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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Birthday Chocolates

I always loved going up the ‘path’ to visit Grandmama Elliott for our 30 minute visits in the afternoon. We would sit out on the porch swing and eat ‘birthday chocolates’ and talk about school or whatever was going on that day.

At birthday parties, it seems that Grandmama was concerned that the smaller kids would feel left out when the birthday person opens their presents. She used to buy the miniature ‘Reece's Peanut Butter Cups’ in the box to wrap and give as a gift to the others. Those Reece's Peanut Butter Cups became known as ‘Birthday Chocolates.’ Grandmama seemed to always keep some on hand. Here's a recipe to make your own. It's fun and tasty too!


Peanut Butter Cups

2 cups milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs

In a small bowl, melt 1cup chips and 1 T shortening in microwave for 1 minute, stir and microwave for an additional 30 seconds or until melted and smooth. Do this in steps so the chocolate doesn't harden before you finish filling the cups...

In 2-quart saucepan combine butter or margarine and peanut butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted (4 to 6 minutes). Stir in confectioners' sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Let mixture cool completely.

The easiest way to make the cups is to use some sort of squeeze bottle, or maybe even a plastic bag with one corner cut to fill the cups. First, line your cups with the paper or use a mold*. Form all of the balls of the PB mixture by rolling about a teaspoon of the dough in your hands and forming it into a ball. Set the PB balls on a cookie sheet. Fill a squeeze bottle with chocolate, squeeze a bottom into all of the cups, place a peanut butter ball in the middle of the chocolate and then squeeze the remaining chocolate in around the sides and tops of the cups. Freeze until firm. Store refrigerated.

*If you look in kitchen specialty shops or candy making equipment shops, you can find the plastic candy cup molds to make these. You follow the same procedure as above. When chilled, they just pop right out when you bend the mold back and forth!

All Things Liver

Liver and Onions

2 pounds sliced beef liver
1 1/2 cups milk, or as needed
1/4 cup butter, divided
(If you have it, use bacon grease instead!)
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced into rings
2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
 
Gently rinse liver slices under cold water, and place in a medium bowl. Pour in enough milk to cover. Let stand while preparing onions. (I would soak it 30 minutes to an hour - whatever you have time for.) This step takes the bitter taste of the liver out.
 
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Separate onion rings, and saute them in butter until soft. Remove onions, and melt remaining butter in the skillet. Season the flour with salt, pepper and garlic powder and put it in a shallow dish or on a plate. Drain milk from liver, and coat slices in the flour mixture.
 
When the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high, and place the coated liver slices in the pan. Cook until nice and brown on the bottom. Turn, and cook on the other side until browned. Add onions, and reduce heat to medium. Cook a bit longer to taste. Enjoy!
 

 
Southern Fried Chicken Livers
 
1 pound chicken livers
1 egg  
1/2 cup milk
Texas Pete, a few shakes or to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Place the chicken livers in a colander, and rinse with water. Drain the livers well. Whisk together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl until well blended. Shake in a few drops of texas pete, or more to taste. Place the flour, garlic powder, and salt and pepper in a resealable plastic zipper bag, and shake to combine.
 
Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 375 degrees F. My fryer has a vented lid that can be used while frying to reduce the chance of burning yourself due to popping and spattering.
 
Place the chicken livers in the bowl of egg and milk mixture, and coat each liver. Place the livers, one at a time, into the plastic bag of flour mixture, and shake the bag to coat the each liver completely.
 
Gently place the coated livers, a few at a time, into the basket of the fryer. Cover the fryer with the fryer lid to avoid getting burned by spatters of oil that will pop out as the livers fry. Drop the basket and deep fry the livers until crisp and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.



I stress the safety of the fry lid because livers can pop! I just want you all to take this recipe and make it your own! Feel free to add your favorite herbs and spices...this is my basic recipe...I often add paprika, poultry seasoning, cajun, anything to the flour.If you like extra crispy....Flour first, then egg mixture, then flour again! Makes the coating thicker and crispier!


