Friday, January 30, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Not me.

Noble Pig announced the winner of the Super Bowl Recipe contest and a Buffalo Chicken dip won the grand prize. Actually, the only prize. My recipe was posted second so I'm declaring myself the unofficial 1st Runner-Up. Cathy took an amazing photograph of her finished chowder in a bread bowl and said that it was the best corn chowder she had ever tasted, so I'm totally counting this a victory.

And, oh my gosh, all the recipes look amazing. I'm sad I didn't win - 250 smackaroos to blow would have been nice - but just look at the contenders! Plus she posted all the recipes (just like I had hoped) so now we can all share the love.

Thanks to all of you who were rooting for me! I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm a Finalist! I'm a Finalist!

Excitement! Joy! Wonder! Awe! Aww....

I entered a recipe contest the other day over at Noble Pig. Cathy is looking for the best Super Bowl recipe. Aside from the prize being a $250 Sam's Club gift card, I was urged to enter because of my pride in creating my own recipe.

I hurriedly sent off my Corn Chowder recipe and then immediately regretted it. I've been reading numerous food and recipe blogs the last few days and have felt greatly inferior to all the great cooks sharing their talents on the net, although I've also felt completely inspired. (I've drooled a lot, too.) Anyhow, today I saw Noble Pig's latest post title, "The Finalists!" on my side bar. I clicked on the link to see what type of recipes had been selected. You can't even imagine my surprise when I saw my very own recipe there in the list of finalists! (Especially when I read that she had received over 1000 entries!) Luckily she decided to go for the recipes that used easy-to-find ingredients and sounded simple to prepare, two things I strive for in all my cooking.

Right now, I don't even care if I win. I can't tell you how far this goes in validation for me! Also, I hope she posts all the finalist recipes, because altogether sound like an awesome party menu!

Honey Glazed Carrots

I made a beef roast for dinner tonight. I had plans to make it a pot roast, but I had no onion and, well, I liked the thought of just throwing the roast in the oven with the only prep being sprinkling it with salt and pepper...nothing special, I know. I also served some boring mashed potatoes and gravy. These carrots went a long way in dressing up our dinner.

This recipe is adapted from Everyday Food magazine

1 lb baby carrots, cut in half crosswise
1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 Tbs butter

In an 8-in skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Add carrots and cook until carrots begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, honey and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until carrots are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Remove cover and cook 7-9 minutes more until sauce is syrupy (there will be very little liquid.) Remove from heat and swirl in butter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

A simple classic, this one-dish meal is an easy standby.

1.5 lbs gound beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can tomato soup
1 can green beans, drained
4 large potatoes, mashed
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet brown beef and onion; drain. Mix in green beans and tomato soup. Pour mixture into a large casserole. Cover with mashed potatoes. Top with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Porcupine Meatballs

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend came over for dinner one evening. When I announced that we were having porcupine meatballs, the girlfriend looked around nervously. She spooned only a couple on to her plate, to be polite, but I noticed she was hesitant to eat them. I casually threw out that I made them with ground beef, wondering if perhaps she wondered if I were actually serving porcupine. Sure enough, she promptly tasted the meatballs and added a few more to her plate before the meal was over.

This dish gets it's name from the "quills" of rice sticking out from the meatballs.

Also, this is one of the few dishes my oldest son will eat without a dramatic "how many bites?" negotiation.

1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 c long grain white rice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 Tbs chopped onion (I use dried, minced onion)
1 cup tomato juice/sauce (I prefer sauce, it has a more acidic base)
1/2 c water

In a medium bowl combine beef, rice, salt, pepper and onion. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Pour tomato sauce and water into a 3-quart pressure cooker (No pressure cooker? Don't worry. I've adapted this recipe to stove top as well. See below.) Over medium-high heat, bring tomato sauce and water to a boil. Add in meatballs, stir gently to coat. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and heat until there is a solid stream of steam escaping, put on weight. (Well, YOU don't put on weight, just place the pressure-cooker weight atop the lid.) Process for 10 minutes. Allow time for pressure cooker to stabilize before removing lid.

