Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pig In A Blanket

One of my favorite "Daddy's Away" meal as a child was my momma's version of Pig in Blankets. She would take the Lykes hot dogs and wrap them in a slice of American cheese and then fold a slice of "light" bread over both in a triangle shape. Then, she would fasten the Pig in Blanket securely while baking with a toothpick. These little delicacies would bake in a preheated moderate oven - 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the dogs were good and sweaty, the cheese melted, and the bread nice and toasted. You will need to check at 5 minute intervals, as you do not want the bread to get too dark.
This was the version of Pig in Blankets that I made for my children and their friends. It was a tradition to serve them after trick or treating on Halloween, often with chili. We would also enjoy them at slumber parties and after Friday night high school football games.
Try these little treats. Your children and grandchildren will love them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Boiled Buttered Okra - So Good and Good For You

Okra, so tender and fresh and so very nutritional, is one of my favorite vegetables. Of course, like any Southern girl, I love it pan fried in cornmeal or deep fried in a fritter batter. But, my very favorite way to cook and eat okra is boiled in salted water and then simmered in butter.
Okra was brought to North America, especially the south, during the days of slave trade. The Swahili name for okra is gumbo, laying way for many of those delicious Louisiana and Mississippi Gumbo recipes. It is one of the most nutritional vegetables available. It has a multitude of nutrients that promote healthy pregnancy. Okra is full of Folic Acid, an essential element for a growing fetus, Vitamin B and Vitamin C. A half cup of okra has only 25 calories, before I add the butter, and 2 grams of fiber.
When preparing okra to boil, very carefully trim the stem end of the okra with a paring knife. Trim off the hard edge, where the stem is attached to the pod. But, do not cut too deeply, as this will cause the okra to ease out of the pod as it gently boils. This will surely end in a slimy pot of okra. We don't mind a little slime at my house, but we do want the pod of okra to remain intact.
Place a dozen to two dozen pods of trimmed okra into a pot of salted water. Bring the pot to a rolling boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes. My definition of simmer is a very slow boil with a few bubbles rising in the pot. Add the amount of butter that you desire - from a few tablespoons to 1/2 cup. The amount of butter that you use depends on the number of okra that you are cooking, your personal preference, and your dietary concerns. When dinner is served, place the okra and a little of the butter sauce in a vegetable bowl. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and enjoy.  All of my children grew up eating boiled okra. Of course, they preferred fried, but eating okra was never a fight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oven Barbecued Chicken

Years ago, when barbecue grills were not gas or electric and charcoal was the only option, cooking outdoors was a special event. In my family, we only grilled on holidays or maybe on a Saturday night when the neighbors came over for a cookout. But, my mother would often "barbecue" ribs, chicken, or pork chops in the oven. I especially loved her oven barbecued chicken. It was so juicy and the sauce was quite tangy. The meat just fell off of the bones. I  have recently found her recipe for Oven Barbecued Chicken written on the back cover of one of her church cookbooks.
Please, if you prepare this for your family, don't use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Find a 21/2 to 3 pound chicken in the meat department and have the butcher prepare it for frying, including the pulley bone. Springer Mountain has smaller sized chickens that are perfect for this recipe. They are a little pricey, but well worth the money.

Oven Barbecued Chicken

2 1/2 to 3 pounds of chicken pieces
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
1/4 cup salad oil
1 large Vidalia onion
1 cup catsup
1 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard

Salt and pepper chicken pieces
Dredge chicken in flour and brown in the 1/4 cup oil, turning once, about 3 minutes on each side- on medium high heat in large skillet
Remove chicken pieces from skillet and place in Dutch Oven with tight fitting lid
Slice Vidalia onion into rings and place on browned chicken pieces
Add  final seven ingredients to medium  mixing bowl. Whisk until thoroughly mixed.
Pour sauce over chicken pieces.
Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven one and one half hours.

You are going to make your family very happy. Children need to learn the joy of a drumstick covered in barbecue sauce. Some things are just too good to be forgotten.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Southwest Chicken with Corn Salsa

Why on earth is this South Georgia girl posting a Mexican chicken dish on her Southern cooking blog? I had never even had a taco until I was married with children and busy teaching school. One school year, I was introduced to my new teacher's aide (as paraprofessionals were called in those days). She was one of  the most delightful ladies that I had ever met. Ms Victoria Flores was as wide as she was tall, loved the children, and was a great help in the classroom. We had to be at school around 7:30 am, if we weren't on early morning duty. Victoria would get up early in the morning and fry delicious bunuelos- those delicately fried Mexican treats rolled in cinnamon sugar. To say the least, our classroom was a popular hangout before school on those days.  She was only supposed to be with my kindergarten class for the first two weeks of school, while the children were learning to walk in straight lines and safely load the afternoon bus. Two years later, she was still with me. No one else had a permanent aide- we never asked any questions - just had a great time working together!! She introduced me to all types of Mexican food. We had to trick my husband, whose South Georgia momma had kept him on a very strict Southern diet - Fried Chicken, Okra, Homemade pies from scratch, Roast Beef every Sunday, and the like. Victoria gave me a version of this Chicken recipe to try on him and of course, it was a hit. Miss Victoria did everything from scratch, but I have revised the original recipe through the years. I just don't have time to make homemade salsa.

Southwest Chicken With Corn Salsa

4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts- thin cut
 1 package taco seasoning mix - I like El Paso
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium zucchini
1 medium onion diced - I only use Vidalias - if available
1/2 medium green pepper diced
1 can Tender Crisp corn or frozen bag of corn -12 ounces
1 1/2 cup salsa - as hot as you desire - I'm not very daring and always get mild
2 cups cooked rice

Salt and Pepper Chicken and coat with Taco Seasoning
Heat oil in nonstick skillet and cook chicken around 10 minutes until golden and cooked through
Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm
Saute zucchini, onions, and peppers until tender- Cook corn if using frozen-
Salt and pepper as you go!!
Add  corn and salsa to skillet and heat thoroughly.
Serve over the chicken and hot, cooked rice - I have no objections to Minute Rice for this recipe - or the precooked bags- especially on a busy work day

This recipe takes about 20 minutes and is on the table. It is a good week night dish that the children will eat and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Pasta Salad

Cooking is about more than putting ingredients into a pan and following directions on a recipe. As in fashion, you have to have a style or sense about food and food combinations. Some people can read a recipe and instantly know if it has potential to be great or if it is not worth the time or money to prepare. In my mind that is what a "foodie" should be. My baby daughter is somewhat of my definition of a "foodie". I know that if she gives me a recipe to try for the blog, that I am probably going to love it and eat way too much. Recently, she forwarded me her recipe for BLT pasta salad. It is very easy and super yummy. It will be great as one of your 4th of July sides.

BLT Pasta Salad

3 cups spiral shaped pasta, uncooked
4 ounces cream cheese,cubed - half of an 8 oz package
1 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked, and crumbled
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes- halved
1 tsp Italia seasoning

Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package
Meanwhile, cook cream cheese, milk, and Parmesan in large skillet on medium heat 3 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and sauce is well blended, stirring frequently. Add all remaining ingredients except  pasta; cook and stir 5 minutes or until heated through.
Drain pasta and return to pan. Add Sauce and toss to coat.