 
Bacon-Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

1 lb. chicken livers
Approximately 8 oz. bacon (not thick cut)
Teriyaki sauce, Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze
Kebab skewers

Wrap bacon around chicken liver, stretching the bacon to fit, if needed. Secure with a skewer. Repeat until skewer is full. Repeat with remaining chicken livers and skewers.

Pour teriyaki sauce over skewers, reserving about 1/4 cup. Marinate skewers for at least 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place skewers on grill and baste with reserved teriyaki sauce. Cook until bacon is done about 7 minutes and flip skewers. Baste again with teriyaki sauce and cook for another 7 minutes making sure not to burn the bacon.




Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hush Puppies

My Mama gave me this recipe and she got it from her best friend, Sarah Ann Aycock. Short, but sweet! (The recipe... Sarah Ann isn't short, but she sure is sweet!)



2 cups Corn Meal
1 cup Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1 sm Onion, chopped
2 Eggs
1 t Sugar
½ t pepper
½ cup Buttermilk

Mix. Drop by teaspoon fulls in deep fat. Store in frig.
 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplin's

My Mama used to make Chicken and Dumplin's for her Daddy every Sunday. It was his favorite dish. He died when I was 8 years old. Mama was devastated and refused to make chicken and dumplin's again. One year, close to Christmas, Mama decided to make chicken and dumplin's. I was about 16 at the time. She cut her hand with a chef knife and had to go to the hospital to get stitches. Here's a very old recipe for Chicken and Dumplin's:

Base:
Stew a chicken. When tender, pick the meat from the bones. Put meat in a large pan with tight fitting lid and add 4 cups of broth. Bring to boil.


Dumplings:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs, boiled and sliced

Place egg slices on a paper towel and salt them to dry out a bit.

Sift together dry ingredients and cut in the shortening. Stir in enough milk, mixing only to moisten the dough thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls into boiling chicken broth. Dip the spoon into the boiling liquid first so that the dough will slide off easily. Add egg slices. Cover pan tightly and cook 15 minutes. Enough for 6 servings.


* Another alternative for the dumplin's is to roll them out on a floured surface and cut into strips. Some people prefer this because it makes a firmer, less doughy dumplin'.

**Notice with these OLD recipes, there are very few references to time and temperature. These were cooks who knew how to cook by smell, touch and taste. Times or temperatures were often a suggestion to young cooks.





Corn Pone and Corn Cob Jelly

Two and a half acres of corn for a family of three was standard corn planting in the mountains of West Virginia, any more was for the hogs and chickens.

A standard pone recipe is:


1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon lard or fat

Combine the meal and salt and, while blending gradually add water. Melt the fat in the baking pan. After pan is greased, pour surplus into the mixture and blend.
The mix should not be more than one inch thick in the baking pan to start with. It will rise very little. (to make it rise like corn bread, 2 teaspoons of baking powder would be needed) The pone will develop a rich, brown
crunchy crust. In this modern day it would take about 50-60 minutes in a 350 oven.
It was usually baked in a "step oven" on the wood stove or fried on a griddle where a stove lid was removed. Corn bread and corn pone was a staple in the mountaineer diet. With greens, called "salit greens", boiled eggs, meat, and of course, cold milk from the spring house. Salit greens were pokeweed greens that were boiled for a very long time as it was thought that they were poisonous if you didn't. It tasted like spinach. This was good eating and friends were always welcome.

Not to waste anything Jelly was made from the corn cobs. This jelly tastes a lot like apple jelly and has a pretty red color.

