Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comfort food

Here's something I make that I have never had a recipe for. My mom made it, and who knows where she learned it? Still it's cheap, hearty, and delicious. If you've never had scallop potatoes you're in for home-style a treat.

Scallop Potatoes

~ 5 lbs Potatoes, sliced, or enough to fill your casserole dish
~ 1 lb grated cheddar cheese
4-6 eggs
~3 cups milk
3 Tbs flour
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic pealed
1 tsp pepper
ham (optional)

Put milk, eggs, flour, onion, garlic, pepper, and handful of cheese in blender, blend until smooth.

Grease casserole dish.
Layer potatoes and cheese (and ham if you want it) in casserole dish. Leave out one handful of cheese.

Pour milk/egg mixture over potato/cheese in casserole dish. Add more milk if it doesn't come to the top layer of potatoes.
Sprinkle cheese over the top of the whole thing and bake for 1 hr. in 350 degree oven.

It's done when the potatoes are just tender.

Notes and modifications:

You can use up whatever extra cheese you have around, I've even been known to throw sour cream or yogurt in the blender with this.

Ham is what I've always added, but you could add just about any leftover you had around that appealed.

This freezes fine. I put it in the fridge to firm it up, then cut into chunks that look like about a meals worth, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze. Then just microwave it for a few minutes to heat. You could also take it out in the morning to thaw and warm it in the oven. I just never think that far ahead.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken Frangelico

This is another often requested recipe. It has a heavenly fragrance. It's not too spicy for kids, but has enough flavor to endear itself to the grown ups.

Chicken Frangelico
(as modified from Colorado Collage)

1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp curry powder
3 Tbs flour
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in 1" cubes
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/4 + cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest (~ 1 lemon's zest)
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

In pie dish mix spices and flour.
Coat cut chicken in flour mixture.
Brown on all sides in skillet with oil or butter coated chicken.
Add mushrooms, Frangelico, lemon juice, and zest.
Simmer 5 minutes.
In a small bowl combine cornstarch and chicken broth.
Stir into chicken mixture.
Cook over low heat until mixture bubbles and thickens.

Serve over pasta.

Notes and modifications:

This doubles and triples well. I will often thicken a large batch in a casserole dish in the oven as my skillet isn't big enough for a triple batch.

This freezes and reheats well.

If you like extra sauce, add more chicken broth and Frangelico.

I've never been told I added to much garlic or Frangelico.

This is another dish we made on the boat, modifying it with turkey, dehydrated mushrooms, and chicken bullion. Hunger makes the best sauce, and we enjoyed it just as much there as here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Warm chili for cool nights

My husband cooks. He even cooks really well. Here's one of his recipes that all the kids like. This is one we keep in the freezer for busy days, or to take to a family when they're needing someone else to feed them.

Steve's Turkey Chili (makes 17 cups)

3 lbs ground Turkey
1 + large onion, chopped or diced
1 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped or diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tbs oil
1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1/4 tsp chipolte chili powder
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 Tbs mole paste (from Mexican section of the grocery)
2 15 oz cans kidney beans
1 15 oz can pinto beans
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, bell pepper and garlic in oil.
Add turkey and brown.
Add cumin, chili powders, salt and pepper while browning.
Add tomatoes, mole paste, beans and about 4 pints of water.
Cook down until flavors blend and pot thickens. (2-3 hours on med/low heat)

Notes and modifications:

This is not spicy chili. It's suitable for children and gringos. It doesn't have a bite, it has a nibble, a love bite perhaps.

I've successfully doubled this recipe. I can't imagine I have a pot big enough to triple it.

It freezes and reheats really well. Many the busy day has ended with me taking a tub of this out of the freezer and heating in on the stove while I put out bowls, bread, and salad.

I've used both ground chicken and ground beef in this, both worked, but turkey tastes better somehow.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A husband who cooks

I'm part Italian, my husband is not. Ironically he's the one who makes this dish at our house. No matter how I try to doctor it up, his is better, so here it is.

