Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fried Pickles with Wicked Awesome Sauce

Who eats Fried Pickles you ask?  WE DO and love them!  

On July 24, 2010, we left on our 1-year adventure of living on the road and traveling with our kids.  We hit 15 states in 10 months.  We were shy of our goal by 2 months.  I was bummed but understood the need for a job...LOL  Cory was offered a job in Maryland that we could not pass up.  Plus the kids were a little bit done with the whole traveling and sightseeing thing. I could live this life forever.  I am a gypsy at heart.

I love to travel and try new things.  I enjoy meeting new people and sharing with others.  I crave diversity.   I love cultural traditions, ethnic food and the feeling of being somewhere new and exciting.

We learned so much on our trip.  More than I think we ever thought possible when we set out.  We bonded with our kids, who we learned were awesome teenagers!  They were and still are, very funny.  We laughed so much on our trip.  We fell in love with some areas and disliked a few.  The number one reason that we disliked "a few" was the humidity.  East Texas is freaking hot in August!  The water in the lakes was so warm that you could not even cool off and the nights...UGH!  It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.  I kept thinking to myself " why the heck do these people stay here?"  But I soon learned that you stay because that is where your heart is, your family and you do get used to it...eventually.

We spent time at the beach...OUR favorite place!

We loved Austin!  This was the bat kayak tour we went on.

We visited the UT campus where Cory went to college and the surrounding parks.

We lived in heaven.  This was how we spent most of our year, in the woods and living with nature.

I bring up Texas because this is the place that I first had fried pickles.  I will never forget it.  We had gone to The Texas Roadhouse and when we both saw this on the menu we had to give it a try.  We were not disappointed. I craved them from that point on.  I never made them while in the trailer though.  I did not do a lot of deep frying in the kitchen.

It wasn't until I started following food blogs and seeing other bloggers making them that I thought about making them myself.  I surprised the kids last week and yesterday my daughter asked for them again.  I love that!  So today I will make a quick batch, think about our trip and count the calories...LOL

Fried Pickles

Dill Pickles ( I buy the large pickles and slice them or you can buy the pre-sliced version)
Seasoned Fry Mix ( I used the GF  Hodgson Mill brand)
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk or buttermilk

For a quick treat (4 people) I plan on two large pickles per person.  If you do more pickles you will need to add more eggs and milk to the recipe.

I slice the pickles into 1/4 inch pieces.  I put the eggs and milk in one bowl, whip them together.  I grab a second bowl and add the fry mix.

On the stove, add oil to a large pot. I like to use a pot because when you add the pickles to the oil, it boils up and the sides on the pot allow me to not worry about it bubbling over onto my stove.  I add enough oil to create a 2-inch deep-frying area.

I dip my wet pickle into the fry mix, dip it into the egg/milk, dip it again in the fry mix.  It creates a nice crunchy coating.

Fry the pickles until they are golden to medium brown. I like mine crispy so they tend to be a little bit browner than most.

Remove cooked pickles to a plate with paper towels.  This will soak up the extra oil.

I served my pickles with a sauce I made.  I named it Wicked Awesome Sauce.  LOL

**If you don't have a fry mix on hand, use flour with some salt and pepper.  If making it GF use White Rice flour or Brown Rice flour.

Recipe:  Wicked Awesome Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1T. Sriracha sauce (oh yes,  it's gonna be hot)
1 tsp of horseradish sauce

Mix the three ingredients together.  YUMMY! 

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beef Stew

When I think of back to school and all of the running around, late nights, carpooling and daily errands, it makes me overwhelmed on some days to also think about making a meal with lots of steps, instructions, and prep work.

Sometimes I need an easy meal.  A meal that tastes good.  I also love to have leftovers.  This stew recipe is perfect for all of those desires. 

The thing I like about making a stew, are the combinations are endless.  For us, it is based on what we have in the fridge.  What meat I have thawed for the day.  I have called this beef stew, but you could easily change out the beef for chicken or pork.  In fact, you could add no meat or beef broth and use vegetable broth and still have a yummy meal.

