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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sunday Dinner... Pot Roast

A good pot roast with vegetables, green bean casserole, rice and gravy, sliced tomatoes and Mama's biscuits is the typical Sunday Dinner that I remember growing up. The smell takes me back to Mama's kitchen. If you add a lot more pepper to the pot roast or some fried chicken, that smell takes me to Grandmama Bradham's. The smell of cooking cabbage always takes me to Grandmama Elliott's kitchen. 

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 
― Laurie Colwin


Sunday Pot Roast

4 pound chuck roast
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
2 tbsp oil
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 cup beef broth or water
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 stalk celery, chopped

Season the chuck roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste, on all sides. Dust with flour and brown in oil on all sides in a large skillet over medium to high heat. Place in the roasting pan and add the soup mix, water, carrots, onion, potatoes and celery. Cover and cook at 350 degrees for 2 or 3 hours. (The longer it cooks the more tender it becomes, but don’t let all the liquid burn off)

Remove the meat and vegetables. Make gravy by adding a cornstarch slurry to the juices… 1 tbsp cornstarch to ¼ cup cold water… add to the juices and bring to a boil. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pizza for lunch! Chicken Caesar Pizza

Soooo Simple and Delicious!

Chicken Caesar Pizza

1 prepared pizza dough or canned refrigerated pizza dough
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken breast
Cardini's Caesar Dressing
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Spread dough out on a cookie sheet. Spoon dressing over dough. Top with chicken, cheese and seasonings. Bake at 400 for about 12-15 minute. (Or follow directions on canned dough)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken -n- Dressin' Casserole... Super Easy!

Me and Granddaddy Bradham

The Holidays got me thinking about family and loved ones past. I wanted to include this partial story from my short-stories book... Crazy People... Philosophy 101

"Mama included several pages of the 'Philosophy of Perry H Bradham' in the book she was writing for me. In Mama’s eyes, Granddaddy Bradham, was all-knowing. Very seldom in life does a little girl look to her father as a hero, ‘the greatest man that ever lived’ and keep that image with her throughout her life, untarnished. Mama used to say that she worshipped her father. ‘The sun rose and set on him. My eyes were never big enough to see him.' She could not bare the thought of ever disappointing him. She would get in trouble as a child and Granddaddy would come in to punish her. He would start to talk to her, “Honey, I am very disappointed in you.” Mama said that she would sob, “Daddy please just spank me! Please!”

Granddaddy Bradham was a simple yet complex man. He made homemade wine. He cooked a pretty mean Bar-B-Q Pig! (A recipe which my Daddy combined with his own to come up with the bar-b-que he cooks today.) He used old fashioned know-how and common sense to be a successful businessman, a husband and a father who helped raised five children.

Here are some of the thoughts of Perry H. Bradham, as written by his daughter:

°A little prayer is like a spiritual glass of iced tea on a hell of a day.
°We do not solve other people’s problems; we give them confidence so they can solve their own.
°What a great world this would be if we would forget our troubles as easily as we forget our blessings.
°In a way, to be criticized is to be complimented; it shows that you were doing something too important for the critics to ignore.
°If a hypocrite is between you and God, he is closer to God than you are.
°Be careful how you live; you may be the only Bible some people will ever read.
°To act is easy; to think is hard.
°The people whose company I enjoy most are the ones who know that I don’t always enjoy company.
°Love is like an onion. We taste it with delight; but when it’s gone we wonder whatever made us bite.
°Love is like lightning. It would just as soon strike the outhouse as the church..."

With that said... I wanted to share a very simple, but tasty Chicken and Dressing Casserole recipe. It is Thanksgiving in a dish! When mixing you may think that the mixture is too wet, but it cooks perfectly! This is a dressing casserole that is so moist it doesn't even need gravy... but I love gravy, so I fix some on the side anyway!

Chicken -n- Dressin' Casserole

4 chicken breasts cooked and cubed
1 pan prepared cornbread, cooled and crumbled
4 eggs, boiled, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

Combine all ingredients and place in a 13x9 baking dish. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Philly Cheese Steak Dip

I just love making a meal out of appetizers! That's why I love it when I'm doing a wedding reception and the bride asks about finger foods. It's the best way to get your guests moving, talking and enjoying themselves. Without having to sit down to a big formal dinner, guests have more freedom to mingle and have fun. There is always seating for those who like to observe and be wallflowers. (More like be inconspicuous and take pictures! LOL)

With the big game just around the corner, I thought I'd post some appetizer recipes. I love the recipes that take the big flavor of a meal or sandwich and compound that into a dip or mini app. This dip takes the flavors of one of my favorite sandwiches... the Philly Cheese Steak!

