Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Warm Olive Dip

This warm and creamy dip would be a spinoff of Applebee's popular spinach artichoke dip, but it has probably been around much longer than Applebees.

I don't know exactly how old this recipe is, but it was given to me by my high school art teacher after she prepared it for a snack for art club one day.  I've been out of high school for 25 years now, so it is at least that old.  And yet, I remember eating it that first time like it was just yesterday.

It features artichoke hearts and green olives - both favorites of mine - settling them into a creamy cheesy base that satisfies most any snack attack.  Serve it up on crackers, tortilla chips, or toast triangles at your next party or keep it all to yourself while watching a favorite ball game, rerun, or movie.  It is definitely not low calorie, so plan on working it off with some exercise the next day.  Everything comes with a price, yes?

Warm Olive Dip

1 1/4 cups real mayo
1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
1 jar plain artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup green olives, chopped  ( I like to use the garlic stuffed olives for this recipe, but any would work)
assorted crackers, tortilla chips, or toast triangles for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the mayo and 3/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Add artichokes and olives, mix well.  Transfer to an ungreased 1 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese over top.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just The Best Cookies

It's not just my opinion, the name of these cookies really is "Just The Best Cookies".  I don't know where my mom got this recipe, but I have loved them from the first time she ever made them.  I used to like to call them "Kitchen Sink Cookies", because they have everything in them but the kitchen sink.  That just makes them extra good. 

Feel free to substitute all kinds of different chips here for the chocolate or butterscotch.  Sometimes I like to trade peanut butter chips for the chocolate, or use walnuts instead of pecans.  If you really want to go crazy, omit the chips altogether and add in an equal amount of your favorite dried fruit bits.  I think apricots and pineapple go especially well with the coconut and pecans.

However you make them, I'm pretty sure they will be a hit.  This recipe makes an extra big batch, so its perfect for a potluck, bake sale, or cookie exchange.

Just The Best Cookies

3 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup cooking oil
1 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Cups crushed corn flakes
1 Cup rolled oats
1/2 Cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 oz. chocolate chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugars; beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat until combined.  Stir in oil and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture.  Fold in cornflakes, oats, coconut, pecans and chips.  Shape into balls the size of a walnut.  Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork dipped in water, making a criss-cross pattern on top of each cookie.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly golden.  Let stand on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool.  Dust with a very light coat of powdered sugar, if desired.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Garlic Chicken Pasta

I made this for dinner tonight, even though I didn't want it.  I didn't want it because I wanted Chicken Scampi from Olive Garden.  But since the closest Olive Garden is over 2 hours away, and there was no way I was going to make it there in time for dinner, I had to make something that was not nearly the same, but was close enough to satisfy my craving.

This is a simple pasta dish.  Few ingredients, done in the time it takes the pasta to boil, it was a winner for a busy weeknight.  If I would have had some parmesan cheese, I would have grated a fair amount over the finished dish, and it would have been awesome.

Garlic Chicken Pasta

1 lb chicken tenders, cut into chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz angel hair or thin spaghetti
2 tbsp butter

In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat olive oil and add garlic.  Cook and stir 1 minute.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep warm.

When pasta is cooked, drain well.  Add butter to pasta pot and add pasta back into pot.  Stir to coat with butter.  Add garlic chicken to pot and toss together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Wish that you were at Olive Garden eating Chicken Scampi, then decide to be thankful that you have a warm tasty dinner to enjoy at home.

I served this with a green salad.  Garlic bread would have been a great addition as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homemade Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries

I shop for groceries once a week.  It is one of my favorite things to do.  On Thursday I get the paper with all the store ads.  I sit down and see what is on sale, then I check what coupons I can print that go with sale items.  I go to 3 different grocery stores each week, plus Walmart if we need other supplies.  I try to only buy sale items at each store, and usually I'm pretty successful. 

The other day one of the stores had pork cube steak on sale.  I knew immediately that I would bring it home and make tenderloins out of it.  They had been tenderized at the store, but I went ahead and pounded them out, because we like them a little thinner. 

I had half of a baked sweet potato left from earlier, so I made sweet potato fries to go with the sandwich.

Everyone said it was a favorite, and would like to have them again soon.

Homemade Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries

3 pc pork cube steak, pounded as thin as you like into tenderloins
1 Cup flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 Cup crushed dry bread crumbs
Oil for frying

1/2 baked sweet potato, peeled and cut into fries

Place flour in a ziplock bag.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and milk together.  Place bread crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl.  Heat 1 inch of oil in a pot over high until hot but not smoking.

