Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Appetizers for New Years!

Need some appetizer ideas for your New Years celebration? Check out the "Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Mini Quiches" for a really delicious bite-size quiche. And they're easy! This creamy "Herb Dip" is so delicious with vegetables or bagel chips. It's so addictive!

The Baked Barbecue Meatballs are easy to do in the oven and are hard to resist in a tangy barbecue sauce. Bet you can't eat just one!

My "Corn and Black Bean Salsa" can still be made even though fresh tomatoes are out of season. Try using the little grape tomatoes to take place of the Roma's, if you have trouble finding decent ones.
For more appetizer ideas go here for my other suggestions. It's only 2 more days until New Years Eve; are you having a huge celebration or staying in for a quiet evening?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Fantastic Cheese Ball for Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas weekend! We still have snow on the ground, though not as much as some of our neighbors to the west, such as Oklahoma. It is cold though, but that's winter for you. I am well now, after being sick with, of all things, food poisoning. At least I'm reasonably sure that's what it was. One day last week as I spent a long afternoon shopping, I decided to go through the drive though of a fast-food chain and grab a quick burger, instead of going home to fix a bite. That way I could go on to the grocery store after I ate. Bad idea! I rarely eat at fast food chains, and now it will be even less often. I'll spare you the details! Instead, I'd love to tell you about this marvelous, delicious cheese ball that I've made for years!

This awesome cheese ball comes from my Mother-in-law, Grace, and I think she got it from a friend of hers. She gave me the recipe years ago and it has been a family favorite since then. It is always devoured when taken to gatherings. My husband loves this savory cheese ball as much as I do. Children may not appreciate the green onion and bell pepper mixed into the cheese, but adults love it! If desired, the mixed cheese can be separated into 2 equal parts and rolled into logs, instead of the ball. I am submitting this recipe to "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun", this month, which is hosted by me! Yes, I am this months host for this fun event! I am now co-hosting with Laura, of "The Spiced Life", and Shelby of "The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch", for this wonderful blog event. If you have a favorite family dish you'd like to include this month, you will find the rules here. It must be a new post of an older family recipe. Send me the link to your post and a picture, if possible, to www.whatscookin52@sbcglobal.net.
I need to receive this information by December 30th. Now, on to the recipe!

My Mother-in-Laws's Cheese Ball

8 ounces cream cheese, brought to room temperature
8 ounces medium cheddar cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons finely chopped green or red bell pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion

2 tablespoons chopped, well drained pimento (I did not use)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (recipe says up to 1/2 tsp.)

about 1/2 cup chopped pecans for coating the cheese ball

Mix cheeses together until well combined. By hand this will be work. Use a food processor, if desired. I don't have one, yet. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the nuts. Cover the bowl and chill this mixture for 30 minutes or so, until the cheese is firmer and easier to roll into a ball.

When ready, roll the cheese mixture into a ball and then roll into the chopped nuts to evenly coat. I added some chopped, fresh parsley to the nuts for some added color. Wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. Can be made several days ahead of serving. The cheese ball should set at room temperature for about 30minutes before serving. Serve with crackers of choice. I hope you'll try this savory and delicious cheese ball. The cayenne pepper gives it a subtle kick that pares well with the bell pepper and onion. This would be a great addition you your New Years celebrations. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Merry Christmas! I'm sorry to have been absent from blogging this past week-I've been ill and not cooking or eating. I may not get to cook dinner tommorrow either, but no one may even be able to come as we are under a winter storm warning, with ice and snow. YUCK! It is cold and slick.
Have a Blessed Christmas my friends! I'll be back as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge ( and a reminder for December's "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun")

Before I get into my sugary post, I'd like to remind everyone who's interested, about December's roundup for "Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun". The deadline to send me your family recipes is December 30. Go here to read all the rules. While you're cooking up your old family recipes for the holidays, just send me the link to your recipe, a picture and you can be in the roundup!

