Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Are You Serving Easter Brunch?

It's finally spring and Easter is just a few days away! I know that many people serve an Easter brunch, so thought I'd give you a few ideas to add to your list. The photo above is Ham and Asparagus Quiche, a lovely quiche filled with ham, asparagus, cheese, eggs and herbs. Delicious!
Or, there's Spring Vegetable Frittata, filled with potatoes and asparagus and it's so easy to make. And you can click on the breakfast/brunch link, you'll find recipes for muffins, scones, pancakes and more tasty recipes that may work for your brunch. Hope you'll find some good ideas to add to your menu!
I am cooking Easter dinner this year. If you observe Easter, are you cooking this year? And, are you cooking brunch, or dinner?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Orange - Blueberry Yogurt Bread - and a reminder for March's Family Recipes!

I've been going through my freezer and pantry, tyring to use of some of the food that I've stashed away. I still have blueberries from last summer that I need to use, so I wanted to make a blueberry bread that was just a bit different. I settled on an orange quick bread recipe and added blueberries to it. It is a wonderfully flavored quick bread and would be a great addition to an Easter brunch, or for anytime you have a craving for a delicious blueberry bread. This makes a large loaf of bread, which took longer to bake than the directions. I'm assuming that was because of the addition of frozen blueberries. To keep the bread from browning too much, I laid a piece of foil over the pan the last 15 minutes or so of baking. The next time I make this bread, I will add the glaze while the bread is warm, rather than waiting until it cools. I'll also add a few more blueberries and maybe another teaspoon of orange zest. I love the way the orange and blueberry complement each other and the texture of this yogurt bread is almost like a pound cake. This dense, orange flavored bread dotted with tangy blueberries is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea for anytime of the day. We love it!

Just a reminder that the deadline for submitting a recipe for March's Family Recipes Round-Up is March 31! Don't forget; you can find all the rules here.


adapted from Pinch My Salt

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup plain yogurt- I used Greek yogurt

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups frozen, or fresh blueberries


1/2 cup confectioners sugar

2-3 teaspoons orange juice

Mix together and pour over warm or cooled bread bread.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy- add eggs, one at a time and beat thoroughly. Stir in the yogurt, orange juice and orange zest.

In another bowl, mix the flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture and stir until flour is just combined. Gently fold in the frozen or fresh blueberries, taking care not to smash them. Batter will be thick. Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Original directions say to bake 55-65 minute, but it took 75 minutes for mine. When done, cool for 10minutes in pan. Then remove bread from pan. Glaze while warm if desired. Have a big piece with a cup of coffee. Enjoy!

NOTE: The bread is rather crusty the first day, but softens some by the next day. Delicious either way!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creole Pork Chops and Spicy Rice - from Da Cajn Critter Cookbook

Several weeks ago, I won the cookbook, da cajn critter, The Lifestyles, The Rules, and Makin' Groceries, from Dave at My Year on the Grill. Dave did a great review of this cookbook and made several recipes which you can read about here. Dave and his wife have now moved to the Vigin Islands, and I'm so jealous! But I was excited to add another cookbook to my collection and I eagerly read it when it arrived. This is a fun cookbook to sit down and go through. Written by Pamela D. Lyles, it is a wonderful book for any home cook that enjoys Southern food. At first, I was disappointed because there are no photos, but the recipes in this book have plenty of directions and are easy to make. This is a collection of her families recipes through the years, and I found some that my family also claims.
There are recipes with the relatives name attached to the dish, such as Aunt Pitty Pat's Blinz Casserole, and Pablo Miller's Caesar Be With You salad. I love it! There are a number of grilling recipes, as well as favorites like Sally Rue's Tuna Casserole. Of course there's also Jambalaya, Boiled Shrimp and Crayfish Boil and lots of other Southern favorites. And there's many great sounding desserts, such as Fruity Coconut Pecan Bread Pudding, and Mom Hinnant's Red Velvet Cake. I started with Creole Pork chops and Spicy Rice, as I need a fairly quick meal for my husband and I one hectic day. This was a delicious meal. The pork chops were very moist and wonderfully seasoned from cooking in the spicy rice. I only made half a recipe, since there was just my husband and I. I will be making it again in a couple of days. The chops are browned in a skillet, and then the rice and rest of the ingredients are added. While it is supposed to cook for 45 minutes or so, mine was done in 30. But that could be because I made half of the recipe. I used less oil than called for, and used cayenne pepper in place of hot red pepper sauce. Also, I used canned tomatoes instead of fresh, because tomatoes right now aren't that great. I hope you'll give this dish a try!

