Monday, August 28, 2006

Skillet Lasagna and Bacon-Ranch salad

I forgot to take pics of our meal Friday night; we were too hungry! I had my mother-in-law over for dinner, but I was short on time and energy, so I made a really easy Italian meal from Simple & Delicious: Skillet Lasagna! You don't have to cook it in the oven, and it's ready in about 30mins from start to finish!

The side dish was salad with a homemade, easy dressing. This one came from the Pink Tea Room cookbook. This lady in Calera turned her living room into the Pink Tea Room and served amazing food there. Then she published a cookbook! The great thing is, most of her recipes are pretty simple, except for her ridiculously complex pie crust. The dressing is called Bacon Ranch Viniagrette, and it's sweet and sour and yummy on spinach:

1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup veggie oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 T. light brown sugar
4 T. bacon bits (I just fry up four short slices of bacon and crumble them)


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Beef Stroganoff

The Betty Crocker Bridal cookbook has a great beef stroganoff recipe. However, DO NOT add the sour cream until the very end. (If the sour cream gets too hot, it curdles or something.) I added it at the beginning and remembered just in time to turn the heat down, so the other stuff didn't get to simmer together like it was supposed to. Ah well! It turned out great, with a side of roasted asparagus (Martha Stewart recipe): After washing and snapping asparagus, place on cookie sheet with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll the asparagus around on the sheet to get it evenly coated. Then sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Cook at 400 for 8 or 9 minutes. Fast and delicious!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thrown-together meals

J's been busy this week, so I haven't done much cooking. However, one night I did make one of my favorite slapdash meals: Gourmet breakfast burritos!

I don't really like breakfast burritos, but these things are great!

Cook smoked sausage (or I buy the pre-cooked kind, so I just warm them in a skillet) OR Polska Kielbasa. Keep warm.

Then fry up some potatoes (I like sliced new potatoes).

Scramble some eggs.

Serve all piled up with salsa in a flour tortilla!

Friday, August 11, 2006


Yum, yum, how I love tabouli! Unfortunately, I didn't get this recipe online, so no links here. I was picking up some fresh fruits and veggies in Wal-Mart, and spied a package of "Taboli" wheat, made right here in Oklahoma! It's a company called Bishop Brothers, out of Bristow, and the recipe on the back was good. I think I'll add some minced garlic next time for a little more kick, though. Good add-ins (they were suggested on the bag) were green onions and chopped cucumber.

Alas, I thought I had a pic of this, but I don't. I'll try to post one, because it is a truly beautiful food! I'm going to buy some pita bread today so I can fully enjoy it in all its Greek glory.

A Tabouli haiku:

Tiny bits of health
Tomato, wheat, parsley
Crunchy, munchy, yum!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shrimp fajitas!

Tonight was an example of a little bit of a bunch of stuff going a long way. I had half a bag of frozen shrimp, one bell pepper and as much onion as an onion-loving girl like myself could want. Of course, I always have Guaca-Salsa, Cheddar Jack cheese, and Tostitos restaurant-style salsa on hand, so I grabbed this stuff, too.

Thus, Shrimp Fajitas were born! I threw the stuff in a pan, and after they'd gotten pretty well cooked, I added about half a cup of water and about half a bag of fajita seasoning and let it cook a little longer.

P.S. I have newfound respect for food stylists, a career I heretofore considered utterly silly. It's tough to make especially my sloppy style of cooking look appetizing on film.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

French turkey

I tried another TOH recipe last night: Turkey with mushrooms and sour cream, a dish that is supposed to be decidely French, so I thought hmm..tres bien! Uh....not so much.

Don't get me wrong; the dish was excellent, but it turned out more like quick turkey and rice than Turkey with mushrooms and sour cream on a bed of hot rice.

