Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Food P*rn Friday

This week's group of photos is dominated by cupcakes. I stumbled across this blog - http://www.thecupcakeblog.com/
and all the photos look so delicious. I think I will try to make the Yellow buttermilk cupcake with lemon cream cheese frosting for Mother's Day. My Mom likes lemon flavored stuff as do I. It should make a nice sweet treat.

Yellow buttermilk cupcake with lemon cream cheese frosting from The Cupcake Blog

Ramekin Cupcakes from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur

No Guilt Cupcake from Shabbot's Habits

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Garlic Asparagus and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. It's easy to make and so tasty!

Garlic Asparagus and Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce
4 Servings
From: BH&G

8 ounces dried mafalda or rotini
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
2 cups fresh asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
8 baby sunburst squash and/or pattypan squash, halved (4 ounces)*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, melt margarine in a large skillet; add asparagus, squash, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to pasta.
3. Combine whipping cream and lemon peel in skillet; bring to boiling. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. To serve, pour cream mixture over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Makes 4 servings.
*Note: One medium zucchini or yellow summer squash cut into 8 pieces may be substituted for the baby sunburst squash and/or pattypan squash.

My notes
Use whatever pasta you have on hand, I'm a fan of bowtie (farfalle). For the people in my family that think unless there is meat involved it does not count as a meal I add ½ a lb of Italian sausage to the mix occasionally. I've also taken to adding mushrooms, zucchini, and some red onion for a little more color and flavor.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Deer Lease

We went out to the deer lease this weekend. Everything I ate came off of the campfire (with the exception of the oranges I brought). It was a fun time, I prepped some kabobs ahead of time and they were a big success. We didn't see any deer but that's ok since it isn't deer season. We did see several cows and lots of animal tracks. I think I may have to look for a cookbook about campfire cooking with cast iron and whatnot.

Turkey track
Raccoon tracks

See... cows... well actually a bull and a cow

Potatoes in the camp fire


Pulled pork with roasted potatoes and broccoli

For Sunday dinner I decided to make pulled pork and roasted potatoes.  I use my Mom's pulled pork recipe (she calls it Debate BBQ), I'm not sure where she got it but it's my favorite. I know the recipe says boneless pork loin but I decided to try a bone in pork roast (I think it was pork butt). My Uncle was throwing a surprise birthday party for my Aunt's the following weekend and I wanted to make sure that the bone in meat would work because that's what I had on hand. I seared the meat before putting in the crock-pot and I personally think the meat had more flavor.
Before cooking

Debate BBQ (Pulled Pork)
1 3lbs. boneless pork loin
1 C water
1 (18 oz) bottle barbecue sauce
¼ C firmly packed brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1-2 T hot sauce (Tabasco)
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Place roast in a 4 quart crock pot.  Cook on high for 7 hours or until meat is tender.  Stir with a fork, shredding meat. Add barbecue sauce and next 5 ingredients, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 1 hour.
This is Jeff's plate

My notes
I use Stubbs Original BBQ sauce, Mom uses KC Masterpiece. I think Stubbs has a little more tartness to it compared to KC Masterpiece. I also don't measure the BBQ sauce, brown sugar or the Tabasco. I go by taste now because sometimes 18oz is too much BBQsauce and it's soupy. Sometimes 1/4C of brown sugar makes it too sweet. Just go by your taste buds.... they'll thank you. I also (as you can see) put onions in there, not to mention a couple cloves of crushed garlic.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A new recipe to try

Since I will be making dough today anyways and since the pictures looked quite tasty I might give this recipe a try! I however do not have gluten, dry milk, or potato flakes. Hmmmm, I was hoping to not have to go to the store. We shall see what I can come up with.

I found the recipe while exploring the My Byrd House blog. Here it is with all of her notes, tips, and tricks.

Cherry Rolls

2 Tbsp dry yeast
6 Cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp Gluten
2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp (non-instant) dry milk (1 cup instant)
1/2 cup instant potato flakes
2 Tbsp lecithin (optional)
2 cups hot water
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the honey, eggs, milk, salt, lemon juice, butter, potato flakes, and lecithin and 1/2 the flour. (mix the gluten with the flour or it will clump). Beat well and let rise. Add the remaining flour and kneed for 8-10 minutes. Let rise for 1 hour.

