Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Grammy's Coffee Cake

I don't want anyone to panic or faint in shock but I am doing another post already.  My last one was yesterday.  I know I have been a bit slow getting the recipes out here but it all takes time.  I wanted to make something to have on hand for a little dessert and coffee the other night so I thought about it and decided to fix this old recipe for coffee cake.  When our boys were growing up we had a rule that you had to eat breakfast before you could open gifts on Christmas morning.  I came up with this recipe because it was easy to make the day before and it stayed moist.  Besides that, the boys would eat it up!  I don't remember where this recipe came from but it has been a good one for a lot of years.  I know it freezes well and everyone seems to like it.  If you don't have a tube pan, just bake it in what you have, layering the topping as instructed.  You can leave it in a baking pan, if you want to!  Oh, always remember that you can use any kind of nut you have on hand.  All you really have to do is make it and enjoy it!

                               GRAMMY'S COFFEE CAKE

1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Margarine or Butter, at room temperature
2 Eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt

          3/4 cup Walnuts, finely chopped
          3/4 cup Sugar
          2 teaspoons Cinnamon
          1 teaspoon Vanilla
          Mix all of the topping ingredients together and set aside

In a medium size mixing bowl, cream together the Sugar and Margarine.  Add the Eggs, Sour Cream and Vanilla and mix well.  Stir in the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt.  

In a well greased or sprayed tube pan, sprinkle a little of the Topping into the bottom.  Pour in 1/2 of the Batter.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the Topping over the Batter.  Add the remaining Batter over that.  Sprinkle the remaining Topping over the Batter. 

Bake in a 350˚ oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Turn the cake upside down onto a serving plate.  This cake is good warm or cold.  

Look what we did to that beautiful cake. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Basic Waffles with Apple, Bacon & Maple Topping

We had a waffle maker when our three sons were growing up but it didn't get used much.  It was just easier to make Pancakes or French Toast.  Those boys sometimes ate food faster than I could make it.  The machine got put away and someplace along the years it disappeared.  My husband John and I recently ate breakfast out and they had some waffles on the menu.  Well, I had to have some.  Well, then I had to have a new waffle maker to make them at home. Well, you know the story......

This is a good basic waffle recipe that is easy to increase or decrease.  For the two of us it is quick and easy to make.  I am hardly ever content to make 'just plain' anything so here are my waffles with apples, bacon and maple topping.  Oh, I also want to say that I think waffles are really good for brunch or dinner, as well as breakfast.  You can even add scrambled or fried eggs on the side if you like! That brown gob on the plate is crunchy peanut butter.  A yummy habit I picked up from John.  There is something about syrup and peanut butter!

                            BASIC WAFFLES

2 cups  All -Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1 1/2 cups Milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bow.  Stir with a wire whisk to evenly mix everything together.  Add in the Eggs, Butter and Milk.  Whisk it all together to moisten and remove any large lumps.  The batter should be thick but pourable.  

Preheat your waffle maker according to your machines instructions.  

Pour 1/2 cup (or the amount suggested by your waffle maker) onto the hot waffle griddle.  Close the lid and press it down lightly to level the batter.  Bake until done according to your waffle maker.  Mine buzzes!  

Remove waffle and serve immediately or waffles may be kept warm in a 200˚ oven while you make additional waffles.    Makes 5-6 waffles


4-6 slices Smoked Bacon, cooked crisp, drained and diced - set aside
2-3 Apples, washed, cored and diced small (I leave the peel on)
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

Fry the bacon until crisp in a medium fry pan.  Drain bacon on a paper towel and when cool, dice bacon.  Set this aside.  In the same fry pan, remove all but 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease.  Saute the diced Apples for about 4-5 minutes in the bacon grease. When the apple is just crisp tender, add the Maple syrup and Cinnamon. Cook until liquid reduces and you have a nice medium syrupy concoction, about 3 - minutes more or until the apples are done the way you like them.  

To serve, place warm Waffles on plate, top with butter, apple topping, diced bacon and drizzle with more maple syrup.  We also like a big spoon of peanut butter on the side!  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Macadamia Nut Chicken

I wanted to get this on my blog before Valentine's Day but guess what!  It didn't happen.  I cooked it, made notes, took photos and we even enjoyed eating it.  But, first I was bitten by a nasty stomach virus and then my husband got it.  We actually ate plain baked potatoes for our Valentine's Day dinner and this recipe did not get out here!  It may be late but here it is, finally!