from da cajn critter, The Lifestyles, The Rules, and The Makin Groceries
4 tablespoons oil, divided - recipe calls for 1/2 cup oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
3 cups canned diced tomatoes - recipe calls for fresh tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fleshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper- recipe uses 1/2-1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce.
6 pork chops, cur 1 inch thick- make sure you use thick ones!
salt and pepper for seasoning the pork chops
1/4 cup water- I used more water, about 3/4 cup
Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the rice and reduce heat to medium. Saute rice for a minute or so, till golden. Stir constantly. Remove rice to large bowl and stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the hot sauce. Return skillet to burner over high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper; add 2 tables oil to skillet. Brown chops in hot skillet about 3 minutes per side, until brown. Spoon the rice mixture over and around the pork chops. Add the water. Cover pan and simmer for 45-55 minutes until rice is tender. I served this with green beans and rolls. Enjoy this tasty skillet meal!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hash Brown Potato Casserole- My daughter cooks comfort food for supper!

Yesterday, during our snowy on slot of a nasty winter storm, my daughter remarked that she was craving comfort food and asked if she could cook dinner. Of course I said yes! With the promise of a delicious home-cooked meal, her boyfriend braved the snowy elements and made his way to our home in time for supper too. So, my daughter made Classic Meatloaf, green beans and this Hash Brown Potato Casserole. She also baked Neiman Marcus Cookies for a sweet after dinner treat. She did a great job, and I didn't have to cook as she always runs me out of the kitchen. I'm sure many of you have a similar old recipe for Hash Brown Potato Casserole. One of these days I'm going to redo the recipe to get rid of the canned soup, but this is one of my daughter's favorites, so I let her do it her way. She did a fantastic job! Here's the recipe.

from Lynda's Recipe Box
1 bag frozen hash browns, thawed (about 1 lb. 14 oz.) I used Dell's
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter (8 tablespoons, or 1/4 lb.)
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, or cheddar jack cheese ( 2 cups)
about 1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Panko crumbs for topping, optional (my daughter didn't use them)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the thawed hash browns with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with extra cheese, or Panko. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until bubbly and golden around the edges. This casserole can be prepared a day ahead and baked before you want to serve it. It also reheats well for leftovers. Enjoy!
NOTE: You can use 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese in the casserole, and use the remaining 1/2 cup for the topping.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's Supposed to be Spring!

Yesterday it was 65 degrees and I had the windows in the house open. Today, it is NOT 65 degrees, and my windows are shut tight! It started sleeting and snowing this morning here in S.W. Missouri. The storm is supposed to last through tomorrow. You can see my poor birdbath sitting in the snow, just waiting for warmer days. They will come soon, I hope.
On the positive side, my amazing daughter is cooking dinner tonight. Yea! I asked if I could help and she told me to leave. So, I took pictures of the snow from our front porch. Have a great weekend, where ever you live!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Old - Fashioned Blueberry Muffins (My Favorite!)