Now, for the Peanut Butter Fudge! I'm not a master candy maker, but my Mother taught me how to make fudge, so I usually make it at Christmas time. Mom made chocolate fudge every year that I can remember, and later when I married, I learned how to make Peanut Butter Fudge. It's not hard, but you do have to plan for time to do it. You must have all the ingredients ready before you begin. Have the dish that is going to hold the fudge already buttered. Do not answer the phone-let the answering machine pick up your calls. If you get sidetracked, you can overcook the fudge, which is not a good idea. After saying all that, fudge does not take much time to make really, maybe 20 minutes from start to finish. So it's not time consuming to make, but you just can't leave it alone after starting. I learned how to make fudge the old fashioned way, by testing for the soft-ball stage using a bowl of cold water. Taking a spoon of the boiling candy liquid, you pour it into the bowl of cold water to see if it makes a soft ball. With your finger, you try pushing the syrup into a soft ball. If removed from the water, the ball will lose its shape. This is called the soft ball stage. The easiest way to do this is by using a candy thermometer. Clip it to the side if the pan and when the boiling syrup reaches 235 degrees, it is at the soft ball stage.

Believe it or not, the weather can affect your candy. If the air is humid, the cooking time can be longer and the candy may take longer to set up. If possible, make your candy on a day with low humidity. I found this yummy recipe in an old church cookbook that I've had since before I was married. Translation: I've had this about 35 years, but it's a good one! The fudge is rich, creamy and decadent and so delicious that I doubled the recipe! I promise that I gave half of it away! This fudge is far too tempting to have a large pan lingering in my house, because I'm weak, very weak. Use the best ingredients that you can afford as sometimes off brands do not perform well. This recipe makes a small pan of fudge, so it's a good one to start with. Let's begin, shall we?


2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup crunchy style peanut butter

1 cup marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a 8x8 inch pan and set aside. In a large, heavy bottomed pan, combine the sugar and milk. Heat pan over medium heat until the sugar mixture comes to a rolling boil. A rolling boil means that there will be lots of large bubbles breaking the surface of the mixture as it cooks. The syrup will rise high up in the pan, so make sure you do use a large pot. Clip a candy thermometer inside the rim of the pan, making sure it reaches into the hot syrup. Carefully stir the boiling syrup with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking. Continue to cook the fudge to the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F. Remove the pan from the burner and stir in the butter, marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and vanilla. Stir until the fudge starts to thicken and the ingredients are well combined. There should not be visible white streaks from the marshmallow cream. Carefully pour the hot fudge into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the hot fudge off the sides of the pan, as it will contain hardened sugar crystals that will tend to make your fudge grainy. Smooth out the fudge and let it cool away from the hot stove. It will take at least 2 hours to completely cool, maybe more. Cut into squares and enjoy this creamy confection! This fudge may be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. Let it come to room temperature before serving. However, I've never had a pan of fudge last that long. I add it to goodie trays and we eat the rest. This is awesome Peanut Butter Fudge!
NOTE: Some recipes suggest using a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the pan as the fudge cooks, to keep sugar crystals from forming. I have not tried this, so if you have and it works, please let me know in the comments!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creamy Herbed Potatoes (from the Pioneer Woman)

A few weeks ago, I won "The Pioneer Woman Cooks", cookbook from a contest on Lisa's blog, The Cutting Edge of Ordinary! This is a wonderful blog with tons of luscious looking food. I was so excited to win Ree's cookbook. The photos are beautiful, of course, and all the recipes so yummy looking. So, I tried her Creamy Herbed Potatoes recipe . Talk about smooth, creamy and delicious potatoes! They are a "10", and I'll make them again as they go with so many different entrees. Perfect with meatloaf or a roast, or even fish, and also great served for the holidays!
I didn't have chives to use, because my plant froze; nor did I use heavy cream in the recipe. I substituted half and half for the cream. I also only made half a recipe, but they are good, real good. They are rich, but worth every bite. If your looking for a potato dish for Christmas, this might be just for you! You can find the recipe here. Tommorrow, I'll be sharing a sweet recipe!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Orange-Glazed Pork Loin Roast

I've been making this tender and delicious Pork Loin roast for a number of years now. I found the recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine and it never fails to please my family of carnivores. The Orange Glaze compliments the pork perfectly, adding a flavorful citrus and Dijon touch to the lightly herbed roast. I don't coat the Pork Loin with too much herb coating as I've found it can over power the flavor of the Orange Sauce. This is a great family dish, but it also is a perfect roast for a holiday table or buffet. I slice it about 1/4 inch thick and normally serve the sauce in a separate dish. If you use a much larger roast, you may want to double the sauce, as it really is delicious. I've also found that a meat thermometer is important when roasting a pork loin as the meat is pretty lean, so if it is over cooked it tends to dry out. The recipe calls for the temperature to reach 160 degrees for the roast to be done. This one reached almost 165 and it was perfect for us, being only slightly pink and very moist. Give this a try! Here's how;