First, though, I want to say that this is my version of what I love to eat when we are in Hawaii.  It's like chicken fried steak, only chicken, with nuts!   I have eaten several versions of this wonderful chicken and I have loved them all.  This is a simplified recipe to make life easy but yummy.  You could use any kind of nut but those Macadamia Nuts in Hawaii are so spectacular.  It's especially good when served with a quick homemade Mango Chutney or jam.  A Fresh Mango or Pineapple Salsa would be great too. Of course, prepared jams are good or just eat it plain.  When I made mine, I only had 1 Mango so I also used 1 Pear - it was really good!  I hope you enjoy my recipe.

                       MACADAMIA NUT CHICKEN

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

Place Chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound it with a mallet (or use a heavy bottomed fry pan) to about 1/2” thick.    This will help the chicken cook evenly and quickly.

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, minced
1 clove Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Mirin (Japanese Rice Wine) or Dry White Wine
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Combine marinade ingredients in a plastic zip bag.  Add the pounded chicken to the bag and coat it well.  Place on a dish and place it in the fridge for about 30 to 45 minutes.

1/2 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or unseasoned bread crumbs  (Panko is crunchier and best for this coating)
3/4 cup Macadamia Nuts, chopped very fine
1/2 cup Flour

1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Water

2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Butter

Combine Panko, Nuts and Flour in food processor.  Pulse to desired texture.  I like my coating to be a pretty fine texture but still be able to tell there are nuts in there. Pour this into a shallow dish for dredging your chicken.  In another dish, scramble the Egg with the Water. The water helps break up the whites of the egg. 

Remove marinated Chicken from the marinade and discard remaining marinade.  Use paper towels to blot excess liquid from chicken.  Dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then into the coating.  Coat a heavy fry pan with Oil to cover the bottom of the pan then melt in the Butter.  Heat the pan on medium high heat.  Fry the chicken for 3 or 4 minutes on each side - until golden brown.  Remove cooked chicken to ovenproof pan and place in 350˚ oven for about 15 minutes to finish cooking thoroughly.

Serve with a fresh Mango Salsa or Chutney on the side, you can make this or buy it already prepared.

Serves 4

Mango Chutney:
2 Ripe Mangos, diced
1/4 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup Water
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, fine chopped (optional, of course)
Combine everything in a small saucepan.  Over medium heat, boil until fruit is cooked and mixture becomes thick like a jam - this takes about 30 minutes.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lasagna - Made Easy

It has been a cold winter here in California.  We haven't had much rain but it is still cold.  I have enjoyed cooking and using my oven but it has to end soon.  All this comfort food is beginning to show.
John and I really like lasagna and I made it quite often when our three sons were growing up.  They all loved it and they ate leftovers for breakfast.  Now, I leave the lasagna making to our youngest son, Joel.  It's one of his specialties.  He lives 3 hours away from us so when we recently wanted lasagna I had to make it myself.  I didn't want to use meat this time so I gathered onions, mushrooms and spinach to add to the sauce, along with spices to bring the flavor up to what I like.  I use cottage cheese and an egg blended in the blender instead of Ricotta cheese.  Since I was using Joel's dry noodle method, I made sure the sauce was a little juicy to cook and soak into the noodles.  I broke my 'raw' noodles to fit my baking dish and I have to say it turned out pretty darned good!  There was plenty of leftovers so I wrapped portions for two in plastic wrap and then put them into plastic freezer bags.  Next time we want lasagna it will be simple to take it out of the freezer and heat it up.  Am I brilliant or what!  Enjoy...

                                Lasagna - Made Easy
                         (No need to boil the noodles!)