I love these Blueberry Muffins and have been making them for years. My family enjoys these scrumptious muffins as much as I do and they tend to disappear quickly. They are tender, cake like muffins laced with nutmeg and are perfect for breakfast or brunch, or with a cup of coffee or tea for an afternoon break. Either fresh or frozen berries may be used; however, the dough is rather thick when mixed, so gently fold all the ingredients together to keep from breaking the berries. Since I had some of last years berries still in my freezer, I decided to use some in this yummy recipe. They are delicious, so let me share the recipe with you.
from an old Women's Day Magazine
2 cups flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (unsweetened)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (I use 2%)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds for topping, optional- or
1 tablespoon sugar for topping, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffins cups with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg. Add the blueberries and toss gently with the flour mixture. In another bowl, beat the eggs well; beat in the milk and melted butter. The mixture may look curdled, but only because the butter may solidify in small flecks. Add to the blueberry mixture and stir gently, only until blended. Fill muffin cups only 2/3 full. Sprinkle with sugar, or the almonds, being sure to press almonds slightly on dough. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. I get 13 muffins. Enjoy these wonderful Blueberry Muffins for a special treat!

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Mother's Goulash - for Family Recipes

My Mother was a very busy woman when I was a kid. My brother and I grew up in Colorado on a ranch and my Mother wore many hats, if you will. In other words, she had many jobs. When I was very young, she cooked for the hired men on the ranch, making huge man pleasing meals everyday at noon. She raised a garden, chickens, ducks and she sometimes drove a truck during harvest or feeding cattle, if needed. She had to have some quick meal ideas to fall back on. She went to work when I was in the 5th grade as a secretary at the small school that we attended, so she was always very busy. Goulash, as it was called in our family, is one dish that my Mother would make on really hectic nights. It is typically a hamburger, tomato and macaroni dish that is easy to make and you only need about 30 minutes in which to prepare it. I loved this meal as a kid. Mom sometimes added cheese to the top and she often made biscuits and cooked green beans from her garden to go along with the meal. I hadn't made this dish for quite awhile when I made it a couple of weeks ago. My daughter was overjoyed! As a kid, she loved it as much as I had when I was young. It's still a great dish, easy to prepare and full of flavor. Chopped bell pepper can be added to it as well as cheese, if desired. I know that a lot of families have a similar recipe, maybe going by a different name. Does your family make this tasty dish?

NOTE, 2012: I'm adding this note to my post since this has become such a popular post. I grew up in the 1950's and 60's, and that was a very different time than now. When my mother went to work, she still made dinner every day after she got home from work. People cooked back then; it was a priority. We didn't have fast food places in our nearby town, so we spent our meal time around the family dinner table. Quick, economical meals like this were a lifesaver for many moms. Good memories.

This recipe is my submission to March's "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun", which is hosted by me this month. If you have a family recipe that you'd like to share, please send it to me by March 31st. Check out all the rules here. Any dish that's a family favorite with memories attached will work. We would love to hear from you. This event is hosted by Shelby, from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch, and Laura, of The Spiced Life, and myself. March is my month to host. Don't forget!

from Lynda's Recipe Box

1 pound lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 bell pepper, diced- either red or green(optional)

1 -15 ounce can small dice tomatoes

1 - 15 ounces can tomato sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

2 cups dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions

salt and pepper to taste

cheese for topping, if desired

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni. While pasta cooks, brown the ground beef that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Drain beef well and remove meat to a bowl. In 1 tablespoon oil, cook the onion and bell pepper if using, until softened. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar. Add the ground beef back to skillet. Cover and cook about 15 minutes. Remove lid and add cooked macaroni. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Toss well and add cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Friday, March 5, 2010

New York - Style Crumb Cake ( slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

If you love Crumb Cake, I've found one you've got to try! The cake itself is soft and tender, from using cake flour and buttermilk, and the crumb topping is crisp, but not too hard and definitely does not have a sandy texture. It's just delicious and it's the best Crumb Cake I've ever had! This recipe is from a newsletter I received from Cook's Illustrated awhile back and I wanted to try the recipe. The only thing that worried me was the crumb topping. As you can see from the photo below, it is not a crumbly topping when first stirred up. It is supposed to be completely incorporated, smooth, creamy and not at all crumbly. This was different than other toppings I've made.