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1 can cherry pie filling

Mix honey and butter together.

Roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Spread with honey and butter mixture. Top this with cherry pie filling.
Roll into a "classic cinnamon roll". Cut with dental floss or a heavy thread. Makes 12 very large or 24 small cinnamon rolls. Place on a buttered pan or cookie sheet, cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
Bake at 375 deg F for 18-20 minutes.

1/4 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups (maybe a bit more) Powdered sugar
vanilla extract
Milk if needed

Mix the butter and cheese together. Add the sugar and vanilla. Whip into frosting. Add more sugar or milk if needed.
Frost the rolls when the come out of the oven, this melts the frosting all over the place and it is gooey, sweet and warm.

Tips and Tricks I have learned:
*non-instant powdered milk is tricky to work with. If you don't mix it in just right, it clumps. I have found that you either need to whisk it in carefully (not something I ever remember) OR mix it with your flour. This spreads it out and there is no clumping. The same goes for the gluten. It clumps something terrible, however, mixed with the flour there is no problem.
*Oven proofing - I have found that if I "proof" or raise my cut rolls in the oven, they get much bigger and fluffier. This is quite an accomplishment with 100% whole wheat. What I do is heat the oven to 200 deg. F and then TURN IT OFF. While that is heating, I boil a kettle of water. When the rolls are cut and in the pan, I our the boiling water into a baking dish in the oven and slip my rolls right in there. I let that set for 20 minutes. I remove the rolls and the water, heat the oven to temperature and bake as usually. The buns get really big. Because of this, I space them well on the pan so they are NOT touching when I put them in, they will be when I pull them out to bake.

Food P*rn Friday and some tips for growing basil

Good morning, I found some rather nice food photos this week. Plus I also found a rather interesting blog on caring for basil plants via Pinterest. Since I plant basil every year I will be trying out the technique mentioned.

How to prune your basil from My Byrd House
Broiled bananas wtih peanut butter and honey from LivingTastefully

Rather interesting article from Prepared Pantry
Skillet Roast Pork Loin with Carrots and Potatoes from Ezra Pound Cake

Grilled Portabella Panini with Artichoke Tapenade from The Type A Housewife

Sourdough Rye from Russian Mom Cooks

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole

Conversation with Jeff last night in the kitchen:
Jeff: You've ruined me.
Me: What?!?
Jeff: I am eyeballing 2 3/4C of powdered sugar for the icing to these cupcakes.
Me: Oh.
Jeff: <shaking the bag of sugar>
Me: I wouldn't call that 'ruining you'.
Jeff: .....
Me: I call that precision guesstimation
Jeff:<sighs and dumps the 'eyeballed' sugar in the icing>

On to the recipe! Last week we had tacos for dinner, and had quite a bit of leftover meat. I happed to find this recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it out it's from Six Sisters' Stuff. This was devoured by the kid. I WAS going to take a picture of it but when I got home however 3/4 of it was gone and wouldn't have made a very pretty picture.

*Disclaimer - by the time I was done with it you might as well toss the recipe. I went totally off the reservation with this one.

Cheesy Enchilada Casserole (or Taco Casserole if you are like me and forget the name)
(Recipe from Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake)

1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
1 large onion, chopped or season with Onion powder or minced onion
2 1/2 cups salsa
1 can (15 ounces) black beans or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 flour tortillas (8 inches)
1 small can of drained corn, or about 1 1/4 cups of frozen corn (optional)
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream *Note: I used 1/2 cup
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, sour cream, corn (optional), taco seasoning and cumin.
Spoon a generous layer of meat mixture on bottom of 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Place a flour or corn tortilla on top of meat mixture. Layer with half of the meat mixture, and cheese. Repeat as many layers as you like.
The last & final layer should be a healthy dose of grated cheese.
Cover with foil that has been sprayed with pam or other and bake at 400° for 25 minutes, or until hot & bubbly.
Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce, tomato and cilantro. Yield: 8 servings

My notes:
I used all the leftover taco meat we had from dinner the night before, it was nearly a pound and already seasoned with taco seasoning. I kept the onion, salsa (2 diff kinds), beans (black), dressing, tortillas, sour cream, and cheese. I forgot the cumin but will add next time I make it. I added spanish rice that was also left over from dinner. I didn't measure anything, so I have no idea how much dressing or salsa I actually put in there, and I'm not sure the italian dressing made much of a difference.

