Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't Shake the Cake!

I am proud and pleased to announce that this particular blunder is not mine!  WOO HOO!  OH YEAH!  It is the sole responsibility of my husband, bless his heart.  (FYI - in the South, it's alright to say something's not so nice if you "bless their heart" - at least that's what my mama always said)
This is how the story unfolded.  I was asked to make a cake for a fundraiser for one of my daughter's many extra-curricular activities.  They were making and selling lasagna dinners and all of the parents were supposed to make a dessert.  I decided to make a lemon bundt cake because they're really good and easy, my requirements on any recipe.  So, I made the batter, put it in the oven and when the buzzer sounded, I went to check the cake.  My husband, being the sweet, precious man that he is, was helping me and he pulled the cake out of the oven JIGGLING IT ON THE RACK.  I know, I couldn't believe it either.  Can you believe that he didn't KNOW you weren't supposed to jiggle a hot cake?  Well, I'm sure you can imagine what happened.  Yep, it fell.  It was so pretty and light and then 5 minutes later, it looked like an overblown pancake.  That cake didn't make it to the fundraiser, we kept that one at home.  It still tasted good, but it was much more dense, similar to a pound cake.  Anyway, I made another cake and sent it along to the fundraiser.  According to the taste testers (my daughter's friends), it was a hit.

Moral of the story - Don't shake the cake (unless you want a pound

Until next time, enjoy life's beauty and laugh through the blunders, life is much better that way.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Melt in your mouth Steak!

I LOVE a good steak!  Not just any old steak, but the kind you get at a steakhouse that is perfectly cooked and tender and melts like butter in your mouth.  Unfortunately, my household budget doesn't allow for me to go out and get a steak dinner every week so we've just been doing without.  Sure, we splurge on special occasions but sometimes, you just want a steak.  Needless to say, I wanted a steak this past weekend and my budget said "no you don't."  My budget and palate don't always see eye to eye.  So, I decided to try and make a steakhouse steak at home.  I know, that's a recipe for disaster but I have a secret.  His name is Henry Stone and he owns Stone's Meats and Catering here in Chipley.  Not only does he sell the best meat around (it's cut and processed right in his store) but he gave me some easy tips to make a melt in your mouth steak.  His first tip is to start with high quality meat (you can't make a great steak if you don't have really good, well marbled meat).  I used rib eye, mmm, mmm, good!  Second tip, DO NOT poke holes or cut into the meat to see if it's done.  (Yes, I've done that if you must know, but how was I supposed to know if it's done.)  To check on doneness (is that a word?), the firmer the steak is, the more done it is.  Who knew?  I aimed for a Medium Rare - Medium and I hit the jackpot!  Let me tell you, Outback Steakhouse ain't got nothin' on this chick!  Anyway, I completed the meal with the traditional baked potato and I cheated and bought a frozen key lime pie (less room for error that way).  I only have one problem now.  My husband knows that I can make a great steak, so how am I supposed to get taken out for dinner because I can't make it the same as the restaurant?  Maybe I should have accidentally (on purpose) messed up - 'cause now I have to do the dishes!  Darn it!  Why didn't I think of that sooner?  

Ribeye steak and baked potato = YUM!!!
Henry's Great Steak Tips
Cooking on the Grill

  1. Get the grill HOT, HOT!
  2. Rub oil on the rack to avoid sticking (do this with a towel to avoid too much smoke.)
  3. Henry does not recommend salting before cooking because the salt pulls moisture out of the meat.  Marinade is fine.  Let meat marinate for about an hour or so.  
  4. Use tongs to place meat on the grill, not a fork, because the fork will punch holes in the steak for the juice to run out.
  5. Place steak on grill (using tongs) for about 4-5 minutes on each side, cook with lid of grill down.  Try to flip steak only one time.  Check for doneness by pressing on steak.  The firmer it is, the more done it is.
  6. Remove steak from grill, cover with tinfoil and let rest for about 5 minutes or so. 
  7. Season if needed and enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baked Potato Casserole

Baked Potato Casserole
Do you ever wonder what to do with leftovers?  If you're like me, then the answer is probably yes.  With just the three of us in our family at home (my grown son lives in Wyoming), we never finish what I've cooked the same night.   A couple of nights ago, I decided to do a budget friendly dinner and made baked potatoes.  I put out all the goodies (shredded cheese, sour cream, butter, bacon bits, etc.) so that each of us could make our Loaded Potato the way we wanted it.  They were wonderful and very economical.  The problem is, I baked a couple extra thinking my daughter and husband might want them for their lunch the next day but they didn't need lunch because both had meetings to go to that provided lunch.  Well, if you've ever had leftover baked potatoes, they're not nearly as good the second time around.  So, I racked my poor little pea brain (which is never a good thing) and decided to try and make a casserole out of the leftover potatoes.   I must be taking after Paula Deen because my leftover potatoes turned out YUMMY!!!!  The best was super easy.  Here's what you do:

Baked Potato Casserole
Leftover Baked Potatoes (I used 2 large potatoes)
8 oz sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 milk, cream or half & half
4 tablespoons of butter (melted)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
bacon bits
diced green onions or chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice potatoes (with skin removed - it gets tough) into 1/4 inch slices and layer in casserole dish.  Mix sour cream, milk, salt, garlic powder and butter together and pour over potatoes.  Sprinkle bacon bits over potatoes and cover with shredded cheese.  *If you wish to add green onions or chives, add before cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes until heated through.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Redneck Hillbilly Meatloaf (Blunder)

