Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nedra's Cheesecake

Since I bragged yesterday about getting to choose between 2 great desserts on Nedra's Christmas table, I thought I had better share the second one with you today.  That way you can make both for your upcoming holiday feast, and face your own grueling decision about which one to eat.  My bet is that you will take some of both.

This is not what one normally thinks of when thinking of cheesecake, but that is not a bad thing at all.  This cheesecake is tall, airy and light, with a faint lemon note that is fabulously refreshing.  Simplicity at its finest.

1 small box lemon jello
1 cup boiling water
juice of 1 lemon
1 8oz package of cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tall can Milnot (evaporated milk), chilled
1 box of graham crackers
1 stick butter, melted

Using food processor, crush graham crackers into fine crumbs.  Pour into a mixing bowl.  Add melted butter and stir until all crumbs are moistened.  Reserve 1/2 cup crumbs.  Press remaining crumbs into 9x13 baking pan.  Set aside.

Dissolve jello in boiling water.  Add lemon juice and cool.  In mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese with sugar and vanilla.  In separate bowl, whip Milnot until it stands in peaks. In a large mixing bowl, Mix jello, cream cheese, and whipped milk, stirring well.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle reserved crumbs evenly over top.  Chill several hours.  Serves 16.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nedra's Lemon Cake

Today's recipe comes from my aunt's sister-in-law.  Though she is not my blood relative, she was frequently at family dinners, and we always spent part of Christmas Day with the extended family at her house.

I have wonderful memories of sitting at the big table with the adults, as she didn't pawn the kids off at a side table.  I always felt so grown up eating at her house.   Another big plus was that she had an awesome aluminum pitcher and a set of those bright, solid color aluminum tumblers to drink out of; and instead of coasters, she had little socks that you slipped onto the bottom of the glasses so they didn't sweat on her table.  It's funny the weird things you remember from childhood!

Anyway, it was always hard to choose between her light and airy cheesecake and this fruity lemon cake.  Most of the time I'd go ahead and have some of each!

1 yellow cake mix
1 small box lemon instant pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x13 inch cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, instant pudding, oil, water, and eggs.  Beat with electric mixer on low until cake mix is moistened, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan, bake for 30-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center of cake comes out clean.

While cake is baking, in another mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, powdered sugar, water and melted butter, mix well.  Warm this mixture in the microwave for 1 minute.  Pour over warm cake.  Cool.  Serves 16.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Taco Soup

Occasionally, all it takes is one time making a recipe for it to become a favorite.  So it was with me and this recipe.  I don't remember how old I was, or for what reason my mom made this soup when I was growing up, but I loved it at first bite!  It's reminiscent of chili, but with taco spices and added ingredients that are delightfully different.  Delicious!

1/1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 14oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 14oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can chili beans
1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch dry ranch dressing mix
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 envelope taco seasoning mix

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef and onion, stirring occasionally to break up meat, until meat is brown and no longer pink.  Drain fat and return meat to pot.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, Fritos, black olives, jalapenos, and/or any other taco topping you enjoy.  Serves 6.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Potato Casserole

My son reminded me last night that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away.  I love this time of year because it is finally cool enough that I want to turn on the oven to prepare some good old family recipes we all love.

Many years ago, my mom started fixing potato casserole instead of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.  That dish has always been my favorite part of the meal so that now it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without potato casserole.

I know this is a common recipe that you can get anywhere.  But to me it means family, celebration, and love.

My daughter loves to smear it on a hot roll and top it with a slice ham for a delicious little sandwich.  I just might try that this year myself!

1 32oz bag frozen plain hash brown potatoes
1 small white or yellow onion, grated
1 tsp garlic powder
1 16oz bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 16oz carton sour cream
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 cups cornflakes, crushed
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine hash browns, onion, garlic powder, cheese, sour cream, and soups, mix well.  Pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish, smooth top evenly.  

In another mixing bowl, melt butter in the microwave.  Add cornflake to butter and mix well.  Sprinkle corn flakes evenly on top of casserole.

Bake, uncovered, 60 to 75 minutes, until potatoes are tender and top is nicely browned.  If top browns too fast, cover casserole with aluminum foil.  Serve hot.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

All Purpose Fish Seasoning

Fish is a good choice for a healthy dinner.  This seasoning will make it a delicious choice too.  There is nothing special about this combination of spices, but they work magic together to enhance what would be a bland piece of fish otherwise.

My favorite preparation is with tilapia, but it would work well with any type of fish.  Experiment with it and come up with your own creative uses.

Fish Seasoning:

Mix equal parts of the following spices:

garlic powder
dried cilantro
dried basil
dried thyme
salt (optional)

Mix well, store in a labeled air-tight container.  Will stay fresh for 6 months, but I bet it won't last that long.

Here is how I use this seasoning most often:

4 Tilapia fillets, frozen or thawed
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp fish seasoning

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.  Place fish flat side up in pan.  Evenly divide seasoning and sprinkle over fillets.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes if thawed, 5 minutes if frozen.  You want to give the fillets a nicely browned crust.  Flip fillets, leave uncovered, and cook another 3 minutes.  Remove to plates and serve immediately.  I like to serve wild rice pilaf and 2 vegetables, such as steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

I love this so much I could eat it every night for a very long time without tiring of it.  It is just plain good!