(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)

1 boneless pork loin roast( this one was 3 1/4 pounds, but there are larger ones)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves (I used frozen thyme from my garden)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger


1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the minced garlic, thyme, ginger, salt and pepper and sprinkle over all sides of the pork loin. Place roast fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour for a 3- 3 1/2 pound roast, before adding the glaze. Meanwhile, make the Orange Glaze.
In a sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, and cornstarch. Stir in the rest of glaze ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat. Separate some of the glaze into a small bowl for using to brush on the roast.
Now, back to the roast. Remove the roast from the oven and brush with some of the glaze and place pork loin back into the oven. My 3 1/4 pound roast baked for about another hour, bring the total roasting time to 2 hours. I brushed the roast with the orange glaze 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Place a meat thermometer into the roast. It should reach 160 degrees to be done. I let mine reach 165. Roasting too long though will give you dry meat. When done remove the roast from oven and loosely tent with foil to keep warm for about 10-15 minutes. It is important to let the meat rest so to let the juices settle in the meat. Slice pork loin and serve with the orange glaze on the side. I served this roast with the Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Herbs, Green Beans Almondine, and rolls. Enjoy!
NOTE: If roasting a 5 pound or larger pork loin, let it cook for 2 hours before brushing it with the Orange Glaze. This will give the roast time to get a nice crust so to seal in the juices. Also, different ovens vary, so using the meat thermometer is important. Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Herbs

I cooked a Pork Loin Roast the other night and wanted a potato side dish that was easy. I love them roasted in the oven, but my kids prefer mashed, so I decided on these yummy Yukon Gold Potatoes. They have such a creamy, almost buttery texture that makes them so addictive. When prepared just partially mashed, or "smashed", they are delicious. I did not add roasted garlic, but you could, if desired. I did not peel the potatoes, but that's your choice. Shredded cheese could also be incorporated in this dish. Here's what I do.
from Lynda's Recipe Box

2 pounds small Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and scrubbed
1/2 cup of Half and Half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped, or more, fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper)

Place washed potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until tender. Drain water off of potatoes. Add butter and let potatoes rest while butter melts. Now, take a potato masher and break up the potatoes. I like to leave small chunks in them. Add the half and half, sour cream and herbs and salt and pepper and stir into the potatoes with a spoon. Now, it's time to taste and adjust the salt and pepper,if needed. Also, if you need more sour cream, stir more in. It kind of goes by personal taste preference at this point as to how much cream, or salt and pepper to add. Next time I'll use a little more chives. These lovely golden potatoes are a perfect side dish for any entree. My next post will be the pork roast. Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hamburger Stew

Do you have a dish in your family that you've made so often that you could do it blindfolded? I could this one. My Grandmother used to make this Hamburger Stew and likewise my Mother, and I've made it for years too. My husband loves to take this delicious stew to work with him as it's quite filling. It's a perfect soup for using up whatever leftover vegetables you may have in the refrigerator or odds and ends of fresh vegetables hiding in the crisper. Use as many vegetables as you want. I have no written recipe for this; we just throw in whatever is on hand. So, this is a recipe of how I made it this time. I made this huge batch today and enjoyed it immensely on this windy, cold day. We're expecting snow flurries tonight or tomorrow, so this soup will be warm and comforting. Served with homemade rolls or cornbread, it is the perfect comfort meal! Let me tell you how I made it.
HAMBURGER STEW- from Lynda's Recipe Box

Ingredients vary according to what you want to use, or what is on hand.

