Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Mother's Banana Bread - for Family Recipes

When I was small, one of my favorite food memories was my Mother's Banana Bread. I loved the aroma as it baked, loved the golden crust as it came out of the oven and I loved the taste of the soft, moist banana bread and crunchy pecans. It was a special day when Mom baked this bread. After the bread cooled, Mom wrapped it carefully in foil and placed it the the cabinet where it was supposed to set until the next day. She wouldn't let us have a bite! I admit, the bread is moister the day after it is baked, so I guess that was Mom's reasoning. I have to admit though, that more than once I climbed up to the cabinet and got into the Banana Bread! I was such a brat! I am submitting this recipe to Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honey Bunch, for January's roundup of Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun. This event is hosted by Shelby and Laura, from The Spiced Life, and myself. Hope you enjoy!


3/4 cup sugar
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup shortening (or unsalted butter)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mash the bananas; add in the shortening, eggs and sugar and mix well. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and pecans until just mixed. Pour batter in a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in bread comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert banana bread onto the rack to finish cooling. Wrapped tightly in foil or plastic wrap. Or, slice and enjoy a big piece of scrumptious Banana with a cup of coffee or tea! Have a great week, my friends.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Homemade Chicken and Rice Soup - to Warm Body and Soul!

It's a cold day outside with this winter storm blowing through. Thankfully, we haven't gotten the 12 possible inches of snow that the weatherman predicted, only 3-4 inches, so far. But it's still snowing and very frigid. I was needing some body warming soup, and after looking through the pantry and fridge, decided to make a comforting Chicken and Rice Soup. This delicious, home style soup really hit the spot on this cold winter day. I used bone-in chicken breast halves, and my own chicken stock to make this delicious soup. But you can use leftover chicken and canned chicken broth, if desired. I like to saute the vegetables because it really adds a great flavor to this soup. The soup thickens if it stands very long before serving, so you may need more broth than called for in the recipe. Or, serve the thick soup in bread bowls for a hearty meal. Either way, it's a winner. Enjoy!

from Lynda's Recipe Box

2 bone-in chicken breast halves ( or you may use leftover chicken)
6 cups, or more of chicken broth or homemade stock
2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
2 cups of cooked rice (I used leftover cooked rice)
1 tablespoon oil or butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons ( or more) of fresh, chopped parsley, or other herb of choice
salt, to taste

In a large sauce pan, place chicken breasts and enough cold water to cover them and bring to a boil. Turn to low heat and add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and simmer, covered about 30-40 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and cool. Meanwhile, add the butter or oil to a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, chopped carrots and celery and stir, letting them cook 4-5 minutes, til softened. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour and let cook a minute or so. Add 5 cups of chicken broth to the pot, stir well, and bring soup to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, another 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, Debone the chicken breasts and chop into bite sized pieces. Add chicken to the pot and stir. Add more chicken broth, if needed. Season with salt, to taste, and stir in the parsley. Serve immediately. This is a bowl of fantastic comfort food!

NOTE: Chicken broth and stock vary in the amount of salt content, so that's the reason I say "salt to taste". You need to taste as you go to get the right amount of salt for your family. I usually add salt by 1/2 teaspoons until I get it right. Since I have high blood pressure, I use less salt than many people.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pulled Pork, Crock Pot Style!

Wow, I certainly didn't intend to not post for a week! Life has been busy, but I have been cooking, although it has been food that I've already posted. Sometimes, I just want comfort food, those dishes I've made for years, that don't have a recipe. That's what I've been doing. And although I've posted Pulled Pork before, it was done on the grill, not the crock pot. I also posted a recipe for Carnitas, using pulled pork, but this time I'm using this pork roast just for sandwiches. How great these are for get togethers like Super Bowl parties! A large roast will feed quite a few people, plus, the pulled pork can be made a day ahead, and then served from the crock pot the day of the big game! Easy! Everyone can serve themselves, which makes it easy
on you. Be sure to use a rub on the roast. Pork cooked by itself will taste, well, just like pork. It needs lots of seasoning in the crock pot to have a great flavor. Make it as spicy as you want. While I normally brown my roasts before placing in the pot, this time I didn't. It was midnight, you see, and I didn't want to stay up one minute later, so I covered this roast in a spicy rub and stuck it in the pot. It cooked all night and when we woke up the following morning, we were welcomed with a most delicious aroma! I shredded this baby, and put it in a pan with some of the juices, and put it in the fridge to keep until dinner that evening. We celebrated my husband's birthday with Pulled Pork, so he was a happy man. Here's what I did;

