Monday, June 7, 2021

Miss Dot's Pound Cake

 I was recently watching an episode of Home Town. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s an HGTV show where home renovations are done in a small town in Mississippi. So, in this one particular episode, they were talking about the house being renovated, and that it used to belong to someone that everyone in the neighborhood knew simply as Miss Dot. And Miss Dot was famous for baking pound cake and bringing it to any new neighbors who happened move into the neighborhood. Well, during part of the renovation, they discovered the famous pound cake recipe and they even contacted Miss Dot to see if she’d bake a cake with them to give to the new homeowner. Awesome. Love it.
  So, of course, you know I wanted to try the recipe. I know, I know, shocker. I googled and found the recipe that the show posted on IG. I already had all the ingredients, so I made it that very day. It was SO good! delicious and buttery, and so moist you don’t need any icing at all.
 OK, so, I’m so thrilled with it, that I decided to call my sister Jeanie to tell her about it. Coincidentally, she had just baked her favorite pound cake recipe a day or two before. I said, “omg great minds, right???” And when I asked her what recipe she used, she said it’s her favorite pound cake recipe, and that it’s from Southern Living. (You know where I”m going with this, right?”)
Yup, as we compared recipes, we discovered that Jeanie’s Southern Living recipe was exactly the same recipe as Miss Dot’s! I think it’s pretty funny that Jeanie and I both decided to make the same pound cake at the same time and received the recipe from two different sources. Seriously, great minds think alike!
 OK, so, can we talk about the actual cake for a minute???? OMG it’s SOOO good! Like, seriously, you don’t need any other recipe after this one. This is THE only pound cake recipe you’ll ever need from here on out. It’s just that good. And it couldn’t be easier. You just mix up the ingredients, (which you probably already have on hand) pour them into a pan, and bake. That’s it!
And if you don’t own a bundt pan, this cake is reason enough to buy one. I think I need to bake another one because the first one’s already gone!



(all ingredients at room temperature)
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
3 sticks butter
8oz bar of cream cheese
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Beat all ingredients well.
Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.
Place in a cold oven.
Bake at 300ºF for an hour and a half.



Tips:
The most important thing s to make sure you let everything sit out until room temperature. Otherwise everything just doesn’t mix as well.
Even though the recipe includes a 1/2 tsp salt, I used salted butter. Full disclosure, I use salted butter for everything. I just think it tastes better.
And my best tip for a moist cake… double the amount of vanilla extract, and don’t over bake. You want to take it out of the oven as soon as it tests done with an inserted tooth pick.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Peas and Pasta Salad

 

 I was recently making a giant VAT of BBQ sauce, you know, just to have on hand for all of my favorite summer BBQ dishes, and I was trying to think of side dishes to go with them. In my world, that usually means potato salad, cole slaw, or macaroni salad. MMM macaroni salad… now there’s something I haven’t had for a while… maybe lets try to find a new variation? Want to?
 So I did some searching, and here’s where I landed! It’s a Food Network recipe from Sunny Anderson, and it was just what I was looking for!
 So.. here’s the thing.. full disclosure.. I made the recipe exactly as written.. and I already decided to change a few things. Usually I would save all the tips and variations for after the recipe, but I think this one needs to be said first.
 Well, first, as I was making it, even before tasting it, I wanted more color.. so I added some red bell pepper.. chopped down to a fine confetti. Looks great! OK now to taste it…
whoa… it’s very sweet. Like, VERY sweet. I mean, it does make sense, sweet side salads are a very Southern thing, so that tracks. But it was just a little too sweet for me. The Miracle Whip is very sweet, the peas are sweet, and she even adds sugar. Then I went and added the red bell pepper, which is also sweet.
 My brother Denny was here while I was making it, and we decided that the bacon, onion, and cheddar cheese go a long way to balancing that sweetness, as well as a good hit of salt and pepper.
 So there we have it! A new macaroni salad recipe to try! How sweet do YOU like it? Give it a try and let me know!



1 pound cavatappi pasta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 (15-ounce) jar salad dressing (recommended: Miracle Whip)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
10 ounces frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as directed on box for al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and place the cooked pasta in a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the pasta from over cooking. Stir until the pasta is cool, then drain in a colander shaking to release as much water as possible.
To make the dressing: In a large bowl mix the red onion, salad dressing, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Taste and then season with a pinch of salt and grind or two of pepper. Add the pasta and completely coat with the dressing. Add in the peas, cheese, and bacon. Cook's Note: If making ahead, cover and refrigerate the salad until ready to serve, then add the bacon right before serving.



