Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homemade Breadsticks

If you know me very well, then you know that we have moved a lot.  Over 20 times in 24 years (this is just my married life..LOL)  My husband's job and education have had us traveling and exploring most of our married life.  With each move, I have made great friends.  With every friend, I inherited some amazing recipes!  This is one of them.

While living in Tacoma, WA, I met a woman who could do everything, so it seemed.  She cooked like there was no tomorrow and her food was always the hit of any event or party.  She was very gracious with her recipes and had no problem sharing them with everyone.  I have two bread recipes that are amazing, quick and taste so good.  I learned to make bread with these two because they were very user-friendly.

Today I will share the breadstick and in a future post, I will share the other rolls.  What I love about her bread recipe, is that it can be an afterthought and still get made in time for dinner.  So many times bread is an afterthought for me at a meal.  This happened to me yesterday as I was preparing the potato soup.  Then I remembered that I had an old cookbook that I just unpacked and all of my old bread recipes would be nicely tucked away.  I looked and there it was.  YAHOO…bread sticks were made in under an hour and they were a huge hit with the family.  Enjoy!

Recipe:  Easy Breadsticks

1 T yeast, dissolved in 1 ½ cups warm water; add 3 T. sugar.  Let sit for a few minutes until bubbly. 

Add ½ tsp salt and 3 1/4  cups of flour.

Mix and knead for 3 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.  Melt 1 stick of butter in a cookie sheet.  Roll dough on the counter and cut into strips.  Dab both sides with butter and line them onto the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with garlic, parsley flakes, seasoned salt, and parm cheese.  Let raise 10-20 minutes, bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.

NOTE:  The dough is very soft, if it's too soft, add a bit more flour so that you can handle each strip.  I know that one stick of butter sounds like a lot, but the butter is soaked up by the rising dough and breadstick when cooked. If you happen to use less, please let me know if it turns out.  Thanks!

BAM..your done!  Was that not super easy or what?  I have added the pictures below to help with each step.

The above strips were a bit too soft to be picked up, so I ended up cutting them down the middle too.  They will stretch the length of the pan and make thinner bread sticks.  They still taste just as good.

The breadsticks will immediately start to rise in the hot pan with the melted butter.

Season your breadsticks and let rise.

Bake and watch them mesh together, but they pull apart so easily.

This is a quick shot to show you how easily they pull apart and how much they rise.

Written by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rouladen with Brown Gravy


What the heck is Rouladen?  You might be asking yourself this question or you already know.  It's a German dish made with beef and served with gravy. I was introduced to this dish in my husband's family.  His mother made this dish on nice occasions and for special birthday requests.  This week I was watching Guy's show Dinners, Dumps, and Dives and he featured a restaurant where it was made.  Like food usually does for me, it triggered a memory.  I was reminded of our time spent traveling to his family home for special dinners where this was served.  I never got the recipe and this is why I needed to do some snooping around for myself.

I had to do some research with this dish because I wanted to make sure that when I made it, the rouladen was not dry.  I wanted lots of flavors too.  In reading about this dish, I found that there are several ways to make it.   This made sense to me because the way my MIL made the dish was very different from the way I had just seen it on Guy's show.  The main difference was the addition of pickle and possibly mustard.  I don't ever remember tasting those flavors and this, for me, sounded awesome!  I love both of those ingredients and then together…match made in heaven.

I learned that the dish is prepared differently based on the regions that you may live in around Germany. I also found that there were slight variations on cooking, gravy, and types of mustard and bacon that were used.  It's hard to decide on one recipe with all of the options available.  I did the only thing that I could do.  I decided to take what I liked from several recipes and combine them to make what we ate tonight.  

If you are a seasoned cook this recipe is not difficult.  It does take time to cook and a bit of time to prepare the rolls but it's not hard.  As with most of my recipes, I encourage you to look through the recipe and add what you like to it or take out what you don't like.  Some of the folks did not include the pickle and this dish still tasted wonderful, in their opinion.  The mustard is the other option that could easily be changed to meet your needs.  I used honey mustard, but you may want to use a Dijon or one of your favorites, or simply what you have on hand.

Recipe:  Rouladen with Brown Gravy
make 8 rolls ( I planned on 2 per person)

NOTE: You will need thinly cut pieces of steak.  I used Chip Steak, which is London Broil.  I read that some recipes used Flank Steak as well.  If you use Flank Steak, I would use a mallet and pound to a thinner thickness…1/8 thick.  The steak pieces should be about 3 inches by 6.  I had some pieces that narrowed at one end, which was fine.  I used this end to start the rolling process.   You want enough meat to roll multiple times. I was hoping for three rolls and found that I was able to get pretty close.

