Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Barbecue Sloppy Joes

It's back to school time and a favorite weeknight dinner around my house has always been Sloppy Joes. My adult friends and family love them as much as the kids. They are great to throw together before Friday night football games or after cheerleading practice. Tater Tots are the standard side dish along with an ear of fresh Silver Queen corn.

Years ago, I found the recipe for delicious Sloppy Joe's on the Kraft Barbecue Sauce bottle. My kids grew up with this version and now the Grandkids love it also. The recipe has plenty of onions and bell pepper, but I really brown them until they become quite tender and the kids don't seem to object. That pepper and onion flavor are a must with ground round, in my personal opinion.
I grabbed my wrinkled recipe on the bottle and made this recipe last night. I planned to follow it exactly. The Barbecue Sauce recipe must have changed in the last 40 years, because the amount of sauce on the instructions would have been too strong for our taste. 

Kraft Barbecue Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground round
1 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 cup green bell peppers
1/2 cup red bell peppers
3/4 cup Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce

Salt and Pepper ground round.
Brown onion and peppers with meat until vegetables are tender and beef is no longer pink.
Stir in Barbecue Sauce and simmer 10 minutes.
Add cheese if desired.
Serve on soft buns.
Don't forget to provide forks and knives. This recipe is not really pick up style.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Caprese Salad - Southern Style

We have been making basil and tomato salad drizzled with olive oil for years at our house. If you are a gal from South Georgia, then fresh tomatoes are like ambrosia. My favorite way of eating tomatoes is right over the sink, holding the tomato in one hand and the salt shaker in the other. My husband on the other hand, considered himself more of a gourmet. He grew fresh herbs and we always had a tomato plant staked against the backyard fence. A few years ago, our local grocery began selling fresh mozzarella in the deli section. I had often had Caprese Salad at restaurants, but did not enjoy the balsamic vinegar dressing. Therefore, our South Georgia version of Caprese Salad only has a drizzle of olive oil, along with delicious Tasty Lee tomatoes from Publix
I also like really good Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Zoe's Organic is very high quality. 

Southern Style Caprese Salad

3 Vine Ripe Tomatoes - Sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella- Sliced 1/4 inch thick
20 Basil Leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - good quality, such as Zoe's
Coarse Salt and Pepper

Arrange Tomato and Mozzarella slices on serving plate
Scatter Basil Leaves evenly over the slices
Drizzle with the Olive Oil 
Generously Salt and Pepper

Let sit for at least 5 minutes. You want the salt and pepper to have time to settle into the acidic tomatoes for that down-home taste. 

Eat this quite regularly while yummy tomatoes are readily available. Tomatoes are super healthy and very heart friendly. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Retro Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My 1970 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook was a wedding gift from my mother in law Alice Bailey. I have tried other versions of the Banana Tea Bread, Apple Crumb Pie, Meat Loaf, Swiss Steak and the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. But, I always pull this red and white check cookbook out when preparing many of our favorite meals. The Pineapple Upside Down recipe can't be beat and is a timeless, tender cake with sticky and gooey caramelized topping. The pineapple, and just a bite of maraschino cherry adds the perfect touch.

My 1970 Better Homes and Garden cookbook. Do you have one?
Page 70 - the Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe - I see a little brown sugar or is that melted butter.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

6 slices of canned pineapple - Too bad, we can no longer get pineapple in Heavy Syrup - just for this recipe
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 maraschino cherries
1/3 cup shortening - I use the butter flavored crisco for this recipe
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup self rising flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain pineapple slices, reserving syrup. Melt butter in 10 in cast iron skillet or 8x8x2 baking dish. Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of pineapple syrup. Add enough water to make 1/2 cup of the remaining pineapple juce. You may not have to add water. Reserve this for later. 
Arrange pineapple in pan. Place a cherry in the center of  each pineapple slice.

Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the flour alternately with the pineapple juice and beat well after each addition, scraping down the sides. Spread the batter over the pineapple.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Invert onto a heat proof cake platter. 

This was my Daddy's favorite cake and I am very fond of it myself. Be sweet and I may bring you a piece. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pioneer Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce

Years ago, we visited the York House Inn between Mountain City and Dillard Georgia. We were staying at Black Rock Mountain State park in one of the awesome cabins on the very top of the mountain. The York House Inn is a beautiful bed and breakfast and the oldest in Georgia. It began welcoming overnight guests in 1896. While we were there, one summer afternoon, we were served Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce on the front porch. I don't know why the innkeepers were so cordial and offered us dessert. Maybe, it was left over from lunch, or maybe it was just pure southern hospitality. They were also kind enough to share the recipe with our group. I have been making their Pioneer Bread Pudding for over 40 years and it is a never fail recipe.
The York House Inn is still as lovely as ever, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Most rooms range between $110 and $130 per night. As you can probably tell, I am longing for a mountain getaway. 

