Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

It's going to be a busy week!!
Tuesday... Red Beans & Rice
Wednesday... Honey Ham w/sweet potatoes

Thursday... (Thanksgiving) Starting to cook on Wednesday

Roasted turkey
white bread stuffing
cornbread stuffing
mashed potatoes
giblet gravy
candied sweet potatoes w/marshmallows
sweet & sour green beans
canned cranberry sauce
homemade whole cranberry sauce
spiced peaches
homemade bread rolls
2 homemade deep dish apple pies
2 homemade pumpkin pies
cherry pie
peach pie

Saturday...Fend for yourself
Sunday...more leftovers

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This is a family recipe. My Grandmother made this bread daily for her husband & 6 kids when my Mom was a kid. My Mom has always made it for holiday meals & on those chilly winter days when fresh baked bread is the only thing that can make you feel truly warm. I started making it when I was about 10. My Mom would buy a jar of yeast & 20 lbs of flour, then several times a week I would "practice" making bread. It really is one of those trial & error things that you have to make over & over to get the feel for. I don't make it as often as my family would like, but I do make it for all holidays & randomly through out the winter.

This recipe involves getting messy. Plan to have dough up to your elbows & flour all over the place.

2 cups very warm water
1 packet regular yeast (2 1/4 t )
2 T sugar
2 T vegetable oil
2 t salt
5 lbs flour (you won't use the whole thing, but it is best to have a full bag to start)

It is important to use a large glass bowl....I sometimes use the 5 quart stoneware insert from my round crockpot.

Read the instructions on the back of the yeast packet. The water should be 90 to 100 degrees. Pour water into large glass bowl. Add sugar, yeast, oil & salt. Mix around with your fingers to dissolve.

Start adding flour 2 cups at a time & mixing in well with one hand (keep one hand out of the mixture to use in getting the flour out of the bag or canister). It can also be helpful to have another person pour flour for you. You will know you are close to enough flour when it starts to get hard to mix the flour into your dough. The dough should have an elastic feel & when you knead it, there shouldn't be any stickiness.

Put the dough back in the large bowl & cover with a towel. Let it rise in a warm part of the kitchen until it doubles in size. Punch it down, sprinkling flour on it anywhere it is sticky. Cover & let rise again. The second rising will be faster.

Punch it down again. Break off a piece about the size of a racquetball. It should fit nicely in the palm of your hand. Knead the dough by pulling the edges out & folding them firmly back into the center. Continue kneading until a solid firm ball is formed. Place into a greased 13X9 baking pan. Repeat until the pan is full. Be sure to leave about 1 inch space around each roll. Cover with a towel & let rise until the rolls are touching each other.

Bake in the oven @ 400 for 20 minutes or until they are golden. Remove from oven, rub the tops of the rolls with butter for a soft crust or shortening for a firmer crust. Remove from pan & allow to cool slightly before serving. DO NOT cut into hot bread with a knife!!!!! Cutting with a knife will cause the bread to get gummy. Break open by hand to butter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Mom's Baking Powder biscuits

This is a recipe my Mom has been making since she was a child.

1 Cup all purpose flour
1t baking powder (not baking soda)
1/2 t salt
1 T Crisco
enough water to get good dough consistency

Measure flour, baking powder & salt into bowl. Mix together. Add Crisco. Cut Crisco into flour mixture until crumbly. Add enough water to make a stiff dough. Roll out on a floured surface & cut with a small glass, or add a little extra water & drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased pan. Bake at 425 until golden (10-15 minutes).

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to accommodate a crowd.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let the countdown to Thanksgiving begin

There are 12 days until Thanksgiving!!!It's time to start gathering the recipes & thinking about strategy! I will be buying a 15 to 18 pound frozen turkey in the next few days...they are currently 79 cents a pound at the local grocery store, I'm hoping it will drop down another 10 to 2o cents a pound when the sale papers come out tomorrow. Once I buy the turkey it will sit in the bottom of my fridge until Thanksgiving morning. I know from past experience that it takes about a week for a turkey that size to actually defrost in the refrigerator. Based on that, I'll probably buy it this Wednesday. I've already bought a 10 lb spiral sliced ham. I've been making lists of what I've already got & what I still need to buy. Most of what I still need is produce, so I will buy that on the Tuesday before.