Steve's Chicken Marsala

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 lb mushrooms, slices
3 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs olive oil + 2 Tbs butter
1/4 + cup Marsala wine
1/2 + cup chicken broth
dash of thyme
salt to taste

Slice chicken into cutlets and pound flat.
Mix flour, pepper and salt together in a pie plate.
Saute onions and garlic in 1 Tsp olive oil, remove.
Add 2 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs olive oil to skillet.
Dredge chicken in flour mixture and brown in oil and butter, remove.
Saute mushrooms in remaining oil, remove.
Add Marsala to skillet, scraping skillet.
Add broth and cook a couple of minutes.
Return onions and mushrooms and cook 1-2 minutes.
Return chicken, add thyme and salt and cook until sauce thickens.

Serve over pasta

Notes and modifications:

This recipe can be successfully doubled or tripled. To do so I use a casserole dish placed in a warm oven to collect all the bits as they are removed, and thicken the whole lot in the oven.

If you like extra sauce for the pasta, use extra chicken broth and marsala.

No one has ever complained if I add extra garlic.

When we lived on a boat and had limited supplies we successfully made this using a turkey breast, dehydrated mushrooms, and chicken bullion. It probably didn't taste as good as the regular recipe, but was damn good boat food.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A quick meal

There are plenty of times in family life when you want a quick, inexpensive, but healthy, meal or snack. I especially appreciate food that my kids can heat up and serve themselves. This recipe fits all the way around.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Bake a lot of potatoes. (Specifics? Really? Sigh. Fine.)

Bake 5 lbs of potatoes at 350 for 1 hr. (Satisfied?)

Eat any you want with some grilled meat and a salad, or make a potato bar and call it dinner.

Let cool. You can even stick the potatoes in the fridge and get to them tomorrow or the day after.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, so that it easily lays with cut side up.

Scoop out potato with a spoon leaving skins and a thin layer of potato behind for structural support.

Put potato guts in a large mixing bowl, mash with milk/cream and large amount of butter (as if for dry mashed potatoes). Now add cheese, eggs, veggies, garlic, spices, salt, pepper, and/or meat to the mix. How much is up to you, as a minimum I would add 1 cup cheese and 2 eggs to 5 cups potato, with veggies and meat being optional. Taste as you go to get something you like. (Yes, I know about not eating raw eggs, but it hasn't killed me yet, and I'm not going to worry about it!)

Now you just scoop the mashed potato mix back into the shells, lay face up on a baking sheet, sprinkle with cheese and bake the stuffed potatoes again. (usually just enough to heat, ~ 20 min @350)

If any survive you can freeze the extras on the baking sheets, transferring to a freezer bag when they're hard. They only take a couple of minutes in the microwave to be toasty and yummy again.

If all the twice backed potatoes got eaten then next time try starting with 10 lbs of potatoes.

Notes and modifications:

I usually start with at least 7 lbs of potatoes.

My kids favorite twice baked potato is cheddar cheese, cream cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.
I like to add broccoli to this, and it's pretty good with ham and broccoli.

We've also made pizza potatoes using dried tomatoes, pepperoni, and mozzerella.
I'd like to try spinach and feta.

The sky is the limit when filling these, change the cheese type and the extras to make your favorite flavor.

A link to this post is also at Food Renegade "Fight Back Friday" for April 30 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Banana Bread Muffins

Muffins are a staple snack at our house. Once a month or so I'll get the bug (or be nagged) to make muffins. I make at least 2 dozen muffins at a time, freezing any muffins that aren't gone after 24 hours. Then when I need a quick snack I just pop them out of the freezer and into the microwave. They're also great to put into a sack lunch. In the summer they thaw quickly and help keep other ingredients cool.

Banana Bread Muffins (as adapted from Joy of Cooking)
makes 24 muffins or 2 loaves

2/3 cup shortening *
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
lemon zest (optional)

Beat in:
3 large eggs, chicken or duck - or 4 small eggs
2-3 cups ripe banana

Blend at low speed:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix in 1/2 cup goodies: (optional)
chocolate chips
chopped nuts
dried fruit

Put into greased muffin tins or cup cake papers
Bake at 350 degrees F (335 convection oven) for ~ 20 min.

divide and pour into 2 greased bread loaf pans for ~1 hour.

