Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cajun Cornbread

Before I post my recipe, I want to share a funny little email that my sister Mona sent me today. I got such a kick out of reading it, I thought I would share it:

Random Thoughts for the Day:

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

There is great need for a sarcasm font.

Was learning cursive really necessary?

Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5.... I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

Bad decisions make good stories.

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

"Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the hell do I respond to that?

I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Coors Lites than K.

Okay, now that I have laughed over this again, I will share this recipe. The orginal version was called Creole Cornbread and came out of a Taste of Home Magazine. I jazzed it up a little and made it my own.

Cajun Cornbread

2 Cups Cooked Rice (White or Brown, I use White)
1 Cup Yellow Cornmeal (Plain, Not Self-Rising Cormeal Mix)
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1/4 Cup Chopped Jalapeno Peppers
1 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (or Bacon Drippings if Available)
1 Can (Approx. 15 Oz.) Cream Style Corn
2 Cups (8 Oz.) Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Tsp. Red or Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbs. Pimento

Combine rice, cornmeal, onion, peppers, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, beat eggs, milk and oil (or drippings). Add corn, cayenne pepper, and pimento and mix well. Stir into rice mixture until blended. Fold in shredded cheese. Sprinkle a well greased 10 inch ovenproof skillet with an additional tablespoon of cornmeal. Pour batter into skillet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until bread tests done. Serve warm. About 12 servings. Yum!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Taco Soup

Today my good friend Linda Nelson reminded me of a wonderful soup recipe that our mutual friend Patti Gentry shared with us many years ago. She inspired me to make it tonight for supper and I decided to share the recipe as it is as good now as it was the first time I had it at Patti's house years ago.

Taco Soup

1 Lb. Ground Beef
1 Large Onion, Chopped
1 Pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix
1 (16 Oz.) Can Stewed Tomatoes, Undrained
1 (16 Oz.) Can Yellow Hominy, Undrained
1 (16 Oz.) Can Ranch Style Beans, Undrained
1 (16 Oz.) Can Pinto Beans. Undrained
1 (16 Oz.) Can Whole Kernel Corn, Undrained
1 (8 Oz.) Can Tomato Sauce
1 Chopped Jalapeno Pepper

Brown meat and onions. Add everything else. Simmer for about 1 hour or longer. Water can be added if soup becomes too thick. Makes eight servings.

This is the recipe as it was given to me. I usually make it in the crockpot and let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Krispie Candy

I was reminded today of another candy that I always make around the Holidays that also has Peanut Butter and Rice Krispies in it. I got this recipe from my daughter Elizabeth's mother-in-law Carol Massey. It is different and delicious.

Peanut Butter Krispie Candy

4 C. Rice Krispie Cereal
1 C. Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 C. Dry Roasted Salted Peanuts
1 C. Mini-Marshmallows (Packed)
9 Blocks of Almond Bark

Melt Almond Bark in Microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Stir. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients and place by spoonfuls onto wax paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Let harden about 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Yesterday when I was thinking of my mom's chicken and dumpling recipe and musing on her lack of interest in cooking (that is so foreign to me, I LOVE to cook), I realized that one of the things I made earlier this week was also a recipe I got from her. I don't know where she got it, but it is a tasty variation of the old stand-by recipe for Rice Krispie Treats. I have updated it to be able to do it in the microwave.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

4 Tbs. Butter
60 Large Marshmallows (16 oz. Bag)
1/2 Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
6-1/2 Cups Rice Krispie Cereal

Spray with non-stick spray, or coat with butter, a 9" by 13" baking dish. Place the 4 Tbs. butter in a very large microwave safe bowl and melt completely, about 1 minute. Swirl butter to coat all sides of the bowl. Place the marshmallows in the bowl with the butter and stir to coat all the marshmallows well with the melted butter. Return to microwave and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring down about every 30 seconds. When the marshmallows are creamy and melted down (but don't cook until they look like syrup, that is too long) stir in the peanut butter. Stir until peanut butter is completely mixed in. Pour in the rice krispies and stir until completely coated with the marshmallow mixture. Turn out into the buttered pan and press down to smooth out the top. (I butter my hands before doing this so the mixture doesn't stick to me.) Let cool then cut into squares. Yum!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mama's Chicken and Dumplings

