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Friday, March 30, 2012

Spanish Casserole

I posted this recipe last year, but I am making it for dinner tonight, so I thought I would share it again.  It is very flavorful, and is good for a crowd.  A perfect dish for the weekend.  Have a great weekend, everybody!

7 oz. pkg, elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 C canned finely diced tomatoes
1 C tomato sauce
4 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. cumin
1# ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 C pitted black olives, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. cayenne
Grated sharp cheddar
Fritos and sour cream

Cook meat; add peppers and onions; sauté.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Add spices; simmer for 30 minutes.  Add olives, corn and cook 10 minutes.  Add cooked macaroni.  Put in 3 quart casserole dish, top with cheese and Fritos.  Bake at 325* 25 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with sour cream and extra Fritos, if desired.   

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I was tagged by my sweet friend Sudha of Wit, Wok, and Wisdom to answer 12 questions about me that she composed.  For better or worse, here they are:
1. Given a choice, which profession would you love to choose? Homemaker and mother...I have a BSN from the Medical University of South Carolina, but have rarely worked out of the home.
2. What pleases you more – cooking or baking? I am pretty much a savory cook, but I am beginning to branch out into bread making with the help of our sweet Kitty, of Kitty's Kozy Kitchen! We live near each other, and have been friends for years.
3. Which movie is you favorite movie? The Quiet Man with John Wayne
4. If there was one thing that you could change in your family, what would it be? That my son Micheal had not suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2004, and that his life was not so sad and difficult.
5. If there was one thing that you could change in you, what would it be? My temper.
6. Do you feel the need to refer to cookbooks when you cook/bake? Give the reason why. Most of my cooking is done from memory. I make a lot of dishes that have been cooked by my family for generations...but I love trying new recipes!
7. Who is the greatest inspiration of your life? My husband, and his mother and my grandmother...those two exceptional ladies are deceased...and I miss them every day.
8. Which is the most recent book/magazine you have read? Southern Lady magazine.
9. What made you start blogging? I wanted to preserve and pass on to my grandchildren and nieces old family recipes, plus making a connection with others who love cooking as much as I do.
10. On an average, what percentage of time can you afford to spend on your blog in a day? A couple of hours in the evening, while my hubby watches TV.
11. Which feature of blogging do you like the most? Making new friends like you! :)
12. What feature in my blog do you like the most? Your comments, and lovely recipes!  I has been a pleasure getting to know you. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was surprised and delighted to learn this morning that Lisa, of Flour Me With Love had given me the Versatile Blogger Award!  I send my heartfelt thanks to Lisa.  I feel honored, and post this with pride!

This is how this award works:
1. Thank the people who gave you this award.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award.
4. Tell seven things about yourself.

Here are my 15 nominations!
1. Breathing English Air
2. The French Hutch
3. Miss Kopy Kat
4. Inside a British Mum's Kitchen
5. The Wednesday Baker
6. NanaDiana
7. Teenz Yummy Delights
8. Berries and More
9. Two Birdies and a B
10. My Cozy Little Farmhouse
11. Cozy Home Scenes
12. Kitchen Karma
13. The Rauber House
14. Debbie Dabble
15. The New York Melrose Family

Here are seven things about me:
1. I married my high school sweetheart 52 years ago, and we are still madly in love!  He is my very best friend.
2. We have three sons, nine fantastic grandchildren, and a three year-old great-grandson who hung the moon!
3. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my family and friends.  I am privileged to know some of the finest, most loving people, on this..or any other.. planet!
4.  I love to cook for those I love, share recipes and ideas on my blog, travel, and read.  The hobby I enjoy most, however, is genealogy research!
5. I am afraid of water deeper than a bathtub, heights, small closed in places, snakes, frogs, and I hate to drive a car!
6.  My husband, his mother, and my grandmother (both ladies are deceased) are my personal heroes.
7.  I am proud to be an American, and I am Southern by the grace of God!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheese Straws

I was browsing my cookbook collection this morning, and ran across my copy of "Charleston Receipts", published in 1950.  It has been much revered by Southern ladies who cook, for generations.  When I was a young homemaker, and attended a ladies luncheon, shower, or tea, cheese straws were ALWAYS on the menu.  They bring back many pleasant memories for me, so I decided to share this recipe with my blog friends!  I hope you will give them a try!  Enjoy, y'all!

1# sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 3/4 C plain flour
1/4# butter, creamed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper (cayenne)

Cream butter, add cheese, salt and peppers, then flour.  Put in cookie press or roll thin and cut in narrow strips 4" long.  Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until light brown.  Makes about 100. (Southern ladies entertained a lot in the 50's!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

I was craving some shrimp scampi, and had some beautiful shrimp I needed to cook, so I googled a recipe.  The one I thought sounded best was on Food Network, by cute little Tyler Florence.  I tweaked it a bit to suit my taste.  It came out great, and very tasty.  As my hubby says, this one is a keeper.  He also said it was the best shrimp scampi he had ever tasted...but he is my number one fan....so what can I tell you!

1 # pasta ( I used spaghetti)  cooked al dente, per package directions.
1# shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
6 TBS butter
6 TBS extra-virgin  olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
3-4 cloves garlic, or to taste
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Chopped parsley leaves for garnish

Boil pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, in large skillet, melt half the butter and oil.   Add shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute' until shallots are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add shrimp; salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes.  Remove shrimp from pan, set aside, and keep warm.  Add wine and lemon juice, bring to a boil.  Then put in rest of butter and oil.  When butter has melted, put shrimp and cooked pasta back in pan.  Stir well, garnish with chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.  I sprinkle mine with a good Parmesan.

Whimsy Wednesday

What's New Wednesday 

Wow Us Wednesdays 

Rock and Share

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Corned Beef with Cabbage, Leeks, Dutch Potatoes, and Carrots

I always make corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick's Day...I make it for my hubby, but I do not like it. ( Sorry about that, Irish ancestors.)  This year I was determined to prepare it in a way that I would like...and eat.  Well, I did it!  This recipe was very tasty.  I cooked it in my slow cooker, and that made it very easy.  I will definitely make it again next year!

3 pound corned beef brisket
3 leeks washed, most of dark leaves cut off
6 small carrots, peeled
18 Baby Dutch potatoes, washed
1 head of cabbage, cut in quarters
2 stalks celery, with leaves
1/2 of seasoning packet that come with meat
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 carton beef stock

Rinse corned beef well, put in slow cooker.  Put in 1/2 of seasoning in packet, bay leaf, whole cloves, salt and pepper.  Add 1 carton of beef broth, and enough water to cover meat and vegetables.  Cook on high about 1 1/2-2 hours, then add potatoes and cabbage, and cook until vegetables are done.  Serve with Boar's Head horseradish sauce..or spicy mustard, if you prefer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kin Folks and Celtic Things

Saint Patrick's Day is Saturday, so I have pulled out some of my favorite Celtic things to celebrate the day.  These three are particularly special, because my cousin made them for me.  Her real name is Gwendolyn, but I lovingly call her littlecousin.  Her grandfather, and my grandmother, were siblings.  I used to love to go to her grandfather's..my Great- Uncle Mercer's house to see his minnow ponds, and raid his peach trees.  He would have watermelon in the summer too!  At family reunions, there would always be several of them in a nearby creek, cooling for dessert...if you weren't already stuffed from eating the farm fresh meat and vegetable dishes ..plus the delectable pies and cakes the assorted aunts and cousins made!  Our Hodges-Thomas reunion sprung out of the yearly cemetery cleaning day.   Our Great-great-great-great grandparents were founding members of a Baptist church in our home town in 1825...and yes, it is still holding services every week.  Many of our ancestors are buried in the cemetery there, and the family would meet and clean the grave sites once a year.  The church eventually hired someone to maintain it, but our family kept the tradition of the reunion for decades, at a nearby state park.  (My grandmother had 64 double-first cousins!  I don't have a single one!) This is a small part of the history that my littlecousin and I share.  We are related on both our mother's, and father's sides of the family.  I mean, she is my COUSIN!  My grandmother used to say, "I'm so Southern, that I'm kin to myself."  A very large number of Southern people are descendants of Celts..Irish, Scottish, Welch.  That is in large part where we get our love of family, tradition, storytelling, and fun.  I am proud to be both!  Now, here are the things littlecousin has made for me incorporating Celtic knots.
A beautiful St. Patrick's Day apron with shamrocks.

With this wee fellow on the bottom of the apron.   Sláinte - pronounced "SLAWN-cha", means "health" in Irish, and as a salute means "Cheers" or "To your health" ...