Boil 12 bright red corn cobs in 3 pints of water of 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. If needed, add enough water to make 4 cups liquid. Add one package fruit pectin and bring to full boil. Add 4 cups sugar and boil 2 or 3 minutes until jelly stage.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fritters

A fritter is a 'small cake of batter, sometimes containing corn, fruit, clams, or some other ingredient, fried in deep fat or sautéed.'
Basically, a fritter is some flour, milk, eggs, melted butter and 'whatever else you got on hand'. I've had oyster fritters in Topping, Va made fresh out the water by my Grandmama and Great-Aunt Vashti. I've had corn fritters, apple fritters, banana fritters, squash fritters... the list could go on forever! If you had a little bit of somethin' and a lot of people to feed, you threw it in a fritter batter to stretch what you had. Here's an OLD Corn Fritter recipe:

2 cups chopped corn
1/2 cup sweet milk
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon melted butter
2 eggs
pepper to taste

Mix ingredients well. Drop by small spoonfuls into hot fat and fry until golden brown.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This recipe reminds me of Christmas time, cooler weather, sharing favorite dishes and family and friends spending time together. It reminds me of my Mom and all the times we cooked together making memories that last a lifetime. We used to travel to the mountains each year and go to the all the shops. There was a little place that was a Christmas Shop all year round. I bought one of my favorite cookbooks there... The Nutcracker Sweet. That is where I first found a recipe for this wonderful treat!

Monkey Bread


4 tubes refrigerator biscuits
¾ cup Sugar
 1 t Cinnamon

¾ cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
½ t Cinnamon

In a saucepan, heat butter, sugar, syrup and cinnamon to boiling. Cut biscuits into fours and roll into balls. Combine sugar and cinnamon and roll biscuits in cinnamon and sugar. Butter or spray a loaf pan. Stack biscuits into loaf pan. Pour syrup over biscuits and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes. When partly cool, turn out onto serving platter. To serve, let each person pull pieces off. If desired, drizzle with basic sugar glaze. Recipe below…

Basic Sugar Glaze

2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 T Butter or Margarine, softened
1 t Vanilla
3 to 4 T Milk or Half-n-Half

Combine all ingredients, adding enough milk for desired consistency.
Makes 1 ½ cups glaze.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baked Fish in Vinegar Sauce (My version)

This is a recipe that I developed after studying the recipes of the Frugal Gourmet! How many remember Jeff Smith and his show on ETV back in the '80s? I loved his show and the way he cooked. I still refer to the two cookbooks I have... The Frugal Gourmet and The Frugal Gourmet Cooks With Wine. I was intrigued by the intro to his recipe Baked Fish in Vinegar Sauce. "This is actually fish in salad dressing, and it will startle the children in your house who claim that they don't like fish." Ok... I like fish, but I like it more for the sauce it's in or whatever concoction I've come up with to dip it in or slather on. After trying his recipe, which involves sauteing, chopping and mixing, I came up with short cut recipe that works great. It's simple and you don't have to go buy a bunch of spices that you might not keep in the pantry. It's a quick recipe to put together, leaving time for family and friends while it bakes... and it smells heavenly! You don't have to worry about the smell of fish filling your house!

I didn't have any onions or lemons this time, but it came out fine!

2 or 3 pounds of your favorite fish fillets
Talapia, Bass, Catfish or Whitefish (all white meat fish will work)

Flour
Salt
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 Lemons, sliced thin
1 bottle Zesty Italian or Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour and salt and dredge the fish. Place them in a shallow baking dish so they fit snug. Place lemon slices on the fish, then sprinkle with onions. Pour dressing over the fish (use 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of dressing). You can add your favorite spice such as dill, basil or garlic to the dressing if you like... just taste it and adjust the flavor. The flour will bake with the flour and thicken into a wonderful sauce! Bake fish uncovered for about 45 minutes or until fish is firm and flaky.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Some days I don't feel like cooking, but the family has to eat. Right? There are so many ways to take recipes and simplify them. Create your own short cuts. This recipe calls for chicken breasts to be cooked and cubed. I buy the pre-cooked chicken for casseroles sometimes. It omits a hot, time consuming part of the recipe. You can quickly microwave the broccoli using the package directions. The rest is dumping ingredients in a dish. Voila!