As I have said in the past, my mother did not like to cook. For most of my growing up years, my grandmother lived with us and did the cooking. My mom was very 'right-brained' and did not like the mundane. If she cooked, it was going to be something special, not the day to day ordinary things (my daughter Sara is exactly like her.) Mama did have several dishes that were outstanding and this is one of them.

Mama's Chicken and Dumplings

1 Large Hen (at least 5 lbs.)
3 Ribs of Celery
3 Large Carrots
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Tbs. Salt
2 Bay Leaves
1 12 oz. Can Evaporated Milk
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

Wash chicken well and remove the Parson's Nose (tail). Place in a large (at least 12 qt.) stockpot and sprinkle with the salt. Cut the celery and carrots into about 3 inch lengths and place in pot with chicken along with bay leaves. Peel and cut each clove of garlic in half and place in pot. Sprinkle in black peppercorns. Cover the chicken with cool water and place on heat. Simmer gently for several hours or until chicken is completely tender and falling from bone. Remove chicken carefully from stock and let cool. Strain stock, discarding vegetables, bay leaves and peppercorns. Chill stock thoroughly until fat has hardened at the top. Remove fat from stock (do not discard fat) and return stock to a low simmer on heat. If there is less than 3 quarts of stock left due to evaporation, add water to bring stock level up to about 3 quarts. If more than 3 quarts, boil quickly to reduce volume. Make dumplings.


1-1/2 C. All Purpose Flour (Do Not Use Self-Rising Flour)
1/3 C. Reserved Cold Chicken Fat (see note below)
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Milk
1 Egg, Thoroughly Beaten

Mix flour, fat and salt well. Add milk and egg. Mix well. Add additional flour if needed to keep dough from being too sticky. Roll on heavily floured cutting board. Cut into squares. Drop dumplings into reserved chicken broth which is simmering. Simmer about 15 minutes, stirring gently once or twice. Dumplings will rise to the top of the broth when done.

Meanwhile, remove chicken from bone and cut or tear into bite size pieces. After dumplings are done, stir in chicken meat. Whisk together the evaporated milk and the 1/2 cup flour until smooth. Pour into chicken and dumplings. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add additional milk. If too thin, stir in additional flour mixed with water or milk.

Note: If you don't want to go to the trouble of chilling and using the chicken fat, shortening may be substituted, but this will not be the 'real deal'. Shortening wasn't invented until about mid-century (give or take a decade) 1900's. Before that, it was chicken fat, lard or butter. So, use hydrogenated fat (shortening) if you must, but the taste won't be the same.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thoughts about Daddy

I have been thinking about my father all week. He would have turned eighty-seven this week had he still been living. A good friend lost her father this week and all those old feelings of loss resurfaced even though it has been sixteen years since I lost him. I loved my mother, but I never connected with her like I did my dad. He instilled in me from an early age a powerful sense of right and wrong. He taught me to believe in myself. He told me I could do anything I set my mind to do (and for a long time I really believed that.) I inherited his love of books and acquistion of knowledge, just for the sake of learning. He never sat down without picking up something to read. I was lucky to grow up in a house filled with good books and an example of someone who loved to read them. He was hard-headed (stubborn) and always right (unfortunately I acquired those traits also - just ask my family), but honest and trustworthy to a fault. I remember running into a fellow several years ago that had worked with Daddy and he told me that he was also in some sort of organization with him and every year Daddy was always elected treasurer, always. He said "Your dad had more integrity than any man I have ever met." Wow, will someone ever say anything like that about me? Probably not. I can still remember Daddy telling me: "Billie Jean, don't ever tell someone you will do something if you don't fully intend on doing it. Your word is the most important thing you have." He lived by those words. Happy Birthday Daddy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Homemade Ginger Ale

I really don't know why, at this time of the summer gardening season when everything has really started coming in, I decided to try to make homemade ginger ale. Maybe it is because I love ginger ale. Maybe it is because I like to try new things. Maybe I just like a challenge. I think it must be a combination of these three things. Anyway, I tried it and I like it. It is not nearly as easy as running down to Wal-mart and buying a 2 liter bottle, but it is a lot more fun.