Here's a run down of my plan
Roast turkey--put it in the roaster by 9 am Thanksgiving morning, it should be done about 1 1/2 hrs before dinner. I don't cook my stuffing inside the turkey. Put turkey on a serving platter & let it cool to make carving easier.

Honey glazed ham--put it in the oven for one hour, two hours before dinner. Keep it in the baking pan covered with foil until just before dinner. Reheat in the microwave if needed just before putting it on the serving platter....don't forget to remove the foil before putting it in the microwave.

white bread stuffing--have the kids rip up 4 loaves of day old bread Wednesday morning. Leave out overnight to get completely stale. Thanksgiving morning, melt 1/2 cup butter in frying pan, saute 1 diced onion & 2 diced stalks of celery, plus the diced core of the celery until limp & slightly golden, add spices, eggs & milk put into baking pans & cover with foil. Cooks for about an hour at 400....anytime during the day. Remove foil & brown in oven for about 20 minutes sometime in the two hrs before dinner. Warm up in the microwave just before serving if it gets too cool.

cornbread stuffing--bake batch of cornbread on Wednesday, cube & allow to sit out to get stale, prepare stuffing at least 2 hrs before dinner, substitute turkey broth for chicken broth, substitute poultry seasoning for thyme, bake in a baking pan as time allows. Reheat in microwave just before serving.

mashed potatoes--get Hubby to peel 10 lbs of potatoes on Wednesday night. Immerse them in water in a big pan or bowl & refrigerate until about 2 hrs before dinner. Cook & prepare, store in crockpot on low to keep them warm through out dinner.

giblet gravy--remove the giblets from the turkey before it goes in the roaster. Boil them including the neck for about an hr, then let cool. Chop up the meat, only use a small portion of the liver, it can be very bitter, feed the extra liver to the dog or cats. Remove as much meat as possible from neck & discard bones, put the chopped meat back into the broth & set aside until the turkey is taken out of the roaster. Add the broth from the roaster, then bring to boiling & thicken with a flour & water paste.

baked sweet potatoes--wrap about 6 thoroughly washed sweet potatoes in foil. Bake in oven at 400 for 1 1/2 hrs early in the day....leave them wrapped & reheat in oven for about 20 minutes just before dinner. Serve with butter, marshmallows & cinnamon

candied sweet potatoes w/marshmallows--prepare in a baking dish a couple hrs before dinner, reheat in microwave just before serving

sweet & sour green beans--in the morning, cook 4 cans french cut green beans in the juice from the cans, add 1/2 lb crumbled cooked bacon, add 1 T bacon grease, 2T sugar & 2 T vinegar....increase sugar or vinegar to taste to create sweet & sour flavor. Refrigerate in serving dish until just before dinner, reheat in microwave.

canned cranberry sauce--refrigerate cans until just before dinner, slice onto a refrigerated plate to serve.

homemade whole cranberry sauce....follow recipe & prepare on Wednesday. Refrigerate until just before dinner.

spiced peaches...on Wednesday, put 2 cans of peaches in heavy syrup into large bowl with lid. Insert cloves randomly into peach pieces, sprinkle with cinnamon. cover & refrigerate until just before dinner

veggie tray...daughter in law is bringing

pickle & olive mother is bringing

homemade bread rolls...make dough Thursday morning, allow to rise 2X, set aside until about an hour before dinner, then make into rolls & let rise again. put in oven at 400 for 20 minutes just before dinner, when the bread is done it is time for dinner!!!

