Friday, October 16, 2015

Brown Rice and Beans

    My husband, John, and I were recently vacationing in Oregon.  We stopped into a little cafe for an early dinner.  We both ordered a dish that seemed to be very popular with the locals.  Well, it was simple, inexpensive and tasted wonderful.  After we returned home I recreated this dish as close as we could remember it and now it is a favorite of ours.  It's so simple it's almost scary but very tasty.  You can use leftover rice if you have it and, of course, you can use any kind of rice you prefer.  I like to make my rice early in the day and just put the rice and beans on the plate and warm them in the microwave when we are ready to eat.  Then you layer the other ingredients on top and enjoy. You could add any meat to this dish but you don't really need it.  Let me know what you think!

                                          BROWN RICE AND BEANS

2 servings:

1/2 cup Brown Rice
1  15 ounce can Black Beans, rinsed
1/2 cup Sour Cream   (mixed with juice of 1/4 fresh lime)
1 Lime, cut into wedges
1 Green Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro, rough chopped
1 Avocado, sliced
Prepared Salsa of your choice (I use Kirkland Brand from Costco)

For Rice:
1 1/4 cups Water
1/2 cup Brown Rice

Bring Water to boil in a heavy saucepan.  Stir in Brown Rice.  Cover saucepan and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Fluff lightly with a fork.

Assemble on your dinner plates….  Rice, Black beans, drizzle with Sour Cream mixture.  Sprinkle Green Onion and Cilantro over the top.  Lay 1/2 of the sliced Avocado on top and put a nice dollop of Salsa on top of that.  Serve with remaining Lime slices to juice over everything as you like.  I serve this with the Rice and Beans warm.  The rest is cold.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lemon Bars

If you love the tanginess of fresh lemons, this recipe is for you.  I love the buttery crust and the way the luscious lemon filling forms like magic.  The wonderful thing about these bars is that they do freeze.  Just leave the powdered sugar off until you take them out of the freezer and are ready to serve them.  You will love how easy these are to make.  Enjoy...


                                              Lemon Bars  

2 cubes (1/2 pound) Unsalted Butter - at room temperature
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
2 cups Flour
1/8 teaspoon Salt

With your mixer, cream together the Butter and Sugar until light yellow in color.  Add the Four and Salt and mix - just until combined.  Gather the dough into a ball.  Press Dough into the bottom of a 9”x13”x2” baking pan. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes at 350˚ - until slightly browned.  Cool on wire rack.  

6 Extra Large Eggs - at room temperature
3 cups Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Grated Lemon Zest
1 cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (3 or 4 Large Lemons)
1 cup Flour
 Powdered (Confectioners) Sugar - for dusting after baked

Whisk together the Eggs, Sugar, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice and Flour.  Pour this mixture over the baked crust.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350˚ - until the filling is set.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Cut into bars or triangles.  Dust with Powdered sugar.

If you want to freeze these bars, I suggest leaving the Powdered Sugar off until you remove them from the freezer and are ready to serve them.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pineapple Cheesecake Bites

     Are you looking for a yummy cheesecake bar cookie for a special occasion or just an everyday and easy cookie?  Well, I think these fit the bill!  Just be sure you get them covered and into the fridge or into the freezer.  They will disappear fast, they are that yummy.  Enjoy this new recipe from Grammy's kitchen.


                                                   PINEAPPLE CHEESECAKE BITES

2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup cold Unsalted Butter (that’s 2 cubes or 1/2 pound)
1/8 teaspoon Salt
With your Mixer, combine the Flour, Sugar, Butter and Salt.  Mix until it all comes together into a dough.  Press dough into the bottom of a 9”x13”x2” baking pan (I use my Pyrex baking dish).  Bake the crust in 350˚ oven for 15 to 20 minutes - until crust begins to turn golden brown around the edges.  Cool slightly.

16 ounces Cream Cheese - at room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Milk
2 x-large Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla
16 - 20 ounce can Crushed Pineapple (well drained)
Cream together the Cream Cheese and Sugar.  Add in the Milk, Eggs, Vanilla and Crushed Pineapple. Spread mixture over the baked crust.