Philly Cheese Steak Dip

1 package (17 oz.) refrigerated beef roast au jus
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 jar (15 oz.) process cheese dip
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large skillet, saute onion and peppers and beef. Cook until onions and peppers are soft. (Or if you prefer, you can microwave the mixture for 2 1/2 minutes on high.) Drain beef mixture, reserving juices. Use two forks to shred beef.

Add beef mixture to 2- to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Stir in 1/3 cup of the reserved juices (If you don't have enough juice, add beef broth to equal 1/3 cup... more if needed), cheese dip, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours.

Serve immediately with crackers or chips. (Or, keep warm in slow cooker on low setting for up to 2 hours.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pork Scallopini

Traditionally, this dish is made with veal, but you can make it with pork, chicken, turkey, beef or venison. Basically it can be done with any meat or poultry that can be pounded thin. You can also change the spices. I love garlic so I add garlic powder to the flour. I sometimes like some lemon incorporated, so I substitute lemon pepper for the pepper. If you have followed my blog or read some of my recipe posts, you know that I never follow recipes to the letter, and I hardly ever cook something the same each time. I like to think of recipes as suggestions. So, make the recipe conform to your taste.

4 boneless pork chops
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup beef broth

1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Flatten cutlets to 1/8-in. thickness.

In a flat dish, combine the flour, bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add chops one at a time and coat evenly. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil. Add chops; cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place chops in a 13x9 casserole dish. Add enough broth to come to the sides of the chops. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed.

In a sauce pan melt butter and add mushrooms, soy sauce and garlic; cook and stir for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon over chops.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I had been fiddling around with this idea since I saw the Cheesecake Factory Red Velvet Cheesecake at Sam's Club the first of this month. I just could not see paying that much for something that I could make myself. Then I had to figure out exactly how I was going to make it!

Don't get me wrong. I have the best Red Velvet Cake recipe in the world (my Mama's :-)!

I'm not real strong on the cheesecake baking though. With that knowledge, I enlisted the help of Michele at La Belle Cuisine (

The marriage of these two recipes is a match made in heaven!

I'll state the obvious first... I went out and bought 3- 9inch aluminum cake pans (with straight sides) so I could get exactly the same size layers. My cake pans are all different (many with slightly angled sides), so this was a good thing! I baked the red velvet layers and started to work on the cheesecake. I have the cake down pat, but the cheesecake is where I need to concentrate! I used a half recipe (with-out the crust!) following the Dense and Firm Cheesecake instructions. After cooling, I put the cheesecake in the freezer. Freezing allows you to handle and transfer it to the cake.

I let the cake layers cool completely in the pans and wrapped them to assemble later. (I don't advise this, but I started on this to late at night to finish it!) Take the cheesecake out of the pan and place it on the bottom cake layer.

Top layer on now. Notice the handprint on the top of the cake... 
It is raining today, and the cake layers got rather sticky! LOL

The icing recipe is included with the red velvet cake recipe. 
The only change that I would make would be to add icing to the cheesecake layer.

All done...

And now it's time to have a piece!!! Yummmmmmm!!!
(Craig says that it's scrum-dilly-icious!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Brandy Alexander Pound Cake

This cake tastes a lot like a sour cream chocolate pound cake. It is very moist and a great gift to give in mini loaf pans!

Yellow Cake Mix
Chocolate Pudding Mix (6 ½ oz)
4 eggs
½ cup oil
¾ cup milk
¼ cup cream de cocoa
¼ cup brandy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt, tube or 4 mini loaf pans. Combine all ingredients and pour into pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove to cooling rack, or cool completely in mini loaf pans to give away. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Variation… This recipe variation has more of the brandy and cream de cocoa flavor.

Fudge Marble Cake Mix
Vanilla Pudding Mix (6 ½ oz)
4 eggs
½ cup oil
¾ cup milk
¼ cup cream de cocoa
¼ cup brandy

Follow the same instructions as above. Combine all ingredients and pour into pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Candied Orange Peel

If you received fruit baskets over the holidays and still have some fruit left, this is a great way to use up the citrus.

Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel can be candied to make a deliciously fresh, zesty treat. This recipe specifies four oranges, but you can substitute two grapefruit or eight small lemons or limes. It is a time consuming project, so make sure that you have an afternoon or so to complete these tasty treats. Or... you could prepare the peels and wrap them in a damp paper towel. Place them in a zip-loc bag, and finish the process the next day. For me, peeling and removing the pith of the oranges was the most time consuming part.

4 oranges
4.25 cups water
2.5 cups sugar, plus more for coating

Use a knife or a citrus peeler to score the peels of four oranges into quarters. Peel the oranges carefully, trying to keep the peels intact as much as possible. Set the peeled oranges aside and reserve for another use, like Ambrosia (recipe follows).