2 homemade deep dish apple pies...make on Wednesday, store uncovered in a cool place until time for dessert

2 homemade pumpkin pies...make according to Libby directions on Wednesday. Use two regular pie pans. Store in cool place covered with plastic wrap until time for dessert

cherry pie...make on Wednesday in a deep dish pan. Uses two cans of pie filling. Store in cool place covered with plastic wrap

peach pie...make on Wednesday. Use 3 lbs frozen peaches in a deep dish pie pan. Store uncovered in a cool place.

It may seem like a lot of work, but the enjoyment my family & I get from having this special meal together makes it well worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Cooking with Anne had a post about Fresh Pumpkin a while back. Pumpkin anything is always popular with my kids, so we had to give it a try. We baked the pumpkin, we let it cool & then we scooped it out. I put it in the colander to drain for about 30 minutes because pumpkin is VERY watery. Then I put it in the refrigerator because I didn't have time to blend it up. The next day, I put it in my biggest bowl that goes to my electric mixer & used the mixer to puree it. Anne recommended using a blender or a food processor, but I don't have either of those out on the counter at the moment, so I decided to give the mixer a try first & it worked beautifully!!! One fairly small pumpkin made 5 cups of puree!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Deep Dish Apple Pie

Yesterday, I went to the store & bought more apples.....the neighbor's tree is all out. I bought 4 large Granny Smiths, 6 Romes & 12 Gala. The Granny Smiths are tart & very firm. The Romes are slightly sweet, & very firm. The Gala's are much softer than the other two & pretty sweet. The Granny Smiths & Romes are essential to a good pie, the sweet apple usually varies depending on what is on sale. Fuji's, Red Delicious & Golden Delicious all work equally as well as the Gala's. The firm apples will retain some firmness even when cooked, but the softer apples will cook down almost to the point of being a sauce. By combining different types of apples, I not only get an interesting sweet/tart balance, I also get several layers of texture.

Start by washing all the apples well. Peel apples & place in a large colander. Wash again after they are all peeled. Discard the peels. Using a fruit slicer, slice & core the apples. Mix all the different kinds together in one bowl. Don't worry about stray seeds or bits of peel. Discard the cores. Wash all the slices in cold water in a large colander. Let it sit for a few minutes in the sink for all the water to drain. Using a paring knife, cut off any remaining peel, core or seeds on each slice, cut the slices 1/8 inch thick and put in a large bowl.

Sprinkle cinnamon over sliced apples. Stir gently with a slotted spoon until they are all lightly coated. Sprinkle 2 cups sugar over sliced apples, stirring gently until the are all coated. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour over apples & stir gently to coat. Apples can be stored for up to 24 hrs before making pie. To store, cover bowl tightly & refrigerate. Add additional flour just before using apples if mixture seems too wet. There should not be any visible liquid in the bowl.

Double-Crust Pie

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup Crisco butter flavored shortening
  • 5 to 10 tablespoons ice cold water

To make pie crust, put flour, sugar & salt in medium bowl, mix with fork to combine. Add Crisco. Using two butter knives or a pastry blender, cut the shortening into flour mixture until crumbly. Add water one tablespoon at a time stirring continuously with fork until it starts to stick together. Using hands, form into a ball. Cut ball into two equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out on waxed paper. Lightly flour the rolling pin if it starts to stick to the dough. Roll dough into a large circle to fit into deep dish pie pan with at least 2 inches overlap.

Fill pie pan with apple slices. Stack apples about 4 inches above top edge of pan.

Using rolling pin, roll out second crust and place over top of pie.

Trim crust, leaving about 1 inch overlap all the way around. Fold up edge of bottom crust over edge of top crust & crimp with a fork. Gently poke holes in top crust with fork to allow venting during cooking.

Cook in oven at 400 for about 1 hr or until crust is golden.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shredded Beef Taquitos

My 18 yr old would live on frozen taquitos if I was willing to buy him an unlimited supply. Last week over on Lots of Kids Kitchen, Mirz posted a recipe for homemade taquitos....this gave me the idea that I really needed to try making my own shredded beef taquitos.