Shake each tenderloin in the flour, then dip in egg mixture and let excess drip off.  Dredge in bread crumbs, then place in hot oil.  Cook 4 minutes, then turn once and cook another 4 minutes, or until dark golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Shake sweet potatoes in flour to coat, then place in oil.  Cook, turning until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buster Dessert

My mother-in-law's family has a reunion every year.  One year they decided to put together a family cookbook.  They ask every member of the family to copy favorite recipes and send them in.  The recipes were photo copied and put into binders that were sent to whoever wanted one.  The book also included a fairly extensive family history.  For only $10 per book, we have access to a whole family's treasury of recipes.

On each page there is a space for memories about the recipe.  On the entry for Buster Dessert, which was my mother-in-law's recipe, it told how this was one of her special recipes.  Funny, I knew her for over 20 years and I never remember her making this.  It sounds like a perfect treat, so I'll be trying it sometime soon.

Buster Dessert

1 bag Oreo cookies
1/2 Cup melted butter
1/2 Gallon vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups Spanish peanuts
2 Cups powdered sugar
1 can evaporated milk
2/3 Cup chocolate chips
1/2 Cup butter

Crush Oreos.  Mix in melted butter, press into a 9x13 pan.  Chill 1 hour.  Cut ice cream into four equal pieces and place them side by side on top of Oreos in pan.  Pour peanuts evenly over ice cream and press them lightly into ice cream.  Cover and freeze. 

Mix powdered sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil 8 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  Pour evenly over ice cream and freeze.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

I don't know how much this sandwich has in common with the authentic Philly cheesesteak you get in The City of Brotherly Love, but I do know my family shows me a lot of love whenever I serve it up at home.  There aren't very many dishes that bring smiles from every family member, this is one of them.

You can't please all the people all the time, but you can please a whole lot of them with this sandwich.

Feel free to play with the ingredients; sub a different cut of beef if it's on sale, or switch up your favorite cheese if you want.

No matter how you serve it up, I hope it brings as many smiles to your table as it does to mine.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

1 pound thinly sliced top round steak
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small green onion, seeded and thinly sliced
8 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
6 hoagie buns
1/2 stick butter,softened

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Place slices of meat, a couple of slices at a time, in the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.  When all the meat is cooked, add 2 tbsp butter to the skillet and let it melt.  Add the sliced onion and green peppers.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Heat a clean skillet over medium heat.  Lightly butter both sides of hoagie buns and place them in skillet, butter side down.  Cook until lightly toasted.  Remove from skillet and immediately top each half of bun with a slice of cheese.  Place bottom of bun on plate.  Top with 1 or 2 slices of meat, about 1/2 cup of peppers and onions, and a top bun.  Serve immediately.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Deviled Chicken

Today's recipe is one of those that didn't even sound good to me when I first saw it in the cookbook (Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes, published 1992, page 13). When I read the ingredients, my first inclination was to turn the page and keep on reading.  However, I was sitting with my lunch buddies at the time, and one of them made me go back to this recipe.  She was so intrigued by it that I told her I would whip some up that night and bring it in for our lunch the next day.  I was expecting to be able to make fun of her for requesting this recipe, thinking no one would like it, especially me.

My first clue that I was wrong about this recipe was that I had all the ingredients on hand at home when I went to make it that night.  A recipe so non-fussy as to allow me to skip a special trip to the store is always looked upon favorably in my eyes.  The clincher was that I had to stop myself from eating it all that night, so I could take it to the judges at the lunch table the next day.

There really isn't anything earth-shattering about this recipe.  It is just good old fashioned American food.  Quick to put together and easily doubled or tripled, it serves as a great appetizer or potluck dish.  It is just as tasty topping a Ritz cracker as it is spread across the fancy rye cocktail bread that the recipe calls for.

Because I have such a large library of appetizer recipes that my family loves, I don't turn to this one as often as I could, but I sure am glad my friend insisted I take a second look!

Deviled Chicken

2 Cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
5 tbsp butter or margarine, melted, DIVIDED
2 tbsp country style Dijon mustard
a pinch of cayanne pepper
1 Cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley
1 loaf of rye cocktail bread

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  In medium bowl, stir together chicken, mayonnaise, 3 tbsp of the butter, mustard and cayenne.  Spread into a 9" glass pie plate.  In small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, parsley, and remaining 2 tbsp butter.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of chicken mixture.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and heated through.  Serve spread on cocktail bread.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Scripture Cake

One of my regrets in life is that I didn't have a chance to get to know my husband's extended family.  We lived in the same town as both of our parents, but his extended family lived in other states across the country, and we just didn't see them often.

