Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pizza Monkey Bread

Pull-apart bread, which we call Monkey Bread, is perfect for parties, showers or just a great supper. They can be sweet or savory. This one is made with pepperoni and cheeses, but you can add anything you want to it. There are no limits to the combinations that you can make. I made this one very simply using Krusteaz Garlic and Onion Flatbread mix. I highly recommend it. It was delicious in this recipe!

Pizza dough or canned biscuit dough
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 tbsp. basil leaves
1/2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 (8 oz.) package of mini pepperoni
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan well.

Cut pizza dough or biscuits into small pieces.

Add all the ingredients in a bowl, except the dough and toss. Add the dough pieces a few at the time and toss so that the oil is spread evenly on each piece of dough. If you add them all at once, they stick together and just make a huge ball... I found that out the hard way! LOL

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center is cooked. If the middle is still not cooked thoroughly, leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes at a time until it’s done. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with marinara, pizza or spaghetti sauce for dipping.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chicken Parmesan

This recipe is as old as the hills. Some people will scoff at using mayonnaise, but it really helps to keep the chicken moist and tender. This is also a recipe that I think you have to be willing to get a little messy in the kitchen. I've never been able to do the "wet hand, dry hand" method of breading chicken, and believe me, when you've worked in a kitchen frying chicken by the 5 gallon bucket loads... you'll try every method available... So get in there and get your hands dirty! I like to prepare the chicken for the Chicken Parmesan this way, so it stays nice and juicy. 

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking pan or large casserole dish with oil. In a flat dish, combine bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings. Place mayo on a plate. Coat the breasts with mayonnaise (I actually used my fingers), and then roll in the bread crumb mixture. Bake chicken for 25 minutes or until no longer pink inside.

To assemble and prepare the Parmesan you'll need:

Spaghetti Noodles
32 oz Spaghetti Sauce, make your own or use your favorite store brand
½ t Basil, dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Cook spaghetti noodles in boiling salted water until done and put in a greased casserole dish. Combined sauce and spices and pour over noodles. Remove chicken from oven and place on top of the noodles and sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of chicken then top with the Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Serve with a Caesar or Garden Salad and Garlic Bread.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Braised Shanks in the oven

I received some pork shanks a few weeks back from my friend Russell at Sunny Cedars Farm. I cooked two in the crock pot. That way is easy and effortless. Just throw them in and put whatever spices, herbs and stock/wine/water that you want in with it. This time, I tried a braising method in the oven. I put them in the pot and sprinkled them liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I poured in some stock and let them cook away at 350 degrees for several hours. When you can pull the bones out clean, they are good to go!

I drained off the liquid and put it in the refrigerator to chill. I pulled out all the meat from the skin and bones. When the fat and broth separated and chilled, I spooned off 2 tablespoons of fat and put it in my cast iron pan along with 2 tablespoons of flour. I browned the flour in the fat until golden brown, then added the stock. Add more water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It literally fell off the bone! Yummy, juicy and tender!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Southern Green Beans and Potatoes

I cook a lot of green beans for my Wednesday night supper crowd at church. After a while I get really tired of the same old, same old. I'm on a VERY tight budget, so I can't get too fancy. But with just a few extras, you can jazz up some boring old sides. I was cooking hams so I borrowed some of the fat and a little meat and used it for seasoning... browning it in a sauce pan.

I sliced up some onions and added minced garlic. I added a stick of butter a little at the time. You need to remember (before you gasp at the butter) that this is enough for 50 people. I also added salt and lots of pepper.

I used small potatoes, peeled cut into small, bite sized pieces and cooked. I added them to the green beans in the buffet pan. Then I stirred in the seasonings and covered them with foil. I let the heat through.

After they cooked for a while, I added a little more butter and pepper. I covered it and let it simmer on top of the stove. From the remarks I received, they were VERY tasty! :-)

You need...

Meat and fat for seasoning... Ham, bacon or fat back

1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 stick of butter
Green Beans

Salt and Pepper to taste

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pork Shanks from Sunny Cedars Farm

I sent my hubby over to our farmer friend, Russell at Sunny Cedar's Farm to pick up the shanks that he had for me! For those that are not familiar with shanks, I'll fill you in...

