's deep fried that I still eat. I tore this page out of her recipe book after she passed away:

Looking at all the dripples and stains on it, it was a well-loved recipe!

Corn Fritters

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Combine beaten eggs with milk, add to flour mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in corn and green onion.

Drop from tablespoon into oil or shortening (gasp!!) heated to 350-375 degrees.

Fry until golden brown. These are rather fun to watch because when they are brown on one side, they turn themselves over to cook on the other.

Sometimes they will split open and grow little "appendages". If the oil is too hot, they will cook on the outside and be gooey on the inside. Lift out with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

I added a dab-a couple of tablespoons-of chopped jalapeno to this batch, but my kids, who grew up eating these and love them, too, said they didn't taste any different, so I didn't add it to the ingredients.


I haven’t made ghee for a couple of years, you know, life gets busy, you let things slide, but this is one thing I shouldn’t have ignored. The recipe is ridiculously easy, but you do have to keep and eye on it.


1/2 – 1 lb. unsalted butter

You can find a lot of directions for this online-most of them probably work.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium-low heat-it depends on your stove. It will begin to boil-actually, it can get quite explosive at first, then it settles down to serious business.

Don’t stir, but allow it to continue to cook 20 to 30 minutes. It will develop a foam on the top and the solids will sink and start to brown. This is where you should watch it, if it starts to burn, you won’t have that golden delicious flavor and aroma! You have to kind of get a feel for when it’s done. I read in one post that it should smell like fresh-baked croissants-that’s a pretty good description.

Remove from heat and let cool for half an hour. Line a strainer with 4-5 thicknesses of cheesecloth; strain into sterilized jar. It does not need refrigeration.

This is what's left in the pan:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This Is It

If, like me, you were a Michael Jackson fan, back then, but thought he had a fairly legendary-abnormal upbringing in the showbiz limelight with substantial authoritarian discipline, made some very bad decisions, and was pretty damned weird in his later years, go watch this show. It's well worth seeing; whatever was or was not true about his personal life, and no matter what anyone thought of him, his talent was phenomenal, and this film shows Michael's human side, not the side the media cooked and showered us with. I don't think my partner, Ron, particularly cared for him or his music, he went because I wanted to see it, and said he was glad he did because the movie was an insight into how incredible that concert would have been but never will be. I cried at the end. Like many ultra-talented performers, he had a tragic streak of self-destruction that cut his life short. What a waste...

Sometimes it just doesn't work...

Kahlua and Saveur have a recipe contest I thought I'd enter, so I made "Kahlua and Orange Mini Muffins". The recipe was pretty simple, basic muffins from my ages-old recipe file so I don't know who to credit:

6 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg at room temperature, beaten

I reduced the milk to 1/2 cup and added 1/4 cup Kahlua
I replaced the vanilla with 1/w tsp orange extract

Bake 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. They looked pretty good (excuse the crappy photo, I'm hoping for a new camera and better photo-taking skills for Christmas!):

but, alas, I forgot to put the sugar in, so I slathered them with a melted butter/sugar mixture and some chopped toasted walnuts. They just didn't work. The kids (my three adult male children, ages 26-28) ate them, don't ever get the impression that they outgrow the "eating machine" stage when they exit the teen years, they still are, but these weren't so good. I'm re-thinking my recipe entry ideas...

By the way, check out Saveur's other contests and sweepstakes, lots of fun to be had.


Fall Comfort Food, Or --

The only reason in the world I would buy Velveeta cheese!

Toasted Cheese Sanwiches with Tomato Soup

Really, I think Velveeta (how did they come up with that moniker, anyway?) cheese is junk, but in the fall, one of my comfort foods is toasted cheese sammies and tomato soup. It's been blustery here all day and will probably rain tonight. I thought I could hear it raining hard, but it turned out to be "Dream Aquarium" on my laptop!! Too warm to snow, which, being an avid skier, I would look forward to, but cold windy, rainy weather - bah!! I still have sage growing out front, though, and need to think of something to do with it before it freezes. Suggestions welcome...

Back to the subject, I do make toasted cheese sandwiches with Velveeta cheese. It melts fast and well in seconds for a gooey tomato soup dipping delight. I didn't really feel like cooking tonight, so I cheated and used Campbells:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pickled Beets, My Way

I grabbed some beets at the store this weekend, too. After cleaning them up, I boil them until nearly tender, about an hour. When they're cool enough to handle, the peels slip right off, then I trim the greens and root ends and slice them about 1/4 inch thick. You can also add sliced onions to this. Then I cover with half vinegar/half reserved beet liquid and refrigerate overnight at least. I sprinkle a little coarse-ground sea salt on just before eating. (I recall seeing a recipe where you put boiled eggs in this same liquid, but haven't tried it. I'm not sure it sounds very appetizing, maybe someone can advise me??)

Mmmm, Brussels Sprouts

After reading this on Foodbuzz a few weeks ago, I got a craving for Brussels Sprouts, so I picked some up this weekend. I steam them until they're nearly tender, then transfer them to a heated skillet with olive oil, the good, aromatic kind. After tossing them around in the oil for a bit, I added some basalmic vinegar, squeezed on some fresh lemon and added dried dill I harvested this fall and a little salt. My craving has been fulfilled!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Spicy Cornbread

This is the basic Albers Cornbread recipe:

1 cup Albers cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients together, set aside.

1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Whisk milk, oil, and egg together, add to dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

However, I add chipotle pepper in adobo, frozen corn and cheese, so I call it my own.

2-3 Tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
1 cup grated colby jack or cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen corn kernels

Pour into greased 8" x 8" baking dish or greased muffin tins.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until well browned.

I'd like to thank Norfolk Cooking Examiner for this discussion on Northern vs. Southern Cornbread:, because my family is Southern and I like the drier, less sweet version of cornbread.

It's hard to make "original" chili...

Four Bean Chili

3/4 cup small white beans
3/4 cup small red beans
3/4 cup pinto beans
3/4 cup pink beans

Sort over and rinse (these are "agricultural products") to remove any stones and dirt. Cover with water and soak overnight.

1 1/2-2 lbs. ground beef, ground sirloin, chili or stew meat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
cloves of garlic to taste (lots), minced

2-3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper to taste, cook beans on medium low heat.
28 oz. crushed tomato in puree
16 oz. "Fiesta style" frozen vegetables

Meantime, brown ground beef, chili meat, ground sirloin, stew or chili meat in frying pan on medium heat. Add chopped onion, jalapeno, garlic and garlic salt. Cook until most or all grease is evaporated. Add to cooking beans. Add crushed canned tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 hours until beans are tender.

Stir in frozen vegetables. Serve with cornbread.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crab Scramble

I found crab on sale at Safeway for half-price last week and bought 4 of the little darlings.

We spent the evening cooking, cleaning, and “picking” (we’re pickers, we don’t eat the crab until it’s all out of the shell. We then feasted on crab, just crab, no sides, dipped in melted butter. Yum.

But there was a lot left…The next night I made Louisiana Deviled Crab Cakes found at Epicurious: They were delicious, but we still had a lot of crab left.

So I put them in scrambled eggs the next day. Just a couple of eggs, milk, chopped green pepper and green onion, threw a little Monterey Jack cheese and crumbled bacon on at the end.

And we still had crab cakes again the next day! Maybe next time I find it on sale, I won’t buy so much :)
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