Homemade Ginger Ale

1 Clean 2 Liter Soda Bottle
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Very Finely Grated, Peeled Ginger Root
Freshly Squeezed Juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 Teaspoon Baker's Yeast (Not Rapid-Rise)

Put sugar, ginger root and lemon juice in a small pitcher with a pouring spout. Add about 2 cups of warm (not hot) water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into the 2 liter bottle. Without rinsing pitcher, put about 2 more cups of cool water into the pitcher and stir to make sure all sugar and ginger is loosened. Pour this cool water into the 2 liter bottle. Very carefully, add yeast to the 2 liter bottle. Cap and shake to disperse yeast. Remove cap and fill bottle to within 2 inches of top of bottle with cool water. Recap and set at room temperature (75 to 85 degrees) for 48 hours. The yeast will cause the drink to carbonate. The bottle will feel very hard to the touch. Do not let the bottle sit longer than 48 hours at room temperature or the yeast will start producing alcohol and the drink will become ginger beer. Refrigerate the ginger ale and let set for 24 hours in refrigerator before drinking. I strained mine before drinking, but this is optional. This is very refreshing and delicious, much better than what can be bought at the supermarket.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Apple Bread

This is the apple version of a basic bread recipe that I have been experimenting with for the past several months. I need to give credit to my daughter Sara and tell a funny story concerning her, with regard to this recipe. She received a loaf of this bread and a copy of the recipe from a friend. She loved the bread and shared the recipe with me. Now comes the funny part. Sara (like me) is not a beer person. Doesn't care for it at all and knows nothing about it to speak of. Well, the recipe calls for a 12 oz. can of beer (for the yeasty flavor and leavening). Didn't specify any particular type, just beer. Her husband Jonathan is a beer afficionado and keeps several types of gourmet (huh!) beer out in the fridge in their garage. To Sara, beer is beer so she goes out and grabs the closest bottle of beer within reach and makes a great loaf of bread. Jonathan is raving about the bread and saying it is so much better than the loaf that the friend had brought over, so much darker and richer and yeastier. Sara says she wonders if it is because that beer she used was dark brown and smelled so strong! Did Jonathan freak out? Had she used one of his expensive imported gourmet beers to make her beer bread? You bet, and it was delicious!

Apple Bread

3 1/2 Cups Self Rising Flour
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 12 oz. Can of Beer (any kind - even gourmet)
1 Cup Apple Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large loaf pan. Mix all dry ingredients together. Stir in beer and pie filling slowly. Pour into prepared pan and bake one hour or until bread tests done with cake tester. Cool completely before slicing. This is great served with apple butter.

Here is the basic original version that was given to Sara:

Beer Bread

3 Cups Self Rising Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 12 oz. Can of Beer

Proceed as directed above.

I have also varied this basic recipe by adding one cup of frozen blueberries and 1 tsp. of almond flavoring. When I make the basic version, I reduce my sugar to 3/4 cup so that it is not quite so sweet.

Sweet Potato Biscuit Memories

I'm just musing this morning. I've got my grandmother on my mind for some reason. Perhaps it is because I've been going through old pictures and she is in so many of them. She was such a big part of my life for so many years. She lived with us until I was a teen-ager and was the major cook and care-giver for us girls. When we girls got older, she moved out to live with her step-mother who had become widowed, but she didn't move far. I would go spend the night with her on many weekends and even spends weeks at a time at her house during the summer months. This went on up until the time I got married. I knew how much I loved her, but didn't realize how much she must have loved me until I had grandchildren of my own. I have a big lump in my throat just thinking about her and she has been gone almost 31 years. Alva Gertrude Rodgers Porter. Who I am today is, in large part, due to you.