8 pieces of thinly cut beef, roughly 3X6 inches in size
1 large dill pickle, cut very thinly or diced very small
8 pieces of bacon, uncooked and thin
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
honey mustard
1 package of Onion dry soup mix, like Lipton
2.5 cups of water (the measurement is two and a half  cups)
1 T. oil
1/4 cup of flour (GF, use brown or white rice flour)
cooking twine or toothpicks

Preheat your oven to 325.

Prepare your pickles and onion by cutting them very thin.  I ended up chopping up my pickle because I did not cut them thin enough.  Either way works fine.  Take your 8 slices of raw bacon and cut them in half.

Remove your meat from the packaging and line them up side by side.  Doing them in batches saves time.  I did 4 at a time.  With a spoon, take about 1 tsp of honey mustard and spread all over one piece of meat. Separate your slices of red onion and scatter them on top of the mustard.

Take two strips of bacon and lay them long ways on the honey mustard.

Lay a pickle slice or the chopped pieces last.

Cut enough twine for each one to have at least two pieces of string. I had a few that needed three.  Try to tie one on each end and this is where the third might come in handy.  If the middle is bulging and things are trying to escape out of the center add a third-string to it.

In a large frypan, add the oil.  Lay the rouladen bundles in the oil and cook on all sides.  I used a medium-high heat and this took about 4-6 minutes to complete.

In a large stockpot, add your water and package of onion soup mix.  Stir well.  Lay your bundles down inside the pot and add the drippings from the pan.  This will enhance the gravy as it cooks.

I cooked my rouladen for 2 hours.  The first hour the heat was set to 325 for one hour.  The second hour, I bumped up the stove to 375 and cooked for an additional hour.  This last hour is when I started preparing the mashed potatoes.

You will know the rouladen is done if the meat is very soft to cut, you should not need a knife.  Remove the rouladen to a serving bowl.  Put the gravy onto the stovetop and add your flour.  Bring the gravy to a boil and it should thicken.  If the gravy is not as thick as you like,  then remove from heat and add a bit more flour and return to a boil.  Pour the gravy over the rouladen in the serving bowl.  I also added gravy to a gravy bowl for those that wanted some on their mashed potatoes.

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

So many things are running through my mind…LOL    This is the list:

1.  I am up way to early…airport run this morning! I should eat some breakfast.
2.  I had to google the word "hash" for this blog posting, only to learn it's not the word I wanted.
3.  I am so excited that our moving trailer will be here on Thursday. I can almost not contain my excitement. Only to be stressed because I am not sure when we will have time to unload it.
4.  I want to share my pictures of our beach visit from Sunday.
5.  I have to go to Food Network and collect a recipe for Rouladen before I forget.
6.  My son overslept while I was driving to the airport.
7.  I have a list a mile long of responses to email that I neglected yesterday.
8.  Grocery shopping needs to get done today, we are out of so much stuff.
9.  I have a photoshoot next week that I need to buy props for this week.
10.  My house looks like a bomb went off in it, thanks to a minimally supervised 4 yo yesterday…LOL

That's just the beginning!  Often times my brain thinks much faster than I have the ability to do.  In fact, sometimes my brain thinks so fast that my words and sentences are not complete…it's one big mess, goulash or stew.

So I will keep this simple and easy.  This is my style. I will start at the top and work my way down.  Do the best I can to accomplish what is on the list.  I won't stress about the things I did not get done, just be glad that I was able to do something today.

I will start with getting this yummy recipe up and posted to my "log".  This is what Isabella called it last night.  We were watching the food channel and she mentioned that I should make what was being made on TV and post it to my "log" for my friends to see and make too.  I thought it was cute.

As you know, on Saturday, I shot a band tournament.  This is a lot of work.  Once it starts you don't get a break.  They come onto the field every 15 minutes for 2-4 hours or longer.  It depends on the size of the tournament.  Ours happened to be a small one, only 6 bands and a performance by the younger kids in the area.  I was at the school from 10am to about 9pm.  I took 800 pictures.  You can imagine how tired I was.

When we finally crashed that night, the hubster and I both decided that going to the beach on Sunday was out of the question…it was a two-hour drive, hot and it would include lots of walking.  These old bones don't work like they used to….LOL

Sunday came and I woke up early and thought..Dang it, I am going to the beach.  I need a break.  I need to go.  I want to go.  I will go even if it is just me.  To my surprise, I went upstairs and announced I was still going to the beach, and my husband had decided the same thing.   I love it when we are so in tune with each other that this happens.  It was a great day!  Not only did we walk a lot but we also rented a surrey to ride around in for an hour.