Using a very sharp knife, cut away the bitter white pith from the underside of the peels. The remaining peel should be approximately 1/8” thick. Do not worry if small amounts of white pith remain, but try to remove as much as possible. This will produce a much tastier treat. Slice the peels into long strips approximately ½” thick. Some of the strips may tare as you are trimming the pith away... don't worry any size strips will do!

Combine 4.25 cups of water and 2.5 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and heat, uncovered, until the sugar boils for 5 minutes.

Add the strips of peel and turn the heat down to low (this will depend on your stove... I set mine at 3 which is a medium low setting), until the mixture is at a good simmer. Cook, uncovered and simmering, until the syrup reduces to a quarter of its original volume (the syrup will barely cover the tops of the peels). Try not to stir during this process, or the mixture will crystallize and turn to sugar. The reduction will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. (depending on the simmering process)

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, drain the peels in a colander. Wipe the peels with your fingers or pull between the tines of a fork to remove any excess syrup. At this point, turn your oven to 200 degrees.

Place about one cup of sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar until they are coated, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Add more sugar if necessary.

Place the sugar-coated peels in the warm oven and allow them to dry out. This should take approximately one hour, but check them every 20 minutes to ensure that they are not burning or cooking in any way. The peels should look dry, not shiny. If they are shiny, dredge them in a little more sugar and continue to dry them. Alternately, they can be left to sit overnight on a drying rack instead of placed in the oven.

Once peels are completely dry store them in a zip-loc bag or air tight container. They should keep for weeks. Candied peels can be enjoyed plain, dipped in melted chocolate or used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.

Southern Ambrosia

"Often nestled among a host of traditional Christmas dishes on the Southern sideboard is a big crystal bowl of ambrosia. This "food of the gods" in its purest form is simplicity itself--fresh oranges layered with flakes of coconut.

'People who add grapefruit, pineapple, grapes, and bananas, and Lord knows what else to ambrosia simply don't understand ambrosia,' proclaims Martha Pearl Villas in My Mother's Southern Desserts written by her son, James. Her recipe has just four ingredients: oranges, coconut, sugar, and orange juice." ~ Southern Living Magazine

Reserve all the juice and segments of the oranges you used for the candied peels. Toss them in a bowl with a handful of marshmallows, a sprinkle of coconut and dot with a few cherries. If the salad is to dry for your taste, add a little orange juice to the mixture and toss.

Monday, January 2, 2012

More Candies!

Peppermint Snowflakes, Peanut Butter Cups, Whopper Cups, Chocolate and Vanilla Stars and Snowflakes, Almond Joy Patties and Chocolate Cups with Cherry Cheesecake Filling. Yummy!!!

Almond Bark

1 Cup Whole blanched almonds
1 Tsp. Butter
1 Lb. White chocolate

This is a microwave recipe. Place almonds and butter in a 9−inch glass pie plate. Cook on high (max. power) 4 to 5 1/2 minutes, or until almonds are toasted, stirring twice during cooking. Set aside. Place chocolate in large microwave proof mixing bowl and cook on high (max. power) 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Stir in almonds and pour onto waxed paper lined baking sheet. Spread to desired thickness and refrigerate until set. Break into serving size pieces.

Almond Joy Bars

4 c (8 1/2−oz) shredded coconut
1/4 c Light corn syrup
1 pk (11 1/2−oz) milk chocolate pieces
1/4 c Vegetable shortening
26 almonds (1−oz)

Line two large cookie sheets with waxed paper. Set large wire cooling rack on paper; set aside. Place coconut in large bowl; set aside. Place corn syrup in a 1−cup glass measure. Microwave on high (100%) 1 minute or until syrup boils. Immediately pour over coconut. Work warm syrup into coconut using the back of a wooden spoon until coconut is thoroughly coated. This takes a little time, and yes, there is enough syrup.
Using 1 level measuring tablespoon of coconut, shape into a ball by squeezing coconut firmly in palm of one hand, then rolling between both palms. (HINT: Measure out all of the coconut then roll into balls.) Place 2 inches apart on wire racks. Let dry 10 minutes. Reroll coconut balls so there are no loose ends of coconut sticking up.

Place milk chocolate and shortening in a 4−cup glass measure or 1 1/2 quart microwave−safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture can be stirred smooth and is glossy; stirring once or twice.

Working quickly, spoon 1 level measuring tablespoon of the chocolate over each coconut ball, making sure chocolate coats and letting excess chocolate drip down onto waxed paper. While chocolate coating is still soft, lightly press whole almond on top of each. Let stand to set or place in refrigerator. Store in a single layer in airtight container. Keeps best if refrigerated. Makes 26

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!