Category Archives: Recipes

Why would I want TWO baked potatoes?

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And…it’s another Food post!  Haha!

My foodie picture addiction began a few years back after a friend added me to a Facebook food group. The whole group is just a bunch of positive folks who love sharing their delight in cooking, sharing recipes, posting mouth-watering pics, and talking to other food apprecianados. So there you have it.  I’m a food groupie! And I’m proud of it!

Summer holidays have come and gone and it appears every summer holiday is an opportunity to BBQ. Who am I to argue with that? It seems logical.  Summer. Heat.  Grilling. It all goes hand in hand, right? Actually,  the beer goes in hand.  The food…in mouth. But you get the point.

Anyway, chick #3 has been under the weather and chick #2 was beach bound with her buds. That means I get to decide what’s for dinner without the sibling bickering about who likes or dislikes what. It also means the food I make will get eaten. Not left in some reused container, taking up space in the refrigerator.

As I pilfered through the pantry and fridge, I would grab this or that and basically make suggestions to the baby chick. And I began to lay out my assortment, Chick #3 half listening, with her nose in her tablet, responded, “Why would I want 2 baked potatoes?”

Seriously, kid?!

Final Menu: Grilled chicken, baked potato, and summer squash medley.

 

 

 


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It’s Hot Hot Hot! Chili & Corn Bread

I’m so ready for the cooler Autumn weather that I felt like making a huge pot of rib sticking chili. Yum!                                       And the fact that chick #3 is now suffering from the same illness I had a week ago, gave me the perfect excuse – ehem, opportunity, to make it.

My chili is never made the same way twice because I always manage to add to it or take something away from it. I suppose it just depends on the mood I’m in. But no matter whether it’s a white chicken chili or hearty meat chili, it’s always lip smackin’ good and it’s the one meal I know everyone will eat without complaint.

I’m not normally a spicy chili gal but tonight’s chili had a bit of a kick to it. You can omit the red peppers and hot sauce if it’s too hot for your pallet or turn it up a notch by adding more of your personal choice hot and spicy items.

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Chili

Ingredients:

1 to 1.5 lbs ground beef. (I also like to use stew beef chunks and pork chunks for a more meaty chili)

3 – 15.5 oz cans of beans.  (I used white navy beans, red beans, and chili beans)

1 large can diced tomatoes with green chilis

6 oz tomato paste

1 cup diced green pepper

1/2 cup diced onions

1/2 cup diced fresh tomato

1 tbsp. finely diced garlic

1/3 cup hot sauce

1/4 cup chopped chili peppers or other hot peppers

1 chili mix packet

2 cups water

Sour cream

Shredded cheddar cheese

Seasons: salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and fresh basil. Other seasons per personal taste.

Directions:

Brown ground beef, chili seasoning packet, chili peppers, onions, and garlic in a large pot on medium heat. Drain meat when finished.

Add the cans of beans and diced tomatoes to the meat. Do not drain.

Add the green pepper, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Mix well. Add the water and hot sauce. Stir everything together, making sure that the paste isn’t lumpy. Add seasons – as much or as little as you like. I added about 4 chopped basil leaves, too.

Let the chili simmer covered on medium low for about 1 hour. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. If your chili get’s too thick, add a little more water. If it sticks, decrease the heat.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Garnish with a basil leaf

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Creamed Corn Bread

While I love corn bread, there is nothing worse than eating dry, crumbly, and bland cornbread. And I absolutely do not enjoy the lard taste of cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet. No sir. Not me. This recipe came about as an experiment that spun from making a traditional corn bread pudding casserole one Thanksgiving. It was an experiment of success and I’ve been making my corn bread this way ever since.  It’s simple with only 4 ingredients and it’s very moist.

Preheat oven to 400

Ingredients:

1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

1 large egg

1 – 14.75oz can creamed corn

2 tbsp. fresh diced red bell peppers or 1 tbsp. Pinch Perfect “Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper”

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, mix everything together. The cornbread mix will still have some small lumps.

Pour mixture into a sprayed or greased 8″ pan. This will also make about 6-8 muffins. Fill muffin tin 1/3 full.

Bake 30 minutes. ( I add 10 minutes to the Jiffy instructions due to the creamed corn)

The corn bread will be lightly browned when done and a tooth pick will come out clean.

This corn bread is more dense than a traditional corn bread and it is also very moist.

Hope you like!