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 stalks celery, diced - I include the leaves

2 cans of diced tomatoes (15 ounces), or whole tomatoes, broken up

2 cans of beef broth (low sodium)

1/2 pound carrots, or more, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups green beans, fresh, frozen or canned

about 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (or fresh or canned)

about1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1 small, diced zucchini, if desired

about 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage

5 or 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced

salt (I used 2 tsp., but I cook low salt so you may need more than this)

pepper, about 1/4 tsp.

water; add enough to cover ingredients in final cooking

In a soup pot over medium high heat, brown the ground beef until done. Drain off any grease. Add onion and cook until slightly softened. Add the celery, tomatoes, carrots and beef broth. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. If more liquid is needed to cover everything, add a little water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; the corn, peas, zucchini, if using, cabbage and potatoes. Add enough water to the pot to just cover the vegetables. Cover and cook another 40 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. I think the longer you cook it, the better the taste. The cabbage adds a lot of depth of flavor too, and this stew gets better every day! I sometimes add okra too, but I don't always have it. My mother would also add a few turnips to the pot, but my husband doesn't like them, so no turnips for us! Thyme is a great herb flavor for this soup, and sometimes oregano is my fave. It just depends what ingredients I use.

I've had people tell me their families also made this type of dish. Some have called it "Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup". Do you or someone you know make stew similar to this? If so, what is it called? I'd love to know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Daughter's Apple Pie- Her Thanksgiving Contribution

My little girl is growing up. Actually she's 21, a college student and works about 30 hours a week. But she likes to bake, so when she wanted to make apple pie for Thanksgiving, I wasn't going to stop her. This is her second time making Apple Pie and she even made homemade crust. I didn't try making crust until I was in my thirties, so I 'm impressed! She likes to arrange the apples in
a spiral pattern, adding sugar and cinnamon as she goes. It was pretty, and tasted divine, I tell you. Apple Pie happens to be my all time favorite dessert, so this was a real treat. I helped her

with peeling the apples as she had two pies to make, one for our house and she took one to her boyfriend's family dinner. I made a Pumpkin Pie also, so she made a crust recipe from Paula Deans website. One recipe was enough for our three pies. The crust was so flaky! I can't give you an exact recipe for the filling, but close to what she did.
For the Apple Pie Filling:
7 good sized Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cored
about 3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-2 tsp. lemon
2 tablespoons flour
about 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Pie crust from here
Roll out the dough for the bottom crust and place in pie pan. Mix apples and rest of ingredients together. Arrange mixture in pie crust. Cut up the butter into peices and dot all over the apples. Roll out dough for top crust and place on top of apples. Seal edges and flute. She brushed milk over the crust and sprinkled granulated sugar on top. The pies baked at 4oo for about 15 minutes and then she dropped the temperature to 350. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, until done.
Not only did we have delicious homemade pie for our Thanksgiving dinner, I had yet another opportunity to spend time with my lovely daughter, baking, laughing and totally making a disaster in the kitchen! What fun, the laughing that is, not the cleaning up. But we made memories!

NOTE: We have decided that we like using 2 different kinds of apples for pie;
Granny Smith's for sure, and Gala's. The mixture seem's to make a more flavorful filling.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun

I am so excited to be co-hosting Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun, for the month of March! It has been hosted by Laura, of The Spiced Life, and Shelby, of The Life and Loves of Grumphy's Honeybunch, for several months now, and I was thrilled when they asked if I wanted to join them! I love hearing stories and traditions of food in the lives of families. So make a recipe and share the memories that are connected with it. The deadline date changes monthly, but normally it will end around the last Saturday of the month.

1. Make a dish that's a family recipe-from mom, dad, aunts, in-laws, or your own family, that you have enjoyed for along time.

2. Post it on your blog between now and midnight, March 31, 2009 (USA EST). All submissions must be in English.

3.Provide a link in your post to this page and this blog.

4. Email me at whatscookin52@sbcglobal.net by12:00 AM, Midnight, March 30, 2009 (USA EST) with:
. the recipe name
. the URL of the post
. the URL of your blog
. your location

5. Please place a copy of the logo on your post, if possible.

6. Multiple submissions are welcome, but please only 1 submission for for each type of dish (main dish, appetizer, dessert, etc.).

7. New posts only, please.

8. You are welcome to send the photo you want published in the round-up. If you don't submit a photo however,we will choose one from your post.

With all the cooking going on this month for the different holidays, there should be some delicious family recipes being made. If you haven't checked out the recipes for January's Family Recipes, check out Shelby's blog at The Life and Loves of Grumphy's Honeybunch, for some tasty looking submissions!