For a great family dessert, make this delicious bread pudding. The pudding is not the hard baked kind that is cut in squares, but more of a French Toast like dessert. It is not too sweet, but the hard sauce is very sweet and a great addition.

Pioneer Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce

2 cups day old bread, cubed
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 to one cup raisins

 Hard Sauce
 4 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 quart casserole dish with butter. Place bread cubes in casserole dish.
Scald milk, butter and sugar (I do this is the microwave). Remove the scalded milk mixture just before it comes to a boil. 
Beat the two eggs and add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour the warm milk mixture into the beater eggs. 
Pour over the bread cubes. Sprinkle with the raisins. 
Place casserole in large roaster and fill with water to the top of the pudding mixture.
It's dark and yellow in my oven - tee hee!
Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 50 minutes or until knife slipped into the center of the pudding comes our clean.
Make the Hard Sauce while the pudding is baking.

Beat the softened butter and confectioners sugar until it is creamy and fluffy. Beat in the boiling water and vanilla. 
Cool about 20 minutes before serving. Spoon pudding onto desserts plate and add the hard sauce on the side. Grate fresh nutmeg over all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Down Home Lemonade

As a girl, my momma would always make lemonade when I had friends over in the summer. We would drink it from  jewel colored aluminum tumblers that would keep our drinks cold for hours.
I found these on ebay. I know that you probably remember them also. 
Sometimes, she would buy the frozen canned lemonade, but more often, she would make her fresh squeezed lemonade. She had a lemon/orange juicer that I also found on Amazon. I always was allowed to squeeze the lemons, but never cut them in half.
Down Home Lemonade
1/2 cup boiling water 
1 1/4 cup sugar
Combine sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is dissolved
4 1/2 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add lemon juice and cold water
Mix well.
Chill and serve over ice.
Momma would often add some maraschino juice to the pitcher and fill it full of cherries. 
We were some happy young'uns those summer days. It doesn't take much to make children happy. Make yours some Down Home Lemonade before they go back to school. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Everyone's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate chip cookies can't be beat. I first made this recipe in 1973 for a Boy Scout camping weekend. At the time I was a new mom, and Walter had volunteered to help an older friend with a merit badge camping weekend. For some reason, I couldn't send him off with those twelve year olds without a tin of cookies. That weekend began our love affair with scouting and with this recipe.

All I had in the pantry was a bag of self rising flour. The cookies turned out perfectly, and I have used nothing but self rising flour ever since. My mother was a huge fan of self rising flour. She used it for cakes, cookies, and biscuits. She was always about cutting out extra steps whenever possible. As the years have passed, I have learned many tips about cookie baking and have even perfected a few recipes. This is one that never fails.

My two secrets are to use silpat baking sheets. They are well worth the money, and always turn out cookies as nicely browned on the bottom as on the top. The bottoms are never burned and the cookies have crisp edges with tender gooey centers. Secret number two is to never bake more than one sheet of cookies in the oven. Luckily, I have a double oven, and can bake two batches at a time. Don't overload your cookie sheets, and always bake in the center of the oven. Remember that cookies continue to bake as they sit on the cookie sheets, therefore, they may seem a little gooey when the allotted baking time has passed. Also, it is very important that the butter and eggs are at room temperature when mixing the dough. Don't forget this step.

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups self rising flour - it really doesn't have to be sifted
1 cup ( 2 sticks butter) softened
3/4 sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar- packed
2 tsp good quality vanilla
2 eggs at room temperature
1 12 ounce package semi sweet chocolate chips - I use Ghiradelli
1 cup pecans or walnuts - optional - none of my children like them

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs one at at time, mixing on low until incorporated.
Gradually blend flour into creamed mixture. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets lined with silpat mats. Bake 9 to 11 minutes until edges are golden brown. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Deviled Eggs - So Simple Yet So Good