from Lynda's Recipe Box
1 pork shoulder or pork butt roast ( I used a 7 pound one)
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2- 2 cups of water
1 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, optional
Mix the rub ingredients together. Rinse the roast with water, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the rub on the meat and rub it in. If you have time, brown the roast quickly in hot oil in a dutch oven, This step does give some extra flavor to the meat. Place roast in the slow cooker, add 1 1/2 cups of water to the pot and the barbecue sauce, if using. Also, add the chopped onion and fresh garlic at this time. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours until fork tender and roast pulls apart easily. Remove roast and let cool long enough to be able to shred the meat. Remove any fat from the meat. Sometimes, I coarsely chop the shredded meat to make the pieces more uniform. Pour the pan juices into a bowl, and skim any fat off and discard. I like to pour some of the juices, along with the garlic and onion, over the meat to keep it moist while serving. Also, you can freeze some of the meat as long as some cooking liquid is added to keep it from drying out. This tender Pulled Pork will be delicious served alone, or on a bun with some good barbecue sauce. Enjoy!

NOTE: This pork roast can also be done in the oven, in a covered dutch oven. Bake at 325 for 4-5 hours, or until very tender and falling apart.
Of course, cooking it in an outdoor smoker is the best, but I'm a wimp in cold weather!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cranberries (slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

Oh my, are these cookies ever good! I made them this past week end and my husband and I both couldn't stay out of them! I love oatmeal cookies any way, but these are the best I've ever eaten. Of course, coming from Cook's Illustrated, there were a lot of instructions to read through. They said to use chopped bittersweet chocolate, but when I went to the store, they were out. So I went with semi-sweet chocolate chips, which I had on hand. I used light brown sugar, instead of the recommenced dark brown, and dried cranberries instead of dried cherries. The toasted pecans really added wonderful flavor to these cookies. The original recipe is called "Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries". I tried to follow their directions fairly close since this was the first time making these. I still managed to over bake the cookies a couple of minutes. I've checked my oven temp and it is correct, so I'm not sure why there was such a discrepancy in baking time. Maybe because I have an electric oven, but I really don't know. However, these cookies were still delicious, just a little more crisp than intended. Cook's has 2 pans of cookies baking at the same time on upper and lower-middle oven racks, and then rotating them and switching racks. That was a fair amount of door opening during baking. These are huge cookies, using 1/4 cup of dough for each yummy cookie. This recipe makes 16 humongous, delicious cookies, which, I have convinced myself, are really tasty for breakfast! Don't you agree? CHOCOLATE-CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES with PECANS and DRIED CRANBERRIES
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 1/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats (3 1/2 ounces)

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped (4 ounces)

1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (5 ounces) Cook's Calls for dried cherries

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Cook's calls for 4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate chunks)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened-12 tablespoons

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar (Cooks calls for dark brown)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower- middle positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large 18x12 inch baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, sod and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl,mix the chopped pecans, cranberries, chocolate chips and oatmeal together.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together until creamy with a mixer. They used a stand mixer, but I had to use my hand mixer. Add egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until mixed well. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just combined.Then gradually add oat/nut mixture; mix just until incorporated. give dough a final stir with a spoon to make sure it is mixed well.

4. Divide dough into 16 pieces, each about 1/4 cup. Roll each piece into balls and place 8 balls on each baking sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart, staggering them so they won't touch when baking. Using your hand, press each dough ball to 1 inch thickness. Bake both sheets, 12 minutes, rotating them front to back, and top to bottom. Then continue to bake cookies until they are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are soft and seem under done, and wet and shiny in cracks. This is supposed to be 8-10 minutes longer. Do not over bake. Enjoy these awesome cookies!