Fall is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the leaves and their changing colors, the cooler weather and the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving..YES, I am a kid at heart).  Although we eat soup all year long, we don't really eat this type of stew until the weather starts changing.  This happened this week.  I was told that the east coast is pretty "by the calendar" with their season's.  I was impressed when spring hit with rain and warmer weather in March and here we are with September a week away and the change is in the air again.  I welcome Fall/Autumn with open arms and a big hug.  LOVE IT!

Beef Stew

1 package of stew meat  (a pound in a half works well).
3 T. flour (Gluten Free-use brown rice flour)
2 T. oil (for browning the meat)
1 whole onion, diced or sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of fresh herbs ( I used Thyme, Basil and Oregano...it's in my garden)
1/2 bottle of beer (optional)  I would choose a strong flavor, it adds a wonderful undertone to the stew.
5 cups of beef broth
1 tsp. of salt
pepper to taste

* NOTE:  To make this Gluten-Free, you must use Gluten-Free Beer or omit this step.

1.  In a large bowl add flour and meat.  Toss until well coated.  Heat oil in a large skillet and add floured meat.  Brown each side.

2.  Prepare vegetables.

3.  Plug your crockpot in and add all of the ingredients: meat, veggies, beer, broth, herbs, and spices.  

4.  You can cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.  

5.  Before you serve the stew, check the flavor and adjust the salt and pepper.

You can used dried herbs too.  We just love fresh and this is what I have on hand.
This gives you an idea of what the stew will look like right before it starts to cook.

Written by Sherron Watson

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Roll

This is one of our favorite desserts.  Not only does it taste out of this world it also holds a special place in our heart for the memory of my grandmother and our family holidays.  This was always requested by the cousins and grandkids.  When my grandma got to where she could not make them like she used to, someone else would try to ensure we had one to share.  I would say this is a recipe that helped me to learn how to bake.  

It usually was not just one either...we had a big group and it required several so that we each got a piece bigger than a sliver.  Plus we all wanted left overs.  

I have made this recipe at least 30 times.  I am going to say at least once for every year I have been married and then a few years, it even got made twice.  I woke up this morning feeling the need for some chocolate roll.  Maybe a little bit of home was needed to warm my heart.

I  have not made this as a GF dessert, YET!  I will work on it, but today I splurged and had a piece.  I have taken step by step photo's so that you can be successful in making this yummy dessert.
In the past I have also made a pumpkin roll.  The method is the same.

Recipe:  Chocolate Roll 

6 Tablespoons cocoa (See note for gluten free flour conversion)

6 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs separated

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

whipped cream

NOTE:  To replace the 6 T. of flour for a gluten-free mix, this is what I used:

3 tablespoons of almond meal
2 tablespoons of white rice flour
1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch
1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg yolks with sugar until lemon-colored, then fold in flour mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into batter along with vanilla.

Grease a 15X10 roll pan, line with wax paper and grease again. Pour batter onto greased wax paper and spread gently to all corners. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until cake is bubbly. The cake will shrink slightly from the sides. Turn roll pan onto a towel that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up with a towel and cool in the refrigerator. Unroll cake and spread with whipped whipping cream, reroll cake and move, without the towel, to a cake dish. Cover with Saran Wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Remove and dust with powdered sugar. Serves about 6-7 good slices, more if you make the slices thin.
For the whipping cream, I used 1.5 cups of heavy cream, 1.5 tsp. of vanilla and 2 T. sugar. Whip until spreadable.

When you combine the egg yolk/butter mix with the dry, it creates a very stiff , almost dough-like mix.  

After you combine the egg whites with the above mix, this is what it will look like.  Nice and fluffy.  You may have to use a metal spoon to get it started as the flour mixture is firm.

I have a jelly roll pan in storage..DOPE!  That does not help me today, so  use a regular cookie sheet and with the parchment I create the size I need.  The batter is not thick and will not push the sides down.

