Friday, August 31, 2012

Cheese Sauce

From: My Mom

1/2 - 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper
1 cup milk

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add salt, pepper, and flour. Mix well. Add the milk right away. Stir until it thickens. Add cheese and stir until melted through. Let sit for a couple of minutes off heat to thicken up.

No picture, sorry! I wish I had a picture - this turned out beautifully. This was one of my favorite things my Mom used to make - broccoli with cheese sauce. I've had this recipe for years but never actually made it. Now that I've made it I can see it's going to be an addiction. I was literally scraping the cheese sauce from the pan to eat it. Delicious!!

Now, this is a recipe that she's made for years so there weren't many details involved. I will say this: I had the heat on medium-low to medium the whole time, even after I added the cheese. But the broccoli was almost done and I was noticing that the sauce was still really liquid-y... and I honestly didn't think it would thicken up on its own. So I decided to help it out - turned up the degrees a little bit, to about 7 on my stove (it goes up to 10) for about 2 minutes, stirring every so often so it didn't scorch. As soon as it started bubbling I turned the heat off completely and kept stirring. It thickened up beautifully and like I said, tasted wonderful. I know my Mom also uses this on asparagus. After eating it again for the first time in years I will probably eat it on everything from french fries to cereal. Just kidding!! Seriously, I highly recommend this sauce!

Caramel French Toast

From: My old recipe index cards

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
French bread slices
2 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine first three ingredients in saucepan. Cook over medium heat for five minutes. Pour into a 9x13 pan (spray well with cooking spray).

Arrange bread slices over syrup in dish.

Combine milk and next four ingredients in a bowl; whisk. Pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over bread slices. Bake for 50 minutes.

Okay, so I have tried overnight french toast before. And it was basically a disaster, turning out mushy and disgusting. This old index card was pretty much the same recipe (a few tweaks) so I went online to figure out what went wrong the last time. Apparently, the recipe should say to REMOVE the bread slices from the liquid in the 9x13 pan BEFORE you bake them. Not bake them in the liquid like the recipe seems to read.

So that's what I did this time. I have to admit, I was pretty excited, because people online were saying how puffy their french toast was, and how delicious... well, this turned out okay. It wasn't mushy, so that's a victory. But the caramelized sauce wreaked havoc on my baking sheet (maybe I should have known that would happen??) and the french toast had a great flavor but it just seemed like so much hassle. After sitting out for a few minutes the syrup started to harden (in a good way) and I did enjoy it, but it took WAY longer in my opinion to make the five slices for myself than it did to make nine slices the "old" way (in the skillet) for the rest of the family. And dirtied up a lot more pans.

I probably won't be attempting another overnight french toast recipe, unless someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong. Any advice??

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Italian Sausage Stew

From: Here

1 1/2 lb Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups water
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks
2 small onions, cut into wedges
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 large green or sweet red pepper, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp parsley, minced and fresh
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water

In a soup kettle over medium heat, brown sausage; drain. Add water, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, Worcestershire and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for one hour or until sausage is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.

Add the ketchup, pepper and parsley. Cook 12-15 minutes longer or until pepper is tender. Discard bay leaf.

Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir into stew. Bring to a boil and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

This was very good! I subbed sweet Italian sausage and it added a great flavor. I'd definitely make this again. Very filling and loved this taste!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roasted Okra

From: Here

18 fresh okra pods, sliced 1/3 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons black pepper, or to taste
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the okra slices in one layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Neutral. It was okay, especially if you really have to stay away from fried foods. We don't (yet) so we definitely prefer the original deep-fried, greasy, clog-your-arteries recipe. If you must watch your diet this is a great alternative though!

Crockpot Honey Bourbon Chicken

From: Here

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp cornstarch
6 tsp water
sesame seeds, for garnish

Place the chicken thighs in the crockpot and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. In a medium-sized bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine well. Pour over the chicken in the crockpot. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours. When done, remove chicken from stock pot and cut into chunks. Prior to putting the chicken back in the stockpot, combine some cornstarch in water and whisk it into the crockpot to thicken up the sauce a bit. Throw the chicken back in and stir around to recoat the chicken in the sauce. Serve hot over a bed of white rice (optional) and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

Thumbs up! Okay, blurriest picture ever - sorry about that. I loved this recipe. Crockpot? I have all the ingredients on hand? Everyone in my family eats it? You know that's a winning recipe. I loved the flavor of this sweet chicken, and I definitely loved it over rice. I didn't use as much honey as the recipe called for because that was going to leave me with hardly any honey in the pantry! So I added more ketchup and used less honey. I used chicken breasts instead of thighs because it's what I had on hand. Also, my hubby doesn't like onions so I used dried diced onions instead of slicing a fresh onion. After I cut up the chicken and put it back in the crockpot I just left it on "warm" while I cooked our side dishes. The chicken was falling apart after 3 1/2 hours so I knew it didn't need to cook anymore. Definitely recommend this recipe! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

From: Here

1 20-oz pkg refrigerated 4-cheese ravioli (or tortellini)
1 16-oz jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce
2 Tbsp white wine
2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Thumbs up! Okay, this is NOT a pretty picture - I do realize that. I remembered when the stuff was half gone that I was supposed to take a picture!! I did make some changes to the recipe. I absolutely could not find sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce (they said they used Classico) so instead I substituted Bertolli's vodka sauce. I didn't have any white wine so I needed to substitute that. I wondered about white wine vinegar but thought it might disagree with the sauce?? Anyway, I ended up adding a little vodka to the sauce jar, shaking it, and stirring that mixture in. I'm not really sure what the point of that step in the recipe is, actually. I used canned tomatoes instead of fresh (gasp!) and I did use some dried basil. When I got to my mom's house for lunch, we went straight out to the garden and cut some fresh basil though, so that was delicious. I would definitely recommend this recipe. If I can find the sun-dried Alfredo I would absolutely try that because I'm sure it would be awesome.

I am posting this on Mommin' It Up's Pin for the Wednesdays!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Blondies

From: Taste of Home

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla just until blended. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to brown sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until done. Cool and then cut.

Thumbs up! A big thumbs up. I made this one day just because I had all the ingredients on hand... I ended up making it six more times over the next two weeks, and one of those was a request from Stephen as his birthday cake! I do cook mine longer than the recipe calls for - about 25 minutes usually, so just keep an eye on it. I highly recommend you try this EASY recipe!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Yellow Summer Squash and Corn Soup

From: Here

1 pound yellow summer squash
2 ears corn
3 large shallots
2 large garlic cloves
1 fresh jalapeƱo chile
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 cups water

Cut summer squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Shuck corn and, working over a bowl, cut kernels from cobs. Halve cobs. Chop shallots and mince garlic. Wearing rubber gloves, chop chile, with seeds if desired.
In a 5-quart heavy kettle combine all ingredients (including cobs) except water and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in water and simmer mixture until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard cobs. In a blender puree mixture in batches until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to another bowl. Season soup with salt and pepper. Divide soup between 2 bowls and garnish with corn, chiles, cilantro, small dollops of sour cream, and squash.

This is the only picture I took while I was cooking... sorry. Not a great representation of this recipe! This was a good, quick, easy recipe. It didn't have a ton of flavor... I could have used a little more "mmph" in it I think, but it definitely had a great base to work with. I'd make it again in a pinch and just add some more fresh herbs to it.