2 cups Flaked Coconut
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
Combine Coconut and Butter in small bowl.  Sprinkle over Pineapple Filling.  Bake in 350˚ oven for 15 - 20 minutes or just until the coconut begins to brown slightly.  Cool and cut into desired size bars.  I like a small bite size (that’s about 1 1/2” square) and serving them in cupcake papers make a nice presentation.  These do freeze nicely!   

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes

Fall is coming, we can feel it in the morning air.  Our days are still hot here in Redding, Ca. but there is a promise of Summer's end and it will soon be OK to bring on those wonderful comfort foods. Well, what is more comfortable than Scalloped Potatoes?  I have been making my scalloped potatoes in the microwave since I got my first one, in maybe 1977.  Yes, that was a long time ago!  The original recipe came in a little booklet that came with the microwave.  Well, I have no idea where that little book went so I will try to come up with a 'recipe' for you - since I have just made mine from memory for all these years.  I usually add cheese to my potatoes, once they are done but you don't have to in order to get that yummy, comfy taste.  You can serve this as a  side dish or add leftover ham and make it a main dish.  

                              SCALLOPED POTATOES

4-6 medium baking potatoes, washed and peeled (sometimes I  leave the peels on)
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dry chopped onion (or 1 small onion chopped)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup med. sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

Slice potatoes thin, about 1/4” thick.  In a large buttered, microwavable, casserole dish I split the ingredients into 3 layers - potatoes sprinkled with butter, salt and pepper,onion and flour.  Pour the milk over the top and stir just to mix it a bit.  Place casserole on a dish in microwave and cook on high and uncovered for about 8 minutes or until hot.  The large dish and the plate under is because this may bubble over and who wants the mess. Stir the potatoes and then microwave for about 30 minutes more, stirring every 8-10 minutes. Check the potatoes for doneness.  If you are adding the cheese, do it now and stir it into potatoes.  This is a good recipe to make a small amount or to make larger amounts.  Just adjust the ingredient amounts to suit your desires.  As it is, it should serve 4-6.

Caramel Corn

I really do love the holidays but....  sometimes they get so hectic that things I want to do just don't happen.  I sometimes find myself working right up until the last minute and then things don't always turn out right.  One of the ways to get around this is to start early and be prepared.  Cookies, candies, breads and lots of other things can be made and frozen for when you are ready to use them.  Well, then there are the times this just doesn't happen.  Sometimes quick goodies are called for!  Caramel Corn is one of those quick things I like to fix, quick.  It is a treat that most people enjoy but don't always make for themselves.  I surprised a couple of neighbors with this treat on the day before Christmas.  Of course, it is really good on any day - not just holidays.  I also like to make this when the Grandkiddos come to visit.  This recipe was given to me by a good friend many years ago.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has, over the years and through the moves....  Oh, I also want to mention that one time I needed a little filler when those Grandkiddos were visiting.  So, I pulled out a pot and made popcorn - from scratch, with real popping corn.  Well, they were amazed because they thought popcorn came in a little bag and was made in the microwave.  They gobbled it up!  So, for you that have never made popcorn from scratch, I am including instructions here.  For those of us that remember the old days, you can over look this part of the post...

                                                        Old Fashioned Popcorn

3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (Canola or Vegetable Oils are great)
1 cup Popping Corn

In a very large pot, heat the Cooking Oil until it is hot.  I put 3 seeds of popping corn into the pot, put on the lid and shake the pot.  When the 3 seeds have popped you will know that the oil is hot and ready so add the Popping Corn.  Put a tight fitting lid on the pot and shake to keep the seeds moving until it is fully popped.  When the popping is over, your popcorn is ready.  Now, you can dump your popped corn into a large bowl and add butter and salt or eat it plain.  1 cup of popping corn makes approximately 24 cups of popped corn.  This is a very large bowl of popcorn!


                                                            Caramel Corn

24 cups of plain Old Fashioned Popcorn (see recipe above, with no butter or salt added!)

2 cups Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Margarine (that's 2 cubes)
1/2 cup White Corn Syrup (I use Karo brand)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Butter Flavoring (adds a lot of flavor)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Peanuts or other nuts (optional)

Measure your Popcorn into a large and deep roasting pan. Watch for any unpopped kernals  and pull them out - they can break a tooth!

In a very large saucepan, combine the Brown Sugar, Margarine, Corn Syrup, and Salt.  Bring to a gentle boil and boil for 5 minutes - with no lid.