~ SE

Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

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This is a super simple recipe that you can find just about anywhere. “OK, Google…” Btw, I love doing that to my daughter when she’s on her tablet. Hahaha!

Anyway, I had about a 1/2 bag of red potatoes I needed to cook up and some chicken breast I had already defrosted. So I decided to try this out.

Instead of typing out the recipe, I’ve provided a link here: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

The chicks loved this so much that they didn’t leave a single potato for my lunch tomorrow!

Bon appetit!

~SE

Breakfast Skillet

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Sundays for me equate to brunch, family time, and simply relaxing before beginning my normal weekly trek back and forth to work. This past week’s been a doozy, too. The kids went back to school the prior week so that meant last week they were in full school mode. And to top it all off, I was miserable from having a summer allergy/cold. Not much cooking was happening in this house last week. Sorry kids. Fend for yourself. Hahaha!

This morning, after relaxing on the balcony with my coffee, I came back inside to Chick #3 asking if she could make breakfast. She’s standing there, looking at me, while holding a bag of frozen tater tots and I’m like – what are you going to make with those?

Cooking is always a blast with the two of us because she truly enjoys it and is actually a really good cook. Chick #1 cooks, too. Her cooking is hit or miss though. Sorry, Chick #1. You know it’s true! And forget about Chick #2 cause that kid can burn water. She literally has.

Anyway, this was what we came up with: A tater tot, veggie, and egg skillet…and it is so easy to make!

Ingredients:

Chop up about a cup of your favorite veggies. This creation contains spinach, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. (set these aside)

Add a TBSP margarine or butter to heated pan.

1 cup tater tots or hash browns

Sausage or bacon (as much or as little as you want)

Eggs

Cheese (if wanted)

Seasons to taste

3-4 TBSP water

Directions:

Pre cook the meat. Set aside

Cook on medium. Add tater tots or hash browns to the melted butter. If you use tater tots, break them apart as they heat up. Add the veggies. Keep mixing the mixture so that everything cooks evenly. Season. Crumble up the meat and mix into the potatoes and veggies. Before the potatoes get crispy, press them down lightly into the pan. Make sure to fill gaps because you want the eggs to stay on top. Slowly add the eggs to the top of the potatoes. I try to keep the eggs separate so that I can simply cut sections and serve. After adding the eggs, add the water and cover. The water creates steam that cooks the tops of the eggs. I love sunny side eggs but hate oozy, snotty whites. So I started doing this a while back and depending on how long you cover and cook will also depend on how yolky the eggs are. While I like runny yolks, the chicks like their eggs more medium with less runny yolks. Just before the eggs are done add a touch of cheese if you want. Salt/ pepper/ season as desired.

Serve:

Remove from the heat, cut the potatoes into sections with an egg on top, serve. Enjoy!

~SE

Starbucks! Oh how I miss thee!

wpid-pomelo_20150822085629_save.jpgLiving in the country has both good and bad perks. For instance, I love the slower pace, less traffic, and the fact that there’s literally nature everywhere. In the morning, I can perch on my balcony among my potted garden, sipping my iced coffee while enjoying the humming birds, ducks, and sounds of nature. In the evening, a cool shower breeze usually offers a much needed reprieve from a hot, humid Georgia day. It’s the perfect spot for me to sit and think or to sit and do no nothing except enjoy the sweet serenity this quiet town has to offer. When you live in a town with about 15,000 other folks, traffic is almost non existent, the stores are seldom packed, there’s never any waiting at a restaurant, and the people are oozing with Southern charm and hospitality. I live in an apartment complex and we’re all “family”. We’re polite, friendly, talk about our days, the weather, our families, health, and just about anything else you can think of. It certainly isn’t anything like living in an area where people are so hurried and busy that they barely make eye contact, let alone say hello.  I’ll take Southern hospitality any day.

The down side? Good paying jobs aren’t found in small towns. Local restaurants serve some incredible mouth watering foods but there’s little variety. And…there are no Starbucks Coffee shops within a 45 minute drive! While I am a complete coffee snob, I can no longer rationalize the cost of the Heavenly brew nor the expense in driving that distance for a coffee fix. Yes. It is an addiction and I’m not proud in admitting that I am a recovering Starbucks junkie. My pockets and bank account scream at me every time I go out of town and give in to the coffee deliciousness. I have no control. I love Starbucks coffee!