The pork shank is a cut of meat taken from the lower portion of a ham. Traditionally, the word “ham” is reserved for a pig’s back thighs. The leg region usually comes in three sections, the shank, the hock and the foot. 
Ham is usually a tender, juicy piece of meat, but this isn't always true where the shank is concerned. This cut usually contains a lot of muscle and connective tissue, which can make it somewhat tough when cooked improperly. However, the shanks are less expensive and if cooked right, they can be just as flavorful and juicy as a ham. Slow roasting, braising in a crockpot and simmering are some of the ways to cook this type of meat. As far as pork products go, the shank portion tends to be relatively inexpensive and can be an economical option for many cooks.

Braising is one of the most popular cooking methods. Cooks start out by searing the outside of the meat, usually in a skillet, then putting it in a deep, covered pot with some amount of liquid. Water will work, but stock, broth, or wine can make the dish more interesting. The whole thing is then slow cooked on the stovetop for several hours. A counter top slow cooker appliance, or crockpot, can also be used for this method. This is the way I chose to cook mine...

I put the two shanks in the crockpot very late on Friday night. I poured what was left of a bottle of Palmetto Red Wine over them and added garlic cloves, salt and pepper. I turned it on high and let it cook all night! Do you think they are done? LOL

To finish them off, I made a bbq sauce to top the meat...
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp butter
1 cup ketsup
1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
2 tbsp worchestershire sauce

Saute onion and garlic in butter in a large pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes. Spoon the sauce heavily over the pork shanks. Place the pork in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens and sets, and the shanks are warmed through. (Be careful not to let the sauce burn!)

If you want to get some shanks to try for the first time, or cook with that favorite family recipe, contact my friend Russell at Sunny Cedars Farm!

My plate!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Salmon with a Browned Butter Dill Sauce

Tonight, I wanted Salmon, and no one else here likes salmon! So, I made it special for myself!!! This is Salmon with a Browned Butter, Lemon Dill Sauce.On a funny note... The hubby ate half of my salmon... that he doesn't like! Humph! I guess it was pretty good then! But what do I know?!?! LOL

Browned Butter Dill Sauce

2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp dill weed
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp garlic juice*
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste

*You can substitute a little garlic powder.

Heat a frying pan, sprayed with cooking oil, to medium high heat. Salt both sides of the fish. Place salmon, skin side down, in the hot pan. Do not try to move the fish. It cooks pretty fast. When the skin releases from the pan, it's ready to turn. If you like the skin 'blackened' a little leave it a little longer before turning.

Remove the fish and plate it. De-glaze the frying pan with the lemon juice. Add the butter, dill, garlic. Let the butter brown a bit. (This happens pretty quickly in the hot pan, so watch it closely.) Add salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the sauce over the fish. Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Greek Pork Loin with Red Potatoes and Green Beans

I'm used to doing Greek Chicken and potatoes, but I wanted something different. I had a 1/4 of a pork loin left in the freezer so I changed things up a bit. I dusted it very generously with Greek Seasoning and poured lemon juice in the bottom of the pan. I also added potatoes and green beans sprinkled with Greek Seasoning.

Good Dark Crispy Coating on the Loin!

Pork Loin
Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
6-8 small Red Potatoes
Green Beans

Preheat oven to 400. Place loin in a casserole dish fat side up. Dust pork loin with Cavender's Greek Seasoning very, very generously and pour lemon juice in the bottom of the dish. (not on the loin) Cover and bake for 1 hour so the lemon juice steams into the loin. Then add the potatoes and green beans. Sprinkle with Greek Seasoning and return to the oven (Uncovered) to cook another 1/2 hour or until center reaches 160 degrees and the fat and seasonings forms a dark crispy coating. A great one dish meal! Everything was done at the same time!

I pulled a few chunks off the side of the roast... 
you know that good juicy darker meat?
Oh my Lawd, it's so good!

** You can also add a little butter or margarine to the pan drippings and make a sauce to drizzle over the entire plate. All the flavors compliment each other well!