Remove saucepan from heat and add Butter Flavoring and stir.  Add the Baking Soda and Stir.  This mixture will foam up and then calm back down, this is why you want to use a very large saucepan.  Being very careful, because it is VERY HOT, pour the mixture over the Popped Corn  in the roasting pan.  Add the nuts, if you want them.  Mix everything together to coat the Popcorn.  Bake in 200˚ oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes - I use a wide spatula for stirring.  Allow to cool and break apart.  Enjoy!  Store in an airtight container (plastic storage bags are great for this) It will last for several days - if you can keep your hands out of it!

If you are giving this Caramel Corn as a gift, fill a nice gift bag or container that seals tight.  Tie with a ribbon and it is ready to go.  Neighbors love it!

Ginger Cookies

I have collected cookie recipes for many years.  I owned and operated a Candy, Gift and Dessert shop for several years when our boys were young.  I purchased the candies and gifts but the desserts were all mine.  I made large cookies - before they were the thing to do.  This was one of my favorites.  Today I want to share this recipe for Ginger Cookies with you and I hope you will enjoy it.

Ginger Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine              
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups flour
1/4 cup additional sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease cookie sheet.  Melt butter over low heat, transfer to a medium mixing bowl.  Beat in molasses and 1 cup sugar.  Beat the egg, in small bowl first, then into molasses mixture.  Sift together dry ingredients, then add to wet mixture.  Stir to blend well.  

Form 1 inch balls of dough.  Roll in additional sugar then arrange on cookie sheet.  These will spread so place them about 2 inches apart.  I like to pat them down slightly with my hand, just to get them started.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm to touch.  Cool on paper towels.  Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Croissant French Toast

Toward the end of June we made a little trip up to Creswell, Oregon to visit with family/friends Pattie and Steve.  We had a great time, as usual.  They took us to a little place for breakfast in their little town.  The Creswell Bakery on 2nd St. was a real treat.  It was a Saturday morning and the Saturday Special was French Toast.  The description was "two pieces of soaked & pan seared honey whole wheat bread, fresh lemon curd, whipped cream, toasted hazelnuts & fruit".  It sounded good and we all ordered it.  Well, I have to say that I was very impressed by this little bakery.  This french toast was soooo good and their lemon curd was obviously home made.  The homemade bread was thick sliced, the fruit was strawberries and those yummy hazelnuts were just the right touch of extra crunch.  I have dreamed of that french toast ever since!  Oh, before we left that bakery we purchased a couple of cookies and some scones for the next day.  Anyway, I decided I was going to have to come up with a similar french toast to have here at home.  I had a small jar of lemon curd in the pantry (from Trader Joe's)  I had some Hawaiian Bread to slice, fresh blueberries from my sister in law, and all the other things I needed.  It was really, really good.  Well, I wanted it again this morning and the only bread I could find was a couple of croissants in the freezer.  Ta-da!  I made Croissant French Toast with lemon curd and  blackberry jam.  I can just imagine serving this for brunch to visiting house guests.  YUM!

                            CROISSANT FRENCH TOAST

2 large Croissants, split in half
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Milk (or 1/2 & 1/2 for richer batter)
1 tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Canola Oil
1/2 tablespoon Butter
Fruit Jam (I had homemade blackberry that a friend made)
Lemon Curd (i had a small jar from Trader Joe's)
Powdered Sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Beat together the Eggs, Milk, Honey and Vanilla Extract in a shallow dish.  Coat each side of the Croissant halves in the mixture.  Set aside on a plate as you prepare the pan.  

Heat a large non stick fry pan to medium heat.  Add enough Canola Oil to pan to very lightly coat the pan.  Now add the Butter to the pan.  Once it is all melted together, begin frying your French Toast, cooking until each side is a nice medium brown, about 3 - 4 minutes on each side.  

This is great to serve with butter and syrup, but to make it a show stopper special, top with a little bit of good berry jam and a really nice Lemon Curd (I am always buying this at Trader Joe’s or when we are on trips).  You can be ambitious and make your own if you are so inclined.  Sprinkle on some fresh berries and a little powdered sugar and it’s soooo good!  Oh, that bacon on the side is just the right touch of salty to cut some of the sweet.  Give this one a try!

2 large servings