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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fried Chicken Caesar Salad

I used leftover fried tenders and made myself a Fried Chicken Caesar Salad for lunch! I love Caesar Salad of all kinds. Adding fried chicken, shrimp or crab to a Caesar Salad is a real treat on a hot summer day! 

Fried Chicken Tenders

6-8 chicken Tenders 
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Oil for frying

Make an egg wash by beating the eggs, buttermilk and hot sauce together in a shallow dish. Mix flour and spices in another shallow dish. Dip chicken breast pieces in egg wash then dredge in the flour mixture. For a thicker crust on the chicken, repeat that step again... egg then flour. In a heavy skillet, heat about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of oil to 365 degrees. (Or heat a deep fryer to 365 degrees) Place chicken in hot oil. (If the oil is not up to temp, the coating will not stick. Do not crowd the chicken in the pan or it will boil in the oil and not fry crispy.) Fry for about 5 minutes per side or until golden brown and no longer pink inside. 

Fried Chicken Caesar Salad

1/4 - 1/2 cup Classic Caesar Dressing, to taste
6 fried chicken tenders, sliced
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 cup seasoned croutons
1/4 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese 

Toss lettuce, croutons and dressing in large serving bowl. Top with chicken and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Roasted Vegetables!

Living in South Carolina all my life, I went through the eye wall of Hugo all those years ago, and I remember it all to well! The storm, the eerie calm and starry sky as the eye passed over, and the aftermath of the other side of the eye wall are still fresh in my mind with every passing storm. We are watching Irma and hoping for the best! I have a wedding Saturday to prepare for, and then we will decide what to do next. We are as prepared as we can be here in this ancient double wide mobile home. (that I hope does NOT become truly mobile!)

In the mean time, I'm cooking some foods that might perish if we are left without power for any significant time. Today I roasted some vegetables I had sitting around. Awesome flavors!

Potatoes, Carrots, Onions and Garlic Cloves
Cut into chunks, except the garlic. Leave it whole.

Tossed in oil and a little lemon.
Seasoned with basil, Kosher salt and pepper, to taste.
Roast on a baking sheet for about 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees.

My kitchen smells amazing!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hamburger and Potato Casserole with a Bechamel Twist

I was trying to figure out what to cook for supper with the things I had on hand. The cabinets are getting pretty bare, and those that know me, know that "running to the store" is not an option out here. I need a couple of hours to be able to do the shopping. Well, I had ground beef in the freezer and thawed it out. I had a few potatoes, a couple of onions and some cheese. Most recipes would call for some cream of mushroom or broth next, but I didn't have any on hand. I decided to go with a bechamel with a garlic kick. Here's a step by step, and the recipe is at the end.

Layer potatoes and onions.

Next combine hamburger, spices and bechamel,
then top the potatoes and onions.

Next Cheese!

Another layer of potatoes and onions.

More meat mixture.

Continue layering.

After 4 hours cooking on high.

All plated and ready to gobble up! It went fast!

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 garlic cloves, run through a garlic press
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
3 lbs. peeled russet potatoes, sliced
1 sliced onion
3 cups shredded sharp cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Brown the ground beef on the stove top. Remove meat and reserve grease. Add flour to grease and stir to cook the flour to make a roux. Add a little butter if needed. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Bring to a boil. Sauce won’t thicken until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in meat and seasonings.

In a Crock Pot* base, layer 1/3 of the potatoes. Salt and Pepper the potatoes, to taste. Add 1/3 of the onions, 1/3 of the meat mixture, and 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers ending with cheese.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until the potatoes get soft.
*If you don’t have a crock pot, layer as instructed in a casserole deep dish and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until potatoes are fork tender.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hot Pepper Sauce for Collard Greens

With all the peppers the hubby planted, I have so much to make with them! Pepper Jelly, Pickled Peppers, Cowboy Candy (candied jalapenos) and much more! This was one that my MIL requested!

1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
about 30 small peppers

Clean jar, lid, and band and rinse well.

Mix together sugar, salt and vinegar in a stainless steel saucepan.
Cook over medium heat until it begins to boil.

Fill jar with peppers and pour hot vinegar mixture over the peppers. Leave about 1/4 inch of head space from the top of the jar. Remove air bubbles in the jar by tilting jar slightly to allow bubbles to escape as pepper press against opposite side of the jar.

Wipe jar rim to clean. Place lid on top of jar and tighten ring.

Process jars in a water bath for 10-15 minutes.*

Store in dark, cool cabinet or pantry for up to a year.