The cake will look like this when it is baked.  The center will feel firm too.

After it is done baking, the pan needs to be flipped onto a powder sugar dusted dish towel.

Gently pull back the parchment paper.

The cake..perfect!

Sprinkle this with more powdered sugar to keep it from sticking together or to the towel.
It can get messy with all of the powdered sugar.  LOL

Roll the towel up and put into the fridge to cool.
I usually wait 30 minutes before I get it from the fridge and unroll the chocolate cake.  I cover the whole thing with whip cream.  It is not unusual for the cake to crack or even split .  If this happens just use the towel to help you roll it up and put the crack or split on the bottom.  It does not change the taste of the cake..LOL

And here you have it.  I forgot to buy a dish to fit the chocolate roll, so I am using a cutting  board that I bought earlier this week.  


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

We eat a lot of food in my family.  Especially in the summer.  My teenagers are growing and are always hungry, the 4 yo thinks she needs to eat when they do and my hubby and I both work from home.  That is five months, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week.  Like I said, we eat a lot of food.

It's tough at times trying to find things to stock the refrigerator that is new and not a sandwich.  Although my kids love their ham sandwiches, variety is the key to enjoying and having a well-rounded love of food. With this in mind, I try to keep pasta salad stocked at all times.  We love pasta and by changing the dressing and ingredients, your possibilities are endless.

This tuna pasta salad is one of our favorites.  In fact, I grew up eating this type of salad.  It reminds me of my time in high school, returning late from a football game and grabbing a big bowl of this salad.  I love how food, like a smell, can take you back 20+ years to one night or a time of your life. ENJOY!

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 Box of  elbow pasta, prepared according to instructions on box
2 cans of tuna, drained
1/2 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced sweet pickles
1 cup of diced red onion
1/2 cup of cubed cheese ( I used Jack, but you can use cheddar too)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
salt/pepper to taste
2 tsp. of mustard (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions on the box.  Drain and add to a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well, taste and adjust seasonings (salt and pepper).  Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dutch Baby

During the weekday we have simple and easy breakfast choices: yogurt, granola, oatmeal, toast or cereal.

Saturday and Sundays are a different menu.  WHY?  I am not sure.  Maybe it's because we get to sleep in and so we are extra hungry.  Although I think that time plays a lot in our choice of what to eat in the morning.

Mornings at my house are crazy trying to get everyone off to school and work.  I am lucky to have my hubby around every morning to help me with this task.  It's not the teenagers that need our help, it's the 4 yo.  She is super organized, so excited and buzzing around our home like a bee.  Oh, to be that excited about something, it's special to see.  4 is a great age filled with stories, princesses, love, and joy.  She is a ray of sunshine to our family.

What types of meals do we make for breakfast on the weekend?  We like the usual fare of pancakes, waffles, eggs, and omelets.  If we want to get really fancy-schmancy we will make crepes or Dutch Babies.

Sunday morning I had a request for Dutch Babies, but not for breakfast, for dinner.  Yes, we eat breakfast for dinner too.  I don't think we are unusual because I read about lots of people doing the same.

I have to admit, it's been a few years since I have made Dutch Babies.  The main reason is we have been traveling for a year in our motorhome and the oven was just not hot enough to make them.  The second reason was the wheat.  I have been searching and searching for a good recipe and just could not find one.  My main complaint was that they were flat.  I will admit, the crust is a must for me.  I wanted the soft and warm bottom with the crispy and buttery edges.  I wanted a "real" dutch baby.

Out of desperation, I decided to try my hand at creating my own dutch baby.  What did I have to lose?  Nothing but a few eggs and flour.  To my amazement, I turned the oven light on and Wallah...we had success.  I will tell you that my secret was to have all of the ingredients at room temperature and I used a great combination of flours.  This recipe is very tasty, in fact, I have gotten better results with this recipe than with my original.  I lived at very high altitudes in Utah and sometimes I could not get the tall edges.  I will share both recipes.

