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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