1 lb of cheap chuck roast (any inexpensive beef roast or even stew meat works)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
60 corn tortillas
non-stick cooking spray

Cook roast in crockpot overnight so that it is very done & falling apart. Place the crockpot insert in the refrigerator for at least 3 hrs. The grease will have risen to the top & congealed. Remove as much grease as possible & dispose of it. Remove the meat from the crockpot. Using fingers or a fork shred it up and place it into a medium saucepan. Transfer the remaining broth into a freezer container & freeze for use in something else. Add one packet of taco seasoning & 3/4 cup of water to meat in sauce pan. Simmer until most of the water is cooked out.

Heat griddle or dry frying pan and warm individual corn tortillas to make them soft & pliable. Place a small line of meat along one edge of a tortilla, sprinkle cheese over meat, then roll tightly. Place on lightly greased large cookie sheet with the seam down. Repeat until pan is full.

Lightly spray non-stick cooking spray over them & then cook in 425 oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 5 minutes. They are fantastic warm with salsa or guacamole or sour cream & also make a great cold appetizer. This same shredded beef can be used in any recipe you would normally use ground beef for, especially nachos,tacos, tamales, burritos & tostadas.

Tentative Thanksgiving Menu

Baked turkey
Honey glazed ham
white bread stuffing
cornbread stuffing
mashed potatoes
giblet gravy
baked sweet potatoes
candied sweet potatoes w/marshmallows
sweet & sour green beans
canned cranberry jell
homemade whole cranberry sauce
spiced peaches
corn on the cob
veggie tray
pickle & olive tray
homemade bread rolls
2 homemade deep dish apple pies
2 homemade pumpkin pies
cherry pie
peach pie

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cheesy Sausage, Egg & Potato Casserole

Eggs are very popular with my kids. I have modified a crockpot recipe that a friend gave me & come up with a casserole. It is perfect for a special breakfast or brunch. The ingredients can be put into the crockpot at night before bed & it will be ready to eat in the morning, or the more popular version at my house gets cooked in the oven in an 11X13 baking dish. This recipe can easily be halved & cooked in an 8X8 pan to feed 4 adults.

2 lbs ground breakfast sausage
2 lbs frozen diced hash browns
1 dozen eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (2 cups if cooking in crockpot)
1t dry mustard
salt & pepper
small chopped onion (optional)
4 cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown the sausage in a frying pan. Spray the 11X13 baking dish (or crockpot insert) with non-stick spray. Spread the frozen diced hash browns evenly in the bottom. Drain the grease off the cooked sausage. Spread Sausage over the frozen hash browns. In a medium size bowl, scramble the eggs, add milk (1 1/2 cups for baking dish, or 2 cups if using crockpot), spices & onion (optional), mix well. Pour over hash browns & sausage.

If cooking in baking dish, cover with foil, cook in oven at 400 for 50 minutes. Remove foil & add grated cheddar cheese over the top. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted & golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

If cooking in crockpot, add cheese, cook on low for 8 to 10 hrs.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hamburger and Rice

This is a staple in our house, one of those things that EVERYONE loves. It is simply browned ground beef mixed with white rice. The seasonings seem to be the key.

2 lbs ground beef (I usually buy the 80% lean, the extra lean doesn't work well, some fat is necessary)
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Lemon Pepper
2 cups long grain white rice
1 t salt
2 T butter

Break up the ground beef & cook in a large frying pan on medium heat. Season well with Montreal Steak Seasoning & Lemon pepper. Boil 3 cups of water in a large sauce pan that has a tight fitting lid. Add salt & rice to boiling water, return to a boil for one minute, then cover & reduce heat to medium Low. Allow rice to cook for 15 minutes. When the ground beef is browned, reduce heat to low until the rice finishes. Remove lid from rice, add butter, replace lid & let sit for 5 minutes. Drain any remaining grease from the ground beef. Turn the frying pan back up to Medium High, add rice to ground beef & stir well. Cook together for a minute or two in the frying pan, stirring constantly. The rice will pick up the residual spices from the pan.

This goes well with green beans or peas as a side dish. Leftovers store well & are GREAT heated back up the next day for lunch.