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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Southern Pickled Okra

I made pickled okra last summer, but I never realized I didn't make a blog post about it. I was trying so hard to baby the 4 plants that made it in planting and processing the yield, that the post just never occurred to me! Funny! Pictures and posts are usually first in my mind! LOL


Makes 6 (1/2-pt) jars 
1 pound okra (3 1/2 to 4 inches long)
3 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
6 teaspoons dried dill
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 cups cider vinegar (24 fluid ounces)
1 cup water
3 tablespoons kosher salt

Sterilize jars and lids. Put 1 garlic clove, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon dill in each jar. Tightly pack jars with okra, stem ends up. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a 2-quart nonreactive saucepan, stirring until salt is dissolved. Divide pickling liquid evenly among jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top. Tap jars or run a knife or skewer around the jar to release air bubbles.

Seal and process jars. Wipe off rims of filled jars with a clean damp kitchen towel, and then firmly screw on lids and bands. Put sealed jars on rack in canner or pot and add enough hot water to cover. Bring to a boil. Boil pickles 10 minutes. Carefully transfer jars with tongs to a towel-lined surface to cool. Jars will seal (if you hear a ping, this signals that the vacuum formed at the top has made the lid concave).
Let pickled okra stand in jars at least 24 hours for flavors to develop.

Pickled okra (in sealed jars) keeps 6 months in a cool dark place.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mama's One Minute Icing

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, butter and milk together. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Add vanilla. Cool partially, then beat with a mixer for 3 minutes or until spreadable consistency.

This is not a fluffy kind of frosting that you use to decorate a cake. I did use it one the layer cake in the picture, but this is more of a icing that would go on a sheet cake. The mixture will harden some, but it definitely shouldn't be soupy. Be careful not to heat it over too high a heat, or the sugar will start to turn to candy, which will make the mixture grainy. Spread on the cake quickly and let it set until completely cooled. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Red Sauce or Mama's Chicken Hawaiian Style

I got this recipe from my Mama's recipe file and modified it a little. When I made it, I realized it tastes just like the Chinese Restaurant's Red Sauce! I had been trying to duplicate that sauce for years because that's the main reason the hubby eats Chinese Food! LOL Stumbling on to this recipe was a real find! Mama called this Hawaiian Sauce!

 My version of Chinese Take-out!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is Mama's recipe...

Chicken Hawaiian Style

1 ½ lbs Chicken Breasts, cut into strips or cubes
1 cup Pineapple Chunks
1 cup Pineapple Juice
2 T Cornstarch
½ cup Vinegar
6 oz Tomato Paste
1 cup Water
¾ cup Sugar
1 t Salt
1 Green Pepper
1 medium onion

Brown chicken strips in butter.* Drain pineapple, reserve syrup. Combine syrup with enough water to make 1 cup. Mix with cornstarch, tomato paste and water, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce in saucepan. Heat until thickened and clear. Add pineapple chunks & bell pepper. Pour over chicken and simmer.

Mama's Note: “I used to make this for company a lot…It’s a change from the same old chicken…”

My modification...

*I used her tempura batter recipe and fried the chicken strips or cubes. I then prepared the sauce minus the green pepper. I didn't have any and my family doesn't like them anyway. I used the sauce as a dip instead of simmering the chicken in it like Mama's recipe.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

It's not a great picture, but this is my homemade Chocolate Buttercream Icing. It's an old recipe, but a goof proof one, which is good for me!!! It seems like a recipe gone bad after adding all the sugar. The icing is very dry, but after adding the milk, it whips right up into the perfect spreading consistency! 

½ cup solid vegetable shortening
½ cup (1stick) butter, softened
¾ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (Powdered Sugar)
3-4 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Zucchini Lasagna

My DIL asked me to make this lasagna to cut down on carbs and calories. I used my regular lasagna recipe and substituted grilled zucchini for the pasta. 

4-5 Zucchini, sliced lengthwise about 25 slices*
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb ground Beef
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 1/2 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe below)
4 cups Tomato Sauce
1 tsp minced Garlic
1 tsp Basil
Salt and Pepper
15 oz Ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle sliced zucchini with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. Coat a grill pan with oil and grill zucchini on both sides until lightly brown, and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil on med-high. Add ground beef, salt and pepper, and sauté until browned, breaking up large clumps. Remove from heat, drain excess fat and let cool completely.

Preheat oven to 375 and make sure rack is in center position of oven.

In a medium bowl, mix the béchamel and tomato sauces to blend. Add meat mixture, garlic and basil.

In another medium bowl, mix ricotta, eggs, and ½ cup Mozzarella cheese.** (You can also add fresh minced garlic, basil and other seasonings if desired.)

In a 13 x 9 baking dish, spoon a little sauce and meat mixture over the bottom of the dish. Place zucchini slices over top the sauce, overlapping slightly and completely covering the bottom of the dish.
Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles and sprinkle with ½ cup mozzarella. Place more zucchini slices over ricotta mixture, top with sauce, and sprinkle with ½ cup mozzarella. Top with remaining zucchini, then rest of sauce, and mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

*It will depend on the size of the zucchini as to how many slices you will yield. The pan is 13x9, and there are 3 layers of zucchini slices. I ended up using 5 small size zucchini cut the thickness of noodles on a mandolin slicer.

**Tip: The lasagna will puff up because of the egg in the ricotta. When the center is risen as high as the edges, it’s done.

Béchamel Sauce

3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk

In a medium sauce pan, over med-high heat, melt butter and whisk in flour, stirring until lightly browned. Slowly add in milk, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each addition until thickened and bubbly. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick, smooth and creamy but not boiling, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt, pepper to taste and if desired, a pinch of nutmeg.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

English Toffee Sugar Cookies

My son loves soft sugar cookies. I made him a batch and decided to use the Heath's English Toffee Bits I bought on sale and make another batch. The hubby was my test tester on these. After "Mmmmm!" and "Oooooo!"-ing and 6 cookies later, he declared that they are delicious!

2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup Heath's English Toffee Bits
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, cream together the butter, and granulated sugar until combined. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add flour and mix until just combined. Using a spoon fold in the toffee bits. I used 1 cup, but use as little or as much as you like. We like a heavy toffee taste. Use a cookie scoop to scoop dough into balls, roll in sugar and place onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until tops of cookies start to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sweet Pea Salad

This is a simple salad, but it is very yummy! It sounds a little strange, but it is delicious. For a change, add cucumber instead of egg and Parmesan cheese instead of Cheddar. It's another great side salad!

1 can small sweet peas, drained
1 egg, boiled and diced
1/2 mayonnaise
1/4 cup Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp bacon bits (or more for more bacon flavor)
1 tbsp red onion, diced (optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Toss to combine well. Chill until ready to serve.