Well, as most of you know my cooking doesn't always turn out like those wonderful recipes on The Food Network shows which is why I started this share in the triumphs and the blunders.   Last night was definitely a big time blunder.  I made a meatloaf that I've made LOTS AND LOTS of times and it always turns out perfect, but last night it couldn't even be called rustic.  Don't you love how on the food network shows, if something doesn't turn out exactly perfect and beautiful, they say "just look how rustic."  That is my new favorite expression when I'm cooking because, Hey! if it's good enough for Food Network chefs, it's good enough for me.  Anyway, I digress, back to the meatloaf.  I decided to be Miss Betty Crocker and make a meatloaf and homemade mashed potatoes for my sweet family.  I put all the ingredients together and mixed it all together in the bowl, stuck it in the oven and waited.  That's one of the things I love about making meatloaf is that you don't have to babysit it.  You can be doing other much more important things while it's cooking, like playing on Facebook and shopping on the internet (oops, did I say that?)  I meant to say stuff like cleaning, darning my husband's socks and weaving baskets (yeah,  So, after slaving away on the meatloaf, I did my important stuff that we talked about and the buzzer on the oven goes off and I get the meatloaf out of the oven and it was so far past rustic, I don't even know what you could call it.  Maybe hillbilly redneck?  My husband, bless his heart, ate it anyway and so did I.  The good news is that it still tasted good, especially with the homemade mashed potatoes, but it sure wasn't pretty.  It just goes to show, that even with recipes that are "tried and true," you can still have a blunder.   I still don't know why the meatloaf didn't stick together like it was supposed to (yes, I added the egg and bread crumbs), it was just one of those crazy cooking mishaps.  Oh well, Forest Gump said it best, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."   

So, until next time, enjoy the beauty around you and laugh at the blunders, life is so much better that way.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blooper Free Banana Bread (or Zucchini)

For those of you who love the taste of homemade breads but don't like all the hassle of measuring forty million ingredients (like me), then this bread recipe is for you!  This recipe is blunder and blooper free (yeah baby) and this is verified by the fact that I had this recipe before I really learned to cook (back in the dark ages).  My poor husband loved when I made this bread because it was one thing that he KNEW would be good.  He didn't have to smile and pretend he liked it (which he did on many other occasions, just because he loved me) because it was always good.  The beauty of this bread is that it works with bananas or zucchini, it might even be good with applesauce now that I think about it.  I'll have to try that and let you know.   Anyway, this is great as a breakfast bread, a dessert served warm with whipped cream or just anytime you want a snack.  The recipe makes two loaves and if you don't eat the second loaf right away (which never seems to be a problem in our house), you can wrap it up in plastic wrap and freeze it.  Hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know how you like it!   Hope you have a beautifully blunder free day!

Blooper Free Banana/Zucchini Bread
2 cups self rising flour
3 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
3 really ripe bananas (mash them up before adding to mixture) or 2 cups grated zucchini (skin off)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray two loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray (like Pam).  Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and pour 1/2 into each loaf pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center of bread comes out clean.  (Note:  I set my oven time at 40 minutes and do the knife test, and then recheck every 5 minutes.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Holiday, Traditions and Family!

Hello out there!  I hope you all have enjoyed your holiday season with the ones that mean the most to you.  My family and I had a wonderful (yet VERY BUSY) holiday season which is why my blog has been slow the last few weeks.  It's hard to find time to write when the only time you're still is driving in the car.  I don't know about your town, but our local policemen frown on blogging and driving.  With that said, Happy New Year!  My family and I celebrated New Year' Eve in high style this year, we rented a movie, shared sparkling apple cider to toast the New Year, had popcorn and I got a kiss from my favorite date (my hubby)!   That may not sound exciting to you but for us it works and I can celebrate in my jammies!!!  We also had the traditional black-eyed peas and corn bread for good luck and boy they sure tasted good!  Hope you all have a blessed new year!

Don't forget to enjoy the beauty around you and laugh along with life's blunders, it makes life so much more enjoyable that way!

Southern Black-Eyed Peas
1 bag of frozen black eyed peas with green snaps
1 ham bone or may use 1 strip of bacon (I always use the bone left over from the Christmas ham)
Enough water to cover peas by about 1 inch
*Do not add salt until you have tasted the peas when they are done cooking.  The ham bone will season the peas, be careful not to over salt.

Open bag and pour peas in pot, add ham bone to center of peas (if using), add enough water to cover peas (not the ham bone).
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 2 hours.  Serve with cornbread.

Southern Style Cornbread

1 large egg
1 1/3 cups milk OR 1 ½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup Vegetable Oil
2 cups Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix
No-Stick Cooking Spray
1.  HEAT oven to 450 degrees  Fahrenheit.  Coat 8-inch ovenproof skillet (I recommend an iron skillet) or 8-inch square baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.   Place iron skillet in oven 7 to 8 minutes or until hot.
2.  BEAT egg in medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and corn meal until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable.   If too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons more milk.   Pour into prepared skillet or pan.
3.  BAKE 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.