I only met his maternal grandmother once.  Apparently she was quite a character.  In a good way.  We have a quilt she made that won a ribbon at a county fair.  She was quite a cook, and like to write poetry too.

When my mother in law passed, my father in law gave me all of her cookbooks and recipes.  That in itself was a treasure, but buried in that pile of cookbooks was Grandma's Farm Ledger Cookbook.  It was a plain ledger that she used to keep track of household expenses.  But she also wrote down her poems, stories, lists and recipes.  It was the most interesting personal journal I've ever had the pleasure to read.

I didn't feel that it belonged to me, however.  My mother in law had several siblings, and I felt that I owed it to them to return it.  As much as I loved that book, I was sure that those siblings would want such a great piece from their mother's kitchen.  Before I returned it, though, I went through and copied as many of her poems, stories and recipes as I could.

Even though I didn't get to know Grandma personally, I feel like I know her better now that I have had the opportunity to read through her farm ledger cookbook.

This recipe is one that came out of Grandma Gore's cookbook.

Scripture Cake

4 1/2 Cups of 1 Kings 4:22
1 Cup of Judges 5:25
2 Cups of Jeremiah 6:20
2 Cups of 1 Samuel 30:12
2 Cups of Nahum 3:12
2 Cups of Numbers 17:8
2 Tbsp of 1 Samuel 14:25
1 tsp of Leviticus 2:13
6 of Jeremiah 17:11
1/2 tsp of Judges 4:19
2 tsp of Amos 4:5
2 tsp of 2 Chronicles 9:9

Ingredients are found entirely in the Old Testament.  Look up each scripture to understand what ingredients to use.  Mix as for any fruit cake.  Bake slowly in a moderate (375 degree) oven until done.

PS.  I understand these directions are not very clear.  Apparently when this was written, the original author felt that anyone would understand how to mix and how long to bake this cake.  I left it as is because I want to preserve the historical integrity of the recipe.  There is one footnote to this recipe in the original cookbook.  It is as follows:

Ingredients in above order are:  flour, butter, sugar, raisins, figs, almonds, honey, salt, eggs, milk, leaven (baking powder), spice.

Good luck if you try this cake.  I think it would be fun to try as a kitchen project with kids, grandkids, or a Sunday School or Youth Group class.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Granny's Rolls

When I was first married, I made sure to go through my grandmother's recipe files and copy all of my favorite dishes she made.  I wanted to be able to cook those same dishes for my family.

Over the years I have spent a lot of time cooking, but not a lot of time cooking from her recipe files.  It seems that I could never make things taste as good as she did.  It could be that her vast cooking experience produced better results than my young efforts could.  It is also possible that she never followed a recipe exactly, so she had secrets that her recipes didn't reveal.  I also believe her cooking tasted better because of the fond memories I had of eating meals at her table, those memories affecting my ability to appreciate my own cooking.

Whatever the reason, I still don't cook much from her files.  I do want to preserve those files for my kids, so they can know something about the lady who died before they could get to know her.  Maybe their efforts at reproducing her recipes will be more satisfying than mine.

It is in that spirit that I offer her recipe for dinner rolls.  These were on her table for every holiday dinner.

Granny's Rolls

2 Cups water
1 stick butter
1 package yeast
1/2 Cup sugar
2 eggs
6 Cups flour, divided

Combine water and butter, heat to boiling to melt butter.  Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of the water mixture and add sugar.  Cool.  Add rest of water mixture to yeast mixture.  Add eggs and 2 cups flour.  Beat until well combined.  Let stand 1 hour.  Add rest of flour (4 cups) and mix well.  Oil a large bowl and put dough in bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover and let rise until double in size.  Punch down and let rise until again double in size.  Punch down.  Pinch off blobs of dough about 2 inches around and place side by side in a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until golden brown.  As soon as you bring out of oven, run a stick of chilled butter over the tops of the rolls until slathered with butter.  Serve with extra butter.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Today is cool and drizzly outside, the perfect fall weather to turn on the oven.

What better reason to turn on the oven than for these soft and chewy oatmeal cookies that are stuffed with plump juice raisins.

This recipe comes from a cookbook called "Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes"(page 485), published in 1992.  This is one of my very favorite cookbooks.  It is a large hardback book filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous pictures.  It has everything from appetizers to main dishes to desserts.  Everything I've ever made from this book has turned out well.