You can tell I let my butter brown a little bit in the pan before adding my batter.  I love it this way.

I will tell you I almost shed a tear when I took the first bite.  It was a little bit of heaven with the flavor of lemon, powdered sugar and dutch baby all dancing in between my teeth...so simple, yet so rewarding!

The key to a successful rise is to have your ingredients at room temperature.  I believe this to be the case for both recipes.

Recipe:  Original Dutch Baby (Puff Pancake)

2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for dusting

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F (245 degrees C).  If you do not have a cast-iron skillet, glass pie plates work great too. I use both.  I have also made these in a square and heart pan.  The kids love the heart-shaped dutch babies, especially for special occasions.

In your blender add eggs, milk, flour, and 2T. of butter.  Blend on high until very light and fluffy.  You want the air in the mixture to make it light.

Remove skillet from the oven.  Melt 2 T. of butter in hot skillet so that inside of the skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour the batter equally between your pans (either 2 or 3 pie plates or cast iron skillets).  It's okay if the butter browns a little bit too.  I love the way it looks on the dutch oven..kinda crackly.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with lemon.

Recipe:  Gluten-Free Dutch Baby

This recipe will make enough for 3 pie plates.  You can do 2, but the bottom will be a bit thicker.  We like ours thin on the bottom and then we can fold them over and eat like a piece of pizza.  I have made both and they all taste great.

I make one per person, plus more for adults or really hungry guests.

5 eggs, at room temperature. It's  IMPORTANT that you do this!
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/4 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup of almond meal
4 T. of butter (2 T. for the skillet and 2 T. for mixture)

powdered sugar

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F (245 degrees C).  If you do not have a cast iron skillet, glass pie plates work great too. I use both.  I have also made these in a square and heart pan.  The kids love the heart shaped dutch babies, especially for special occasions.

In  your blender add eggs, milk, flour and 2T. of butter.  Blend on high until very light and fluffy.  You want the air in the mixture to make it light.  You can use a mixer too, I just think the blender is easier to pour the batter into the pans.

Remove skillet from oven.  Melt 2 T. of butter in hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour the batter equally between your pans (either 2 or 3 pie plates or cast iron skillets).  It's okay if the butter browns a little bit too.  I love the way it looks on the dutch oven..kinda crackly.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with lemon.

You can see in the back the whole dutch baby...they just pop out of their pans and look so pretty on a large plate.
Written by Sherron Watson

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Salmon Baked in Foil

My family and I would eat fish every day if we could.  It's common knowledge that Isabella is a fish, just kidding.  She just loves the water so much and would spend her whole day at the beach if we let her.LOL

Most nights we head to the beach after work.  This makes dinner time a bit tight if I want to go with them, after all...someone has to cook the dinner.  On these nights when I know that we will be gone or leaving very soon, I will make a fish dish.  

I find that fish is very easy if you stick with simple and fresh ingredients.  I love using (and not all together) olive oil, butter, lemon, capers, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and a big piece of foil when making our fish dinners. 

We also use our outside grill when making our fish dishes.  Some times I will skewer the scallops or shrimp.  Once in a while, I will cook fish directly on the grill, but only if it is nice and clean.  I only want the grill marks not last night's rib dinner.

I don't buy fish and freeze it.  I always try to buy if fresh, and living at the beach, it is usually quite fresh.  Some times we even get a catch from that day.  YIPEE!  This salmon is not local, of course, and we did buy it from Whole Foods.  They have a wonderful selection of fish, fresh and frozen.  I learned that salmon comes in a wide range of colors and tastes.  The gentleman who helped me asked how "fishy" I wanted my salmon to be.  For this dinner, I decided to try something in the middle and you will see the piece that I selected above.

I wanted the fish to shine and so I chose to serve it with brown rice and a simple cabbage salad.  I used very few ingredients in preparing my salmon.  I wanted to taste the fish.  I hope you enjoy this simple recipe and you can see how simple and easy a piece of salmon can be to prepare for your family.