I love a good cup of hot tea, so she made this lovely tea cozy for me, with a Celtic knot on the front...it has a thistle on the back, but don't tell the Irish!

She also embroidered a set of 12 napkins with our monogram, and Celtic knots.
I love and treasure these things, not only because of the designs, but mostly because they were created by my sweet cousin...I consider both a family treasure!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Panko Breaded Butterflied Shrimp

This is what I cooked for dinner tonight.  If the photo is a little off, that's because I was almost stampeded before I could take it!  I found some lovely shrimp on sale at Central Market, and decide to butterfly and fry them with a Panko crust.  My hubby was a bit dubious about using Panko crumbs,  but was thrilled with the end result.  They were crispy, crunchy, and delicious.  Here's how I fried them....simple, and very tasty.

24 large shrimp
1/2 tsp. salt and  1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 C Aunt Jemima White Corn Meal Mix
1 C flour
1 tsp. Tony Chachere Original Creole Seasoning
1 tsp. paprika
2 eggs
1 C Panko bread crumbs
Vegetable or peanut oil

Peel and de-vein shrimp, leaving tails intact.  I butterflied mine because they were large.  Just start in middle of the shrimp, and cut toward the front.  You can leave the bottom attached, or cut all the way through.  Rinse well, then pat dry.  Put cornmeal mix, flour and seasonings in a bowl, and mix well.  Put eggs in a bowl,  and beat until mixed.  Put Panko crumbs in a flat bowl.  Heat oil to 375F.  Coat each shrimp with the flour mixture, dip in egg, and then Panko crumbs.  Deep fry for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.  I served mine with homemade tarter sauce, cocktail sauce, home French fries, and a garlic slaw.

Cottage Pie

Saint Patrick's Day is Saturday.  I have always enjoyed celebrating it, even though I don't like Guinness! :)  When I was in elementary school, we delighted in finding some poor soul who didn't wear green on the Irish holiday, and giving them a good pinch!  I am of Irish descent, however..and I think that is a very good thing!  The term Cottage Pie and Shepard's Pie are used interchangeably...but my Grandmother...who knew everything....told me Cottage Pie was made with beef, and Shepard's Pie with lamb....so, I'll go with that!  It is a dish that is common in Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland as well, and on most Pub menus.  It is a good way to fill a lot of hungry stomachs, but it is like meatloaf...either good or not so much!!  This recipe was given to me by an English friend, so I think it is pretty authentic.  My friends out there from Ireland and the UK will have to make that call.  Happy Saint Patty's Day!

3 TBS vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 # ground beef (or lamb for Shepard's Pie)
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 bullion cubes
1 heaping tsp. flour
1 C white wine
1/2 C water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. tarragon

1/2 C canned whole whole kernel, if desired
2 TBS Parmesan or Cheddar Cheese, to sprinkle on top

Potato Topping: 
3-4 large potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1 C half and half (adjust to make mashed potatoes soft and spreadable, not too thick or runny.)

Heat oil in large fry pan, over low heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook until soft.  Turn up heat a bit, and add meat, stirring until it is done.  Drain off fat; add tomato paste, bullion and flour.  Cook for a minute before adding the wine and water.  Season with Salt and pepper; add tarragon.  Simmer gently for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook, drain and mash the potatoes.  Add butter, half and half, and season with salt and pepper.  Put beef  mixture in a large, well-greased baking dish. Spread drained corn over meat, if adding it, then cover all with the mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle cheese over the top, and bake in 350F oven, uncovered, for about 35 minutes.  Place under broiler for a few minutes to brown potatoes, if desired. but be careful not to burn them!  The corn is not traditionally used, but it does add a nice flavor.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nanny's Irish Beef Stew

Saint Patrick's Day is this week, and it makes me think of my Irish ancestors, and the beautiful Emerald Isle they lived on before they came to America. Some arrrived in the colony in the 1600's, the last to arrive came in 1784 from Cork, and settled in South Carolina. They came to my hometown in Georgia in 1825, and put down permanent roots there. The family names were Blair and Andrews. My grandmother spent a lot of time with her grandmother, Elizabeth Andrews Hodges, a descendant of these families. She taught my grandmother to cook...and assured her that they were "lace curtain Irish"...not so sure what that means, but I heard it from my grandmother..a lot. :) This is my grandmother's recipe, and she called it Irish Stew...she also called all brown skinned white potatoes, Irish Potatoes. She thought cooking and food were all about family, and family tradition, and passed that idea on to me. Wow..how I loved my Grandmother!