What has this to do with Sweet Potato Biscuits? This morning I was preparing Ralph's breakfast and popped a piece of homemade fruit bread into the toaster. The smell of it brought back memories of my grandmother's sweet potato biscuits she would make. She knew that I loved them and some mornings she would get up very early and bake a couple of sweet potatos. Then she would have hot sweet potato biscuits for me when I got up. She would split the biscuits open and put butter on them. Sometime she would sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar, but usually not. They were perfect with nothing but butter. I've never been able to duplicate that taste and I've tried. She would take the warm, mashed sweet potato and stir in some shortening or lard. Then she would stir in some self-rising flour until it looked right. She would then knead it just a few times on her floured countertop and cut it into biscuits. She would put them into a bacon greased pan and bake in a hot oven until they were golden brown and delicious. I really would love to have one of those biscuits right now. Even more, I would love to have my grandmother.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pie Crust Pastry

I have had this recipe for years and it has never failed me yet. It has been published with many different names, i.e. egg pastry, vinegar pastry, never-fail pastry, etc. I just call it Pie Crust.

Pie Crust Pastry

6 C. Flour
2 C. Shortening or Lard (Manteca)
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Egg
2 Tbs. Vinegar
Ice Cold Water

Blend flour, shortening and salt. Beat egg in measuring cup; add vinegar and enough water to measure 1 cup. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; blend until dough leaves sides of bowl. Divide into 6 equal portions and place in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and chill for several hours before rolling out on floured cloth or board. Will keep for up to one month in refrigerator. Yield: Pastry for six 1-crust pies or three 2-crust pies.

Ham Pot Pie

I've never actually had a written down version of this recipe, so I decided to write it down here for posterity. LOL. The ingredients are approximate. Most of the time the piecrust pastry is homemade so I can adjust the amount of dough for the bottom crust and top crust. I will post my piecrust pastry recipe later.

Ham Pot Pie

1 to 1-1/2 Lbs. Baked or Boiled Ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Large Russet Potatoes, Peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 or 3 Carrots, Peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 Lb. Velveeta Cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 Cup Canned or Frozen (Thawed) Green Peas (Optional)
2 Crust Pie Pastry

Place ham, potatoes and carrots in a saucepan. Barely cover with water and let simmer until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and gently stir in cheese until melted. Gently fold in green peas. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place one piecrust in bottom of 9 inch square baking dish, shaping to fit. Pour in filling. Place remaining piecrust on top of filling and seal edges. Make a few vents in the top of the crust with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 6 servings.

The amount of ham can be varied according to taste. If less is used, salt might be needed for the vegetables, but the ham is usually salty enough that none is needed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Simple Rice Pilaf

I make this often to go with chicken dishes. It is simple but delicious. I always make my rice in my microwave rice cooker, but this could easily be adapted to stovetop cooking.

Simple Rice Pilaf

1 Cup Converted Rice (i.e. Uncle Ben's- my favorite white rice)
2 1/2 Cups Water
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Pkg. Lipton or Knorr-Swiss Dry Vegetable Soup/Dip Mix
Optional: 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds

Place all the above in a microwave rice cooker (or any microwave safe dish that has a snug fitting lid). Cover and microwave on high (100% power) for 5 minutes. Stir. Recover and microwave an additional 15 minutes on medium (50% power). Let stand (covered) about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle almonds over rice before serving, if desired. Approximately 6 servings.

To cook on stovetop, place all ingredients in a heavy 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and cook covered for about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle almonds over rice before serving, if desired.