I know what you’re thinking – she loves those whipped, high calorie, frozen, sickly sweet, dessert drinks.  And actually, you’re wrong. No whipped cream. 2% milk. Not overly sweet. Hot or iced. But I will admit that I do enjoy a Macchiato, Cinnamon Dolce, and Pumpkin Spice on occasion. Same rules apply here, too.

After moving from a place where there were multiple Starbucks within a decent driving distance to being cut off, cold turkey, I began looking for ways to sustain my need for a good cup of Joe. Trust me. This was no easy task. The ex always bought chocolate or caramel flavored coffee (yuck) and flavored creamers. And no matter how I doctored the crap, it always tasted as such – CRAP. My morning ritual has become polluted by poor tasting coffee and I was miserable. Didn’t know a cup of brewed goodness could affect you this way, hu? So. In this little town we have: McDonald’s (ok in a pinch), Burger King (um – NO!), Taco Bell (risky), Daylight Donuts (haven’t tried), a little local guitar/coffee shop (love the ambience and the coffee), and Chick-Fil-A (SCORE!). The latter, is the most convenient and tasty but that doesn’t even come close to my personal favorite. SB or go home!

I’ve bought those bottled and canned SB “drinks” before but they just aren’t the same. Too pricey and they don’t taste all that great. Not a fan. Not at all. And then…one day, while grocery shopping I spied upon a something I’d never seen before. A 48 oz bottle of SB Iced Coffee! Who knew?! (Probably the rest of the world just not this little town.) I was a little hesitant at first. I read the bottle over and over again. Put it down. Walked away. Came back. And repeated the same steps about 4 different times. And finally opted to try it. My rationale was simply this: 48 oz cost the same as a Venti latte. I could spare the $5.00 for a taste test. And much to my surprise, it was actually very good. The ingredients weren’t written in a foreign language, either. Water, coffee, sugar, natural flavors, ascorbic acid (to protect flavor – so it says), and that was it! So simple that it gave me the idea to make my own! I hate iced coffee that’s all watered down and that’s what I was doing. Brewing my coffee and pouring it over ice. Yuck. And I had never considered making my coffee and refrigerating it. Duh!

So here it is: Starbucks at home. I now buy my favorite SB blend (I ran out for this pic), brew it, bottle it, add a touch of whatever flavor I’m in the mood for, shake, and chill. When I’m ready for my fix, I pour it into my cup, top with 2% milk, and I’m good to go!

Problem solved! Oh – and I kept the original 48 oz container because it was the perfect size for storing my own personal blend.

~ SE

Mini Breakfast Casserole

I’m not one for pre cooking meals, so this is a first breakfast for me. And I am extremely pleased with the results.

I’m always rushing in the morning but since my morning commute is about 45 to 50 minutes, I don’t really want to entertain the idea of getting up any earlier than necessary. I give myself close to an hour and usually, I’m good on time but if I add in anything else, such as preparing breakfast, I’m no go good at all and spend the next 45 minutes flying like a bat out of hell through the country roads of southwest Georgia. And let’s just say, I don’t like that any more than getting up any earlier. Especially since the country roads are an invitation for not just the droves of wild critters and dear that like to play dodge car but also for the oversized harvesting combines and other farming tractor type machines that clog up the single lane roads. Welcome to the land of cotton, tobacco, soy beans, and peanuts.

Anyway, recently I’ve found that I really do need to eat something in the morning. Sooo – I cheated. I bought Kellogg’s prepackaged egg, bacon, and cheese on flatbread breakfasts. They’re good and in 1.5 minutes, I can be out the door on time and not have to worry about the local po po chasing down this beetle driving speed racer. But…it gets costly and really, I don’t need to be that lazy.

So, I tried something new. I love cooking and I absolutely love experimenting. Put the two together and one never knows what combinations will surprise the pallet…or any other one of the senses. I like trying new things but I am also very sensitive to how pleasing the whole package is through taste, texture, smell, and colors. Occasionally, I bomb but not this time.

What did I prepare? Rather than make a panned breakfast casserole, I made individual serving sizes. Eggs are easy and when done right, they’re super tasty, fluffy, and filling.

This creation was my own so I don’t have a formal recipe to copy or link to share. You’ll just have to bare with me as I try to provide measurements because I barely measure anything. Hahaha!