Salmon with Lemon and Cilantro

1 large piece of salmon  (this piece of fish served my family of 5 with no leftovers.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lemon, sliced very thin
1 handful of fresh cilantro

I like to make this on our grill.  I will set the grill outside to medium heat and have this started before I prepare the fish so that the temperature and the inside of the grill are evenly heated and ready to go.

Grab a large piece of heavy-duty foil.  Lay our salmon with the skin down and the red meat up. I sprinkle the EVOO all over the fish.  I take my thinly sliced lemons and lay a row down the middle.   You can do the whole top, but this makes for a very lemony flavor.  I then add my fresh herbs.  I had cilantro for this dinner so that is what I used.  I lay them on the edges and wrap up my foil.

I like the medium heat with the fish because it cooks the fish slowly and gives the herbs and lemon a chance to season the fish.  I would check your salmon after 15 minutes to see if it is to your doneness.  Some people like their salmon not cooked all the way.  We like ours flaky and so I tend to cook the salmon for about 20 minutes.

I serve each person a piece that is 2 inches wide and cut all the way across.  This seems to be a good serving size if you are serving other dishes.  My daughter loves the skin and I don't.  The skin usually separates from the salmon during cooking and this makes it easy to serve the salmon without the skin.

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

I have been wanting to make homemade ravioli for a very long time.  I kept thinking that I would buy a pasta machine, get the molds, and on and on and on.  I will someday have those things, but for right now I must do it by hand or the old fashion way. No molds and no pasta machine.  

I like getting my hands in the dough and playing in the flour.  This does take some time to prepare, but it is so worth the time and effort to make a good ravioli.  My family absolutely fell in love with these little morsels of heaven.  

I will be making this again and trying some different fillings.  I would love to try a combination of spinach, mushroom, and cheese.

I make a lot of food in my house but this is by far the best tasting pasta dish I have ever made.  I think it has a lot to do with fresh ingredients (herb and pasta), the homemade marinara and my love for cooking.  I have to admit it, making something like this makes me happy and I do feel like betty homemaker when I can whip up a ravioli dinner...LOL

Recipe:  Asiago Cheese Ravioli

If serving the ravioli with the marinara sauce.  Make this first, it is listed below.

You will need your favorite pasta dough. The filling listed below will make about 40-50 ravioli’s, depending on how large you make your squares and how full you stuff them.  If you need a recipe, The Pioneer Woman has an excellent step by step recipe that can be found here with pictures.  It is amazing! 

I use a gluten-free pasta dough that is wonderful and tastes amazing. I never have any problem with it and can roll it very thin.  That recipe can be found here.

2/3 cup of Ricotta Cheese
½ cup of shredded Asiago
1 T. garlic, minced ( we like a lot, so if this is too much, just reduce)
1 T. fresh Basil, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. of salt

Mix all of the above ingredients together and set aside while you roll out your pasta dough.

Take a large pot and fill with water.  I would add about 10-12 cups of water.  I also add 1 tsp. of olive oil to the water.

For the dough:  I flour my work surface and rolling pin.  I cut my dough into small sections.  

You want equal sections so that you have a top and bottom piece to make your ravioli. Shape your dough like a rectangle (2 short ends/2 long sides).  I roll the dough out very thin.  I roll out the first one, pick it up and set it on a cookie sheet.  Roll out the second piece of dough. I use a cookie scoop to scoop my filling and space them apart on my second piece of dough.  I like my ravioli at about 2 X 2.  I can sometimes get three rows across, but usually just 2.  Once you have placed your filling, grab the first rolled out dough and lay it on top of the second.  I use my fingers and gently push the top down around the scoops. 

I don’t have a ravioli cutter (this is a round or square tool with a handle). I use my pizza cutter and cut the rows of filling into squares.  You will cut long ways and then cut across, forming individual squares or ravioli. You want dough around the ravioli so it does not fall out during boiling.