First of all, the sour cream sauce went totally awry. I didn't have as much sour cream as the recipe called for (my 8oz was only short a couple spoonfuls, though!), but that couldn't have been the only reason the sauce came out looking like a lumpy gravy (that's the muck in the Pyrex cup), instead of a smooth white sauce. Hmmm...don't really know what happened there. Maybe it was because I also had to substitute chicken broth for water and chicken bullion (but that should be pretty comparable, though, right?). I don't know. Here what I did when I saw the sauce staying muddy brown: I panicked. I scanned the fridge for more sour cream or something comparable to sour cream (here I go again with my crazy substitutions!), and grabbed a squeeze bottle of mayonnaise! What was I thinking?

Anyhoo, the idea of a bed of hot rice didn't really appeal to me too much, so I cooked minute rice and then added some cream of mushroom soup and chicken broth. Now that's a bed of creamy, yummy rice!

Overall, Jay and I gave the meal two thumbs up, despite the minor catastrophes during its preparation. I even had Jay going for a minute when I told him I'd tried to make caviar (the mushrooms were chopped a bit too fine, and did resemble yucky fish eggs a little).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chunky Apple Cake

I made this last night for Diane's b-day dinner. It was excellent! (So excellent I forgot to take a picture until I'd already eaten my piece--this is J's half-eaten piece.) Anyway, it should be excellent: it won Taste of Home's apple recipe contest! Find the recipe here. It's not like an ordinary apple cake: it's like half apples and half very stiff cake batter. The crowning glory is a de-lish butterscotch sauce (easy, too: butter, brown sugar, and whipping cream) that you pour over each piece. It soaks it in like a sponge!

P.S. Thanks for the fish tip, Audrey! It's really hard for me to remember to defrost meat; I rarely decide what I'm going to cook until about an hour before dinnertime.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Good ol' Southern meal

Dinner was pretty good, but not so healthful:
Fried fish
Fried okra
Corn on the cob

Note to self: Fried okra does not count as a vegetable. Do not serve next to a fried entree, such as deep fried fish. I'm feeling a little bit of the not-so-fresh feeling right now...

Unearthed the Frydaddy tonight, filled it with half a bottle of veggie oil and tossed some cornmeal-coated fish in. How big of a pain is it to defrost frozen fish? Anyone have a better way to freeze fish so it doesn't get all partially cooked and mutilated and torn apart when you defrost it? What do you do, Audrey? I used Pa-in-law's famous fish coating recipe, but it wasn't so good to me. I think I overcooked the fish, so the flavor wasn't as full. I think the recipe is kind of a secret, so I'm afraid to publish it here. I'll give one secret ingredient: Ranch dressing. That's all I'm going to say.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

No more Mexican corn!

Why oh why did I think cream cheese corn would be good if it was Mexican cream cheese corn?! I never like cream cheese corn--non-sweet cream cheese is never good for me. Yet, I had NO side dishes for Mexican casserole, so I thought Mexican cream cheese corn would be good. Yuck!

Ingredients, in case you care: frozen corn, frozen chopped bell pepper, cream cheese, butter, minced garlice, and chopped onion. All those ingredients are so good individually and in other recipes, but in this one, it was a mixed-up mess.

Mexican cream cheese corn: Unsuccessful venture into unknown recipe territory!

Pot o' beans

I've had a request from one of my (okay, my only) reader (love ya, Liss!) about how I make beans. Yes, they're a favorite in our family, ALWAYS mashed up with cornbread, unless you're weird like my husband. (He eats them with ketchup, with cornbread on the side, the sicko.)

My last pot was AMAZING and PERFECT--my first time for this! So now I'm an expert. The previous pot stunk up the whole house, I burned them so bad. I do not recommend cooking beans on heat higher than medium.

Here's what I do:

Quick-rinse the beans by rinsing them in a colandar, then dumping them in the pot and then filling it up with water. Do this three times. Fill the pot half-full with water and place it on the stove on medium heat. While the burner is warming up, add chunks of onion and the meat of your choosing. Note on the meat: A very seasoned, savory hambone is the absolute best, but bacon will do as well. In fact, my PERFECT pot of beans was done with bacon. Add a couple tablespoons of salt. I've learned it's best to add a small amount of salt early, and then add the rest when you can taste the beans later.

Bring this to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for three hours or so, adding water every half-hour or so.

That's it! It's a fine art, beans-making.