Getting started:

Preheat oven to 350

You’ll need 1 cooking sprayed regular sized muffin pan, 4 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup chopped veggies, (I used a combination of spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, and green pepper. I was out of tomatoes. ) 2 pieces of bread ripped into small pieces, 1 cup loose sausage  (crumbled and cooked), seasons, and about a 1/3 cup of shredded cheese. Oh! and a 1/4 tsp. of corn starch. I’ll get to why in a sec.

Prep:

I have a mini individual sized Farberware blender and I LOVE it! It’s ama-zing! But if you don’t have a blender, you can whisk your eggs and they’ll be just fine. Put the 4 eggs, salt and pepper, and milk together…and then sprinkle the cornstarch on top. Blend on high for about 20 seconds or whisk vigorously until well mixed with no lumps from the egg whites -yuck. Why the cornstarch? I recently saw a video from Alton Brown (Camp Cutthroat) where he explained that using cornstarch keeps your eggs from forming a puddle of water on your plate. I never thought to use cornstarch. But, hey – it works!  Set the eggs aside after blending everything together.

Cook up the sausage so that it’s in small crumbles and just barely done. Drain and set aside. You can use any loose sausage you like but my personal, lip smacking preferences are either Jimmy Dean’s maple or sage flavors. Drain excess grease and set aside.

Finely chop up the veggies, mix together, and set aside.

Putting it all together:

Now that you have everything prepped, drop a few pieces of bread into each muffin round. Next, sprinkle the sausage on to the bread. Then, add the veggies. And lastly, pour the egg mixture over the veggies. You’ll have enough mixture to fill each spot approximately 2/3 of the way. I would recommend adding a little bit of the egg mixture to each spot first and then slowly add more to each as needed. Once you’ve finishing filling the muffin tray, pop it into the preheated oven for about 15 – 17 minutes. In the last two minutes, sprinkle cheese on top and garnish with fresh basil or a colorful season blend, such as McCormick’s Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper blend. Return to the oven for the last two minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then enjoy. They’re like mini quiches or frittatas but with a twist and I couldn’t be happier with the finished product!

Mmmmm! I might have to sneak one for a midnight snack!

~SE

Baked Goodies, Oh My!

So here I am. It’s 11 days until Christmas. And I decided against my better judgment to bake goodies for the folks at work.

Holiday Baking

I say this because, as I’ve previously mentioned, baker extraordinaire, I am not. Oh, I can make some mean cookies. Whip up some tasty muffins. And even bake a lovely cake. But those are very basic and when they come from a box, they’re pretty fool proof, too. IE Sheila Proof.  However, today I decided to try some new recipes…from scratch. Oh boy. That’s a recipe for disaster but I thought, what the heck. I’ll try something new…how about 6 somethings new! Hey, just call me risky.

Anyway the 6 new recipes:

~ Saltine Toffee Bark    http://www.rachaelray.com/2014/02/crazy-addictive-saltine-toffee

~ Soft Coconut Macaroons http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chewy-coconut-macaroons

~ 10 Cup Cookies http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/771823-10-cup-cookies

~ Swirled White and Milk Chocolate Bark with Crushed Peppermint on Top http://www.marthastewart.com/296273/basic-bark#Chocolate%20Bark%20Recipes|/1043580/chocolate-bark-recipes/@center/1008647/christmas-candy-recipes|296273

~ Iced Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/03/18/chocolate-chip-cookie-cake/

~ Buckeyes http://www.jif.com/recipes/details/392


Several years back, a friend made the Saltine Toffee Bark and I just couldn’t get enough of it. So I figured why not begin here? Good grief! This recipe is pretty simple. Lay the crackers on a cookie sheet, cover them with the brown sugar toffee and then bake. This is where my issues began. Sometimes I just don’t think things through clearly and being that I’m not a savvy candy maker, I clearly was not thinking when I laid out the crackers on a side less cookie sheet. Crackers on a cookie sheet are fine but when the crackers are covered in a sticky brown sugar mixture, the whole mess begins to bubble when it’s in the oven. And yes. That’s where my troubles really began. The bubbling caused the crackers to shift closer to the edges and soon enough, I had not just one nor two but 4 crackers and oozing toffee goo running over the sides and down to the bottom of my once clean oven. Are you kidding me?!! And as I stared, helpless, the glob of cracker goop, ignited!! Now mind you, we’ve had to have our oven repaired twice since July and in my defense, neither was due to anything that I did or did not do while cooking. All I could think of as I whipped open the oven door, revealing a miniature ball of fire, charred crackers, and a syrupy mess, was “Oh $shit! I did it THIS time! There’s no way the landlord is ever going to believe this!” Chick #3 sat in horror as smoke billowed out of the oven and when she saw I had it all under control, she smirked, “I told you to use the pan with the sides.” Thank you very much, Captain Obvious. And in spite of this minor mishap, the Toffee Bark came out perfecto.