NOTE: To toast pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 4-5 minutes. Watch closely!

Here is the link to the original directions, but Cook's may not keep this open for long.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Classic Meatloaf, My Way

I crave Meatloaf at times. I love the taste, the texture, the comfort food charm. It brings back thoughts of eating it as a kid and loving every bite. Meatloaf is just one of those classic American foods that has stood the test of time and has a multitude of different ways of preparing it. My favorite meatloaf is more of the classic version, made with ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs, etc.
I prefer to mound the meatloaf in a baking pan rather than to bake it in a loaf pan. This way, it gets kind of crusty all the way around the loaf, and I love that! It takes a little more time to make it look nice and rounded, but it's worth it to me. But you may use a loaf pan if you wish. My meatloaf is moist and delicious, using ground beef and ground pork here. Many times I use only ground beef, and on occasion I have added sausage to my meatloaf. I like to use dry bread crumbs instead of fresh crumbs. My mother used to use finely crushed saltine crackers in her meatloaf. And I have a friend who used Grape Nuts Cereal to make hers, instead of bread crumbs, (she said it was a Weight Watcher's version)! I think every family makes it differently. I almost forgot to take pictures, so there's not much left on the platter. Here's how I made mine.

Lynda's Recipe Box

1 pound of beef ground chuck- 80/20
1/2 pound ground pork (or you may use more ground chuck)
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup ketchup (or I sometimes sub crushed tomatoes)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup finely diced onion, sauteed in 1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt, or more
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar- mixed together
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together except the topping ingredients. Shape into a mound in a baking pan or roasting pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spoon topping over loaf. Return meat loaf to oven for 15-20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest about 20 minutes before serving. I served with Homemade Mac and Cheese, steamed baby cut carrots and a salad.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Homemade Sausage Gravy for Biscuits

About one month ago Son Number 2, bought his first home and moved out. We now just have our daughter at home. Son Number 2, Kyle, needed to do some work to his bathroom floor, so my husband took off work the week after Christmas. How does this relate to Sausage Gravy you might ask? Well, with my husband off work, and both of our sons cutting and laying floor tile, I was busy cooking up a storm for my hungry guys. Forget the diet foods that normally come after the New Year; I made comfort foods and stick-to-your-ribs, type foods for my hard working guys. Thus the Sausage Gravy. This easy dish is perfect for breakfast of course, but also lunch or an evening meal. Served with some creamy scrambled eggs, it's a wonderful meal. Here's how:
First, you need to brown the sausage in a large skillet, breaking the meat apart as it browns. I used Jimmy Dean sausage and there was very little fat in the pan. You can drain the fat off the sausage, if desired. I drain off the extra fat cuz I don't need it. I do not make a roux with this gravy, I just add the flour directly to the meat. The extra fat will not be missed. Trust me.

Just Sprinkle the flour over the meat and then stir it in until there is no flour showing. Continue to stir the sausage and flour for a minute, making sure it does not burn. Pour in part of the milk.

Stir until the gravy thickens, and then add more milk as needed. The gravy does need to cook and thicken a couple of minutes, long enough to cook the flour, and let the gravy thicken to your desired consistency. I usually end up using at least 2 1/2 cups of milk, or more. It's delicious! Sometimes you just need a plateful of Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits smothered in Homemade Sausage Gravy. It really hit the spot for my busy family. Give it a try!

1 pound of breakfast sausage
3 Tablespoons of flour
2 1/2 cups milk, or more
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet(12 inch), brown the sausage. While it cooks, break the meat apart and turn the meat over as it browns. If the sausage starts to burn, turn the heat down. At this point, I drain off any fat in the skillet if there is any, but you may leave it if you desire.. I'm just for using less fat, if possible! When the sausage is done, sprinkle the flour over the sausage. Stir the flour into the meat and keep stirring for a minute or two, while the flour browns with the sausage. The flour will stick some, so it's important to keep stirring. Now, stir in 1 cup of milk and stir until thickened. It will be very thick. Add 1 1/2 cups more of milk. Cook and stir until thickened, several minutes. Now, taste the gravy to determine how much salt and pepper is needed. Each brand of sausage is different as to how much seasoning is added. I do like plenty of black pepper in my gravy. This will serve 4-6. If you desire a larger batch of gravy, add more flour in the beginning, and more milk. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun ( Some additions and appologies)