4 boneless, skinless, Chicken Breast, cooked and cubed
3 packages frozen Broccoli
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 T Lemon Juice
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
½ t Basil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
Bread Crumbs, toasted

Cook and drain broccoli. Place in baking dish. Put chicken on top of broccoli. Mix mayonnaise, lemon, soup, basil, salt and pepper. Spread over chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle on cheese and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheese Steak Subs


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound beef round steak, flank or sirlion, cut into thin strips
1 pkg fresh button mushrooms, sliced
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 onions, sliced into rings
salt and pepper to taste
4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise and toasted
1 (8 ounce) package sliced provolone cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Lettuce and tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. **Saute beef until lightly browned. Stir in mushrooms, green pepper, onion, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender, and remove from heat.

3. Spread each bun generously with garlic mayonnaise*. Divide beef mixture into the buns. Top with cheese, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano. Place sandwiches on a baking pan.

4. Heat sandwiches in preheated oven, until cheese is melted or slightly browned.

*Garlic mayonnaise
 
1 cup Mayo
2 cloves Garlic, ground into a paste with a little salt and the edge of a chef knife
1 teaspoon lemon juice
 
Combine in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate til ready to use.
 
**Note** If I know that the cut of beef will be tuff... a lot of times, I will cook the veggies while grilling the steak. After the steak has rested, I cut it into strips and then process it for a few seconds.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stuffed Tomatoes



Here's a recipe to help you use up those summer tomatoes. It's a break from salads and a heartier dish.


4 large tomatoes
Dash salt
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons soft bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Basil
2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided

Cut tomatoes in half; scoop out and discard pulp, leaving a thin shell. Sprinkle lightly with salt; invert on paper towels to drain for 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in butter until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; stir in cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the bread crumbs, basil and 1/3 cup of cheese. Spoon into tomato cups; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Shrimp and Grits

*Notice in this picture that I used Italian sausage
in place of the bacon this time... it works either way!

This is wonderful basic Shrimp and Grits recipe. It is so easy and relatively quick to make. It's timed every well and by the time you finish with the gravy and shrimp, the grits are cooked well. You can add to it or change it around. I found that cooking the grits in Chicken Stock added a lot of flavor, but watch how much salt you add when using stocks.

•1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled
•1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits
•6 cups chicken stock
•1 teaspoons salt or more to taste
•1 pound Italian sausage, remove casings and crumble
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•1 garlic clove, minced
•2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
•1 cup chicken stock (more many be needed to get the consistancy you want)
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of chicken stock, and salt to taste, to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end.

While the grits simmer, get your gravy started. Fry the Italian Sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat until about done. Stir in the onion and garlic and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue sauteing for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.

When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much butter as you wish (optional). Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.

Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. If your gravy has formed a skin over the top, (It happens. Don't worry!) add a splash of stock and whisk for a second, then stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. (I used some boiled shrimp I had left over that were cooked in Old Bay Seasoning. I didn't have to add any additional salt or pepper. They were seasoned perfectly... good shortcut!) Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy.


A pretty option for serving at a
special occasion!
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Frogmore or Beaufort Stew?

I was asked this week if I had any Gullah Recipes. If you don't know what Gullah is, it's an African-American culture that took root soon after the days of slavery. The Gullah settled mainly in the islands along the shores of South Carolina and Georgia, among them: Edisto Island, Coosaw Island, Daufuskie Island, and St. Helena Island. This gave them privacy to preserve their culture and customs; like basket weaving, cultivating rice, trapping and trading especially shrimp.

When I worked for a trucking company in the '90s, I had a driver that was from the islands around Edisto. His 'handle' on the radio was 'Geechee'.
This is a word to describe the Gullah dialect, also a word to descibe perfectly how he talked.

On the island of St. Helena, where my Mama began a yearly pilgrimage many years ago, you can find the  Gullah settlement of Frogmore. It is a simple crossroads with a two-story white country store on one side and a post office on the other. This is the birthplace of Frogmore stew, a boil of assorted seafood, pork sausage, and corn on the cob. My family in Rimini, SC, has always called this a Beaufort Stew. There is the Louisiana Crawfish Boil and the Lowcountry Boil. The names go on forever, and the fight for the origin of each name does also. I believe that when you get to the 'outer banks' or islands of any southern state, if you look hard and deep enough, you will find the deep hidden cultures of time gone past.