*For a quick refrigerator batch, follow instructions as above, but after jarring, allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy National Watermelon Day!

Happy National Watermelon Day! Here are some watermelon inspired treats to entertain you! I hope you enjoy them! Click on the links for the recipes. This first one is a watermelon cooler that is so refreshing on a hot summer night!

Next I have a refreshing fruit salad. I use the term "refreshing" a lot when talking about watermelon! It seems like a good word to use when talking about cold, juicy, yummy watermelon!

Next is the Hash House A Go-Go's Tower of Fried Green Tomatoes separated by homemade (or house-made) Chicken Salad with a Balsamic Drizzle all on top of a HUGE chunk of Watermelon!

Finally, just for giggles, Willie the Whale in Disney Inspired Treats! I had a little boy's birthday to carve a watermelon basket for fruit, and his theme was whales. We carved the watermelon into a whale! That was a fun one!

I hope you have enjoyed these watermelon treats!
Happy National Watermelon Day!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Grape Jelly and Mosto Cotto Balsamic

The hubby planted a cutting from his Dad's grape vine several years back, and we are now finally getting enough to can! This vine is special to the Vining Family (no pun intended!) because it was brought to this country by his ancestors. He told me last night that it was his great, great, great, great Grandfather's cutting that started the vine on American soil! What a heritage to pass down!

I washed and sorted the grapes.

This is some of the heritage that I have from my 
Grandmama Bradham. Her chinois or stainless steel
cone with pestle. You can see it was well used! The pestle
is seasoned with many grapes and other fruits and vegetables!

I got 8 cups of juice from the grapes.

About the Mosto Cotto...
"Also called vino cottosaba, and petimezimosto cotto means “cooked must.” The “must” is smashed grapes that in this case are cooked down into a delectable sweet sauce with the consistency of maple syrup. It is heavenly on fruit, cheese, or in salad dressings.

This is an ancient recipe found in countries all around the Mediterranean. It was originally used to create a sweetener in the era before sugar cane was introduced to that part of the world."

This is the mash or "must" (grape skins and seeds) that was left over.
I covered with water and simmered low and slow for 2 hours.
I added about 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, and continued to
simmer until it was the consistency of a light syrup.

Grape Jelly

8 cups grape juice*
10 cups sugar
1 T lemon juice

Combine juices and sugar. Bring to a boil, and boil until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F. Process in jars of your choice in a water bath per canning instruction.

*When using the cone and pestle, this recipe doesn't need the added pectin. The lighter colored grapes (less ripe) contain a higher amount of their own pectin.

For the Mosto Cotto, follow these detailed instructions.
How to make Mosto Cotto (Vino Cotto) recipe

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cantaloupe Jam

Since the hubby planted a bigger garden this year, I have cantaloupe coming in faster than we can eat it. I started wondering if I could save it somehow. Freezing is, of course, not an option. Then I ran across an article online about melon jam, and thought, why not??? So, after a little research, I came up with this recipe for cantaloupe jam! I will admit that I did not completely wash the salt off of the cantaloupe. I did want a little salty-sweet flavor. I also admit that we sprinkle a little salt on our cantaloupe and watermelon. It seemed like the right thing to do, and it turned out delicious!  If you decide to do it this way, taste the cantaloupe before cooking it down to make sure it's not too salty. If it is, rinse it some more. With the next batch, I'm going to add peppercorns for another "twist." I already have 2 more large cantaloupes ripe and sitting in my kitchen!

14 cups cubed cantaloupe, about 2 large cantaloupe
1⁄4 cup kosher salt 
4 cups sugar
3⁄4 cup bottled lemon juice

Toss cantaloupe with salt in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 2 hours. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain.

Stir together cantaloupe, sugar, and lemon juice in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 20 minutes or until cantaloupe is soft. Mash cantaloupe pieces with a potato masher. (I used a handheld emulsion blender.) Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, about 1 hour until it reaches 220 degrees.*

Ladle hot jam into a hot jar, leaving 1⁄4-inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim and apply the lid and band.

Place jars in water bath. Process jars 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

*Cooking time may vary due to ripeness and water content.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Homemade Tomato Sauce

The hubby planted a huge garden this year. It's huge for us anyway! I've been making pickles, relish and pickled peppers from the massive number of cucumbers and jalapenos I've picked. Then, the tomatoes started coming in, and I became the Bubba Gump of tomatoes! Tomato Sauce, Tomato~Pizza Sauce, Tomato Salsa, Tomato Paste, etc. etc. etc. LOL

Quite frankly, I follow a lot of advice and recipes for canning from my BFFF (Best Foodie Friend Forever) Mary at Cooking With Mary and Friends! She is the Canning Queen! She has a lot of advice, notes and recipes with easy to follow instructions! Check her out when you get a chance at the link above!