 I hope you enjoy these pictures of Ocean City, MD.  It is nostalgic to go to a boardwalk with a huge Ferris wheel.  The day could not have been more beautiful, sunny and hot if we had planned it ourselves.  Time spent with those you love is amazing.

So how did I get to this recipe for breakfast?  I love sweet potato anything…fries, bread, mashed….etc.   You name it and I will try it.  Saturday night, we took Drake out to dinner and I ordered a basket of sweet potato fries.  Of course, they insist on ruining the fries with cinnamon sugar (I don't like this).   I order mine plain…just give me some salt and ranch and call it good.  I think I might have been too tired to eat and had to take my fries home.

Sunday morning while deciding to go to the beach, I knew I wanted to eat a big breakfast…something warm, filling and yummy.  I opened the fridge and my first thought was I would warm up the fries and then I thought,  "How about frying up the sweet potatoes like I do with my baked potatoes?"  It worked.  I grabbed a tart apple, some onion and garlic…fried it together and we had the best, tastiest sweet potato mixture with our eggs and toast.

Recipe:  Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

1 order of sweet potato fries, precooked
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 tart apple, cubed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

You can make your own sweet potato fries by purchasing the sweet potatoes.  Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/4 inch thick disk (the long way of the sweet potato). Take each disk and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Try to make them all the same size.  Heat oil in a pan and fry your sweet potatoes.  Drain the fries on paper towels.  Add salt.

With the freshly made fries or leftovers, cut them into 1 inch long pieces.  Cut your apple and onion.  Heat your oil in a frying pan.  Add the garlic, onion and sweet potatoes.  Fry until the onion starts to turn transparent.  Add the apple cubes and continue cooking.  I cooked mine for about 15 minutes total time.  This is pretty quick, you just don't want to overcook your apple and have it get too soft.  You want the crispness and flavor to not be lost.

This can be served for breakfast or as a side dish.  It has lots of fall colors and definitely can be changed to fit your taste buds.  Remember the combination of the sweet and tart are what makes the flavor so good.

If you would like to see Ocean City and how beautiful and unique it is, I have shared a few pictures below.  ENJOY!

You must know that I abhor bridges.  I get sweaty palms, anxiety out of this world and usually do not breath the whole time we are on them.  My biggest fear is drowning in a car going off of a bridge.  Now you know way too much information about me…LOL  But I do love this picture of the Bay Bridge that I took while driving.

The smell of a pier takes me back to my childhood of when we lived in San Diego.  I loved this picture too.  

The sand was so clean.  The beach was not crowded.  We are in off season and the weather was perfect…clear blue skies for as far as the eye could see.

This is down by the Ferris Wheel.  I honestly don't know how many miles the walk it, maybe 3 or 4 miles.

Clams Casino…this was fantastic!

We rented this surrey to drive up and down the boardwalk.  There is no way we could have walked it with Isabella and no stroller.  This was fun!

This lady showed up with her two great danes.  They were so beautiful!  I laughed because they really wanted her bucket of french fries.  LOL

This building is a mess, but in an artistic way.  Inside they sell posters, artwork and paintings.  

You can't go an amusement themed board walk and not get cotton candy.  She struggled with the wind and her hair.  They were both a sticky mess that night.  But, oh she had a good time being in the sand and at the beach.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

Yesterday was like any other day for me in the kitchen.  I open the fridge and think to myself "what am I going to make today?"  I start digging around and I find this cauliflower that I bought at the beginning of the month.  How do you forget that you bought a cauliflower?  I usually have a few things in my fridge that I forget about but this one did not smell and was not slimy…thank goodness!

We love cauliflower and often times when I buy it, we make a yummy salad mix that is great on a grilled cheese sandwich.  That recipe can be found HERE.

What I love about this picture is the cow on the right with her calf…they are so subtle and make this image.  I shot this picture driving up behind our house in UT.
I was not thinking of a sandwich, I wanted something cheesy, warm and, possibly, something I could use as a side dish for the fall.  I saw the Brat sausage, that was not used the day before,  in the fridge from my Kraut and Brat Potato Soup. Then my mind caught fire and I started pulling things from the fridge left and right.  My family must have thought I was in a hurry or something because it just clicked.  I went for some cheese and discovered I had bought a package of gorgonzola cheese!  YES…here was my secret ingredient to give it that extra "woodsy" taste.

This is a common sight in UT..beautiful yellow leaves!

Fall always reminds me of trees and color; hiking in the mountains.   Smelling the fresh air and sometimes the damp air.  I wanted all of this to be in one dish…color, woodsy and a perfect fall/autumn dish.