I have a cookie sheet lined with parchment ready for me to place each ravioli on.  When I pick up the ravioli, I like to pinch the edges to make sure they are sealed.  The pizza roller does not always seal them like a ravioli cutter will.  If they need to be sealed, I part the layers on the edges brush some water in between and pinch again.  I usually lose one or two fillings in the boiling process.

The ravioli will sink to the bottom of the boiling water and rise to the top.  I cook my ravioli’s for about 6-7 minutes.  I want the filling to be warm, the noodle cooked and the cheese starts to melt.  I transfer the ravioli to a large plate, sprinkle with cheese and serve with the marinara.

FOR GLUTEN-FREE DOUGH:  Use white rice flour when rolling out the dough.  Starch is too slippery and will change the color of your dough.

I served the ravioli with a homemade Marinara Sauce.

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 T. fresh oregano
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt to taste
dash of pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan.  I have the heat set at medium. Once the marinara starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low.  I like for this to be simmering while I am making the ravioli.  I think the longer it simmers the more the flavors have a chance to meld.  I like the tomato chunks in my sauce, if you do not, then you can cut or mash the tomatoes so they are not so big.

Salt is a tricky thing with tomato sauces.  Some people like very little and others a lot.  I always start out with 1/2 tsp and do the: taste, add, taste, add..method.  It is a personal choice of how salty you like your food.  It's always easier to add more then it is to start over because you over-salted something.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies #GlutenFree

I have recipes that I only make during certain season's or holidays like everyone else.  I enjoy having eggnog at Christmas time and Ham with Easter Dinner.  You will soon learn that I love pumpkin all year long.   When I crave a cookie that is soft, warm and filled with the flavors of spices and chocolate, I usually go to my favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

I was first introduced to this gem of a recipe, 24 years ago by a family friend, Roseanne.  I still remember Roseanne and their family.  They had all boys and we would often house sit for them when they went away.  She would make these cookies for her boys because the recipe would make a whole bunch and the kids loved them.
I had some pumpkin leftover from the scones and decided to attempt this recipe using my GF flours.  I have included the recipe as is (which is wonderful) and with the changes for a GF family favorite.  My family could not get enough of them... POOF and they were gone from the kitchen in a heartbeat.

This past week I have not felt well, a summer cold is not FUN, so I have missed my walks at the beach every day.  I love going to the beach and searching for my beach glass.  I call it beach glass and not sea glass because our glass comes from the Chesapeake Bay and not the wide-open ocean.  Under a microscope, you can tell the difference. The sea impact on the glass is different than the bay.  

I collect the glass and I love it.  I am not picky when picking up the glass on the beach.  I take it all home and then lay it out and sort the glass.  I have glass that is new and old, brown and white, small and large.  I have old china pieces (my favorites to find) and a few in an array of colors: blue, green, lavender, pink and yellow.  It's a hobby that relaxes me and a way that I can bring the beach home with me.

On this particular day, I grabbed my warm cookies and a cup of tea.  I grabbed my bowls of glass and sat by the window just thinking and looking at my glass.  I always wonder "where" did it come from, was it on a ship, who had the glass, was it garbage to someone else?  So many possibilities from one tiny piece of glass.  I can guess to how old the glass is based on how smooth the edges are. How "salted" the glass looks and the color.  History and events have always tugged at my heart and by searching for this glass on the beach I find myself looking BACK in time.  

I don't have the heart to throw away the glass that is not aged. So I keep it.  Someday it will find a new home but today I love seeing it sparkle in the sunshine.

This post is about my glass, but I do collect rocks too.  I have bowls of rocks that my kids have found.  I also like the very flat rocks to stack in my sand garden.  I love nature brought inside.

I love spending some quiet time trying to stack the rocks.  It's very relaxing for me.  The sand also feels good in my hands.

With my cookies in hand, I was able to slow down and enjoy something I loved doing outside of my home.  It's okay to take a minute and find a quiet place to have your thoughts be turned to a memory, a moment or just to say "ah" after a long day of work or a day of not feeling well.  I hope that when you make these cookies, you too, can find a quiet place to say "ah".