Tips:
As I said, it was just a little too sweet for me. I think I’d prefer to get the natural sweetness from the veggies, rather than adding sugar and Miracle Whip. So I would just use regular mayonnaise, (and by that I mean Hellman’s) and then just omit the sugar completely. Also, I liked it better after it had a chance to sit for a while, so, if you can make it a little ahead of time, do it!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Cioppino Linguini

 


 Have you ever heard of a dish called Cioppino? It’s seafood stew from San Francisco that was originally meant to use up the extra sea critters that were accidentally caught in fishermens’ nets. From what I understand, it was originally served as a stew, but I’ve also seen it served as a soup along with some hearty crusty bread. Well, I thought, what if we make it into a thicker sauce and pour it over linguini??? That’s gotta be nothing but fabulous, right?? Now all I needed was an occasion to cook up all this wonderful seafood.
  AHA! I know.. I’l cook it for my gang of friends! Since we’re now all safe and healthy, and we can FINALLY have group get togethers, and since most of them have not seen my new house, this was the perfect time to try out my Cioppino idea. I made it an entire seafood night!  
Mini salmon cakes (which were a HUGE hit) and crab dip were my appetizers, and this linguini was the main course. I used a Tasty recipe as a base, and then just tweaked it ever so slightly…Served with a nice salad, and then followed up with carrot cupcakes and lemon trifle for dessert. I’m pretty sure no one was hungry by the time they left! And everyone LOVED the pasta.
 So whether you serve it as a stew, a soup, or poured over linguini, this is the dish you need to serve to the seafood lovers in your life. Definitely good enough for your next celebration meal!




2 large carrots, peeled
2 ribs celery
1 bulb fennel
1 large leek, rinsed well
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
6 or 7 cloves garlic
1 tbs EACH dried oregano, basil, thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 bottle clam juice
3 cups white wine, divided
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes (with water to rinse out cans)
A couple big pinches of salt
1-2 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
A dozen little neck clams
1/2 lb mussels
1/2 lb shrimp
1/2 lb large scallops
1 lb cod fillet


 Finely mince first 8 ingredients. (It's easiest to pulse everything in a food professor until almost pureed). Add a few tbs olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Place minced aromatics in pot. Stir well. Let them cook for a good 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until they begin to soften.
Add oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaves, and tomato paste.
Continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes.
Add clam juice, 2 cups white wine, and the canned tomatoes. Swirl each can about half full with water, add to the pot.
Add a big pinch salt and a tsp or two crushed red pepper flakes.
Bring the sauce up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. After it simmers for about a half hour, it's ready for the seafood, but you can let it go longer. (I let mine go for at least an hour). You can even go up to this point a day in advance. While your sauce is simmering, prepare your seafood.
Remove shells and devein shrimp. Keep cold. Set aside.
Scrub mussels and clams. Discard the ones with broken shells. If you see one that is open, give it a little tap tap with your finger. If it doesn't close, discard it.
If the mussels have a beard, just pull it off. Now soak the clams and mussels in a bowl of ice cold salty water. Let sit for 15 minutes. Do this two more times.
Keep ice cold.
Cut the cod into bite size pieces.
Now it's time to add the seafood to the sauce.
Shrimp and pieces of cod can be added directly to the sauce.
In a large skillet, place a little olive oil over high heat. Place scallops in hot pan. Sear on each side. Set aside. Add a little butter to the pan. Add the clams and mussels and a cup of white wine. Cover. Let stem for a good 10 minutes. Remove cover and dump the clams and mussels along with wine and butter into sauce. Fish out the bay leaves. Stir it all together. Let it simmer until all the seafood is cooked in the sauce. Taste to adjust seasoning.
Boil linguini to desired doneness.
Place in giant pasta bowl, pour sauce over all. Top with a little chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with lots of hearty crusty bread.


Tips:
I chose these kinds of seafood because they’re the ones I like best. Choose which ones you like! I’ve seen recipes where people add salmon, even squid. You do you! I bet a big ol’ crab leg or two would be heavenly. If you want to add more seafood than the amounts I've listed, go for it!
I found that adding about 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes brings just the right burn to the dish… but if you want  it to be really spicy, feel free to add more.
I you’d rather have it as a soup or stew, just use an immersion blender to blend the sauce smooth before adding the seafood, and then skip the linguini. Frankly, I love all the chunky bits in the sauce, so I just left it as it was!