Everyone liked this... except my stomach. I mean I liked eating it, but it gave me indigestion. Go figure. I think next time I make this I will add some tortilla chips to the top just to give it a little crunch. Black olives might be good in this one.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who doesn't like venison?

From CNN:

A couple of weeks ago I invited a group of work friends over for a small dinner party. With an e-mail subject line of "Wild game night at the Branch ranch," I suppose I should not have been surprised by the barrage of questions that followed. After all, journalists tend to be an inquisitive bunch.
With a spicy blend of trepidation and curiosity, they responded to my invite one by one: "So you actually killed it?" "How are you cooking it exactly?" "Did you clean it yourself?" and "What part of it will we be eating?" I smiled to myself and crafted a response, reassuring them that they would enjoy a safe, nutritious, and hopefully delicious-to-them meal.

Along with some smoked pheasant my father recently shot in South Dakota, and the obligatory bottle (or three) of some Syrah and red California Zinfandel, I served one of my favorite venison meatball recipes.
The word venison is derived from the Latin venatus, defined as "to hunt", or "the chase". Humans have been eating venison for tens of thousands of years. In Native American folklore, in historical accounts from the earliest European settlers, and throughout the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition and beyond, we find references to these animals. Deer were a staple in the diet of Native Americans and early European settlers. Whitetail and mule deer, in particular, were revered for their agility, their beauty and their flavor.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines venison as meat from deer, moose, elk, pronghorn, caribou and antelope. Within that broad description, these animals produce an even wider array of flavors, influenced by a number of factors including diet, regional habitat and exercise.
In addition to the questions showing a concern for personal safety, I was also asked "Does it taste gamey?" My answer: "Honestly, at this point, I have no idea."
A high percentage of the red meat consumed in my home is wild Georgia whitetail deer that I've harvested myself. To my palate, venison is what red meat is supposed to taste like. Yet, the flavor of an individual animal can be quite different. Many meals at my uncle’s hunting cabin in Wisconsin and friends’ dinner tables in Wyoming have shown me the truth of this.
Not surprisingly, a deer whose life is primarily spent eating in the corn fields of Iowa will have a different taste than a deer who has spent its life eating acorns in the southern woodlands of Georgia, or one who subsisted on the twigs and shoots from the forests of northern Wisconsin. What the deer eats becomes the deer meat.
No matter the diet and unique flavor of the animal, however, wild deer and, to a lesser extent, farm-raised ones are lean, athletic animals that have a significantly lower fat content than beef. They serve as an excellent source of protein. The iron levels in venison consistently rank among the highest of all meats. Wild deer are also completely free of the many hormones, antibiotics, steroids and other supplements present in commercial livestock.
In addition to the health benefits, venison is as versatile an ingredient as beef, and should be prepared using similar techniques. However, its leaner fat content requires a watchful eye and deft hand in the kitchen, as certain methods, without care, may result in the meat becoming too dry.
Venison is so lean, many chefs, and some wild game processors/butchers, add a small percentage of pork or beef fat to the ground meat to aid in holding the meat together during cooking and to prevent a too-dry result.
Like many mammals, the finest cut may be the loin or saddle cut. Also referred to as backstrap, this cut quickly seared over high heat and seasoned with nothing more than salt, pepper and rosemary, is positively mouth-watering.
When cooked properly, deer backstraps can be cut with a fork. Other recipes call for cube steaks for Milanesa, or ground meat for tacos, chili or a meat sauce to accompany pasta. Some of the tougher cuts, such as legs and shoulders, can be used as stew meat, roasted in a crock pot or ground into burgers.
The next time you're in the mood for a steak, or craving a burger, head to a specialty market or butcher shop and buy some venison instead of beef. Better yet, become acquainted with that neighbor or family member who hunts, and see if they'll share something from their freezer. They may also share their favorite recipe to get you started.
Venison’s popularity as a healthier, tastier alternative to beef continues to rise. Judging by the empty plates, the smiles and a complete lack of leftovers following the dinner party, the inquisitive, skeptical journalists seemed to agree.