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup of pumpkin ( I have used canned and freshly baked..they both work well)
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of butter 
1 egg
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of milk
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Combine the pumpkin, sugar, butter or egg in a mixing bowl. Using a mixer,  blend together. 

 In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.  I don't use the nuts in mine.  It's a personal choice.

Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet or baking stone lined with parchment paper. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. They should be firm and lightly browned.

Remove to a cooling rack.  Serve with milk, coffee or tea. 

NOTE:  To make this gluten free, I made these changes:

1 cup of pumpkin ( I have used canned and freshly baked..they both work well)
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter 
1 egg 
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp. xantham gum
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of milk or almond milk
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Follow instructions above to make the cookies. ENJOY!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bacon Gravy and Biscuits

I don't make our gravy super thick, although, you certainly can if that is how you like it.  We also like to eat eggs with our Biscuits and Gravy.  ENJOY!
Every now and then I MUST have biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  It seems lately a lot of blogs that I follow are also sharing their recipes.  If my tummy is going to be tempted, then I must answer it with a scrumptious biscuit and yummilicious bacon gravy.  I like that word, my computer does not know what to do with it...LOL  It's a good word...YUM-MI-LIC-IOUS.  Just sounds good!

Oh, yeah...the gravy.  I like sausage gravy but I love a good bacon gravy.  It's not as bold as sausage so the gravy, really shines.  I don't know when I first started making this for my family, other than I know it's been too long to remember.  It's a family favorite and the more bacon I use the more hugs I get.  LOL

I will encourage you to buy great bacon.  Don't go for the thin stuff...thick is what you will need.  I usually buy my bacon from the deli and spend extra $ for this recipe.  Today I used Boars Head.  Their stuff is all gluten free. You can use pepper, maple or smoked...it might change the overall flavor a bit, but if your family likes pepper...then buy pepper!  Let's make the family happy.

I will share with you two recipes for biscuits.  One that I LOVE, but cannot eat anymore (wheat).  This is the recipe I used to make.  I will also share a GF biscuit recipe.   I try really hard to always provide something for everyone in my recipes and something that is GF.  I have so many friends that are being diagnosed with Celiac or have a sensitivity to wheat.  I am sure that you do to.  Let me tell you, that if my friends made something special for me and my diet needs, it almost brings a tear to my eye.  It says LOVE when someone WANTS to cook for me, with ME in mind.  That is why I share GF recipes and regular recipes.  It means a lot to those of us who are on a restricted diet.

 Bacon Gravy and Biscuits

1/2 pound of Bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped (small pieces)
1/2 tsp salt.  You will need more, but this is a personal choice and you will need to taste and salt as you go.
1/2-1 tsp pepper.  We like a lot of pepper.  But start small and work up to more.
4 cups of milk
2 T. flour (I use corn starch for the GF version)

Fry cut bacon in a heavy duty skillet until crisp.  I cook my bacon on med to med high heat.  I don't like it to burn, so I would rather take it slow and not rush it.  When bacon is almost to where you think it is done for your family, add the onion and celery.  This combination only needs to cook for about 3-5 minutes.  Enough time for them to not be crunchy.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon/celery/onion mixture to a paper towel.

Discard all of the remaining grease except 1 T. bacon grease.  If using flour, add flour to grease and cook on med heat for 3 minutes.  If using corn starch, add the corn starch to a little bit of the 4 cups of milk and whisk together.

Add the milk or starch/milk mixture to the skillet.  Using a whisk and watching the heat, stir until bubbly and thick.  Add the bacon mixture and turn off the heat.  If the gravy is not as thick as you like it add more flour or starch.   NOTE:  Always add your starch to cold milk or water first, then add to the item you are cooking.  I would do the same with flour.  It prevents lumps.

I like to let the gravy sit for a few minutes so that everything has a chance to meld.  The flavors of the bacon, onion and celery need time to adjust to the flour and milk gravy.  This is why I make the gravy first and then make the biscuits.  It seems to work out perfectly.