Deviled Eggs are the staple of every picnic, family reunion, holiday celebration, birthday dinners, and even funerals in our family. They are easy to make, the ingredients are usually always on hand, and everyone loves them. The secret to a great deviled egg begins with the perfect  hard boiled egg. They can get rubbery and turn green if boiled too long or, on the other side of the spectrum, they can be runny and gooey if under cooked. After years of boiling eggs, I have pretty much determined the secret of the perfect egg.
Place clean fresh eggs in a pan of cold water. The water should cover the eggs by at least one inch and the eggs should not be touching. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. As I have shared before, when I refer to simmering, the water has bubbles slowly rising. On my cooktop, the burner is on the bottom end of low - I have a gas stove. As soon as the eggs are taken off the burner, drain the hot water, and replace with cold. Let the eggs sit in the cold water for about 15 minutes. I have found that this "quick cool" will allow the eggs to be easier to peel.

When preparing the eggs to be deviled, peel the eggs and then wash them to remove any stray pieces of eggshell. Slice the eggs in half and remove the yolks into a small bowl. My ingredients are very simple- Dukes's Mayonnaise, Sweet Salad Cubes, Green Olives, and of course, hard boiled eggs.
I use the same deviled egg plate that I received as a wedding gift 44 years ago. It has the perfect little compartments for all of my condiments. I usually have olives, celery stuffed with pimiento cheese, and bread and butter pickles in the center sections. Today, my celery was as limp as a dishrag. Therefore, I used olives and Wickles pickles, my new favorites, in the center. If you haven't tried Wickles, they are quite spicy with some heat, and yet sweet at the same time. They are quite addicting. Even though they burn my mouth, I just want that taste again and again.
Now we are on to building the deviled eggs. For six eggs, I mash the yolks with a fork and give them a generous shake of salt and pepper. I add 1/4 cup of Dukes Mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sweet salad cubes. This may sound simple, but everyone always wants to know how I make my eggs, when I take them somewhere. I ususally hear, "They taste so different". I spoon about a good tablespoon full of the yolk mixture into each egg and place half of an olive on the top. That is all there is to it! No piping, or fancy presentation for the Bailey's.
I've purchased several Food Styling books, so maybe, my photos will begin to look a little more appealing. Yeah, they have a long way to go! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pineapple Pie

One of my favorite desserts in the cafeteria at North Wauchula Elementary School was pineapple pudding. The lunchroom ladies simply added crushed pineapple to vanilla pudding. It was just right for a kindergarten teacher who needed a little sweet at the end of her lunch. This delicious Pineapple Cream Cheese pie has those same flavors as pineapple pudding, with the addition of heavy cream and cream cheese. This is a great pie for summertime. It should be made well ahead of time and let chill for at least 4 hours or overnight is even better. I always use the recipe on the Nabisco Honey Graham Crumbs package for my crust and bake it for a few minutes. Enjoy this summer treat.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie

1 graham cracker crust - I make my own, but a store bought will be just fine
1 large can crushed pineapple - well drained
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup for whipping the cream

Drain the pineapple - Use a strainer and mash out the juice until the pineapple is as dry as possible.
Cream the 3/4 cup sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl.
Whip whipping cream with vanilla in a separate bowl- I add 1/4 cup sugar to the whipping cream
Add the pineapple to the cream cheese mixture and fold in the whipping cream
Pour into the pie shell and chill at least 4 hours- overnight is preferred

I know that you will enjoy this easy to make and delicious summertime ice box pie.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Grandkids and Deep Dish Pizza

My middle daughter and her precious children payed me a much needed visit today. They have been at the beach with a lifelong friend and her two children. A yummy, kid friendly lunch was a necessity for the special occasion. I decided to let my little chefs assist me in preparing Deep Dish Pizza, Buttered Niblets Corn, and chocolate pudding. My guests arrived around noon- just in time to layer the pizza ingredients in a 9X13 inch pan.
This is very serious work - no time for smiling at the camera

Deep Dish Pizza

1 can Pillsbury Pizza Dough
1 pound ground chuck - browned and seasoned with salt and pepper
Hormel Pepperoni
1 jar Ragu Original Pizza Sauce
2 Cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees 
Unroll, pizza crust and spread in bottom of 9 X 13 inch pan
Spread Pizza Sauce over dough
Distribute seasoned and cooked ground chuck over sauce
Place Pepperoni over meat - we fill our pizza heavily with pepperoni
Sprinkle Mozzarella over all
Bake in 375 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes until crust is browned and cheese has melted

The little artists at work while we are patiently awaiting to enjoy our pizza.

Camilla's slice of pizza
the finished product - enjoyed by all