For my tomato sauce, I had an abundance of sweetie and cherry tomatoes. The easiest way to deal with them is roasting. I cut them in half and spread them on a baking sheet, and sprinkled them with Kosher Salt.

 Lots of home grown tomatoes!

Sprinkle with some salt and roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the tomatoes soften
and the skins split and blister. Process in a food processor. Pack in pint jars with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Place the jars in a canning water bath for 35 minutes.

I made pizza sauce and salsa
from the tomato sauce using Mary's recipes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Southern Style Tomato Pie

I asked the Hubby to go pick the ripest, prettiest tomatoes he could find from the garden. I told him that I wanted to cook a tomato pie. He said, "A what?" I laughed and told him he'd like it! Most people don't know much about tomato pie unless their Grandmama made it. Quite frankly, I don't remember Mama or my Grandmama making a tomato pie. The first time I tried it was in Santee, SC at Lone Star Barbecue & Mercantile. That first taste was enough to inspire me to make them from then on! I finished the pie and offered a slice to him. He is now hooked! I was short on tomatoes because I had already processed a lot for sauce the day before, so this pie is a little pitiful. The next one will be more substantial! LOL

This is what I found on the counter this morning!
I think he liked it! LOL

  • 1 - 9 inch pie shell (or homemade pie crust, below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cups cheese I used a combination of Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Pre-bake the pie shell in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

Lightly salt the chopped tomatoes and set them in a colander over a bowl to drain (I used my Easy Greasy Colander System.) while you are pre-baking the crust. Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes using paper towels.

Sprinkle a layer of chopped onion over the bottom of the pie crust. Spread the tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and freshly ground black pepper. Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.

Place in oven and bake at 350° until browned and bubbly, about 25- 30 minutes.

My pie crust was a little thin and rustic,
but it was not soggy. It was crispy and delicious!

Pie Crust:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 to 4 Tbsp ice water

Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter cubes and pulse about 6 times. Then add the other half of the butter cubes and pulse about 6 more times. You should have a mixture that resembles a coarse meal, with many butter pieces the size of peas. 
Work quickly with the dough, you don't want the processor to heat up and start to melt the butter.

Add a couple of tablespoons of ice cold water to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. Then add more ice water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again. 

Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a clean, smooth surface. Use your hands to press the crumbly dough together and shape into a ball. Work the dough just enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over-knead or your hands will overheat the dough and break down the butter. This will make the dough tough. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough.

Sprinkle the dough with a little flour. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (You can freeze the dough for several months until ready to use. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.)

When you are ready to roll out the dough, place it on a clean, smooth, lightly floured sheet of wax paper. (You can place it on a counter top, but I like to transfer the crust on the paper.) Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle, to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch thick.

As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

Place dough onto a 9-inch pie plate. (If you use the wax paper, it's ok for it to stick a little. I invert the paper over the pie plate and gently peel the wax paper from the dough.) Gently press down to line the pie dish with the dough. Crimp or pinch the dough around the top or press with the tines of a fork.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bacon-Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Livers and Chicken Bites

I was admiring a plate of fried chicken livers my friend Julia over at Julia's Southern Simply Southern blog cooked, and it made me think of my brother's creation of Bacon Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Livers. For the liver haters out there, I also included Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites! Check out Julia's Southern Fried Chicken Livers on her page here... Southern Fried Chicken Livers.

Bacon-Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Livers

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.

Bacon-Wrapped Teriyaki Chicken Bites

4 chicken tenders, cubed
1 package Bacon (not thick cut), cur in half
Kikkoman Teriyaki marinade
Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze

Wrap bacon around chicken cube, stretching the bacon to fit, if needed. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining chicken cubes, bacon and toothpicks. Pour teriyaki sauce over chicken and marinate for at least 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place chicken on grill. Cook until bacon is done on the bottom, about 7 minutes, and flip. Brush with teriyaki glaze and cook for another 7 minutes making sure not to burn the bacon. Add more glaze to taste. Plate and serve.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Easy Chicken and Rice Foil Packets

I was looking for an easy meal to make pretty quickly this past Sunday. I basically wanted a one pot type meal with minimal effort or clean up. I hate doing a lot of dishes after a meal. These foil packets are an easy week night meal for the family or can be quickly thrown on the grill on the weekend. Super easy clean up is also a plus!