1 lb. Lasagna Noodles (dry and uncooked)
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 large White Onion, cut in med. cubes
2 lbs.  White Mushrooms, cleaned and cut in 1/4” thick slices
5 cloves Garlic, diced
8 oz. Fresh Baby Spinach (or a pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
32 oz  jar Marinara Sauce (make your own if you have time!)
1 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Oregano 
1 Tablespoon Basil
16 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, sliced or grated
12 - 16 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese 
1 Egg   (mix cottage cheese and egg in a blender until smooth)
1 cup Parmesan Cheese

Heat Canola Oil in a large deep fry pan.  Saute Onion until they are translucent.  Add in the Mushrooms and Garlic and saute until Mushroom juice is mostly gone.  Add in the Spinach and saute for 2 minutes. Add the Marinara Sauce, spices and water.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large and deep baking dish, put a little sauce on the bottom.  Then a layer of dry uncooked  Noodles, then Sauce, then the Cottage Cheese and Egg mixture (just dollop it on and smear it around), then the Mozzarella Cheese, sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese on and then repeat until you have 4 layers of noodles, sauce and cheeses. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake in 375˚ oven for 1 hour.  Use a fork to test those noodles for doneness.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes to brown up the top.  Let stand for 15 minutes to cool before cutting and serving.

Note: I place my baking dish on a foil lined cookie sheet, just in case it simmers over - you know how ugly some messes can be!

Swirl the cottage cheese/egg mixture!
First layer of noodles and sauce!

Leftover lasagna portions ready to freeze!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chicken Noodle Casserole

I was never fond of casseroles made with canned soup.  My Husband John did not care for Tuna Noodle Casseroles so I just didn't do that kind of thing.  However, there are times that you want to make a big, yummy and comforting casserole dish to either take somewhere or just to eat for sheer comfort.  I do like a good chicken noodle soup and yummy chicken pot pie is up there on my list.  I buy Rotisserie Chickens from Costco because they are so convenient, nice and plump and juicy and they are only $4.99.  I like this recipe with spaghetti broken into 2" pieces because you don't get a big mouth full of just plain pasta in each fork full.  The mushrooms are optional so use them or not.  It's good either way.  You can use the lower calorie cream cheese if you like.  This recipe makes enough for 8 or 10 people or you can freeze a small casserole or two for another time.  Since there are only two of us here, now that our 3 boys have grown up and left us, I freeze extras for later dinners.  I hope you enjoy this newer recipe of mine.  Make it your own!

                                    Chicken Noodle Casserole

3 or 4 cups cooked Chicken - diced or shredded *
12 oz. Noodles (Noodles, Linguini or Spaghetti broken into 2”pieces), cooked till firm
2 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine
1 cup White Onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Garlic, finely chopped (that’s approx. 4 cloves)
1 pound Mushrooms, quartered (white or Crimini) these are good but optional
1 cup Dry White Wine (Good but optional! Add 1/2 cup water if omitting wine)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 cup Flour
2  14.5 oz. cans Chicken Broth (about 4 cups)
1  8 oz. package Cream Cheese, cut into 1” pieces
1 cup frozen Petite Peas
2 cups Pepper Jack Cheese, grated (Plain Jack or Mozzarella work too)
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

In a large pot, melt Butter.  Slowly saute White Onion, Garlic and Mushrooms until Onions are translucent. Add the White Wine and the Salt and Pepper.  Cook until liquid is reduced by half - 3 or 4 minutes.  Sprinkle the Flour over onion mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in the Chicken Broth and cook until the sauce in thickened (about 4 minutes).  Stir in the cubed Cream Cheese (it will melt and blend as it heats up).  Add in the Peas and Cheese.  Add the cooked Chicken and cooked Noodles and stir to combine everything.  Pour into a large sprayed or buttered baking dish - I use a large glass baking dish and there is also enough for a smaller casserole dish for the freezer.  Sprinkle Panko Bread Crumbs on top and bake uncovered at 350˚ for approx. 30 minutes.   

*Note, I use the breast meat from an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the market (Costco for me).  You can cook your own chicken breasts in an oiled fry pan for about 4 minutes on each side or just until done.  Of course, leftover turkey can also be used!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chex Party Mix

I don't know when Chex cereals came on the market but I know that my Mom made this yummy snack every year.  She would fill a big paper grocery bag with the stuff and we ate on it for days.  We loved the stuff!  Now, I still make it but I change the ingredients around to suit our tastes.  It seems like everyone likes something different.  I like the Wheat Chex, my husband likes the Rice and Corn Chex. My Mom doesn't like cheese crackers so I throw in extra Chex or some Oyster (Soup) crackers.  Everyone will sit and pick out their favorite nuts.  So, you can substitute whatever crunchy snack you like.  I started making the BBQ flavored Mix when I was trying to come up with a totally meatless variety (you know that anchovies are in Worcestershire sauce, don't you?)  These Chex Party Mixes are a favorite of mine to take as hostess gifts too.  Check out the dollar store or craft store in your area for nice gift bags and tie on a pretty ribbon.  Endless possibilities!