According to "Cooks Illustrated", you are to roll the topping into large pea-sized balls and scatter over the cake dough, making it even, with no large clumps. That makes the crumbs. Well, I'm too impatient for that, so I had to find another way to make this fully incorporated topping, crumbly! I didn't want to spend a lot of time rolling sugar balls for the topping! Have I mentioned that I'm somewhat lazy? Well, I found a way to crumble the topping. You must stir up the topping ingredients first, that way when you are ready to top the cake, the butter laden topping will be somewhat set, and can be crumbled.

Take a fork and "rake" it side ways across the topping and it will gradually crumble into small pieces. Don't try to do it too deeply, just in layers. Then take a spoon and scoop up the crumbs and scatter over the cake. Then repeat the raking until all the crumbs are made. This didn't take near as long as the original way required and it resulted in small crumbs, which made this lazy baker very happy! And as you can see from the photo, the topping didn't have any huge chunks, but a nice looking topping that was crisp and delicious! My only adaption to this recipe was to use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar called for in the recipe. You've got to give it a try!


slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated

CRUMB TOPPING: make this first

1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounce)

1/3 cup light brown sugar- original recipe calls for dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon- recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon

1/8 teaspoon table salt

8 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter

1 3/4 cup cake flour (7 ounces)- no substitutes


1 1/4 cup cake flour (5 ounces) - no substitutes

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, but still cool

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup buttermilk - (plain yogurt may be substituted)

Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. For topping: Mix sugars, cinnamon, salt and melted butter together. (Don't use real hot butter, let it cool some). Add flour and mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until ingredients are fully incorporated. Mixture will be smooth, not crumbly. Set aside.

2. For cake: Place oven rack in upper middle oven position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. If desired, cut a piece of parchment 7 inches wide and 16 inches long to fit in pan. Spray a 8x8 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Fit the parchment evenly into the pan with the long sides hanging evenly. Spray parchment with cooking spray. You only need to use parchment if you plan to take the whole cake out of the pan to serve. I left my cake in the pan, so I didn't follow this step.

3. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. With a mixer, blend in the butter on low speed, 1 tablespoon at a time until you cannot see any pieces of butter. Add the butter, egg, egg yolk, vanilla and butter milk and mix on medium speed, about 1 minute until completely blended and fluffy.
4. Pour cake batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth evenly. Take a table fork and "rake" the topping, so it will form crumbs. Spoon them on the cake. Or, you can roll the mixture into balls if you want! Place in preheated 325 degree oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Cool cake completely. If using parchment, remove cake from pan to serve. Otherwise, just serve it from the pan. Enjoy!
NOTE: Using powdered buttermilk is not recommenced for this recipe. "Cooks" says that the batter will be too thin and the topping may sink.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chicken with Mushrooms and Balsamic Cream Sauce

I have made this dish a couple of times now and my husband and I love it! This is a fairly quick meal to put together as long as you've got everything ready to go before you start. While the recipe says to use orzo pasta, I used angel hair. Topped with tender, juicy slices of chicken and mushrooms sauteed in butter, put together in a creamy balsamic sauce, this dish is delicious!
The only problem I have with the recipe is that I would like a bit more balsamic vinegar in it, but my husband prefers it as written. I don't use some of the mushroom varieties called for in the original recipe, because they aren't always available. It's tasty, either way you make it!
inspired by this recipe
1/2 pound angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
white mushrooms, or portabello mushrooms, sliced-up to 16 ounces
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, or stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoon cream or half and half (both work just fine)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Dry chicken with paper towels; season well with salt and pepper and add to hot skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, depending on size of chicken breasts. When done, remove chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Turn the heat down under the skillet and add the butter.
Add the mushrooms after butter melts and brown, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook about 2 minutes until onion is softened. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar and cream. Simmer a couple of minutes or until slightly thickened. Slice the chicken on an angle and add to the skillet along with the chopped parsley. Adjust the seasonings at this time. Add salt and pepper if needed. To serve, pile pasta on a plate and top with chicken mushroom mixture. And savor every bite! I love this dish with a simple salad and bread. Enjoy!
NOTE: I have also served the chicken breasts whole, placing one on a plate topping the pasta, and then spooning mushroom sauce over all. Either way it's a winner.