Monday, May 10, 2021

Smothered Pork Chops

 


  Many years ago, when I was first learning how to cook, my Mom used to have a big dinner every Sunday night. On one occasion, I asked her how she decides which foods to cook. I said “how do you know what foods to make?: She responded “You need to have all the parts.” In other words, you have your main component such as a protein, and then you have your sides, such as your starch and your veggies. She also told me that we eat with our eyes first. I’d have a plate of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans.. and she’d say “you need something red or orange on that plate.” Carrots or cranberries would do the trick, and now I’d have “all the parts.” Makes sense, right?
 Ever since then, that’s how I plan my dinners.
 So when I started to make THIS recipe.. I thought.. “uh oh.. everything on the plate is looking very BEIGE… pork chops, gravy, mashed potatoes, apple sauce… they all taste great, but I need a little color on the plate.. so I added some grilled vegetables… MUCH better. Even though I was only cooking for myself, I still needed to eat with my eyes first.
 Ok, so lets talk about this recipe, shall we? SMOTHERED PORK CHOPS! Serious yummy Sunday Dinner factor going on here. I first saw it on one of my favorite Youtube channels, Whippoorwill Holler. Miss Lori was making some Smothered Chicken, and she mentioned that she likes to do pork chops the same way. I thought, oooo YES, I need to do this. They turned out exactly as perfectly as I imagined they would. Simple, delicious home cookin’, and no experience needed!
 So, add this to your Sunday Dinner rotation. Your family will love you for it! And don’t forget to include all the parts!


6-8 pork chops (with or without the bone)
1-2 cups seasoned flour*
1/3 cup oil
1 large sliced onion
minced garlic to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk


*Use any kind of seasonings you like. Miss Lori used salt, pepper, celery seed, onion powder, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. I used salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic powder.


Heat oil in a large wide shallow pan over medium heat. Dredge the pork chops in the flour, then shake off excess. Brown the pork chops on both sides. We’re not cooking them all the way through, just browning on both sides. Remove the chops to a side plate.
Add sliced onions and minced garlic to the pan. Add a little more oil, if necessary. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until they soften a little bit. Take a few heaping tablespoons of the leftover seasoned flour, and add them to the pan. Stir well to coat the onions and garlic. Let it cook for a minute or two. Now add the chicken broth. Use a wooden spoon the scrape up any browned bits in the pan. After a few minutes, add the milk. Continue to cook just a few more minutes until everything is well blended, and the gravy is slightly thickened. Now add the pork chops back to the pan, (along with any accumulated juices) and be sure to smother them with the gravy. Cover the pan, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, and applesauce!


Tips:
If you’re using this recipe with bone-in chicken, it will probably take 35-45 minutes.
Instead of cooking on the stove top, you can use an oven proof pan, and place the whole thing in a 350º oven. I think I might do that next time!
 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Mini Lemon Drop Cupcakes

 


   Over the years, I’ve noticed my blog definitely has a pattern. Of course, it’s seasonal…. warm spices in Autumn, hearty stews and soups in Winter, fresh fruits and produce in the Summer. But in the Spring, it’s always a little bit of a variety. Very often, I’ll do Brunch recipes, or the odd novelty dish that I’ve seen bouncing around the interwebs. But another thing that says SPRING to me is something lighter and brighter, specifically, citrus. Lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits… there’s just something about them that makes me think of brightness and freshness… a fresh start, if you will.
 So today, I’m sharing these perfect little jewels of lemon-ness that I found on a blog called Butter with a side of Bread. They’re so easy they come together in no time, and they bake in half the time as regular cupcakes. Simply delicious! I made them for Easter… brought half to Cathy’s house for brunch, brought the other half to Jeanie’s house for dinner. They were a big hit at both events! Definitely a dessert to add to your repertoire. They’re irresistible!


Cupcakes
1 box lemon cake mix
1 box instant vanilla pudding 3.4 oz, dry mix
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream or yogurt
1/2 cup milk

Lemon Glaze
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 tbs unsalted butter melted
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup hot water



For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Coat mini muffin tin with cooking spray. 
Beat the ingredients in a large bowl with a mixer for several minutes until blended and smooth. Fill each muffin about 1/2 full. (Use a small cookie scoop!) Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the pan on a wire rack for about 2 minutes and then turn the muffin pan over on a wire rack so that all the muffins are upside down.
Cool completely. Meanwhile,  make the glaze.