2# marbled stew beef, in cubes
1 box Swanson’s beef stock
1 box of water (measured in the empty stock box)
2-3 cans finely diced tomatoes (start with two, and add more if more tomato flavor is desired)
2 onions cut in cubes
4-5 potatoes, cubed
3-4 carrots cut in rounds
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 1/2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt ½ tsp. pepper
1 TBS flour for thickening

Put garlic salt and pepper on beef, dredge in flour, and brown in oil. Stir well. Add Worcestershire sauce, broth, water and tomatoes. Simmer for about an hour or two. Add onions, potatoes, and carrots. Cook until done. Taste, and add extra seasoning if needed. Serve in Irish Soda Bread bowls, or with Garlic Texas Toast (I use frozen kind.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

I made this for Sunday brunch this morning. and it was a big hit!  I just had to pass it on.  Lindsay posted it on her blog artsy-fartsy mama.  I wasn't sure it would work with the limited ingredients listed, but I had some over-ripe bananas, and not much desire to drag out a lot of stuff to make something out of them.  The garbage can was looking like a good option.  I remembered seeing this on Pinterest, so decided to give it a try.  It was easy, it did work, and my guys almost ate the whole thing...as you can see by the photo.  They spread butter on their slices.  It is VERY good!   Great idea, Lindsay.

Yellow cake mix
2 eggs
3-4 over-ripe bananas
1 cup nuts and/or chocolate chips (I used pecans)

Mash bananas in a large bowl, then add remaining ingredients and mix well, using a hand mixer. Batter will fill 2 small loaf pans or one large loaf pan. Spray pans well with nonstick cooking spray and a little bit of flour.  Bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes (bake longer if using larger loaf pan)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cuban Mojito Chicken with Black Beans and Yellow Rice

My hubby was fortunate enough to go on a mission to Cuba a few years back.  He came back with a great fondness for the Cuban people, and this chicken dish.  He said  there was a version of it on every Cuban restaurant menu.  I tried many times to duplicate it...but it was hard to match "it was chicken with spices and orange".  After much experimentation, I found a recipe on Epicurious that I adapted.  This is the result.  It is tasty, and very different.  I would love to hear from any Cuban food experts out there to find out if this is authentic.  Excuse the messy presentation, but they guys grabbed their plates so quickly, this was available to photograph. :)

8 pieces of chicken
1 C marinade (recipe below)
1 large onion, sliced
Cilantro leaves, orange and lime wedges for garnish
Cuban Black Beans (recipe follows)
Mahatma yellow rice

1/4 C garlic, minced
1/2 C onion. chopped
2 C fresh orange juice
1/2 C fresh lime juice
1/2 C olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 TBS cilantro, chopped

Mix garlic, onions, citrus juices in a bowl.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan.  Carefully slide contents of bowl into pan.  Be very careful because liquid might splatter.  Simmer until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.  When marinade is cool, pour into a blender and pulse three or four times to blend.  Put in covered container and refrigerate.  Marinade keeps for about two weeks.  I make my marinade a day or so in advance to allow the flavors to fully develop.  To prepare chicken, pour marinade over the it, and rub some under the skin.  Marinate for about 4 hours, or overnight.  When ready to cook chicken, spread onion slices over the bottom of a baking dish; lay chicken on top of onions,  skin side up.   Roast about 1  hour and 15 minutes at 375F, until the chicken is golden brown.  Place chicken on serving platter, pour some pan juices over it, and garnish with fresh cilantro, orange and lime wedges.  The fresh citrus squeezed on the chicken at the table adds flavor.

Cuban Black Beans
I had never cooked black beans before, so I found this recipe from Saveur, and modified it.
1 1/2# dried black beans (1 bag)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 ham hock
1 tsp. cumin
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Onion, chopped for garnish

Sort and clean beans to remove any small stones or particles; rinse under cold water.  Saute' vegetables in a little olive oil, then add beans and all ingredients, and cover with 3-4 inches of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and cook about 2 hours, or until beans are tender.  Add water as needed, but don't make the broth too soupy.  Remove bay leaf before serving, and garnish with freshly chopped onion.