family recipes
I know, I posted this last time. But, I've found out that I didn't include a couple of bloggers submissions, because their emails to me went into my spam folder. I am so sorry! When they left comments, I started looking and sure enough, I hadn't found their emails. I also found some emails from a couple of regular readers that I need to answer. Makes me wonder what else I missed! Anyway, my appologies to these 2 wonderful bloggers. I want to include their delicious looking recipes now. I was afraid that these posts wouldn't be read if I just added them into the last post. So here are 2 more wonderful recipes for December's Family Recipes. Enjoy!
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Paul's Aunt's Steak Marinade, from Josie, at "1 Kitchen, 2 Dogs and a Girl"
Josie used this salty, sweet marinade on some tender bison flank steak! You'd better check out her blog to get the details. I want it now!

Walnut Pasta with Marjoram, from Graziana at "Erbe in cucina".
This wonderful recipe is passed down from Graziana's mother, who loved cooking with fragrant marjoram. This recipe is full of great memories. Check out her blog!

Again, I 'm sorry ladies that this happened. I now will check my spam folder daily. I don't want this to happen again.

Shelby, from "The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch", will host Family Recipes for the month of January, so if you would like to submit a recipe, please send her your links. The rules are here. Have a great day!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Family Recipes- December's Round Up!

Happy New Year to all! Hope you had a great time during the holidays. I am excited to post December's Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun! We have some great looking food in this post, from some wonderful blogs. I hope that you will check each one out.
family recipes
Each blogger has posted a favorite family recipe that holds tasty memories for their families. January's Family Recipes event will be hosted by Shelby of "The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. If you have a wonderful recipe to share for this event, please email Laura with the post before the end of the month. Let's check out these recipes, now, shall we! Be sure to visit these amazing blogs.Bombay Foodie
In A Pickle, from Simran at Bombay Foodie
Simran shares that pickles are serious business in India. Pickle recipes are closely guarded secrets and only the eldest women in a household take on pickle making. Check out her spicy, sweet and sour pickles.
Christmas Cookies from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker
Christmas Cookies, from Kristen, at Frugal Antics of a Harries Homemaker
These special cookies come from Kristen's grandmother and are so special in her family that her son requested them for his birthday. She makes these gorgeous cookies all year long!
Kay at the Keyboard- Kay's Mama's Cranberry Salad
Kay's Mama's Cranberry Salad, from Kay at the Keyboard
This delicious looking salad has been served at every Thanksgiving and Christmas that Kay can remember!. Her mama used to use a sausage grinder to chop up the fruit!
Brown Sugar Pie, from A Southern Grace
Brown Sugar Pie, from Grace, at "A Southern Grace"
This gooey, Brown Sugar pie is from Grace's dear grandmother. If you have a sweet tooth, this pie would be a great ending to any meal. Check it out!
5 Star Foodie's Pate'
Chicken Liver Pâté, from Natasha, at "5 Star Foodie"
This creamy pâté was one of Natasha's favorite dishes during the holidays when she was growing up. The secret ingredient that makes this so creammy is butter- yum!
Butter Crunch- 2 Ways, from Laura, at The Spiced Life
This lucious looking candy recipe is from Laura's husband's side of the family. She offers 2 versions of this sweet treat. I'll take it both ways!FRCCC005-1

Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Shelby, at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch"
These yummy looking cookies are one of Shelby's granny's recipes. These are perfect cookies for dunking in a cold glass of milk.
blog pics 2345
My Favorite Cheese Ball, from Lynda's Recipe Box
This delicious cheese ball is my submission to Family Recipes this month. My mother-in-law gave me the recipe for this slightly spicy appetizer. It's a family favorite!

I hope you've enjoyed this months delicious submissions to Family Recipes. Remember, Shelby is hosting for January, so if you have a family recipe to share, let her know.
NOTE: Laura was going to host next month, but that has now changed to Shelby.