This was a tree in our neighborhood.

As we anticipate the turning of the leaves in our beautiful east coast state, I am reflecting on our home we left in Utah and how beautiful our fall was every year.  The colors were so inspirational: red, yellow and orange.  It was truly a sight to see and often brought lots of visitors to our small valley to enjoy the beauty of it all.

This recipe is a blend of rich flavors, that when paired together make the most mouth-watering side dish or main dish.  You can leave the sausage out and have no meat or change the sausage for bacon or ham. Play with the cheese blend too.  If you don't like what I used, change it.  I encourage you to get "funky" in the kitchen and cook to how you want it to taste.  I just give you a map…you decide which route you will take.  Enjoy!

Recipe:  Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

1 head of cauliflower, steamed and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup celery, diced (3 stalks)
1 T. olive oil
2 bratwursts, fried and diced  (Bratwurst are like polish dogs, but not hotdogs)
2 tsp. garlic
salt and pepper to taste


3/4 stick of butter, soft
1/3 cup of flour (Gluten Free use brown rice flour)
1 1/2 cups of milk  ( I used almond milk because it's what I had and needed to use it.)
1 cup of cream
salt to taste
1 cup of provolone cheese ( I bought the sliced and cut them into small strips)
1 cup of cheddar, grated
2 T. gorgonzola cheese (This should already be crumbled)

NOTE:  The gorgonzola cheese is strong on its own, but when blended with the other two cheese's the flavor is not strong, in fact, it gives it that "woodsy" flavor, ever so slightly.  If you're not prepared to use this strong cheese, just leave it out.

In a large pot, add steamer tray.  Boil 2 inches of water and add cauliflower that has been rinsed and chopped into large chunks.  Cook for 15 minutes.  You do not want this mushy.  It should be firm but soft when pierced with a fork.

While the cauliflower is steaming, prepare the other ingredients.  In a large frying pan, add olive oil and brats.  I usually take the sausage out of the casing and fry.  Remove brat when done and add the veggies.  Fry the veggies and garlic for 5 minutes.  Add the meat back to the veggies and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly add the milk and then the cream.  Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring often, until thick.  When thick add the cheese and stir.  The gorgonzola cheese takes a minute to completely melt.

In a large 9X13 pan or two smaller pans, place the steamed cauliflower.

 Add the veggie/meat mix on top of the cauliflower.

Add the cheese sauce on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. It should be bubbly.  You don't want to over cook this dish.

We ate the whole thing yesterday….my family (teenagers included) LOVED it!

Written by Sherron Watson

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kraut and Brat Soup

I love Oktoberfest.  In every city we have lived in, we have always tried to attend these fun festivals, and not just for the beer.  In Oregon, the event was quite large in Mt. Angel and I have memories going back 30 years of attending.  It was a place to have great food, hear wonderful polka music, buy all the dried flowers you could imagine and spend time with my family.  We loved it!

Our kids have had a lot of opportunities to attend various festivals with our travels.  This is one that they always love to attend (and the greek and Japanese)…we just love diversity and traditions!  LOL

When we heard of this festival coming to Annapolis, we definitely wanted to attend.  It is our first one on the East coast.  I have to admit, it was different and smaller.  I was looking for more authentic artwork, crafts and a "feel" of the culture.   I realize that we may not have a large German community in our area and so we enjoyed what was offered.  The food was great, especially the red cabbage…OH, MY….very tasty.

I have listed below some tidbits of Oktoberfest and some word translations for the food items.

It is one of the most famous events in Germany and is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810.  Copied from Wikipedia.

Oktoberfest Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte)
These drunk patrons are often called "Bierleichen" (German for "beer corpses")
Hendl- chicken
Schweinebraten-roasted pork
Schweinshaxe-grilled ham hock
Knödel-potato noodle
Reiberdatschi-potato pancake
Rotekraut-red kraut
lederhosen-traditional Men's shorts
Dirndl -dresses worn by the women

In celebration of our attending this fest, I made one of our favorite soups: Kraut and Brat Potato Soup.  I have been making this soup for years.  I am sure it's not an original creation but my family loves it.  Over the years I have learned a few things to really enhance the flavors.  First, you must buy a really good sauerkraut.  I only use the stuff in bags.  If you can make your own even better.  If you want to have an excellent broth, you must add the kraut juice.  You get the tart flavor in every bite.  Secondly, you must fry the kraut before adding it to the soup and then you should add all the juices from the pan.  This again, adds a richness to the flavor.  Thirdly, it's always better the next day.  I don't know why it just is!