For the glaze:
Place the wire racks over waxed paper. Beat the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth.
Dip muffins in glaze to coat the bottoms (which are now the tops!) and the sides and let the excess drip off back into the bowl.
Place each lemon drop back on the wire racks until the glaze is set.



Tips:
The best tip in this entire recipe is to use the small cookie scoop. It’s the perfect tool for filling your cupcakes!
Usually this is where I would add a tweak or two, but not this time! This recipe is awesome, just as it is!
The only tweak I can think of is maybe trying an orange or lime version. I bet that would be pretty awesome, dontcha think?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Gulf Shrimp Jambalaya


When I first made this dish a few years ago, my thought was to save it and post it for Mardi Gras. But it seems that every year, some circumstance comes along and I wind up posting something else, or I just don’t have my act together in time.
 So, since I’ve been in a seafood mood lately anyway, I decided to post it now, because who cares if it’s not Mardi Gras, right? It’s just too delicious to wait any longer! And if you’re looking for something hearty and flavorful and seafood, then this one is for you. The recipe is from Chef Anne Burrell, and it’s everything you want in a jambalaya. It’s VERY easy to make too, so you should give this a try, even if you’re a novice cook. You’ll be thrilled that you did and I guarantee it won’t be the last time you make it! Thanx Chef Anne!


2 pounds medium gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into rounds
2 green peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 Spanish onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Kosher salt
Pinch crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups long-grain rice
2 fresh bay leaves
1 bundle fresh thyme
5 scallions, whites and greens thinly sliced, for garnish


For the shrimp stock: toss the shrimp shells in a large pot and fill with water. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes, although longer is fine. Strain the shells and discard.
Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the andouille and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sausage starts to brown. Add the peppers, celery, and onion to the pan, season with salt and a pinch crushed red pepper. Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the mixture has softened and is very aromatic. Toss in the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and cayenne. Stir in the rice.
Add 4 cups shrimp stock, bay leaves, and thyme bundle. Season with salt and taste it to make sure you are on the way to something delicious. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.
Stir in the shrimp and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Serve garnished with chopped scallions.


Tips:
Usually, this is where I would talk about how I would tweak the recipe, or change it in some way. But this time, I’ll tell you not to change a thing! This recipe's absolutely perfect as it is! Follow it exactly as written, and you’ll be a hit every time!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Biscuits and Gravy


 OK here’s a recipe that you simply MUST add to your repertoire. It’s one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever see, it feeds an army, gives you a ton of bang for your buck, and it’s delicious! I’ve seen it bouncing around on social media, and it’s been on my to-do list forever.
 Funny story.. when I was testing it, I needed feedback.. so I grabbed my crock pot and off I went to my sister Cathy’s house for everyone to have a taste. She said “you brought the whole crock pot?” I said “well of course! That’s not unusual is it? to just show up at someone’s house with a crock pot? I think not. “
 Anyway, I found this recipe on a site called groceryshrink.com. I’m not sure if it’s her recipe or not, but that’s where I got it, so she gets the credit! If you like biscuits and gravy, then you will absolutely LOVE it. Not even kidding.



1 lb breakfast sausage (in a bulk log)
2 cans refrigerator biscuits (the small ones that come 10 to a can)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup


Brown and drain the sausage.
Layer 1 can of biscuits in the bottom of a greased slow cooker.
Top with half the sausage and then 1 can of cream of mushroom soup.
Repeat the layers once more.
Cook on high for 2 hours just before time to serve breakfast.
Or 4 hours on low.



Tips:
When I made it, it tasted very salty to me. I mean, I know that different brands of sausage have different amounts of sodium, but just keep an eye on that. Maybe use a low sodium cream of mushroom soup? I think I will next time.
Not a fan of cream of mushroom soup? Try cream of something else instead!
Don’t want to use the slow cooker? Bake it in a casserole dish at 350F or until golden.
One other thing… the original recipe suggested setting your slow cooker to a time delay, so it would be ready for breakfast first thing in the morning, and if your cooker doesn’t have a time delay setting, you could also use an outlet timer. If you don’t feel comfortable setting it out on the counter for that long before it cooks, then you could just leave it in the fridge overnight, take it out early in the morning, and add another hour for the cold crock.