1 can (10 1/2 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 teaspoons Greek seasoning
Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste
2 cups uncooked instant white rice
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup fresh sweet peas
½ cup chopped onion
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 slices cooked bacon, coarsely chopped
1 ⅓ cups Colby Jack cheese
2 green onions, sliced (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 (18x12-inch) sheets of heavy-duty foil. Spray with oil.

Measure 1/2 cup of the condensed soup, and set aside. In 4- cup glass measuring cup, mix remaining condensed soup, the chicken stock and 1 teaspoon of the seasoning; beat with whisk to blend. Add instant rice; stir and let stand about 8-10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir in carrots, onions and peas. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness. Season chicken with remaining 2 teaspoons seasoning; place on center of each sheet of foil. Dividing evenly, spoon rice and vegetable mixture around each chicken breast. Divide any remaining soaking liquid over tops of breasts. Spread 2 tablespoons reserved soup over each breast; evenly top with bacon and cheese.

Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal.

Place packets on a baking sheet.  Cook 30 minutes. Cut a slice in each packet to vent the steam. Carefully fold back foil, and garnish with green onions. For the grill: Heat gas or charcoal grill. Follow directions above for assembling the packets. Place packets on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 10 minutes. Rotate packs 1/2 turn; cook 9 to 10 minutes longer or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (at least 165°F).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mama's Coconut Cake

Mama's Coconut Cake has finally come back to reality. If anyone remembers this legendary cake, let me know. She never publicly released the recipe. Years ago, I asked around. People said they had the recipe, but theirs never measured up to the taste of hers. I remembered a secret step she added to hers, and I think I got it right, finally!!! 

This cake was Mama's pride and joy. She never gave anyone the "entire" recipe. She would give them the recipe but left one step out. They would fuss at her and tell her that it didn't taste the same! She would make one for them, (for free) but she kept the recipe for herself. She said that she figured it out and anyone else could too!

A while back, I had a man that received this cake for a high school graduation dessert contact me. He described the taste and texture. He told me that he had been in search of this cake for 36 years. I laughed, and told him it was Mama's recipe. He asked if I could try to duplicate it. That is when the journey began. At first, he didn't think I got it right. After a couple of busy days and forgetting about it, he tried another wedge. He was shocked at the transformation the cake had made. The cake layers had soaked up some of the filling leaving incredibly moist layers, creamy sweet filling, and a buttery cream cheese icing that melded into the perfect cake of his past. After 36 years, his cake nirvana moment! Just trying to make Mama proud!

For the cake layers:
1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3-1/4 cups cake flour (sifted)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 (13-1/2 ounce) can coconut milk
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons stirred, sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
5 egg whites
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with shortening and flour the pan, discarding the excess.

Place shredded coconut in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped coconut, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut milk, cream of coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and coconut extracts until completely blended.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in the three whole eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the coconut milk mixture, to the creamed butter, starting and ending with the flour.

Divide batter equally into the three prepared pans. Bake the layers until they are light golden and set, and come out clean when pricked with a toothpick, approximately 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Cut around the edges with a pairing knife and remove the cakes to wire racks. Cool completely before moving forward with the recipe.

For the coconut filling:
1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt

Place shredded coconut in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Set aside.

In a medium to large saucepan, bring butter, cream, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and sugar completely dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, water, vanilla bean paste, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl, then stir the mixture into the saucepan with the cream mixture. Bring cream back to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture returns to a boil, cook for an additional minute or so, until just thickened.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chopped coconut. Continue stirring for another minute or so to release some of the heat. Transfer the filling to a mixing bowl and cool at room temperature for an hour. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill, stirring occasionally, until cool, 3-4 hours (or overnight).

When ready to assemble the cake, beat the chilled filling with a handheld mixer on high speed until thick, light, and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes.

For the coconut frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar

3 cups sweetened shredded coconut plus more as needed, for garnish

Place butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until light and creamy. Turn mixer on low and add coconut extract and vanilla, followed by the confectioners' sugar. Continue beating until smooth, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a large plate or cake stand and coat with half of the coconut filling. Add the second cake layer and cover with the remaining coconut filling. Add the third cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with a crumb coat of coconut frosting, followed by thicker layer. Thoroughly cover the frosted top and sides of the cake with shredded coconut, pressing gently to adhere it to the cake. For the cake to be the moist delicious cake of the past, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. It gets better with time.