This was a booth of 100 different hot sauces.  Every bottle had a different name.  WOW

Isabella and Rye attended the festival and were able to enjoy themselves too.  Rye picked up this really cute owl hat and Isabella made a hedgehog.  Arts and Crafts are a sure way to ensure a 4-year-old has a good time.

I have never seen a raw oyster bar at an Oktoberfest before, but hey, we do live by the bay and people here love their seafood!  I had to pass on this. I could not bring myself to eat raw oysters from a street vendor…call me paranoid.  It just did not feel right.

Recipe:   Kraut and Brat Potato Soup

4 cup chicken broth
2 cups of water + kraut juice
1 large potato, cubed
1 c. onion, diced
½ cup of celery, diced
½ cup carrots, shredded or sliced
 1 T. oil  for sauteeing
salt and pepper

½  cube butter

 ½ cup flour
 1 ½ cups of milk
 1 cup cream

The amount of sauerkraut and sausage you add is a personal choice.  We like a lot so we would add the maximum listed.  If this dish is new or the flavors are new for you, you may want to add the minimum and taste.  You can always add more if you LOVE it.

1-2 cups of drained sauerkraut
2-3 Bratwurst sausages, remove casing  

In a large pot, add water and broth.  In a 2 cup glass measuring device, add the juice from your bag of kraut.  Fill the measuring cup to the 2 cup line with water.  You want an equivalent of 2 cups with the combination of the water and the kraut juice.  Keep in mind, the more kraut juice you use, the stronger and more intense your flavor will be.  You can also just use water for the whole two cups.  

Set your heat to medium high and bring water, broth and juice to a boil.  While this is heating up, add your diced potato and carrots to the pot.  

In a separate sauce pan, start your brats.  I remove the casing from the sausage and fry until well done.  I like to see a crispy edge to my brats. 

In another fry pan, saute your onion and celery in the oil.  Add the kraut and let it all get nice and fried, again, I like a little bit of color in my kraut to show that it has been cooked.  Combine your sausage to your veggies and set aside until you are ready to add to the potato/carrot mix.

In a small sauce pan, add your butter and melt.  Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add your milk and cream.  Cook until nice and thick.

Once your potatoes are soft and ready to go, add the veggie/meat mix and milk/cream/flour to your boiling water.

Reduce heat and stir.  If you want your soup thicker you can make more of the roue mixture.  I personally don't like chunky soup so for our family the thickness is perfect.

I have already stated above the flavor of this soup gets better the next day, but you can eat it right after making it too.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spider Eggs for Halloween

You will soon learn that I love the holidays.  ALL of them!  Give me a reason to dress-up, decorate and make fun food, and I am all in!  I am the one that goes to the Renaissance Festivals dressed up…I know you all have friends that do this and you laugh.  LOL

The year before this I was Martha Stewart in a jailbird costume and this year (2006)  I was a pregnant lady…REALLY, I was pregnant…LOL  Payback I guess…LOL

I guess it's the actress in me that never got a chance to shine.  I am a kid at heart and find that holidays make me happy and they remind me of the fun things that I did as a kid.  Over the years my family and I have hosted some very fun and large Halloween parties at our home.

 2008 I was a witch…my favorite costume!

Our fondest memory is the year we turned out basement into a haunted house and had kids from all over standing in line to go through….lots of fun!  The coolest part was my oldest daughter and her friends decorated and hosted the event for my son and his friends.

2009 I went as a fortune teller.   2010 I guess I went as a storm chaser.  We were in our trailer at the time and we had a huge tornado warning and thunderstorm. FUN TIMES, not!

I know these spiders are common to make but the kids still get a kick out of seeing them every year.

 Recipe:  Deviled Eggs with Spiders

1 can of large pitted black olives
6-8 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard
1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Boil or steam your eggs like usual.  Peel the eggs and slice in half.  Remove the yolk and add this to a bowl with mayo, mustard, and vinegar.  This is all based on your taste buds.  I have given you the minimum measurements and you will have to taste your mix to see if it is where you like it.  I like ours tart with vinegar so I would naturally add more vinegar.  If it's not enough to fill your egg whites, then add more mayo and mustard to stretch your filling.

Once your filling is made, then place the filling in a piping bag or plastic baggie and fill each egg white.

Take an olive and slice in half.  If you want to use one olive per egg then you will need to be careful how you slice it.  It is possible but personally, it's a bit tedious.  I usually just cut them in half and then use another olive to make the legs.  Using a sharp knife cut slim slices from the olive half.

Easy peasy if you ask me and the kids love them!  Ok, so do the adults…LOL

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Donut Breakfast Casserole

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