Here is my families way of doing this classic Gullah inspired dish!

•2 crab boil seasoning bags (or more to taste)
•several lemons, halved (optional)
•redskin potatoes (depending on size, 3 or more per person)
•spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch slices (¼ pound per person)
•fresh corn, broken into halves (1 ½ ears per person)
•sweet onions, whole (depending on size, 1 or more per person)
•shrimp (½ pound per person)
•crawfish (½ pound per person) If Elliott's Landing has any left, they go fast!
 
This is usually done outside over an intense heat such as a propane burner. That's the only way to cook this much food all together! Fill a large steamer pot halfway with water. Add crab-boil seasoning. Add halved lemons may. When the seasoned water comes to a boil, add redskin potatoes and boil for 20 minutes; then add 2" slices of spicy smoked sausage and boil for 5-10 minutes. Add the corn and boil another 5 minutes. Then add the shrimp. Cook for 3 minutes. (Don't wait for it to boil again or you will overcook the shrimp.) Drain, and pile on a table.

Serve with lots of paper towels and icy beverages, plus melted butter for the corn, cocktail sauce for the shrimp, and sour cream for the potatoes. ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to have a bottle of killer hot sauce for the cousin who's gonna say, "Aw that ain't nothin'!" Then pour it to 'em!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Twist on the BLT for the Superbowl Weekend

This weekend is sure to be filled with parties, Bar-B-Ques and Tailgaters! This recipe can be used in a lot of different ways. Use it as a dip for crackers, chips or toast points. Use it as an appetizer mixing everything together except the tomato and stuff the tomato with the dip, or use it as a spread on subs, sandwiches and even burgers. There are all kinds of ideas for this tasty recipe! Enjoy and have a safe weekend!



BLT Dip

6 slices cooked Bacon, crumbled
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup chopped & seeded plum Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lettuce
Crackers for dipping

Mix bacon, sour cream, mayo, and tomatoes. Cover and put in frig for about an hour. Hollow out a tomato and spoon dip into it. Place on the lettuce leaves and surround with Crackers.
Note: You can substitute a 3 oz jar of real bacon bits for sliced Bacon.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

•4 large green tomatoes
•1 cup white cornmeal
•1 cup self rising flour
•2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
•2 teaspoons black pepper
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1 cup buttermilk
•1 cup sour cream
•1/4 cup horseradish
•1 teaspoon lemon zest
•2 tablespoons lemon juice
•1 quart oil, for frying

Wash, dry and slice the tomatoes into 3/8-inch thick. Transfer the tomatoes to a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle slices with salt and place in a colander to let the salt pull some of the water out of the tomatoes, about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sour cream, horseradish, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to make the horseradish cream. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and cayenne in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, pour in the buttermilk.

Heat the oil in a cast iron pan or deep fryer to 365 degrees F.

Dip the sliced tomatoes in the buttermilk mixture and shake off any excess. Press them into the flour mixture and repeat until all the tomato slices have been coated.

Carefully lower the battered slices, in batches, into the hot oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on both sides, then move them to a wire rack to drain. Sprinkle them with remaining salt while they are still hot. Arrange them on a serving platter and serve immediately with the horseradish cream.

Hamburger Casserole

This is an easy casserole to throw together on a busy night. Add a handful of your favorite cheese and you've got yourself a Cheeseburger Casserole!

2 pounds Hamburger, cooked & drained
2 Onions, sliced
5 medium Potatoes, sliced
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
Salt, Pepper & Garlic Powder
Paprika

In a greased casserole or baking dish, layer hamburger, onion and potatoes. Sprinkle each layer with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Mix soup with enough water to pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 325 for 30 - 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.