                                     CHEX PARTY MIX

NOTE:  You can use any combination of crunchy cereals, crackers etc. that you like in these mixes.  You just need 11 cups total.

1/2 cup (1 cube) Margarine
1 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
3 cups Corn Chex                                                                                                                                                                                             3 cups Rice Chex  
3 cups Wheat Chex                                              
1 cup Pretzel Sticks
1 cup Cheese Crackers

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large 2 - 3 inch deep baking pan (15” x 10 “ size), melt the margarine.  Mix in the Seasoned Salt, Garlic Powder and Worcestershire Sauce.  Add the remaining Crunchy Ingredients and mix well to coat all the pieces.  Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and then store in airtight container.  This mix will keep for at least 1 week.

1/2 cup (1 cube) Margarine
1/4 cup Barbecue Sauce (your favorite kind)
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
6 cups Chex Cereals (corn, rice or wheat mixed)    
2 cups Corn Chips                                                   
1 cup Cheese Crackers                                                                                                                                           
1 cup Pretzels 
1 cup Mixed Nuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large 2 - 3 inch deep baking pan (15” x 10” size), melt the margarine.  Mix in the Barbecue Sauce and Seasonings.  Add the crunchy ingredients and mix well to coat all pieces.  Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and then store in airtight container. This mix will keep for at least a week! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grammy's Meat Loaf

Sometimes we have just had enough food!  During November and December we ate every imaginable thing.  We ate out a lot, we had turkey, ham, prime rib, lobster and who knows what else.  Well, what are we going to have for dinner tonight?  Yes, everyday we have to make that decision.  I am so full I can't even think of a thing that sounds good.  However, we still feel the need to eat.  I guess it's time to pull out the good old comfort foods and feel the love!  My mom never made meat loaf so I don't have her secret recipe.  Over the years I have seen recipes with just about everything put into meat loaves.  Finally, I came up with this easy recipe that my husband and I like.  It's very simple and basic, sometimes that is the best thing.  Of course, you can add whatever you like.  Don't forget the leftovers on this one and it makes great sandwiches.  

                   Grammy’s Meat Loaf

1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
1 cup Yellow or White Onion, fine chopped
1 or 2 cloves Garlic, fine chopped
1 teaspoon Thyme, fresh or dried
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

2 lbs. Ground Beef (I use 80 to 90% Fat Free)
2 slices Whole Wheat Bread, cut in small cubes and crumbled (use your favorite bread)
1/2 cup Beef Stock (I use Better Than Bouillon brand, lower sodium) 
2  Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 large Egg

1/2 cup Ketchup (for the topping plus extra for serving on the side)

In a shallow fry pan, bring Cooking Oil to medium heat and saute the Onion, Garlic, Thyme, Salt and Pepper until the onion is translucent, but not brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and allow to cool just a bit.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Ground Beef with the Bread crumbles.  Do this lightly and just enough to break up the Ground Beef.  Make a hole in the center of your meat mixture. 

In a small bowl, combine the Beef Stock, Worcestershire Sauce and Egg.  Pour this liquid and the Onion and Garlic mixture into the hole you made in the Ground Beef and using your hands, gently mix everything until it is just combined.  You don’t want to over work your Ground Beef or it will become too dense.  You want a nice light mixture!

Gently form the meat mixture into a loaf shape on a foil lined baking pan or dish.  Spread the Ketchup evenly over the top of the Meat Loaf and bake for about an hour in a 350˚ oven.  You want the internal temperature to be 160˚ so it is cooked all the way through.

Serves 6

I usually serve mashed potatoes and green beans with my meatloaf, along with extra Ketchup.  Leftovers make really good sandwiches with a little mayonnaise and Ketchup spread on your bread.  Pure Comfort Food!!!

Ready to bake!

Ready to slice and eat!