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!