Oatmeal raisin are my favorite kind of cookie, a taste I shared with my mother-in-law.  I used to make these for her when I wanted to tell her how much I loved her.  She's been gone many years now, but I still think of her every time I make them.  Here's to you, Shirley!

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookeis

3 Cups quick cooking oats
2 Cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 Cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups raisins*

Heat oven to 375 F.  In large mixer bowl combine all ingredients except flour and raisins.  Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 min.)  Add flour; continue beating until well mixed (1 to 2 min.)  By hand, stir in raisins.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased cookies sheets.  Bake for 8 to 10 min. or until edges are lightly browned.

*I always soften my raisins before I use them in a recipe.  I like them big and plump, and softening them makes it happen.  I put raisins in a small sauce pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil on the stove over medium heat.  Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.  Drain well and use in recipe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cherry Chip Cookies

These unusual and very delicious cookies remind me of my Dad.  They are his favorite, and my mom would bake them for him often.

I haven't made them for a while, because I have a hard time finding cherry chips anymore.  If I ever come across any I will definitely make these again.  I think they would be almost as good with cinnamon chips.  Of course you can substitute any chip your heart desires.

Cherry Chip Cookies

2 1/4 Cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 Cup butter, softened
1/2 Cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 Cups corn flakes, crushed
6 oz. cherry chips

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees.  Sift flour and salt together, set aside.  Cream butter, sugar, egg yolk and almond extract.  Stir flour mixture into butter mixture.  Stir in corn flakes and chips.  Dough will be very stiff.  If necessary, knead dough to mix thoroughly.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes.

Try not to eat the whole batch at once.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple Coffeecake

Every year, as soon as Labor Day has come and gone, I get into a mood to bake.  Casseroles, cookies, cakes, and other sweet goodies won't leave my mind until I get the oven going.

Thinking about that this morning reminded me of this apple coffeecake from the Pillsbury Complete Baking Book.  I found this recipe when I was single and would often bake evenings and weekends to stave off boredom.  I would take the fruit of my baking labor to work the next day so I wouldn't devour it all myself.

This coffeecake was always a hit.  It is reminiscent of cinnamon roll dough, but it is stuffed with sweet apple pie filling instead of cinnamon.  You could use any flavor pie filling you desire, I'm partial to cherry and blueberry as well.

I think it is best baked in a glass dish, because I always sense a metallic taste in a cake that has been baked in a metal pan.

Apple Coffeecake

2 1/2 to 3 Cups flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 Cup milk
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup butter
2 eggs
1 (21 oz.) can apple pie filling, or other flavor of your choice

1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 to 4 tsp milk

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast; blend well.  In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup milk, water, and butter until very warm (120-130 degrees F).  Add warm liquid and eggs to flour mixture.  Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed.  By hand, stir in an additional 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour, to make a stiff batter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a cloth towel.  Let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

Generously grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.  Stir batter; spread 2/3 of batter into greased pan.  Spread apple filling over batter in pan.  Spoon remaining batter by tablespoonfuls randomly over filling.  Connect spoons of batter over top to form a lace pattern.  Cover; let rise in a warm place until light, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Uncover dough.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly golden.  In small bowl, blend all glaze ingredients, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency.  Drizzle glaze over warm coffeecake.  Yields 15 servings.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Brownies From Scratch

Hello little cooking blog, I'm sorry to have ignored you for so many months.

I still believe this is a wonderful place to come for all kinds of recipes, and a place my kids can learn more about our family's cooking and eating history.

I have been making these brownies since I was a teenager.  The original recipe came from a magazine, I have no idea which one, it was just a torn piece of paper from a Hershey's Cocoa ad from long ago.

I started making them because I was young enough for my mom to think twice about me using a double boiler, and this recipe does not have you melting chocolate over the stove.  It is still a very chocolatey and moist brownie, but without the mess of chopping and melting chocolate.

I grew up making these, and now my kids have grown up making these, even my teenage son will pull out this recipe when he craves something sweet.

Brownies From Scratch

3/4 Cup Hersey's Cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 Cup oil, divided in half
1/2 Cup boiling water
2 Cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 Cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cocoa and baking soda in a mixing bowl.  Blend in 1/3 cup of the oil.  Add boiling water and stir until thickened, about 1 minute.  Mix in sugar, eggs, rest of oil, and vanilla.  Add salt and flour and mix well.  Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Do not over bake.