Stove top directions:
Prepare meatballs as directed substituting 1/2 cup minute rice for long grain rice and adding 1 lightly beaten egg to meat mixture. In a large skillet, brown meatballs on all sides over medium-high heat. Add water and tomato juice; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gwen's Original Corn Chowder

3/4 c butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 potatoes, cooked, peeled and cubed
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pkg frozen corn, thawed
4 1/2 c milk
1 c chicken broth
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 c cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 c sour cream

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sweat until onion is clear. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and broth while stirring. Add in potatoes, bacon, corn and parsley flakes. Continue to heat over medium heat, stirring frequently until chowder has thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in grated cheese and sour cream, stir until cheese has melted.

Seeding a Tomato

Do you have recipes that call for tomato, diced and seeded? The method I've always heard is to cut the tomato in half and squeeze out the seeds, but I feel like that compromises the integrity of the leftover flesh.

My solution? I cut the tomato in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon (a spoon with a serrated tip.) The flesh that is left is still firm and easy to dice. No more squishy tomatoes!

Separation Anxiety

I don't know about you, but I hate separating bacon slices. They always end up stretching as I peel them one off the other. Somewhere I read a great tip for separating bacon. Before opening the package, roll it up lengthwise. The bacon slides over itself, separating in the process. When you open the package the bacon easily comes apart with little to no stretching, making it easier to fit in your pan.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Santa Fe Chicken

Lay 4-5 chicken breasts in a casserole dish.
Mix: 1 1/2 c minute rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 pkg taco seasoning

Pour the mixture over chicken breasts. Cover and bake for 50 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven. Uncover, sprinkle with grated cheese and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

I got this recipe from a friend at a recipe swap. Tonight was the first night that I tried this recipe and we all really liked it. I think that adding a can of sliced olives would be yummy, too.

Tip: Use the leftover taco seasoning to add pep to a bag of microwave popcorn!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Artichoke Heart Dip

2 8-oz packages cream cheese
2 small cans diced green chiles
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 small can sliced olives
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer. Place in an 8x8 dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve with corn chips, crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Thank you, Katie, for sharing this delicious recipe with me. It's become an instant favorite!

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

1 (4#) fryer chicken, whole
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 onion, quartered

Clean chicken (discard giblets if present) and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Combine salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper and garlic powder. Rub mixture onto chicken skin and inside cavity. Place quartered onion in cavity. Place chicken in an oven bag and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight. Place in a roasting pan and bake at 250 degrees for 5 hours or until internal temperature is at least 160 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.

This recipe can easily be doubled to make two chickens, which is great if you're cooking dinner for another family or want a head start on a recipe calling for cooked chicken.

This chicken is so delicious, moist and tender. It falls right off the bone and has tons of flavor. The drippings also make excellent gravy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Honey-Soy Glazed Drumsticks

a.k.a. Dinosaur Bones

1/2 c honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/3 c water
sea salt and ground pepper
3 pounds drumsticks (about 8), skins removed

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Combine honey, soy sauce and water in a large bowl. Add drumsticks and toss to coat. Place chicken on a foil-lined cookie sheet, pouring sauce on top. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, basting with juices from pan every 10 minutes.

Although this recipe only calls for 3 pounds of drumsticks, I just buy the large package. I skin all of them and freeze the rest, and trust me, you'll use them for this recipe again! Also, be sure the line the pan with foil. The glaze gets pretty sticky and this makes cleanup a cinch!

You may be wondering why we call them dinosaur bones. That was my trick to get my oldest son to try them. But now that I look at these pictures, it could just as well be because we all look like cavemen while we devour them.
Of course, real cavemen use both hands, and look at the camera with puppy-dog eyes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sticky Snack Mix

3 c Corn Chex
3 c Rice Chex
3 c Golden grahams
2/3 c coconut
1/2 c sliced almonds
1 cube butter
3/4 c light corn syrup
3/4 c sugar
1/16 tsp baking powder

Combine cereals, coconut and almonds in a large bowl; set aside. In a small saucepan heat butter, corn syrup, sugar and baking powder over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil two minutes. Pour over cereal mixture. Stir well and let cool. Store in airtight container (if you don't eat it all first!)


2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
dash of pepper
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 c ketchup
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp worchestershire sauce

Beat eggs and milk. Add cracker crumbs, onion, salt, sage and pepper. Mix in beef. Place in 8.5"x4.5" loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on a baking pan with a rack. Mix ketchup, brown sugar and worchestershire sauce. Pour over meat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes. Drain and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.