Recipe: Biscuits

2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup of chicken broth
OPTIONAL: 1 cup of cheddar cheese...the men love the cheese with the bacon gravy!

Combine dry ingredients.  Make a well in flour bowl and add milk and broth.  Do not over stir.  Add cheese and drop dough onto a baking stone or greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes.  The should just start to be turning brown.  Every stove is different, so watch them.

Recipe: GF Biscuits (These will taste like a wheat biscuit)

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup of millet
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup of tapioca starch
1 tsp. xantham gum
2 T. baking powder ( this adds a lot of flavor to the biscuit)
1 tsp. salt

6 T. solid vegetable shortening
4 T. butter, soft
1 cup milk
Optional: 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place pizza stone in oven to preheat. You can use a cookie sheet too.

In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. Using a whisk, blend dry ingredients well.

Add the shortening and butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut into flour until the flour looks like small pebbles.

Gently add milk and form dough. Try not to over mix.

Using rice flour, sprinkle on to the counter and tip dough out of bowl. I used my fingers to press dough to the thickness I needed my biscuits to be....about 1/2 inch. I used a small circle cutter. Remove stone from oven and place biscuits on stone, return to oven. Bake for 12 minutes. If the biscuits are larger, then you may need to bake them for a little bit longer. I was able to get 40 small biscuits  or 16-18 normal size biscuits.

These biscuits are flaky, soft in the center...perfect for using with soups. I did not add any sugar to this recipe because I like it that way. I can use it with savory meals or with sweet treats. If serving with whip cream, the sweetness will come from this and the fruit. Feel free to add sugar if you want it a bit sweeter. If you choose to add this, start with 1T. of sugar. ENJOY

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken Satay

When we have a BBQ or a crowd at our home, I am always looking for something that I can prepare in the morning and just POP on the grill.  I like this recipe for Chicken Satay for this very reason...it's easy and I can make it in the morning. It leaves me with plenty of time before our friends arrive to set the table, work on minor side dishes and get ready! Sometimes I spend the day cooking and forget that I need to look good too. LOL

Marinading the chicken for the day makes the chicken so tender .  It really just melts in your mouth.  I also make the peanut sauce in the morning.  I think the flavors have a chance to blend when given the opportunity to sit.

Brown rice and veggies are what we serve.  I love my rice cooker.  Again, it's something that I can add the ingredients and walk away.  It does it's own thing with out me having to keep track of it.  I love that!

Skewers always add so much to any meal. They look great on the table and the kids love eating their food right off of a stick.  Who does not love food on a stick?

Chicken Satay and Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp curry powder
2 T crunchy or smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
crushed dried chile peppers, to taste

Peanut Sauce:
3/4 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T. soy sauce (I used Tamarin, it's gf)
2 T. molasses
1 tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
cayenne pepper
grated lime zest
fresh cilantro

6 chicken breast halves, boned, skinned and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips

To make the marinade, combine the first 7 ingredients in a large ziplock bag.

Add your chicken.  Let marinade in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.

One hour before grilling, soak your bamboo skewer in water.  I used a foil pan (the same one that I used to put the skewered chicken in).

Thread the chicken strips onto a bamboo skewer in a serpentine fashion. 

I make sure to spray the grill with Pam (or oil) and add skewers.  They do not take long to cook.  Watch them closely.

Cook the skewered chicken, turning several times and basting with the marinade, until crispy on the outside but still moist on the inside, about 8 minutes.

Make the peanut sauce by combining the next 7 ingredients (peanut butter through garlic) in a saucepan.

Season to taste with cayenne pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is as thick as heavy cream (about 15 minutes).

Transfer to a food processor or blender and purée briefly. Add chicken broth and cream and blend until smooth.

This mixture can be made several hours ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Prepare moderate-hot BBQ grill or broiler.

Sprinkle grilled chicken with lime zest and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping.

Written by Sherron Watson

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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