Chicken Grand Marnier

This is not an 'easy' recipe, but I would rate it as moderately easy. I made it today and start to finish, it took about 1 hour. The key is having all your ingredients on hand and not having to search and substitute. This is very good served with plain rice or a simple rice pilaf and a green salad.

Chicken Grand Marnier

6 Tbs. All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1-1/2 Tsp. Paprika
1 Tsp. Garlic Salt
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves, each cut into 9 - 12 Pieces
1/2 Cup Cooking Oil

Coat chicken pieces with flour mixture then saute in the cooking oil until outside is brown; place in a greased casserole dish.


2 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Grand Marnier Liqueur (Or Triple Sec Liqueur)
1/2 Cup White Wine

Bring sauce ingredients to a boil then simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.

Thicken with:

2 Tbs. Flour mixed with
2 Tbs. Orange Juice, Regular Strength

Cook until slightly thickened then pour over chicken. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. This can be frozen and reheated.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicken on the Grill

My youngest daughter Elizabeth recently gave me this recipe and I fixed it tonight for the first time. It was a big hit. It is really easy also.

Chicken on the Grill

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Green Pepper, Sliced into 6 Rings
6 Pineapple Slices
3/4 Cup BBQ Sauce, Approximately (I used Kraft Original Flavor)
Salt to Taste

Wash chicken and pat dry. Lightly sprinkle with salt and place on a rectangle of heavy duty aluminum foil. Lay one green pepper slice and one pineapple ring on top of each breast. Put about 2 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce on top of each chicken stack. Fold up sides of foil and seal to hold in steam, leaving some room for expansion. Place carefully, seam side up on medium hot grill and grill for 20 minutes. Do not turn. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes. Open foil packets carefully to avoid steam burns. Yum!

Homemade Brownies

This recipe came off the back of a Hershey's Cocoa Tin years and years ago. They are so much better than boxed mixes and very nearly as easy. Makes a large pan of brownies.

Homemade Brownies

¾ C. Baking Cocoa
½ Tsp. Baking Soda
⅔ C. Vegetable Oil
½ C. Boiling Water
2 C. White Sugar
2 Eggs, Beaten
1⅓ C. All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Vanilla Flavoring
¼ Tsp. Salt

Mix cocoa and soda. Blend in ⅓ C. oil. Add boiling water and stir until thickened. Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining ⅓ C. oil. Stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla, and salt, mixing well. Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool before cutting.

Crock Pot Stuffed Green Peppers

My daughter Sara gave me this recipe several years ago and it is my favorite for stuffed peppers. I have varied the ingredients from time to time depending on what I have on hand (i.e. ground beef instead of sausage, green olives for black, etc) and it always comes out great. The original recipe also called for the peppers to be mixed colors: red, yellow and green. Green seem to work best for me, they don't seem to cook apart in the crockpot like the red and yellow tend to do.

Crock Pot Stuffed Green Peppers

5 Small to Medium Size Green Peppers
1 Jar (14 oz.) Prepared Spaghetti Sauce (I Used Garlic & Herb)
3/4 Lb. Uncooked Bulk Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage
3/4 Lb. Uncooked Instant Rice (I used Minute Brown Rice)
1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta or Bleu Cheese (I used Feta)
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
3/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Tomato
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
2 Tbs. Sliced Black Olives
1/4 Tsp. Garlic Powder
½ Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Italian Seasoning
½ Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste - I used 1 Tsp.)
2 Cloves Minced Fresh Garlic

Wash peppers thoroughly. Cut tops off of peppers, chop tops only and set aside. Discard stems and seeds and set pepper cups aside. Measure out 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce from the jar and set aside. Pour remaining sauce from the jar into the bottom of a crock pot (I sprayed mine with ‘Pam’ first). Combine all remaining ingredients (except reserved spaghetti sauce) and mix well. Stuff into peppers and place peppers into crock pot on top of the spaghetti sauce. Pour reserved spaghetti sauce on top of peppers. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 8 hours. About 5 Servings depending on your appetite. Yum!