Notes and modifications:

*I never use vegetable shorting. Ugh. Vegetable shortening is not food!
I use butter, coconut oil, or olive oil for my baking. Recently I used half butter and half virgin coconut oil in this recipe and it was wonderful! The virgin coconut oil had a very faint fragrance (but not taste) of coconut that went very well with the banana. The muffins also had a slight crispness to the them that I've never got before.

If you have a smaller family and no freezer, this recipe halves just fine.

In my family muffins last a little longer than loaves. I think it has to do with portion control. :-)

Usually I stir in or sprinkle on nuts on half of the batch, then ditto with chocolate chips for the other half. Guess which the kids prefer? ;-)

I really like duck eggs for baking. They are larger, cook poofier (man, spell check hate that word!), and the flavor is just lovely. I don't like duck eggs when I'm eating an egg plain, although it's been so long since I've had one that way, I don't think I could tell you why.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring is here

I know spring is here because I'm making hollandaise sauce. Why? It's Easter. My neighbor's eggs are coming in fast and furious. The asparagus isn't up at our house yet, but it's cheap at the grocery store. The combination of Easter, ham, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce is completely irresistible to me.

Now, you can probably get all sorts of recipes for hollandaise sauce on the net, but I don't need to. My dad taught me how to make it years ago. It's way easier than you think, especially if you know his special trick.

Hollandaise Sauce

2 egg yolks
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
juice of 1 lemon or 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
dash cayenne pepper

Melt half of the butter on low heat in heavy bottom pot. (You could also use a double boiler, but I don't bother.)

Whisk egg yolks and lemon together in bowl until smooth and bright yellow.

Dad's special trick: Don't let the pot get hotter than you can stand to touch. Cup your whole hand around the pan and hold it there to get the temperature right. It should feel warm, not hot. If your stove heat doesn't go low enough take it on and off the heat as necessary.

Temper egg yolks by whisking in 2 Tablespoons of warm melted butter, one Tbls at a time.

Slowly and gently dribble egg mixture into warm (not hot) pot with butter, whisking the whole time.

Add the rest of the butter, one slice at a time as each melts. Whisk constantly. Continue to heat gently until just thickened.

Take off heat, whisk in a dash of cayenne and serve of veggies, eggs, ham, or just dig in with a spoon.

Notes and modifications:

Whisk, whisk, whisk... I like the sound of that word. :-)

This isn't as hard as it seems reading it. In reality, I usually over-heat the first bit of melted butter, take it off the heat, whisk the eggs and lemon, get distracted by the toast or a child, and come back to find everything cold. It still turns out. The only part that needs attention is the part where you're adding the egg stuff to the warm butter and whisking in the butter slices. It usually takes me less than 5 minutes for that part, and that reward is well worth ignoring the children and toast for a tiny bit.

Save the egg whites, you can make meringue cookies or divinity.
OK. I guess you could also do something healthy like mix them into an omelet. Oooh, and then you could pour hollandaise sauce over it!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Treats

Here is an Easter gift for you. Cream puffs are delicious and super easy. They also use up eggs, which are becoming abundant this time of year.

Cream Puff Pastry

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 eggs (or 3 large duck eggs)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Boil water, salt, and butter until liquid, dump in flour, stir.
Let stand 5 minutes.
Stir in eggs one at a time.

Drop on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees F (350 convection) for ~40 minutes.

Cool thoroughly.
Cut in half along equator and remove "guts".

Fill with whipped cream and dust with powdered sugar (for cream puffs) or ???

Notes and Modifications:

Unfilled these can be stored for a couple of days. I put in largish container and cover loosely so they don't dry out, but also don't get soggy.

The size is entirely up to you. I make mine smallish, using a whopping tea spoon to drop. (In this case the "tea spoon" isn't the measuring spoon, but the one used for tea or coffee.) I've seen them made huge, which is easier to make, but sometimes more of a commitment than I want to make with regards to eating.

These can be filled with more than whipped cream.

Try something savory - an egg scrambler inside topped with salsa or maybe ham, egg and asparagus topped with hollandaise sauce. Fill shells with left-overs, top with a cream sauce and present these as if they're what you were planning all along.

Drop into longer shapes to make shells for eclairs - fill finished shell with custard and top with chocolate sauce or chocolate frosting. Oh man, I think I just talked myself into making custard tomorrow!