Now, Chick #3 had a blast bustin’ my chops all day about my goo gone bad incident. She’s become quite the cook lately and never misses the opportunity to tell me when I’m doing something wrong in the kitchen. “Mom! Don’t lick the spoon. Mom! Don’t eat the dough. There’s RAW EGGS in it! Mom! Follow the directions! Mom! Mom! MOM!!” Ugh!! So when we went to ice the last dessert dish, the chocolate chip cookie cake, I almost fell over in a fit of laughter. Liv insisted on making the cake and wanted to ice it with a homemade butter cream icing. Cake done. Cake cooling on racks. Now for the icing. Again, I’ve never made homemade icing. So I’m completely clueless about the texture and consistency. Like the amateur I am, I know when I’m in over my head. So I bowed out and let Liv make the icing. Next thing I know, she’s got the icing in a bag, ready to be piped onto the cake. She squeezed the bag and the icing globed out like a worm.  Plop! Big Fat White Worms! The icing was too thick and it took everything in me not to laugh at her. We could barely spread it and what we could spread, only covered part of the cake. She was mad but as we kept trying to push the stiff icing around the cake, she laughed at the mess and then wondered how we were going to fix it. Now, this is the part I’m good at…fixing things. ANYTHING. If it’s broke, I can MacGyver it! That thick, lumpy icing didn’t stand a chance. I grabbed up the last of the chocolate morsels, popped them in the microwave, and then drizzled it over the icing. Lastly, we sprinkled the rest of the crushed up peppermint on top and Viola! What was once a lumpy, blobby mess, was now a beautiful dessert dish.

It took us all day to bake our goodies and even though we had a couple experimental oopsies, we had a blast hanging out with each other. And that’s what cooking is all about. Hanging out. Having fun. Making memories.

~ SE

Food for Thought

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Fake Pie

Fake Pie

This year’s Thanksgiving was spent with just me and two of the three chicks. We had a great week off from school just spending time with each other and doing as we always do – making each other laugh!  (Videos to come – I promise!)

Anyway, this year I decided I was going to take the plunge and actually bake a REAL pie! Those who know me, know I LOVE ❤ ❤ ❤ to COOK!  I’m surprised I’m not as monstrous as a hippo and honestly think I actually was one in a previous life. Yes, I LOVE to cook. But, I’m not a fan of baking. Go figure. I can make a meal out of virtually nothing but make candy, fudge, even cookies…and I either cook everything too long or not long enough. Chick #1 is the ultimate Queen baker from scratch and she didn’t get it from me. Baking just isn’t the same as making a meal. There’s too many variables and I’m just too impatient. Who has time to make sure the sugar water boils for exactly X minutes and reaches Y temperature?! Well, guess that explains why my fudge never sets – but, hey – gooey fudge is still pretty yummy!

So, this year – I thought to myself – Self, I really want a mincemeat pie. And after several pre Thanksgiving shopping trips, I gave in to the urge. I bought the generic Great Value Roll Out pie crust and a jar of None Such mincemeat pie filling. How hard could it be, right? So hard, I got cold feet and put the ingredients away for another week until I got the courage – more like an irrational craving for mincemeat – to make the damn pie!

I grabbed my new and unused pie pan, pie crusts, jar of mincemeat, and an egg. And much to my surprise, the entire process went relatively well – that is, AFTER the pie crust softened enough that I could roll it out.

Directions: Push the 1st pie crust into the bottom of the pan, dump the filling on top of that, cover the pie with the 2nd crust, seal and pinch around the edges, slit the top, brush entire top crust with an egg yolk, cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil, and slide the pie into the oven. Oh – and don’t forget to preheat the oven.

Call me neurotic, but I didn’t want that baby to burn. So I kept a hawk eye on it and every now and then, coated a little more egg yolk over the top.  Much to my surprise, the pie was PERFECT both inside and out! So perfect the Chicks kept calling it FAKE Pie. And you know what? That FAKE pie sat on my FAKE plate and was delicious while I ate it with my FAKE fork. YUM!

mincemeat piecrust